Increasing Offensive or Defensive Efficiency? an Analysis of Italian and Spanish Football

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Omega 37 (2009) 63 – 78
Increasing offensive or defensive efficiency? An analysis of Italian and Spanish football
José E. Boscá∗, Vicente Liern, Aurelio Martínez, Ramón Sala Facultad de Economía, Universidad de Valencia, Avda. dels Tarongers s/n, E-46022 Valencia, Spain Received 15 July 2005; accepted 3 August 2006

Available online 10 October 2006
This paper analyses technical efficiency of Italian and Spanish football during three recent seasons, to shed light on the sport performance of professional football clubs. To achieve this we have used mathematical optimisation methods, particularly DEA models, which enable the calculation of the frontiers of efficient production. Some of the most interesting results are the following. Firstly, the Spanish league is clearly more homogeneous and competitive than the Italian league. Secondly, to obtain a better classification in the Italian league, it is much more important to improve defensive, rather than offensive, efficiency. The popular maxim holds in Italy: the best attack begins with a good defence. Third, in Spain our analysis supports the idea that to improve the ranking in the league, the best-rewarded strategy consists in improving offensive efficiency playing at home ground, followed by increasing offensive efficiency when playing away from home.  2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Efficiency; DEA; Sports
1. Introduction
The clubs forming the Spanish professional football
league officially showed income and expenditure of
more than ¥1200 million for the last seasons. If the
direct economic impact of the league on the Spanish
economy is added to the indirect impact, then the total
may exceed some 0.25% of the GDP—a share that has
practically doubled over the past decade. Similar figures
can be inferred for all the major European footballing
nations, such as Italy and England. In these nations,
football has become the largest leisure...
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