Created on 2015-02-27 at 09:00 AM
Over the years, data analytics has become an increasingly prominent part of the sports world. While the use of analytics in the United States is especially synonymous with basketball and baseball, it is catching on fast in soccer - spurred on by the German national team's success at the World Cup. Germany made use of SAP's data analytics tool on the road to its fourth World Cup win.
FC Bayern Head of Match Analysis Michael Niemeyer was at the annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston where he discussed the use of SAP's analytics tool (FC Bayern launched a premium partnership with SAP last year), how data helps inform and improve match performance and analysis and the future of analytics.
Speaking with fcbayernmunich.com, Niemeyer talked about his time at the conference, the difference in analytics between Europe and the US and how it is used at FC Bayern.
Interview with Michael Niemeyer:
What was it like taking part in the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference? Was it your first time engaging with the US analytics community?
Niemeyer: Yes! And it’s very interesting to see the differences between Europe and the US, and all the different fields in match analysis. It’s my first time at this event – I have always wanted to go, but now with SAP I finally got the chance. During the season, I normally don’t have the time to go to event like these.
The analytics community is growing here in the United States, especially around soccer. Is it the same in Europe?
Niemeyer: Yes, absolutely. Traditionally the US is really advanced in other sports. But in soccer, the US is still in its infancy. I think we can learn a lot from American sports though.
A lot of people are still new to analytics or just learning it. What is the basic principle and purpose in the context of a professional soccer team?
Niemeyer: This is hard to explain, but I think the umbrella term “pattern detection” will help here. That’s what it’s all about essentially. Pattern detection, repeated actions – that’s what makes it a little bit more predictable and helps the team prepare.
What value would you say analytics brings to player performance and development? What are the benefits?
Niemeyer: We are trying to improve the odds – to increase the likelihood of winning. In the top leagues, it is all about the last five percent. Technical skills and athletic performance have probably reached their peak…. But analytics help stretch beyond that limit. We can tap into new potentials.
What has been your experience working with your department and Pep Guardiola’s coaching staff with analytics?
Niemeyer: They are very open to these insights. Pep has brought match analysis to the next level, using it intensively for his work.
What in your opinion is the next step or stage for soccer analytics?
Niemeyer: More automation of the analysis processes. This will allow us to focus on the crucial details. We need to combine video data with all the other data sources available. That’s an area I would really like to explore with SAP.
For more on SAP's involvement in sports, click here.