FX-Ray Project: Atalanta B.C.

The Italian clubs are considered as the most physical in European football. Over the years, their devotion in defensive tactics has established a common belief that most of them possess a conservative football approach. Regardless the truth or not, Italian clubs were always included among the top ones on a global scale.


Recently, there are more and more teams in Italy that adopt more offensive and courageous football style, achieving impressive, historical milestones, by producing amazing spectacle, as well. One of these teams is the infamous Atalanta B.C. The FX-Ray Project will proceed to a deep analysis of the club’s results, over the past five seasons. In this way the variation in Atalanta’s performance and the obstacles, which it needs to surpass, during the current season will be elaborated.

Data Collection, Analysis and Methodology

For the purpose of the research, team data from certain categories will be collected for all the twenty clubs of Serie A, since 2014. Data’s orientation come from Serie A exclusively. Other competitions (ex. Coppa Italia, European competitions etc.) are not taken into account. The stats will be analyzed in two different parts, based on the offensive efficiency and defensive awareness.

Furthermore, positive and negative weights will be introduced to the data, by producing a certain score for each one of the statistical categories for both offense and defense. The total score will be representative of the standards a club performed every single season.

In the end, the twenty clubs will be divided in five different groups, concerning their place on the league table (1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 12-16, 16-20). By extracting an identical score for all these groups and by using Forecasting Model, the approximate place of Atalanta for season 2018-19 can be estimated.

Results & Discussion

Part I

Offensive Performance

Atalanta was a distinctive small-sized club with offensive virtues below average. However, from 2017 and after, the team’s offensive indicators have surprisingly increased, revealing the change of philosophy the club has followed. It was that season, in which the “Nerazzurri” reached the fourth place of the league table. The highest ever in their one-hundred-year history. Last season, by following again the same football model, they finished seventh.

By taking into account all the offensive stats that illustrate the overall offensive performance of Atalanta, the insertion of positive weights in goals, shots, key passes and successful dribbles will proceed. On the other hand, negative weights will be inserted in unsuccessful touches and dispossession. Then, the score of the offensive performance per season will be extracted. An equivalent process will follow for the rest Serie A clubs.

SeasonAtalanta1st - 4th5th - 8th9th - 12th13th - 16th17th - 20th
201426.4543.9335.9331.4523.6823.05
201523.8539.1236.6231.1225.6123.82
201625.4643.3331.9927.4824.1322.65
201736.9948.0740.5334.2424.9819.78
201835.1043.838.8726.1923.1721.39

The scores, resulted from the weights, show where Atalanta has been placed among the other clubs, offensively, during each season. What is more, the scores of the other clubs are merged into groups, based on the places of the league table, providing information about the offensive performance of each group, separately. For example, the offensive score of Atalanta was worse than that of group 13th-16th, in 2015, and consistently worse than that of group 5th-8th, for all five seasons examined.

Part II

Defensive Performance

When it comes to defensive principles, Atalanta remains a deep traditional Italian club. Nonetheless, its defensive behavior seems to have been modified, lately. This can be thought as a normal football reaction. Nowadays, Atalanta prefers to keep the ball possession, a fact that has influenced directly its interceptions per match. The main impact in the defensive performance is distinguished at the gradual decreased numbers of shots and goals conceded per match.

For reaching the defensive scores for each season, it is necessary to follow the same procedure as in the offensive stats. This time, positive weights will be introduced in offsides, interceptions and successful tackles. Additionally, negative weights will be inserted in goals conceded, shots conceded and cards (yellow – red). Then, the proportional process will follow for the rest Serie A clubs, so as a defensive score to emerge.

SeasonAtalanta1st - 4th5th - 8th9th - 12th13th - 16th17th - 20th
20146.5011.168.416.097.635.18
20154.9611.698.197.285.663.01
201612.439.7610.919.118.345.73
201710.329.215.672.993.72.04
20188.47.796.332.532.000.32

The scores, resulted from the weights, describe the defensive behavior of Atalanta and of the other Serie A clubs, per season. According to the table, its defensive awareness for three consecutive seasons is way superior of the top-4 clubs’ average. In fact, the defensive performance of the groups 5th-8th and 9th-12th was at the same level or greater than that of group 1st-4th, during season 2015-16. After 2015, Atalanta has started to perform in inexplicably high standards.

