BuLiStats: MD02 pass-maps and touch-plots

Throughout this season, we’ll be posting pass-maps and touch-plots from Bundesliga matches on the site.

Pass-maps will be familiar to anyone who’s followed David Sumpter (@Soccermatics) or Sander Ijtsma (@11tegen11) on Twitter in recent years. Sumpter has stopped putting them out, however, and Ijtsma’s are now often behind a paywall, so there seems to be a gap to fill.

The players’ locations are the average positions in which they touched the ball. The thickness of the lines between them demonstrate the number of passes they played to each other. No lines are shown if a player made fewer than four passes to the team-mate in question, as otherwise the maps look like even more of a mess.

Touch-plots simply display when players touched the ball during a game, which provides an indication of whether they were centrally involved in their team’s game, were on the periphery of the action, or drifted in and out of the match.

Dortmund vs. Cologne (23 Aug)

Dortmund’s pass-map against Cologne only tells part of the story, of course, because the game turned in Dortmund’s favour after the introduction of Achraf Hakimi and Julian Brandt on 62 minutes. Mathew Burt has already expertly dissected the impact of Brandt’s cameo in this piece, which is well worth your time.

It’s certainly easy to see why Nico Schulz was withdrawn for Hakimi – there was very little connection between the left-back and any of Dortmund’s attacking players.

The map also shows that despite Dortmund ostensibly lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Paco Alcacer wasn’t touching the ball in a more advanced position on average than either Thorgan Hazard or Jadon Sancho. Indeed, in this game at least it looked more like a 4-2-1-3 in practice.

We can also observe one of the pitfalls of pass-maps here, namely that because Sancho and Hazard switched flanks on multiple occasions during the match, their average positions are both in the centre of the pitch, despite the fact that neither player spent much time in that area.

Meanwhile, the touch-plot demonstrates how heavily involved both Hakimi and Brandt were after they came on.

Bayern vs. Schalke (24 Aug)

The pass-map for Bayern against Schalke also misses out an important part of the narrative, namely Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Perisic making their debuts for the club shortly before the hour mark.

In terms of the full-backs, David Alaba was much more advanced than Benjamin Pavard. Alaba was also clearly the main conduit in terms of getting the ball to Robert Lewandowski. The way in which both Lewandowski’s fellow forwards and the entire Bayern midfield failed to find him on anything approaching a regular basis is both conspicuous and concerning.

As for the centre-backs, Lucas Hernandez interacted with his midfield far more than Niklas Suele, who tended to restrict his passes to other members of Bayern’s backline.

Finally, the touch-plot suggests that both Thomas Mueller and Serge Gnabry were peripheral, while Lewandowski was the model of efficiency – a goal every 14 touches.

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Warren Pegg

Warren is a long-time admirer of German football and German beer. He roots for Borussia Dortmund, but above all greatly admires the Bundesliga's engaged, boisterous, and principled supporters. You can follow him at @Russell_Pegg on Twitter.

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