The long throw-in is a weapon that is used sparingly; but where a team has a player with the ability to hurl a pin point cross into the heart of the opposition danger area and has players with good heading ability, then in certain situations this method of delivery can pose a real threat to opposition defences. Few players have perfected this technique as well as former Stoke City player Rory Delap, whose method of delivering very long and flat throw-ins resulted in many goals for his team and frequently resulted in panic in opposition defences.
SportsMatrix had a look back over last season in Europe’s top five leagues to see how widespread the use of long throw-ins was and whether they were being used effectively in each league and on a club-by-club basis.
The German Bundesliga averaged most long throw-ins per game and amongst the highest percentage of goal scoring chances from long throws, but ranked lowest in the percentage of goals scored. On the other hand teams from Italy’s Serie A averaged fewest long throw-ins per game, but had greatest success in converting throw-ins into goals. Spain’s La Liga and France’s Ligue 1 averaged almost an identical number of long throw-ins per game, with Ligue 1 averaging the highest percentage of throw-ins ending in a chance. The English Premier League delivered on average close to fewest long throw-ins per game and the lowest percentage of goals, with the lowest percentage of throw-ins ending in a chance.
When examining the leagues on a team-by-team basis, it is interesting to note that only eight goals were scored as a direct result of a long throw-in in the five leagues during the entire season, with no team scoring more than once (Sporting Gijon, SV Darmstadt 04, US Palermo, EA Guingamp, UD Levante, AS Roma, Montpellier HSC and AFC Bournemouth).
By some distance the three teams averaging the highest number of long throw-ins per game were Sporting Gijon from Spain’s La Liga (2.66), just ahead of Bundesliga teams Werder Bremen (2.62) and SV Darmstadt 04 (2.59). Of the three, Werder Bremen delivered the lowest percentage of dangerous long throw-ins of and were the only one to fail to score from any of their 89 long throw-ins. At the other end of the spectrum were the eight teams (Arsenal, Villarreal, Deportivo La Coruna, Troyes, Paris Saint Germain, Bologna, Sassuolo and Fiorentina) which didn’t deliver a single long throw-in during the entire season.
AFC Bournemouth from the English Premier League were most effective with their long throw-ins, with one of three long throws leading to a goal scoring chance, with this throw-in ending in a goal. A relatively high percentage of the long throw-ins from Toulouse (11 long throw-ins, three chances) and Malaga (23 long throw-ins, five chances) resulted in a goal scoring chance, but neither team was able to convert any of these chances into goals. Meanwhile from their 15 long throw-ins, Montpellier reached two goal scoring chances,
converting one into a goal.
Of the other teams to deliver on average close to or more than one long throw-ins per game, West Ham United, from their 43 efforts, reached a single chance, whilst Sunderland failed to reach a chance from any of their 36 long throws. English Premier League Champions, Leicester City took 64 long throw-ins, seven of which ended in a chance, but none of these chances led to a goal.