Soccer World Cup

Scientists on what gives soccer greats like Messi & Ronaldo the edge

14 June 2018 - 00:00 By AFP Relaxnews
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal in action during the friendly match of preparation for FIFA 2018 World Cup between Portugal and Algeria at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on June 7 2018 in Lisboa, Portugal.
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal in action during the friendly match of preparation for FIFA 2018 World Cup between Portugal and Algeria at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica on June 7 2018 in Lisboa, Portugal.
Image: Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Pele had it. Messi has it. So does Ronaldo and Neymar.

The flamboyance, that element of skilful surprise that can change a match from one second to the next and fires up the fans.

The over-the-head bicycle kick made famous by Pele, no-look or dummy passes, the "elastico" dribble that makes a defender believe the ball is coming right at them only for it to be pulled back... these are tricks designed not only to entertain the hoards.

"High creativity" is, in fact, a good predictor for victory, said a study in the Journal of Sports Sciences in April.

'High creativity is, in fact, a good predictor for victory, said a study in the Journal of Sports Sciences

Researchers analysed all 311 goals scored during open play in 153 matches in the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and the 2016 UEFA Euro.

They looked specifically at the eight actions before each goal, and rated them from zero to 10 for creativity, described as a combination of "surprising, original and flexible" ball use.

High creativity in the last two actions before the shot on goal "proved to be the best predictor for game success," they found.

The study found that highly creative moves were rare during matches - fewer than one in 10. But almost half of goals scored included one or more highly creative actions.

"Tactical creativity seems to be a crucial factor for team success," said the researchers, meaning it was important in selecting players, and should be "increased via training".


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