Talking about the use of data with Red Devil Dennis Praet

“All teams are going to do scouting by just statistics and data in the future.”

To finish our blog series, we end with a Red Devil, Dennis Praet. Praet who is now 28 made his professional debut at RSC Anderlecht in 2016. Afterwards, he made the move to Italian first division club Sampdoria. Currently, he is a player for Leicester City in the Premier League where he was on loan at Torino FC this year. We discussed with Praet how he has seen the use of data evolve throughout his career.

When it comes to the use of data, still little tactical data reaches the players. It is mainly the physical data Praet gets to see daily. The tactical data is something the staff focuses on more and is presented through videos. At team presentations, the coaches often indicate where the opponent can be dangerous, for example on set pieces.

With the Red Devils, on the other hand, we don't get to see that physical data and there is more focus on communicating the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent.

"For example before the game against the Netherlands, we were told that they were dangerous at the first post. Tactical data is very useful to get insights of where the opponents' dangers lie and therefore we can anticipate them."

When Praet looks back at his time at RSC Anderlecht, not much has happened in terms of data. "Data-wise, Anderlecht was still in the starting phase, with no structural way of working. Team presentations were given about the opponent and physical data was available per player, but that can't be compared to what we have now."

Leicester and Turin, however, were already further along in terms of using data. "After each training session, the meters covered, accelerations of each player were taken into account to estimate how fit he was for the next training session. This is the job of the physical coach."

Praet is less concerned with video footage himself. It is mainly communicated on a collective level during team presentations. Each player is sent a summary of the next opponent, which they can watch the day before and the day of the game to better prepare for the opponent.

Praet's vision of the future of data is largely in line with the other blogs. "Data is going to continue to grow. All teams are going to do scouting only using statistics and data in the future. If you compare today's game of football with that of 10 years ago, you can see the steps that have already been taken. How will it evolve in the coming 10 years?"