The long and the short of it: pass masters will lead Ajax, not Liverpool, to Champions League glory?

September 17 – With stats increasingly showing that possession and the number of passes made differentiate the winning teams from the losing, the CIES Football Observatory has made an analysis of the current Champions League teams using InStat data.

Looking at the average length of the passes achieved in domestic league games so far this season, the report finds: “Past edition semi-finalists Ajax have the lowest figure (15.96 meters), ahead of Paris St-Germain (16.17) and Barcelona (16.56).”

“At the opposite end of the table are Czech champions Slavia Praha with an average length of 19.82 meters (+24% compared to Ajax). Title holder Liverpool has so far achieved the fourth longest passes among group stage participants: 19.45 meters on average. This figure is significantly higher than for their main Premier League rivals Manchester City (17.39),” says the report.

The majority of high-profile teams are among those making the shortest passes, say the authors. The shorter the passes, the greater the number of passes made, is the basic metric. And the greater likelihood of winning.

“Apart from Liverpool, the only recent Champions League finalist with an average length of passes greater than 18 meters is Atlético Madrid. Diego Simeone’s team achieved the third lowest number of passes per game (379), while Lucien Favre’s Borussia Dortmund made the most (735),” says the report.

See the full report at

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