Is playing at home really an advantage?

May 1st, 2019, Barcelona outclasses Liverpool with a brilliant performance in a 3-0 win. Exactly 6 days later, on May 7th, this very same Barcelona side was kicked out by Liverpool following a historic 4-0 come-back, remontada. One could not help but ask themselves: HOW COME?

One key factor according to the world of football was Anfield, Liverpool’s stadium. Is home advantage really a thing? Does playing away or at home really make a difference at the elite level? The answer is YES. Once again, HOW COME?

The 12th man

Supporters are commonly known as the ‘’12th man’’ in football. Their influence on the game is very important.

Borussia Dortmund with their 12th man.
Source: The Independent

A study that was run on Premier League academy players back in 2017 has shown that the levels of testosterone are higher in their saliva than in the players from the visiting teams.

Another study has shown that referees’ decisions can be influenced by the crowd. Crowd noise has a role in influencing the decision made by the referee. Crowd noise makes referees unintentionally call fewer fouls on the home team and give more cards to the visiting one.

However, if the referees feel that they are bullied by the home crowd, they might just as well act against home teams.

The pitch

Yes, football pitches are different. The Camp Nou for example is known for having wider dimensions than usual pitches.

Players are used to their home pitch’s size. They understand it’s bounce, grip and holes.

The football pitch can also be tailored according to the opponent. No one can forget Xavi’s comments on the Bernabeu’s grass. He would say that the grass is longer than usual. Nobody in Real Madrid denied it and there were some rumors that stated it was Jose Mourinho that wanted things to be done that way as the ball will take longer to move from one player to another, slowing the tiki-taka system and making Real Madrid’s pressing even more effective.

The travelling process

Travelling also has it’s influence on football games. The visiting team’s training schedule is disrupted. Travelling also reduces players physical condition, readiness, and mental abilities.

Tactics aren’t only about what the coach says to his players or what the training is all about. There are some small details, as you may have noticed while reading this article that have their say in the game too.




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