Liverpool vs Barcelona: Yet another reminder of the changing psychology of Champions League football
Extremely different reactions from the most extreme of dramas – the sort of which have become the new norm for the Champions League. That is as many as in the 22 years of Champions League football before that. There have similarly been three comebacks from three goals or more in the last two-and-a-half years. Even the concession of a goal in such circumstances felt little more than a consolation, a glimmer of hope. Such second-leg goals instead provoke a visible change in matches and the mindsets of both teams.
Such psychology alone is fascinating, and could start to explain how the fantastical has become so frequent. None of this is to even include how Juventus took Real Madrid to within a penalty of such a recovery last season, or how Roma took Liverpool to within a goal. There’s an element of psychological contagion here, in the same way that certain types of goals – like Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s scorpion kick two years ago – suddenly become replicated because they’re front and present in players’ minds. This partly explains how even a side as accomplished as this Barcelona one can get so panicked at conceding a second-leg goal to make it 3-1. Anxiety afflicts them in a way it never would if a second-half goal made it 3-1 in a single 90-minute game, which is in itself remarkable and speaks to the psychology of it all.
Goal averages have shot up since 2008, to around three a match. Extremity is now what the Champions League is all about.
Can psychology help football academy players to maximise their potential?
Sports psychologists from Bangor University have teamed up with Manchester City Football Club to identify and understand the psychological characteristics that help young academy players to fulfil their potential. Over the next four years, Manchester City’s academy players will be tracked as part of this unique research project. City’s coaches have already identified the psychological characteristics that they believe are key to talent development, and these will be monitored and regularly assessed. The extent to which they predict improvements in performance levels during this time will be evaluated. The research findings should provide a greater understanding of elite youth players’ psychological and overall development, enabling targeted efforts by the academy to accelerate player development.
This collaboration between Bangor University’s Institute for Psychology of Elite Performance and Manchester City’s City Football Services brings together a wealth of research and applied football expertise. The Institute for Psychology of Elite Performance has a world-leading reputation in sport psychology and in the production of impactful research that informs elite performance practices; whilst City coaches, sports scientists, physiotherapists, performance analysts and psychologists work together to ensure the optimal development of their youth players in an internationally renowned facility.
Psychological Factors to Consider
Everything mentioned above will definitely help! It’s very difficult to make money from football betting without knowing a lot about the sport itself and the teams and players. Since most people who bet on football are also fans of the sport, they often have their favorite teams and players. In the context of betting, desirability bias refers to our tendency to bet on what we WANT to happen. Anyway, there are plenty of other football games to bet on.
There are two main ways in which loss aversion can affect us when we’re betting on football. The problem is that backing the favorite doesn’t ALWAYS offer the best chance of winning when betting on football. The logic holds true when backing the favorite on the moneyline, but most football bettors bet on the point spread. Point spreads are designed to give each team a equal chance of covering. We all rely on our own beliefs and opinions when betting on football.
Another effect of availability bias is apparent in the way many people use trends when betting on football. The bandwagon effect is one of the most useful cognitive biases to understand when betting on football. Another example of outcome bias from a betting perspective is when we consider our own betting results. Above all else, successful football betting requires an ability to think objectively and make rational decisions.
The social psychology that Manchester United have missed, and must reclaim, since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure
Manchester United can be saved, and Sir Alex Ferguson knows how to do it. Maybe the first thing that Ferguson knew, which subsequent managers should be made to read and learn before they get to set foot on the training pitch, is a lesson from poet John Donne entitled No Man Is An Island. There was rarely a weak link in a Ferguson side, and when there was, he swatted it away instantly. Back in 2012, Ferguson met up with Harvard academics to discuss the more theoretical side of his managerial philosophy. In these meetings at Harvard, Ferguson detailed the way he implements psychological techniques in training.
Ferguson clearly and methodically incorporated evolution into his approach. Making sure to catch the eyes of the opposition and the referees: Ferguson was displaying his ability to exert control. One of the defining attributes of Ferguson’s United was grit. Not everyone used Ferguson’s neat tricks to make it happen, though. Not to misrepresent, it’s important to note that Ferguson wasn’t all hairdryers and split eyebrows.
If Ferguson is the king of Manchester United, then Eric Cantona is the prince. Hopefully, building on the foundation of grit, determination and teamwork – augmented by Ferguson’s firebrand social psychology – they will go on to prove themselves as a team still willing to zig when everyone else wants to zag.