Data Analysis: Sergi Roberto and Luuk De Jong

It is well known that players enjoy and have a better chance of winning football games with a home ground advantage. For instance, let’s look at when Barcelona played against Liverpool at the champions league semi-finals. At the home ground, Barcelona won 3-0 but didn’t get to the champions league final after losing 4-0 in the away match a week later. According to experts at sport.netbet.co.uk, understanding how home advantage contributes to football outcomes is essential to finding betting value. Sports teams perform better when playing in a home ground than away.

More evidence on this is found by assessing world cup winners. A total of 6 teams have won on home ground. They include Uruguay in 1930, Italy in 1934, England in 1966, West Germany in 1974, Argentina in 1978, and France in 1998. This pattern has occurred since 1888, whereby home teams score more goals than away teams throughout a season. Let us try to understand the factors that contribute to home advantage.

The stadium’s architecture

One contributing factor to home advantage is the stadium’s architecture. How familiar a team is with the pitch and its conditions impacts how they perform. A good example is Borussia Monchengladbach, the German team. They built their new stadium in 2004 called Borussia Park and added certain touches. They implemented an architecture whereby the fans are close to the pitch such that the crowd’s noise is reflected to the pitch with deliberate goals to influence the referee. Since then, Borussia has enjoyed home ground wins in the Bundesliga.

Moreover, the ratio between the length and the width of the pitch also influences home advantage. For instance, the Freiburg square is one of the widest and the shortest in the Bundesliga. That is a deliberate effort to allow the team to focus on wing play for an added advantage. The stadium architecture home advantage always seems to disappear whenever teams move stadiums.

Higher energy levels

Another explanation for home advantage in football is that male players tend to have higher testosterone levels when playing in their home ground. They experience higher energy levels to protect their territory. According to a study by the Northumbria University of Newcastle, the salivary testosterone levels of football players were found to be higher before a home game than away.

The energy levels are even higher when a team plays against their perceived rivals; in the premier league, Man city VS Man United and La Liga, Barcelona VS Real Madrid. The study further suggested that the testosterone levels were higher when playing a powerful rival than a moderate rival.

Furthermore, goalkeepers gave higher energy levels when playing at home than other team players. This is because they have two territories to defend, which are the pitch and the goal area.

Climate and altitudes

Another factor contributing to the home advantage is the climate factor, although it applies to specific geographical regions. Altitude has a significant impact on the performance of players. For instance, Bolivia and Ecuador train their games high in the mountains. Bolivia plays at La Paz, 3600meters above sea level, and Ecuador plays at Quito, which is 2800meters above sea level.

When Bolivia played against Brazil in 2017, Neymar and his colleagues had to use oxygen after a goalless draw on the Bolivia pitch. The venue is believed to have harsh playing conditions for players not used to that kind of altitude.

Referee bias

It is believed that referees tend to be biased towards the home team. The referees are subconsciously affected by the noise of the home crowd and are more likely to award penalties to home teams. That is why there was the introduction of VAR systems to avoid referee bias. According to research, since the introduction of VAR technologies in European football, matches have documented less biased decisions. That means VAR technologies reduce the influence of home groups advantage in soccer.

The fans

Fans believe that they have a significant impact on the outcome of a football match. Although gauging the impact of crowd support is challenging, that could be true. According to research in 2006 by Pollard, the relationship between home advantage and crowd size in soccer is unclear. So, crowd density, the intensity of support, and proximity to the pitch should all come into play.

The bottom line

Home advantage in football is well documented in a series of team sports. Teams playing at home-ground and away approach the matches differently from a tactical point of view. Understanding the home advantage of a team is valuable before a match prediction.