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Tactics and trends dissected in new Champions League technical report

The new UEFA Champions League technical report is available to view now, featuring detailed analysis on the 2019/20 campaign.

It was a UEFA Champions League campaign that produced a record goals-per-game ratio and a trend for high-risk, high-reward football encapsulated by winners Bayern München. For UEFA, the task of drawing conclusions from the flood of goals and rush of drama fell to its team of experienced technical observers and their 2019/20 UEFA Champions League technical report is now available to view online.

This report serves as a platform for UEFA’s observers to provide an analysis of the tactical and technical performance of the teams as well as a discussion of notable trends and a reflection on key facts and figures.

Bayern's high press paying dividends

The sheer number of goals scored – 386 in 119 matches at a rate of 3.24 per game – is one obvious talking point. One observer, Belgium coach Roberto Martínez, highlighted the increased preference for “building from the back, going through the thirds and pressing really high up” – a strategy which brings risks as well as rewards. No team achieved a better balance than Bayern and the report features an in-depth interview with their coach, Hansi Flick, who reflects on how they achieved it.

The report’s goalscoring analysis highlights the importance of crosses and cutbacks – which accounted for 29.3% of all goals scored – and also the reduction in the number of goals from set-pieces, with just a single one scored by the taker of a direct free-kick.

The use of graphics in the report includes heatmaps to illustrate various sides’ pressing strategies, with a focus on finalists Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain along with three other teams who reached the last eight: Atalanta, Leipzig and Manchester City, who scored four times from high turnovers. Overall, high turnovers were the source of 217 shots and 30 goals during 2019/20.

Given this was the first season following the changed goal-kick rule enabling the ball to be played short to a team-mate inside the box, the report also offers heatmaps showing goalkeepers’ distribution patterns – and highlighting that Bayern’s Manuel Neuer kicked into the opposition half just once. Despite the risk factor, six goals came from moves begun with a short goal-kick to a player in the penalty box.

2020 UEFA Champions League final highlights: Paris 0-1 Bayern

Other topics covered include the increased number of sides deploying a back three, the playmaking role of the full-back, and the impact of the unique single-tie format deployed in the ‘Final 8’ tournament in Lisbon.

As well as supplying key information for the coaching community, UEFA's technical reports are intended to provide food for thought for dedicated football statisticians and the media, as well as for football fans in general. The 2019/20 UEFA Champions League report provides a deep well of stats to dip into, from which team had the highest average possession per match (Liverpool, 67%) to which player recorded the fastest sprint in the entire season (Paris forward Kylian Mbappé in the final, 33.98 km/h).

The report will appear in print in three languages – English, French and German – but is currently available in digital format on a dedicated website, www.uefatechnicalreports.com.