Associations between confederation playing style and team strength in FIFA World Cup 2022
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Federal University of São Paulo, Interdisciplinar Graduate Program in Health Sciences, São Paulo, Brazil
Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre, Biosciences School of Elvas, Portalegre, Portugal
Research Center in Sports Sciences, Health Sciences and Human Development, Sport, Vila Real, Portugal
CI-ISCE–ISCE Douro, Penafiel, Portugal
Polytechnic Institute of Guarda, Sport Department, Guarda, Portugal
Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Sport Sciences and Physical Education Department, Bragança, Portugal
Higher Institute of Educational Sciences of the Douro, Sport Department, Penafiel, Portugal
University of Beira Interior, Sport Sciences Department, Covilhã, Portugal
Federal University of São Paulo, Psychobiology, São Paulo, Brazil
These authors had equal contribution to this work
Submission date: 2023-11-15
Final revision date: 2023-12-21
Acceptance date: 2024-01-05
Publication date: 2024-03-29
Corresponding author
Luís Branquinho   

Sport, Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre, Portugal
TRENDS in Sport Sciences 2024;31(1)
Previous evidence indicates that it appears to be possible to identify a pattern of success (playing styles) in football using principal components analysis or k-means clustering approaches. However, until now, little is known about the topic in teams that participated in football world cups.

Aim of the study:
This study aimed to verify if a successful playing style (PS) exists in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 (2022-WC). The second aim is to intensify PS behavior between Confederations.

Material and methods:
Data was collected from the 32 teams that competed in the 2022-WC. The 2022-WC resulted in 64 games and produced a total of 128 data points and 68 variables. A machine learning approach (K-means cluster) was used to identify PS behaviors in the 2022-WC competition.

The K-mean clustering identified three different PS during ball possession and without ball possession game phases (all p<0.001). Also, we identify significant associations (all p≤ 0.016) between the team's PS and their strength in the 2022-WC (i.e., FIFA ranking and 2022-WC final classification). With ball possession PS, successful teams adopt high ball possession, building games, and high player movement (offering to receive and to receive the ball). In contrast, unsuccessful teams tend to adopt direct play, set pieces, and lower player movement. Without ball possession PS, successful teams adopt high-block and high-press, counter-press, and recovery, while unsuccessful teams adopt low-block or mid-block and lower-press (passive approach to recover the ball). Finally, a significative association between Confederations (all p< 0.01) and PS exists during 2022-WC. In conclusion, in the 2022-WC, PS is significantly associated with team strength and confederations.

A clear successful PS existed in the 2022-WC, and this information should provide direction for the national team's preparation for the next FIFA WC.

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