The Stats Behind Pirates’ Improvements This Season
Pirates' Defensive Record Has Improved Dramatically
Orlando Pirates’ poor defensive record last season has improved dramatically in the opening stages of the 2017/18 campaign and we now take a look at what has been behind the changes implemented by Milutin Sredojevic.
The Buccaneers conceded 40 goals in the 2016/17 season and finished outside of the top eight for the first time in the PSL era, but have turned things around in spectacular fashion this season, conceding just twice in their first five games this season. The appointment of head coach Milutin Sredojevic has clearly paid dividends for the Soweto giants and the numbers show exactly why they have managed to change things up.
Pirates have managed to close down their opponents as efficiently as one can imagine, recording the lowest opponent conversion rate in the league, with just 2.2% of their opponents’ shots finding the back of the net. That’s just over one goal from 45 shots. As a result, they have been able to hold out for all three points in two of the three games that they took the lead in so far this season, drawing the other.
It is clear that they have been happy to surrender possession to their opponents, having kept possession for an average of 47.8% this season. When they have had possession of the ball, 77.6% of their passes took place in the final third, an indication of a focus on direct football. In addition, 14.8 defensive actions (tackles and interceptions) per game reflects how much focus has been put on breaking up play, while 11 aerial duels won per game, of which they have won more than half, shows how dominant they have been in the area, which has been important when the opposition adopts a direct approach.
Crucially, Pirates have scored three of their four goals in the first half, which has given them the comfort of holding out for the lead and the opportunity to hold out from winning positions, a highly efficient way to gather all three points and the kind of strategy that wins league titles.
It will, therefore, be incredibly pleasing for Pirates’ fans, who will not be concerned about the style of football after last season’s struggles and will be happy to see the team put emphasis on results.
What do you think is the secret to Bucs’ form this season?