Insights for the UEFA Women's EURO 2022
The Women’s EURO 2022 football tournament is in full swing as the teams move into the semi-finals. We had the chance to have conversations with two legendary Finnish football experts about the tournament and all things football. We talked to Anne Mäkinen, a former professional football player who represented Finland a record 118 times. Maiju Ruotsalainen on the other hand is a football coach and former player and is currently working as a football expert for Yle Urheilu. They both gave us some interesting insights on the tournament and women’s football in general.
England, France, and Germany—setting the tempo
Both Mäkinen and Ruotsalainen agreed that England, France, and Germany are the dominating countries in this year’s tournament. When asked about the supremacy of these three countries, Ruotsalainen distinguished some clear factors that make the teams stronger than others.
– England and France play overall the best football. England has a player in every position who has the qualities needed for that specific position.
According to Mäkinen, the factors setting these top countries apart from the others are the countries’ football cultures, the number of players overall, the know-how in coaching and an environment that constantly challenges the players. Mäkinen also emphasizes the significance of the skill and fast tempo with which England, France and Germany play football.
There are big differences in the speed of the passes and the speed of the ball game between the top countries and other countries. Tempo is everything and it is something that the young Finnish players still lack.
The hurdles and prospects of the Finnish team
The Finnish team did not make it into the quarterfinals after they lost to first Spain, then to Denmark and Germany as well. Ruotsalainen was particularly disappointed in the Finnish team’s performance against Denmark and was not surprised at the result of the Finland-Germany game either.
– Finland became passive against Denmark and didn’t go all-in, even though it should have. During its’ last game Finland was completely at the mercy of Germany, but in my opinion, it was still Finland’s best game.
Finland had a tough go at these European championships and Mäkinen and Ruotsalainen had some interesting pointers about the Finnish team’s struggles and what it could do to improve its’ chances against the top countries in the future.
– The Finnish players are very obedient, but they need more independent thinking and courage because they are the ones making decisions on the field. They need to take more responsibility for the progression of the game, says Ruotsalainen.
– I’m wondering where Finland’s promising young players are hiding at the moment. If you look at the age distribution of the Finnish team, we have many over 30-year-olds, which can be a positive thing, but thinking about the future, structural changes must start happening right after this tournament, says Mäkinen.
How has football changed in the last decade?
We also asked both Mäkinen and Ruotsalainen, how football, in general, has developed after their active playing careers ended. Mäkinen found that the two main factors that have evolved and changed the most are the tempo of the game and the skill level of the players. Commercialization is also a by-product that cannot be left out since it affects virtually everything, says Mäkinen. Ruotsalainen’s views concerning the development of the sport aligned with what Mäkinen pointed out.
The increase in the speed of the game is especially noticeable in the top teams. They are able to move quickly and get themselves out of tight spaces efficiently.
In addition, Ruotsalainen noted that the players make fewer unforced errors than before, and it is not about having a couple of star players in your team anymore. According to Ruotsalainen, the key to success nowadays is to have an overall quality team and a quality player in each position.
Increased interest through data analysis and video highlights
Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) is broadcasting the tournament in Finland and our intelligent video clipping service enables YLE to share video clips and highlights from the games in no time. The clips can be viewed in YLE Areena after the game which allows fans to relive the key events and pay closer attention to events they missed during the official broadcast. Mäkinen recognizes the relevance of data analysis when it comes to the extremely fast-paced sport of football.
– It is interesting data for sure. I think it’s interesting, especially for laymen, to get that kind of additional information about what goes on in the games.
AISpotter is a cloud-based video analysis and intelligent highlight production service. We use our own AI models to analyze any video, locate desired events, generate highlights, and combine them with data streams, statistics, and sensor data.
The technology enables streaming companies and sports clubs to scale up their video production capabilities using existing resources. AISpotter can analyze large numbers of simultaneous videos saving hours of production time.
Contact me for further information: Timo Rousti