Going backwards to go forwards: City are the masters

Issue number 327 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post crunches the InStat data on the direction of passes made during current season by more than 500 teams from 31 European leagues.

No club made so far a greater percentage of passes backwards than current Premier League leaders Manchester City: 41.6%. This reflects the emphasis put on possession by Guardiola’s side.

Six other teams from the five major European leagues are in the top 10 positions of the table:

Chelsea (4th), Arsenal (5th), Sassuolo (7th), Barcelona (8th), Paris St-Germain (9th) and Real Madrid (10th).

The only exceptions are Shakhtar Donetsk (2nd), Lokomotiv Moscow (3rd) and Ferencvaros (6th).

Conversely, with only 24.0% of passes backwards, the bottom-ranked Championship team Wycombe Wanderers are at the bottom of this table too.

The more competitive the leagues, the higher the percentage of backward passes.

The greatest proportion of passes backwards was recorded for the English Premier League (36.5%).

The time for kick and rush is definitely over. This is not that much the case for less performing championships.

The lowest percentage of backward passes was observed in the Austrian Bundesliga (29.6%).

More statistics at team level are to be found in the CIES Football Observatory Performance Atlas.

About the CIES Football Observatory

The CIES Football Observatory is a research group within the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES). Created in 2005 by Dr. Raffaele Poli and Dr. Loïc Ravenel, the CIES Football Observatory currently comprises a staff of four full-time permanent researchers who specialise in the statistical analysis of football.


CIES – Centre International d’Étude du Sport
Avenue DuPeyrou 1, 2000 Neuchâtel
Phone +41 32 718 39 00 – Fax +41 32 718 39 01
Email: football.observatory@cies.ch

This entry was posted on 01 Mar 2021 16:47, in Free.