Part III

I. Overall Scores

By summing the above scores, the overall performance of Atalanta and the rest clubs of Serie A per season is formed.

SeasonAtalanta1st - 4th5th - 8th9th - 12th13th - 16th17th - 20th
201432.9555.1044.35
37.5431.3128.23
201528.8150.8144.8138.3931.2626.82
201637.8953.142.936.5932.4728.37
201747.3157.2846.1937.2328.6921.82
201843.551.5845.1928.7225.1722.01

The final scores represent the overall performance of each group per season. In 2017, Atalanta had to be placed between the fourth and the fifth place. It finally received the fourth place, 2 points away from Lazio which finished fifth. Notwithstanding, in 2016, a paradox happened. Although Atalanta should have finished between eight and ninth place, it finally received the thirteenth place at the league table. A possible explanation about that can be the only 5-point differences among the clubs from ninth to thirteenth place. Atalanta finished thirteenth, but it is not wrong to believe it could deserve better.

II. Use of Forecasting Model and Final Outcomes

Forecasting is the process of making predictions of the future based on past and present data. The data used must be up to date so as for the forecast to be as accurate as possible. By using the Forecasting Model, the range between the Lower and the Upper Bound of Atalanta’s score for 2019 can be predicted. The confidence level will be 95%.

Through the forecasting technique, using linear approach, the average score of Atalanta for 2019 is 48.98, with a Lower Bound of 40.18 and an Upper Bound of 57.77. That means that it is expected to perform close to the standards of the last two seasons.

The comparison with the average scores per group in Serie A, since 2014, comprises another significant indicator for the research. The average bounds per group for 2019 rise, through the forecasting technique, providing the estimated score variation of every group for the current season.

Group1st - 4th5th - 8th9th - 12th13th - 16th17th - 20th
Average Score54.0745.0635.0528.9124.44

The average score per each table group, including the forecasting average bound for 2019, is presented in the above table. If these numbers are confirmed at the end of the season, Atalanta, with the gathering of projected 49 (≈ 48.98) score, is expected to fight for another European ticket. So, there are high possibilities to be included among the clubs of the group 5th-8th.

Discussion

Based on the overall performance, the conclusion of the research is that, in each season, Atalanta has taken the place deserved. Only during season 2015-16 it could deserve better, but the small point difference among the clubs explains the reason why that did not happen. The alternative football philosophy the club adopted is considered highly successful, as the improvement in both offensive and defensive parts of the game is obvious.

Atalanta was a small-sized Italian club, unknown to many neutral football fans, and now it can easily be included to the list of medium-sized of Italian football. For how long the club will keep evolving itself and providing a phenomenal level of stability is about to be seen soon. Although the negative start of this seasons, there are many possibilities for success at the end of it.

 

Summary

 

• FX-Ray Project attempted to analyze the overall performance of Atalanta, over the past five seasons, with aim of predicting the approximate place of the club on the league table for 2019.

 

• Several weights were set for each one of the categories that were included in the research.

 

• Certain scores for both offensive and defensive performance were extracted for all the twenty clubs of Serie A.

 

• By using the Forecasting Model, it has been predicted that Atalanta will finish among the fifth and the eight place of the Serie A league table.

 


Bibliography

Whoscored.com. (2018). Atalanta Archive – History. [online] Available at: https://bit.ly/2CF9tbO [Accessed 2 Oct. 2018].

Stamopoulos, A. (2018). FX-Ray Project: Southampton F. C. – Statathlon: Revolutionize the Sport. [online] Statathlon: Revolutionize the Sport. Available at: https://bit.ly/2MuUQrS [Accessed 1 Oct. 2018].

Data oriented innovation constitutes half of the most amazing parts in my everyday life. The love and the obsession for sports constitute the other half. In Statathlon, I have found a unique opportunity to combine my passions through research, in order to change the way most people perceive athletism on the whole.

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