FilGoal | News | Max Croce is the player who has baffled the statisticians


Union Berliner Max Kroos calls himself “Maxelinho18” on “Twitch”, which is a live streaming portal where you can watch video game players in action.

Months ago, Kroos launched a live broadcast of him playing the game Call of Duty, this broadcast lasted for more than seven hours and received 60,000 views, and Kroos now has more than 27,000 followers.

Staggering numbers for the Union Berlin playmaker on the “Twitch” platform, but it is a little different in football.

After losing to Eintracht Frankfurt last Saturday, Union Berlin is currently seventh in the German Bundesliga.

Kroos played only 14 games with his team this season, where he was absent from the stadiums due to injury from last December until mid-February, which is two and a half months, and despite that, he scored ten goals and provided five assists.

He does not have great speed, does not have much strength to win contact, the ball rarely comes to him and in many statistics, his numbers are on average at most. However, he is one of the most prominent players.

Max Croce, the man who puzzled statisticians, how can this mystery be explained?

Even if he scores five of his ten penalties from penalty kicks, Max Kroos is already apparent, if I try to explain what he’s doing, I will run into a problem because numbers have become more important in football analysis in recent years, the statistics are not just limited to the number of times possession of the ball, or the number of times. The many runs or crosses, but there are new standards trying to decipher football using scientific methods, there are expected goals, expected critical passes, heat maps, and much more, data analysis is developing more and more, but what if there is no explanation? What if the soccer secret was not expressed in numbers?

Max Kroos seems to be the best example of this, when you see him you feel that his performance is very traditional, but he combines qualitative and quantitative approaches, a hybrid that the numbers cannot express by the classic standards with which one can describe the quality of an attacking midfielder.

In the Bundesliga, Kroos scored 15 shots (8 on target) this season (39th out of 257 in the league).

His maximum shot velocity reached 30.95 km / h (290th out of 414). He won 26 Thames (219th out of 375) and his correct pass rate of 75.4% (46th out of 129).

Kroos does not shoot much at goal, his shots are not great, he does not win many tackles and his pass rate is just good, and yet he is one of the most prominent players in the league.

If current data are insufficient to describe his performance, this may mean two things, first that Kroos cannot be understood by numbers, and second that more scrutiny is needed in analyzing his data.

It might be part of the crossover puzzle solving, it’s like a classic playmaker, the true number ten, with magic feet and the courage to take a risk, traits that are largely extinct in the modern world because they are considered too slow for the high-speed football of our time, the latter being The German football logo today, the less you do when you own the ball and the more you do when you don’t.

Mesut Ozil, world champion with Germany in 2014 and a player who was among the best in Europe for a long time, did not find a place for him at Arsenal and had to move to Fenerbahce.

It would not be a mistake to assume that the magic of Diego Maradona would be difficult to describe by football data, it is difficult to gauge the feeling of touching the ball, surely Maradona did not achieve the success rate of Axel Fitzel (93.2%) and Nicholas Chuli (92.1%), but whether One of the three at least to be considered a football icon during his career as Maradona? This is doubtful.

Kroos is not the only athlete whose performance has eluded quantification, LeBron James, the second-best basketball player of all time, was sometimes one of the ten slowest players in the NBA when it comes to speed, Lionel Messi is also at the bottom end of the stats in terms of Miles traveled.

Weeks ago, a scene spread of Messi where he simply allowed the opposing player to pass in front of him, although he would only have taken two steps to put him under pressure at least, his former coach Pep Guardiola once said, “When Messi plays soccer he goes for a walk, but he checks all the things.” Scene-by-scenery, by default analyzes the game to be there when it matters. ”

Kroos reads the game perfectly, intuitively recognizes the correct series, suddenly summons all his skills and thus decides the course of the game decisively, in the end, this leads to Union Berlin scoring goals.

To find out, data analysts summarize several important things. The beginning is semantic data, says Karsten Gorsdorf, chief data analyst, “The data is gathered in a context that enables inferences to be drawn and provides insights that broadly measure the true characteristics of football, its dynamism and its interaction, rather than distorting it.” This can be helped by what he and his experts call string analysis.

This means that, unlike usual, not only is the player’s touches or actions of the ball counted with it, but the strings as well, says Hannes Kolok, a data analysis expert: “For us, the chain is a meaningful phase, the chain is like the ball control phase, as long as That the team has the ball, the chain continues, if it loses it, a new one starts.

Max Kroos has participated in 387 series so far this season, averaging 29.7 episodes per match, which is also very little, which puts Kroos in the penultimate position of all attacking midfielders in the league and rarely has the ball, with a total of only 17 minutes and 37 seconds, i.e. Only one minute 24 seconds per match.

Even his goalkeeper Andreas Loth had the ball for the longest time (20 minutes), however, Kroos managed to participate in a third of all shots on goal and scored a quarter of Union Berlin’s goals. Kroos appears to be an effective beast, just how does that measure?

For this purpose, Kulok developed a game control index (GCI), this is supposed to express the degree of control of the player in the game, GCI represents the ratio between controllable and non-controllable actions of players, and the higher the value, the greater the percentage of controlled actions, the indicator shows which One of the players is able to control the match or wreak havoc on the opponent.

For a crossover position as an attacking midfielder, the Bundesliga GCI average is 3.7, Kroos stands at 5.3 which is a big difference, he has more than five regulated acts.

This means that when the ball is with Kroos, there is a very high probability that something beneficial will happen to the team, and that is in the most difficult and dangerous area for the opponent, in front of the penalty area, where the opponent’s pressure is higher. On the whole, Kroos is the best attacking midfielder in the league. , Ahead of Stuttgart’s Danibel Daidavi (5.2).

Kroos controls the game, not the other way around, he is a real captain, his influence on his team’s playing style is enormous, so far this whole season GCI Union Berlin is 3.2, last season when their style was mainly based on long balls it was only 2.2.

Of course, these numbers are only an approximation of the Max Crosse phenomenon, this cannot be fully explained, in fact, it is quite reassuring in the quantification obsession of our time that not everything should be reduced to numbers, but you can simply listen to your intuition that Cross is doing something extraordinary. .


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