By Andrew Istler
General differences in Play style
When comparing a women’s soccer match and a men’s match there are a few things that one may notice:
- The game moves slower and is easier to follow
- Women’s games seem to be more team based
- There appears to be fewer stoppages in Women’s game
- Women can flat out play and are very talented
Many critics view some of these characteristics as negatives and make the game seem boring. In my opinion it shouldn’t be looked at like that though because having watched the previous World Cup I can truly appreciate the style and skill that women possess. “The women’s game is slower, less explosive, easier to follow and more pure” . This is exactly how I would illustrate women’s matches compared to men’s. Yes, a women’s game is “slower” and may not be as “explosive” but from what I could tell the women play much more like a team, the way the game is supposed to be played.
“Most noticeable is the speed at which the games are played. Some would argue that what women lack in speed they make up for in technical ability and style of play.”
After watching a couple games those were the main takeaways I came away with; however I wanted to take a more in depth look at the game. I chose to look at a country that has historically been a top team in the World, Brazil. I wanted to analyze the differences between their men’s and women’s national teams.
Brazil Men’s National Team: History of famous strikers, Pele, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Neymar
The Brazilian Men’s National team is historically known for its flare and great dribbling skills. They play a fast paced game and give opponents plenty to deal with. In the 2014 World Cup they had the most shots of all teams with 111 shots attempted, the tournament avg was 52.6 . During their matches in the most recent World Cup they often found themselves scoring first and it usually occurred in the first half of play.
Brazil Women’s National Team:
Many people will agree that women’s play is slower than men’s. However what women lack in speed they make up for in technical abilities. The Brazilian Women’s National Team may not fall under the typical play style of a women’s soccer team and this is because of their star forward, Marta. Her dribbling skills and finesse rival that of her male counter parts. Even with a star like Marta though it is apparent that the Women’s team plays with much more cohesion and team fundamentals than their male counterparts.
Comparison of the two teams through 2014 World Cup and 2011 World Cup:
In seven matches the men had 111 shot attempts which is an average of 15.85 shots per game (this led the 2014 World Cup). The women in their most previous world cup had 26 shots over their 4 matches which is an average of 6.5 shots per game. As it is to be expected the men had almost three times as many shots per game as the women had and this goes to show the increase in pace of play between the men and women. However, the women scored 9 times in their 4 games and the men only scored 11 times in their 7 matches. The women averaged 2.25 goals per game while the men only averaged 1.57. The women’s higher efficiency can also be seen in the number of goals they scored compared to the number of shots they took. The women scored 9 goals on 59 attempts which is an average of a goal for every 6.55 shots they took. The men scored 11 goals on 111 attempts which is an average of a goal scored every 10.09 attempts. Another clear indication that the women were more efficient is that they only had 26 shots on target but that resulted in 9 goals. The men on the other hand had 72 shots on target that resulted in 11 goals. Women averaged a goal every 2.89 shots on target and the men averaged a goal every 6.54 shots on target. Some may argue that this is because men’s defenders and keepers are better but I truly believe that the women’s team play style is more inclined to scoring. ( All of these statistics were located on the following pages)
Mens (7 games)
- 111 shots
- 15.85 shots per game
- 11 goals
- 1.57 goals per game
- One goal per every 10.09 attempts
- One goal ever 6.54 shots on target
Womens (4 games)
- 26 shots
- 6.5 shots per game
- 9 goals
- 2.25 goals per game
- One goal per every 6.55 attempts
- One goal every 2.89 shots on target
To go along with the offensive side of the game I also thought it would be interesting to look at how men’s and women’s defenses differ. Men are often criticized for flopping (the act of faking an injury). Many people think that there are too many unnecessary stoppages in men’s games that really slow the game. I have included a video below of some examples of flops during some men’s matches. Some of these are prime examples of how during a game a player pretends to act hurt in order to stop of the game. Some of these even show that a player was not even touched before going down and pretending to be injured. Women are known to be far more resilient on the pitch. They seem to only go down if they are truly hurt and injured. While there is no clear way to analyze flopping between matches I figured the next best thing would be to look at the number of fouls committed and yellow and red cards received. During the 2014 World Cup the men committed 117 fouls and averaged 16.71 per game . Also in their game against Columbia there were 54 fouls committed which was the most in a single match of the tournament . Brazil also had the highest amount of yellow cards with 13 averaging 1.86 per game . On the other hand the women during the 2011 World Cup committed 46 fouls which is an average of 11.5 fouls per game .
Mens (7 games)
- 117 fouls committed 16.71 per game
- 13 yellow cards 1.86 per game
- 54 fouls in Brazil vs Columbia (highest in 2014 World Cup)
Womens (4 games)
- 46 fouls averaged 11.5 per game
After all this analysis I thought it would be interesting to get the perspective of a women’s player. I decided to interview one of my friends who was a 4 year letter winner in high school and had the opportunity to play in college. She was a center back so I thought it would be interesting to get her perspective on the differences between men’s and women’s play styles.
Q: What do you think is the main difference between men’s and women’s play style?
A: “Men’s is so much faster and women’s is a lot more technical.”
Q: Do you think men flop more often than women?
A: “Absolutely! They’re a lot more dramatic, which is funny because they try to act really tough about it.”
Q:Do you think men and women train differently (conditioning and lifting)?
A:”I don’t think men work as hard on conditioning as we do because it comes naturally for them. I remember in high school we would be dying during conditioning and the men were over working on skills. As far as weight lifting goes men did a lot more than we did.”
Q:Do you think there is a difference between the coaching of a men’s team compared to a women’s team?
A:”Yes, I think men’s coaches are much more inclined to yell at their players because they probably respond to it better. Men would also focus on skills during their practices while we would practice set pieces and playing as a unit.”