Rafa Benítez Blog RSS Rafa Benítez Blog

Sep 2011
Stats and data

General Articles

Rafa Benítez

First of all, thanks for all the contributions you have made. Some of you have brought up some very interesting points for discussion and I am thinking of writing some articles to give my opinion on the subjects. These are some of the more brief questions you have asked:


With regards to the article that compares La Liga and the Premier League one question asked was “do the top 4 teams in both leagues distort the data?”

I would like to be clear about how I use data. As I said in the article, we have experience in three different leagues, so we know how to treat the information carefully because statistics do not always reflect reality and you have to put them in context. I have been in football since I was a boy and in professional football for about 30 years, so I know that statistics can mean nothing when you are going into a final.
We know that the difference between the top two teams in Spain and the rest is relevant and yet it is not quite the same in England. We could address this issue in other articles if you would be interested.
Just to let you know, my specialist subject at University was football, so I learnt how to analyse the game from different angles.
These days we see some crazy comparisons of statistics of teams and managers without putting them in to context. When people discuss these statistics they try to compare managers from different eras or they try to compare money spent on players without considering facts such as the value of the previous squad, the money available for players, or the competitions in which the team is involved. It will not be the same if you are playing in the Champions League as it would be in other competitions with less psychological demands.

So, we can use statistics, but because we have some experience, I have always told my staff, be careful, if it looks as if we have run more, it could be because we are taking up poor positions or it could be that we have had a lot of possession in our own half. We realise this and we would only use the stats if we think them appropriate.


Another question you raised was about systems of play and if you can use the 3-4-3 used by Barcelona in the Premier League.

“You will never lose a game on the blackboard” so it is possible, but as always, for me it depends on your players. We will talk about systems in another article, but the real question is “what system is the best for your team?”


Another question was “Does the different climate affect data in both leagues?”
It is not just the climate but also the systems, the style of football and the refereeing style, so the data can change a lot. We have to use them as information, but we need to know how to analyse them and not lose focus on the game and never forget that we manage human beings and everything that entails.