Whether it’s assessing goalmouth action, gathering statistics on player passing, or analyzing Ronaldo’s sprinting speed, SAP Match Insights is playing an important part in the German national soccer team’s mission to win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Back in 2006, when Germany hosted the World Cup, goalkeeper Jens Lehmann had to resort to studying a crumpled, handwritten cheat sheet to glean tips on the habits of Argentina’s penalty-takers just before the now legendary quarter-final shootout against the south Americans. Needing to score to keep his team in contention, Argentina’s Cambiasso began his run-up to the penalty spot; Lehmann guessed which way he would shoot, blocked the shot, and took Germany through to the semi-finals.

With SAP’s help, obtaining potentially match-winning information like this will be much easier in the future. That’s because today’s players have the technology available to analyze patterns of play and gain a competitive edge over their rivals.

During a joint press conference at Germany’s team camp in Santo André, Brazil, SAP and the German Football Association (DFB) reported on a solution that they are developing to analyze the on-field performance of the German team and its opponents and thus facilitate the DFB team’s pre-match preparations: SAP Match Insights.

Split-Second Analysis of Goalmouth Action

The basis for the analyses is game data from matches played by Germany and its World Cup opponents, which has been fed into the system. Chief analyst and DFB scout Christopher Clemens demonstrated how, at the touch of a button, relevant match scenes can be filtered out of the system and displayed on a tablet. As his example, he selected the test game that Germany recently played against Armenia and analyzed a section of goalmouth action involving double goalscorer Mario Götze.


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The great thing about the app, he explained, is that it is designed for use by the players themselves, as well as by the team trainers and coaches. “The players will be using the solution both here at our training camp in Campo Bahia and en route to our match venues,” he said.

Oliver Bierhoff, SAP brand ambassador and manager of the German national soccer team, added, “Previously, if we wanted to run a player analysis, we had to make an appointment with that player and meet in a room that was fitted with video analysis equipment. The new app means that players can do their own match analyses whenever and wherever it suits them.”

SAP HANA Processes Millions of Data in Real Time

Thanks to the SAP HANA technology, said Bierhoff, the German team was now able to analyze vast amounts of data and customize their training sessions accordingly: “Imagine this: In just ten minutes, ten players with three balls can produce over seven million data points. SAP HANA can process these in real time.”

The German national team will use SAP Match Insights in an early adoption phase during the World Cup in Brazil. Ultimately, SAP plans to offer the app to other clubs and football federations as well, as an enhancement to its industry product portfolio for sports and entertainment.

A Glimpse into the Future of Football

With this intention in mind, SAP and the DFB are already planning a series of additional innovation projects that will take the app’s capabilities beyond match analysis. “We want to leverage this technology to link various disciplines ― including psychology and medicine ― with match analyses and to integrate all the data in a single solution,” said Stefan Wagner of SAP Labs Brazil. This, he explained, would involve gathering information as a basis for long-term research ― such as health data and player training schedules ― and analyzing opponents in detail (by running match analyses for individual players such as Portugal’s Ronaldo, including his passing statistics, forward runs, and so on).

This solution, Bierhoff explained, could one day help the German national coach make crucial half-time tactical decisions ― such as which players to substitute and when.

To learn more, read the press release: “SAP and the German Football Association Turn Big Data Into Smart Decisions.”

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