I‘ve been thinking about passing recently, and it seems that teams have quite distinct passing signatures that can be discerned in heat maps.
The purpose of this post is just to illustrate this with some heat maps for a few selected teams which simply represent the numbers of passes starting and ending in different locations. All data are from the relevant domestic leagues in 2017-2018. I exclude throw-ins, corners, kickoffs and goalkicks, although other goalkeeper kicks are included. Aggregated over the course of a season, visible differences are apparent in both pass origin and pass end locations.
Looking at passes originating in the region just beyond the halfway line, Barcelona’s passes originate from all areas across the width of the field, while Real Madrid’s passes originate somewhat more from the wings, and Manchester City’s pass come disproportionately from central areas.
Pass End Locations
Stoke and Burnley’s long ball game is evident when we compare their favoured pass end locations with Liverpool’s.
These maps seem to reveal consistent stylistic differences between teams and provide a high-level glimpse of their favoured playing patterns.