Player behaviour after scoring a low xG chance: opportunity analysis with low and high xG in zone 14 – Red Bull Salzburg’s strikers

This is the 22nd day of consecutive writing and the 25th article that will be published. I don’t want to flex or anything, but I thought this asked for a rather different kind of article than I have written before. In this article I will look to combine something unmeasarable as confidence with opportunity.

Whenever a player scores a screamer from 30 meters it does something with a player in that match. He or she will feel more confident in attempting high-risk shots, passes or other actions. That’s definitely something that can be seen in that particular game. But this analysis does concentrate on something different. What does this mean in the long run, will the player attempt more of those shots after scoring that screamer?

In this analysis I will look to analyse this by looking at three players from Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian 1. Bundesliga. I will analyse how many shots they have attempted in the season so far, how many goals have been scored from those opportunities and make a distinction which goals/attempts have been made from zone 14.

After doing this I will select a goal from each of the three players and see whether they have attempted more low xG shots than high xG shots, and whether they have tried to shoot more from zone 14, than before. I have chosen three players who scored the most goal for Red Bull Salzburg: Daka, Kiota and Berisha.

The data and video come from Wyscout and are from the 2020-2021 season.

Data analysis
Before we go to the actual analysis of that what has been explained above, we are going to look at where the RB Salzburg players are in terms of shots, xG and goals in relation to the league and to to number two Rapid Wien. The dataframe consists of central forwards in the 2020-2021 Austrian Bundesliga season with a minimum of 800 minutes played in the league.

In the scatterplot above we see two metrics combined. On the X-axis we have the shots per 90 metrics to assess how many shots a player has per 90 minutes. And on the Y-axis we have the shots on target in %, to assess how much percentage of the shots taken will go on target. The dots in red represent players from Red Bull Salzburg.

When we look at the shots taken per 90 minutes we see that Okafor has 1,9 shots per 90, Adeyemi has 2,39 shots per 90, Berisha has 3,39 shots per 90, Daka has 4,27 shots per 90 and Koita has 4,94 shots per 90.

When we look at the percentages of shots that go on target we see that Adeyemi has 42,31% on target, Daka has 51,14% on target, Berisha has 52,17% on target, Okofar has 58,82% on target and Koita 59,18% on target.

In the scatterplot above we can see the metrics of expected goals per 90 and goals per 90 combined. It tells us the probablity of a goal scored per 90 minutes and the the actual goals scored per 90 minutes. The Red Bull Salzburg players are represented via the red dots.

When we look at the expected goals per 90 minutes we see that Okafor has 0,27 xG per 90, Adeyemi has 0,35 xG per 90, Berisha has 0,68 xG per 90, Daka has 0,99 xG per 90 and Koita has 1,18 shots per 90.

When we look at the goals per 90 minutes we see that Okafor has 0,56 goals per 90, Adeyemi has 0,46 goals per 90, Berisha has 0,54 goals per 90, Daka has 1,17 goals per 90 and Koita has 1,41 goals per 90.

The three players we are looking at for this analysis are Berisha, Daka and Koita. Daka has scored 24 goals with an xG of 20,3. Berisha has scored 11 goals with an xG of 13,82, and Koita has scored 14 goals with an xG of 11,67. In the scatterplots above you see how well they are performing against the strikers of Rapid Wien.

Zone 14
You probably have heard of zone 14 – even if you don’t exactly know what it is. Zone 14 is used a lot to develop and analyse attacking creativity in terms of decisive attacking options.

Credit: Spielverlagerung

In the image above you see a football pitch divided in a 6×3 grid. The zone in red is zone 14 and it’s the zone that starts from the lines of the six-yard box, but is outside the penalty area. From this area there is a high success from creating goalscoring opportunities, as a lot of assists come from that particular area.

I’m not looking at assists in this analysis, but at shots. Often, the zone 14 becomes a good zone to shoot from as the opposition makes sure to overload the penalty area. This is especially the case when the team in possession of the ball is quite dominant in their way of playing and the defending side needs to be compacted in the defensive third.

So, strikers and attacking midfielders try to shoot from this particular area because the pressing or overloads are not as present as in the penalty area. The expected goals from this particular zone is lower and therefore these goals are less frequent, but do show great ability of the attacking player.

Expected goals by players

PlayerxG low (0-0,4)xG middle (0,4-0,6)xG High (0,6-1)
Daka4424
Berisha5844
Koita4424

In the table above you see the different xG types in the games played by Red Bull Salzburg. They all take a big number of low xG shots and all have the same number of high xG shots, but that has mostly to do with them tacking penalties as well. Only Berisha has slight more middle xG shots, which is interesting as we move forward.

Daka – shot locations

Daka has taken 88 shots in all games in the 2020-2021 Austrian Bundesliga season. 24 of those shots resulted in a goal for Daka, which is a conversion rate of 27,27%. In the image below you can see the locations of all the shots by Daka.

In the image above we see all 88 shots taken bij Daka in this season so far. The grey dots stand for the shots taken that and the red dots indicate the goals scored in this season. If we look at shots placed in the zone 14, we see 9 shots that have been taken in that particular zone and we now want to find out what made him shoot more from distance.

