Asymmetries in football: The pass-goal paradox
Published 2020-05-21Version 1
We investigate the relation between the number of passes made by a football team and the number of goals. We analyze the 380 matches of a complete season of the Spanish national league "LaLiga" (2018/2019). We observe how the number of scored goals is positively correlated with the number of passes made by a team. In this way, teams on the top (bottom) of the ranking at the end of the season make more (less) passes than the rest of the teams. However, we observe a strong asymmetry when the analysis is made depending on the part of the match. Interestingly, fewer passes are made on the second part of a match while, at the same time, more goals are scored. This paradox appears in the majority of teams, and it is independent of the number of passes made. These results confirm that goals in the first part of matches are more "costly" in terms of passes than those scored on second halves.