By Enrico Caballero
21-August-2019 on Users6 minute read
10 time La Liga champions Atletico De Madrid have re-emerged as a major presence in European football over the last decade, thanks in part to the club’s long term vision and strategy.
Key to that growth has been the club’s firm belief in an analytical approach to the way they play the game - which begins at academy level and goes right through to the men’s and women’s senior teams.
In the spotlight this week we meet Xabi de Ruiz Ocenda, First Team Analyst at Atletico, to learn about his work and his thoughts on the future role of analysis in the game.
When and how did you discover Nacsport? Had you used any other analytical software before that?
It’s been so long I don’t remember, but I’d been using Sportscode for around a year before I discovered Nacsport.
From the first moment we found it a more flexible tool and decided to switch.
Which parts of the club structure use Nacsport at Atletico?
The entire analytical department use Nacsport - from the youngest teams in our academy right up to the full male and female squads.
Roughly how many games do you analyse every week?
Around 5 - including upcoming rivals matches and our own games. We also analyse our own training sessions, which is fundamental for us. When I think about it it sounds like a considerable workload.
What does a typical analysis comprise of?
Our entire analytical process, including the work we do on rivals, is organised around our own team structure.
Rather than sticking with a fixed methodology, we believe it’s best to adapt and respond to our own game model and the way we want to play football.
Do you work in real-time during matches and if so, have you seen any benefits?
We tag all our matches in real-time. It allows us to review and share video immediately if we need to.
We also tag our rivals, which is a real time-saver for us.
How many people do you work with and who do you deliver your reports to?
I can only answer for the men’s first team - where there are 3 of us working with Nacsport. We share our reports directly with Cholo Simeone and his 2 assistants, Germán Burgos and Nelson Vivas, as well as the goalkeeping coach Pablo Vercellone
How is your work used? Do coaches work with your presentations directly?
The trainers do not use our work directly. It’s more of a shared process, where we all work together. We may modify reports after discussing them with coaching staff, but we’ll assist in their presentation to the players.
Do you focus on any particular areas of a match to analyse? And do you also analyze rival teams?
My main focus is to analyse the team’s performance, but inevitably that includes an element of analysis of our opponents, which I try to separate out for future use. I also analyse all our training sessions.
How do you think the team benefits from your work in the long term?
It’s difficult to empirically monitor the benefit for the team. But at an elite level, every detail counts in football. What we have done is make players more aware of the game and in turn that improves their skills.
I have noticed players asking me for information that goes beyond the processes of our coaches. The Club's commitment to improving evidence-based decision-making processes is total.
Do you reach your analytical goals? What frustrates you most about your work?
I think we have our analytical goals covered as a team.
But the synergy between contextualized numerical data and images is something we must continue to work on.
Do you think the players and coaches value your analytical work?
I think everyone at the club now realises analytical reporting is a part of our preparation for every game.
What I have noticed is that players now request individual videos, either to learn about their rivals or to review their own performance.
Do you use any other tools in your analysis or presentations?
Do you use external data providers such as InStat or WyScout?
Yes, we use Wyscout, Mediacoach and the Instat portal. We’ll often look at regular websites for specific information if we can.
How do you see the development of the role of analyst in football?
As an integral part of the coaching staff within a team.
Just like physical trainers or goalkeeping coaches, we have a specialised role within the structure of a club, which is fundamental to preparing a team for games. We’re also on hand to help answer questions or provide information answering the specific needs of coaches.
If you could add one new tool or feature to Nacsport, what would it be?
It would try to improve and simplify the process of sharing and communicating in real-time, as well a few tweaks to KlipDraw.