Daka’s qualities lie within the penalty area and as you can see, all of his goals have been scored from that. However, he does attempt to shoot more from distance, as you can see by the grey dots outside the penalty area and we can see a trend. After he scores 3 goals from 3 shots in his games against Hartberg, Ried and Altach (within his first 15 shots of the season) – he seems to grow more confident in his abilities and attempts to shoot more from distance. Before those three goals, he attempted one shot outside the penalty box. After those three goals, he attempted six shots in 30 from zone 14.

MatchDateMinutes playedGoalsShots / on targetxG
Sturm Graz – Salzburg 1:32021-05-09660430,82
Salzburg – Wolfsberger AC 1:12021-04-28490200,8
Wolfsberger AC – Salzburg 1:22021-04-25821741,74
WSG Swarovski Tirol – Salzburg 3:22021-04-21490300,96
Salzburg – LASK Linz 2:02021-04-18900200,18
Rapid Wien – Salzburg 0:32021-04-111020310,47
Salzburg – Sturm Graz 3:12021-04-04953541,86
LASK Linz – Salzburg 0:12021-03-20941210,3
Salzburg – Admira 3:12021-03-13941220,2
Salzburg – St. Pölten 4:12021-03-07781320,44
Sturm Graz – Salzburg 2:12021-02-28611110,76
Salzburg – Rapid Wien 4:22021-02-21733851,92
WSG Swarovski Tirol – Salzburg 2:42021-02-13962520,72
Salzburg – Austria Wien 3:12021-02-10350100,01
Hartberg – Salzburg 0:32021-01-30881210,33
Salzburg – Ried 3:02021-01-27641410,97
Rheindorf Altach – Salzburg 0:22021-01-24821310,35
Salzburg – Wolfsberger AC 2:32020-12-20951931,28
Salzburg – LASK Linz 3:12020-12-13711330,54
Admira – Salzburg 1:02020-12-05620210,26
Austria Wien – Salzburg 0:22020-10-24321110,72
Salzburg – Hartberg 7:12020-10-04942431,18
Ried – Salzburg 1:32020-09-26341110,33
Salzburg – Rheindorf Altach 4:12020-09-19741631,61
Wolfsberger AC – Salzburg 1:32020-09-13941521,55

The three goals he scored at the beginning of the season had a quite high xG: 0,88 vs Hartberg, 0,22 vs Ried, and 0,76 vs Altach. Obviously, this gave him a confidence boost in scoring goals, but not so much in shot locations (if we look at xG), because the shots in zone 14 had xG scores between 0,01 xG and 0,07 xG. The scored goals don’t indicate confidence in trying low xG shots from zone 14. After those three goals, he had 7 more xG shots that were higher than 0,6xG (with two penalties) – but they all were in the six-yard box, bar the two penalties.

What’s interesting is that he keeps scoring goals, but after 40 shots, he only attempts one shot in zone 14 in 48 shots. We cannot really see this in the data whether his confidence will grow or slink, but he continues to shoot more from the penalty area and in the six-yard box.

Berisha – Shot locations
Berisha has taken 69 shots in all games in the 2020-2021 Austrian Bundesliga season. 11 of those shots resulted in a goal for Berisha, which is a conversion rate of 15,94%. In the image below you can see the locations of all the shots by Berisha.

In the image above we see all 69 shots taken by Berisha in this season so far. The grey dots stand for the shots taken that and the red dots indicate the goals scored in this season. If we look at shots placed in zone 14, we see 5 shots that have been taken in that particular zone and we now want to find out what made him shoot more from distance.

Berisha’s qualities lie within the penalty area and as you can see, all of his goals, bar one, have been scored from that. However, he does attempt to shoot more from distance, as you can see by the grey dots outside the penalty area and we can see a trend. In the first 20 shots Berisha had in the season he managed to score 7 goals, which is more than half of his total of 11. One of these goals comes from outside the penalty. This gives him the freedom and confidence to shoot a lot, and he wants to replicate that. We see that in the rest of the 48 shots where he shoots 5 times from zone 14.

MatchDateMinutes playedGoalsShots / on targetxG
Sturm Graz – Salzburg 1:32021-05-09790300,15
Salzburg – Wolfsberger AC 1:12021-04-28600100,25
Wolfsberger AC – Salzburg 1:22021-04-25741540,94
WSG Swarovski Tirol – Salzburg 3:22021-04-21470431,71
Salzburg – LASK Linz 2:02021-04-18951521,21
Rapid Wien – Salzburg 0:32021-04-11800110,03
Salzburg – Sturm Graz 3:12021-04-04920320,36
LASK Linz – Salzburg 0:12021-03-20740310,8
Salzburg – St. Pölten 4:12021-03-07941521,17
Sturm Graz – Salzburg 2:12021-02-28980300,29
Salzburg – Rapid Wien 4:22021-02-21940320,33
WSG Swarovski Tirol – Salzburg 2:42021-02-13961521,36
Salzburg – Austria Wien 3:12021-02-10730421,23
Salzburg – Ried 3:02021-01-27300210,1
Rheindorf Altach – Salzburg 0:22021-01-24720110,17
Salzburg – Wolfsberger AC 2:32020-12-20951531,5
Salzburg – LASK Linz 3:12020-12-13711310,39
Admira – Salzburg 1:02020-12-05250100,01
St. Pölten – Salzburg 2:82020-11-28591220,57
Salzburg – Sturm Graz 1:32020-11-21961210,19
Rapid Wien – Salzburg 1:12020-11-08970220,33
Austria Wien – Salzburg 0:22020-10-24641320,33
Ried – Salzburg 1:32020-09-26752320,4
Salzburg – Rheindorf Altach 4:12020-09-19320000
Wolfsberger AC – Salzburg 1:32020-09-13610000

