Adidas & Opta uncover new breed of footballer

Alves x ray treatment lo res bring you something really interesting ahead of the Champions League semi-finals this week…

For the last two years adidas have been working behind the scenes to identify a new specific type of football player called ‘The Engine’ and today they are proud to reveal a partnership with leading sports data provider, Opta, who can confirm the existence of this player type through an algorithm summarised by the mathematical equation below:


‘The Engine’ is the archetypical box-to-box footballer who covers every blade of grass, seeks goal scoring chances, tracks down his opponent and displays relentless energy from the first minute to the final whistle.

Based on the adidas insight, Opta have helped to reveal the fundamental character of ‘The Engine’ by finding out how to measure and quantify his performances. They have produced a mathematical algorithm which defines the perfect ‘Engine’ player and will be used to track this player’s performance from today onwards.

Some of the players believed to fit ‘The Engine’ stereotype are Bayern Munich’s Javi Martinez, Barcelona’s Dani Alves, Roma’s Daniele De Rossi and Paris Saint Germain’s Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Alves lo res

With the help of Opta and their database of statistics and insights, the algorithm will be used to pinpoint ‘The Engine’ performances week in, week out. Certain indicators such as work rate, pitch coverage, and on / off ball statistics will be measured and players will be scored out of 100.

dani alves work rate

adidas and Opta will analyse data from key matches from the UEFA Champions League and the Confederations Cup and highlight ‘The Engine’ players via an index entitled ‘The Engine Scale’ – results will be announced to media and fans through a series of info graphics and other statistic-based imagery as they become available on twitter @adidasfootball #TheEngine.

Ahead of this week’s UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League Semi Finals, the algorithm has already focused on several of the world’s top players and has unearthed some stats proving how vital ‘The Engine’ has been during these campaigns.

Martinez lo res

For example, Bayern Munich midfielder Javi Martinez is renowned for his committed style of play and has won on average 2.6 aerial duels per game in the UEFA Champions League this season, more than any other Bayern Munich player.

javi martinez aerial duels


  • n is the number of indicators,
  • wi is the weighting for the ith indicator and
  • xis the player score for the ith indicator.

*This equation summarizes the mathematical concept behind the Engine Scale calculation.

Currently there are n = 4 indicators:

  • x1 = Work Rate
  • x2 = Pitch Coverage
  • x3 = On the Ball
  • x4 = Off the Ball


E.g. if wi ≡ 1

Work Rate

Pitch Coverage

On the Ball

Off the Ball





























javi martinez work rate

1.     Work Rate

Work Rate looks at how involved each player is during the course of a match, both overall and how consistent they are.

This is composed of:

  • passes
  • team passes
  • minutes played
  • attacking touches
  • defensive touches

So, for example, a player that consistently has a high number of touches throughout the match will score better than one who has bursts of high and low involvement (all else being equal). 

2.     Pitch Coverage

Pitch Coverage looks at where the player is involved on the pitch, with a higher score being awarded for a larger area of positions that the player is involved. Again, this is based upon an overall figure for the match and how consistently they are involved all over the pitch.

This is composed of:

  • x and y co-ordinates of all player events
  • co-ords of attacking events
  • co-ords of defensive events
  • time

dani alves crosses

  3.     On the Ball

A player’s On the Ball rating is driven by how successful they were when in possession of the ball. This includes:

  • passes
  • crosses
  • shots
  • dribbles
  • event co-ordinates

The last is an important point – completing a pass into the opposition’s box will positively affect a players score more than the same pass in their own half. Note that while shots are considered they are relatively infrequent events and considered a minor part of what makes a player an Engine so, while goals will positively impact a player score, it will not make a large difference. 

4.     Off the Ball

Off the Ball is based on how effective players are when out of possession. That is, how often and successfully are they winning the ball back for their team. It includes:

  • Tackles
  • Interceptions
  • Blocks/saves
  • Aerials
  • Clearances
  • event co-ordinates


As with On the Ball, location is factored in to the weight of the events (i.e. a shot blocked in the six-yard box is more important than one from long range).

For further information please go to / or @adidasfootball / @optasuit on twitter and join the conversation with #TheEngine.

What do you think of the idea? Can you think of any other Engines? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter Facebook pages.

One thought on “Adidas & Opta uncover new breed of footballer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s