An Article That Shows That Crosses Are a Bad Strategy

Discussion in 'Statistics and Analysis' started by EvanJ, Jun 22, 2020.

  1. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Here it says that crosses are a bad strategy. A linear regression found that it takes 22.826 more good crosses than an opponent or 32.626 more bad crosses than an opponent to make a difference of 1 goal. Only 20.518 percent of crosses are good, meaning that 1 in 4.874 crosses are good. The impact of one cross weighted by the probability that it is a good cross is 0.00899 from crosses being good and .02436 from crosses being bad, for a net of -.01537. This means that there is one fewer goal per 65.039 crosses. In 2015-2016, the EPL had 16.124 crosses per game, and the Bundesliga had 8.878. Multiplying by 380 EPL games means the season had 6,127 crosses. For a 306 game Bundesliga season, no amount of crosses would be 8.878 per game like the article said. The closest is 2,717 crosses, which would be 8.879 per game. That means that crossing reduced the EPL by 94.205 goals, which was 0.248 per game; and reduced the Bundesliga by 41.775 goals, which was 0.137 per game. The 2015-2016 EPL had 1,026 goals, so 94 more have been 9.16 percent more. The 2015-2016 Bundesliga had 866 goals, so 42 would have been 4.85 percent more. Given the value per good cross and per bad cross, the percentage of crosses that are good in order for crosses to break even is 41.163 percent, which is 2.006 times the actual rate of 20.518 percent. No clubs will have their percentage of crosses that are good be double the average, so crosses are a bad strategy for all clubs. For the five seasons from 2008-2009 through 2012-2013, 31 clubs were in the EPL for at least one season, and the club with the highest percentage of good crosses was Norwich City with 23.810 percent. With a maximum of 23.810 percent and a mean of 20.518 percent, the best club was only 16.0 percent higher than the mean. By percent higher, I don't more 23.810-20.518. I mean 23.810/20.518 = 1.16044. The goal percentage from crosses (the article calls them "open crosses") of 1.088 is much lower than from final third entries at 1.875 percent and from shots outside the box at 2.792 percent. The EPL averages 0.252 open crosses per final third entry. Since a final third entry can result in more than one cross, a little under a quarter of final third entries have crosses, and the percentage of final third entries without crosses that had goals is higher than the overall 1.875 percent for all final third entries. The article says 7.6 percent of final third entries result in a shot from outside the box, and given the success rate, clubs should take more shots from outside the box. 5.54 shots from outside the box per game/72.79 final third entries per game = 7.66 percent, so I don't know why the article said 7.6 percent rather than 7.7 percent. The EPL would have 0.393 more goal per club per game if there were no crosses, which is 299 more goals for a league season. This neglects the fact that defenses can change if they know the offense will never use a certain strategy. Calculating the impact of one variable with all other things equal doesn't tell what would happen in soccer without crosses because defenses knowing there won't be crosses doesn't leave all other things equal. Each cross decreases scoring by 1.7 percent, so the EPL's 18.22 crosses per game decrease scoring by 30.974 by multiplying the two numbers, which is way off from the 26.7 percent the article says. The article makes it sound linear, but I decided to calculate if the article's amount would be correct if the effect was exponential. Decreasing by 1.7 percent means going from 1 to 0.983. 0.983^18.22 = 0.7317, and 1-0.7317 = 0.2683, so a 26.83 percent decrease is close to 26.7 percent, but 26.83 percent becomes 26.8 percent when rounded to one decimal place. An exponential effect would only happen if the amount of prior crosses affects the impact of future crosses, which the article is not saying. I'm going to use the 30.974 percent I got from multiplying. Starting with 1,026 goals in the 2015-2016 EPL and increasing it by 30.974 percent if there weren't crosses would be an increase of 318 goals and make the season have 1,344 goals. An increase of 318 is close to the increase of 299 from a calculation I did earlier.

    Better clubs are hurt more by crossing than worse clubs are. Better clubs in the EPL were hurt more by crossing than better clubs in the Bundesliga. The quality of the defense doesn't affect the impact of crosses.
  2. Cowtown Felipe

    Cowtown Felipe Member+

    Mar 12, 2012
    Fort Worth, TX
    FC Dallas
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Intuitively I'd guess more crosses is bad. A cross often puts the ball up for grabs between the attacking team and the defending team. As a cross is a ~30 yard crossfield pass, the chance of it being intercepted or just off-target is higher than a short pass or a dribble.
    So, is the article telling a player bombing down the wing that he should try to cut in with a dribble or knock the ball back to maintain possession instead of attempting a cross?
    NewDadaCoach repped this.
  3. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    If crosses are a bad strategy, then what is the best strategy?

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