The goal that gave him the confidence to shoot from outside the penalty area was against Sturm Graz and has an xG of 0,02. Obviously, this gave him a confidence boost in scoring goals, and he was looking to replicate it from those locations in zone 14. He had 5 more shots from zone 14 and they had a similar xG to the goal: between 0,02 xG and 0,04 xG. However, after trying a lot to score from low xG positions (outside the penalty area + on edge penalty area) he didn’t score after 25 shots and started shooting more again from positions with a higher xG per shot.

Koita – shot locations

Koita has taken 49 shots in all games in the 2020-2021 Austrian Bundesliga season. 14 of those shots resulted in a goal for Koita, which is a conversion rate of 28,57%. In the image below you can see the locations of all the shots by Koita.

In the image above we see all 49 shots taken by Koita in this season so far. The grey dots stand for the shots taken that and the red dots indicate the goals scored in this season. If we look at shots placed in zone 14, we see 4 shots that have been taken in that particular zone and we now want to find out what made him shoot more from distance.

Koita’s qualities lie within the penalty area and as you can see, all of his goals, have been scored from that. However, he does attempt to shoot from distance, as you can see by the grey dots outside the penalty area and we can see a trend. What’s particularly interesting about this is that the shots from zone 14 only appear after 40 shots taken in the league and don’t have any significance to a goal from distance, as the chances Koita has are all from a higher xG.

MatchDateMinutes playedGoalsShots / on targetxG
WSG Swarovski Tirol – Salzburg 2:42021-02-13371210,89
Salzburg – Austria Wien 3:12021-02-10841521,09
Hartberg – Salzburg 0:32021-01-30721210,95
Salzburg – Ried 3:02021-01-27941220,32
Rheindorf Altach – Salzburg 0:22021-01-24230100,04
Salzburg – LASK Linz 3:12020-12-13240220,12
Admira – Salzburg 1:02020-12-05350300,09
St. Pölten – Salzburg 2:82020-11-28363441,51
Salzburg – Sturm Graz 1:32020-11-21400110,32
Rapid Wien – Salzburg 1:12020-11-08761320,55
Salzburg – WSG Swarovski Tirol 5:02020-10-31332531,76
Austria Wien – Salzburg 0:22020-10-24830530,47
Salzburg – Hartberg 7:12020-10-04942440,97
Ried – Salzburg 1:32020-09-26650411,31
Salzburg – Rheindorf Altach 4:12020-09-19641320,89
Wolfsberger AC – Salzburg 1:32020-09-13331310,39

The goal on the edge of the box had an xG of 0,05. The three other shots attempted from zone 14 had xG between 0,02 and 0,03. So they somewhat resemble that goal on the edge of the penalty area/zone 14 – but they are not a direct consequence of that action.

Flaws in this analysis
Going into this analysis I had an open mind of where it could lead – I thought. The things is that I wanted to explore how much the strikers gained confidence when scoring from zone 14, but there were a few flaws in my thinking. I didn’t consider the fact that Red Bull Salzburg play a style that doens’t involve a lot of striker shooting action in that particular zone, but more in the six-yard box.

A second thing I didn’t take into consideration was the fact that the position of strikers were not optimal for this type of analysis. If I would do this again, I would choose attacking midfielders or advanced central midfielders, as they are more natural in that particular area or zone.

The last thing I didn’t take into consideration – but a conscious decision – was the psychological factor. Confidence has everything to do with one’s perception of themselves. If a player fairs greatly with scoring, then this could be a huge factor within his play. Some players need that particular confidence to thrive. Others don’t need external factors to thrive and therefore are not affected as much as other players.

Conclusion
There were some flaws in my analysis, but it was interesting to see the reaction of certain players in looking for similar xG shot locations. Daka seemed to be affected at first when he scored a few good goals, but they were not from a low xG location. His confidence to shoot from zone 14 grew because of his goals scored. Berisha attempted more from distance and was more present in zone 14. He tried to score more form zone 14 after he scored, but his production from this zone became less after 25 shots without any goal. Koita was not affected by the above, but a reason for this is that he didn’t score from zone 14 and that his most successful actions game from within the penalty area.

As said above, the physical event of scoring a low xG goal or a goal from zone 14 can influence the confidence of a player, but without looking at psychological factors, opposition and form – it’s hard to tell for 100%.

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