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How Goals Are Scored In Soccer

Kicker sports magazine published a study comparing teams from the EPL and German Bundesliga as to how goals were generated. The following situations were analyzed:

  1. Scoring after own attacking play
  2. Scoring on a counterattack
  3. Scoring from set play
  4. Scoring after pressing
  5. Scoring after counterpressing

The study compared dominating teams, such as Bayern Munich and Manchester City with each other and with weaker teams (typical underdogs) such as Hannover, Huddersfield, etc. I want to share general conclusions:

  • Dominating teams likely play a possession game and/or dominate possession. No surprise then that 50% of goals are scored after an own attacking play, 20% after set plays (logical because defending underdogs will foul them more around or in the penalty box), 15% after counterattack, 8% after pressing and 7% after counterpressing.
  • The underdogs who likely have less possession in their games score differently. 30% of goals are after a counterattack, 30% after set plays, 25% after own attacking play,  8% after pressing, and 7% after counterpressing.

From the perspective of you coaching a youth soccer team, you may want to consider the following:

  1. If you are coaching a dominant team in your environment, then it is well worth prioritizing your training efforts on combining in the attacking third to develop scoring chances and convert. Next practice set plays, and finally counterattacks. Be aware that the teams you are playing against will use counterattacks against you.
  2. If you are coaching a team that is usually the underdog in your environment you need to pay fairly equal attention to developing your own attacking plays, develop a strong counterattack, and work on set plays. Your job is a little harder but you will be prepared to change your playing style from counterattack to dominating when you play weaker teams.
  3. Pressing and counterpressing are talked about a lot and are somewhat trendy. But they only account for 15% of goals combined. Train these tactics after you are comfortable with your own attack, your own counterattack, and set plays.

For training attacking and fast break counterattacks consider our book Competitive Pro Soccer Practices.

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