Wednesday 05 October 2022, 14:00

Wenger and expert team ready for Qatar 2022

  • FIFA Global Football Development Department assembles in Doha

  • Arsene Wenger and Jill Ellis address Aspire Academy Global Summit

  • Incredible matches and exceptional analysis expected at Qatar 2022

With just a few weeks to go before the big FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ kick-off, the world’s best players are looking to peak at just the right time, as they prepare to showcase their skills on football’s greatest stage. However, in Qatar, it is not just on the pitch that experts will be playing a role. The FIFA Global Football Development Department, led by Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, are also readying themselves to analyse the prestigious tournament. It was with this in mind that Wenger and his talented team came together in Doha, Qatar, on 1 and 2 October, to get the ball rolling on the FIFA Technical Study Group’s (TSG) assignment, and to subsequently attend the Aspire Academy Global Summit 2022, which was held on 3 and 4 October. As occurs during every FIFA-run tournament, Qatar 2022 will be the subject of an in-depth technical, tactical and physical analysis designed to investigate the progress and evolution of the game. The team will be at every game of the tournament reviewing individual player performances and how each team implements their tactical approach. The analysis will which will be produced during the tournament will be openly available on the FIFA Training Centre in various formats such as interviews, podcasts, analysis shows and match analysis articles.

A unique example

But even though the competition is still over a month away, Wenger is already anticipating an initial conclusion. “For the first time, we have 32 teams all located within a very small area, and football can lead the way in terms of demonstrating a sense of brotherhood and shared pleasure, at a time where the world is going through a bit of a rough time,” said the French tactician during his speech at Aspire Academy. “Football can be a unique example during this World Cup, in that we can contribute a little to peace and harmony in the world. And, of course, I’m also expecting to see some fantastic football matches!” As for Jill Ellis, who twice steered United States to FIFA Women’s World Cup™ glory in 2015 and 2019, and who now fulfils the role of FIFA Technical Advisory Group leader for women’s football, she foresees another knock-on effect of the tournament’s compact nature that will need to be managed. “Coaches often like to create a bubble, and I’ve always said that you have to control internal matters and manage the external ones,” explained Ellis at the Aspire Academy Global Summit. “But the reality is that, when you’re all in close proximity and there are fans everywhere, you’re probably going to struggle to find that kind of isolation, that time to relax or to switch off. “Coaches are going to have to work a little bit harder to create that bubble. But it’s the World Cup, and it’s going to be incredible! There’s nothing like it; I know it’s going to be very exciting, and for many players, it’ll be the crowning moment of their careers.”

The fact that the tournament is being held later in the year than usual is one of the reasons Wenger and Ellis are filled with optimism. “For the first time, at this World Cup, I’m also expecting the best players to arrive here in optimum physical condition,” said the former Arsenal and Monaco coach. “I had players who went to the World Cup after having played 60 matches, and they were completely exhausted by the time the tournament started. This time, they’re going to get here with 20 to 25 matches in their legs, so I think we’ll see players in excellent form.”

Ellis: “An amazingly competitive World Cup”

While players may be in a better individual condition, Ellis suspects that the brief time available to prepare as a team will pose a challenge. “I don’t think you can win the World Cup without depth – you have to manage suspensions and injuries, so I believe a squad with good depth will end up lifting the trophy,” she said. “I think it's going to an amazingly competitive World Cup!” A World Cup with an unprecedented level of high-quality performances could therefore be on the horizon. And the same could also be said of the standard of analysis that will be generated by Wenger and FIFA’s Global Football Development Department. The TSG, the specific make-up and duties of which will be detailed over the next few weeks, will include some big names from the world of football, such as Jurgen Klinsmann, a World Cup winner with Germany in 1990, Nigeria’s Sunday Oliseh, who appeared at two World Cups, and Pascal Zuberbuhler, the former Switzerland goalkeeper who is now FIFA’s Senior Football Expert.

Technology for experts, players and fans

These experts will have advanced technological tools and football datasets at their disposal, such as Enhanced Football Intelligence and FIFA Football Language. FIFA will have a team of football analysts collecting an Enhanced Football Dataset on every single player and team at the World Cup with one football analyst coding one player for the entire match providing an unparalleled level of new insights that all teams will be able to access. The data informed observations of the TSG will be of great value to the participating teams and their own analysts, but also to the players themselves, courtesy of the FIFA Player App, which will be available at Qatar 2022, and even to the fans. “The primary aim is to improve the understanding of the game worldwide, but we also want to use data analysis and the observations of technical experts to try to enhance the overall viewing experience for the fans,” said Wenger during a discussion on the impact of football data. “Because today, fans want to be informed. Everybody always has opinions, and I’m sure that this demand will increase, and we have an outstanding opportunity here, which we’ll demonstrate during the World Cup, to get fans to play more of a part in competitions.”

And fans will likely come out in force to follow the event around the world, particularly in the 32 nations that will be represented in Qatar. Wenger is hopeful that, in time, each qualified country will be able to kick off a World Cup with the serious ambition of emerging victorious from the tournament. “Since Uruguay lifted the trophy, no nation with fewer than 40 million inhabitants has won the World Cup,” he noted. “Croatia came close, and they’re a great role model that smaller nations can draw inspiration from. “A national team is always where the identity of the people of its country can be found. The World Cup is so strong because it’s a place where everybody can identify with their team, and it rewards the quality of football-related policies within countries. That’s the reason why we’re keen to develop football all over the globe, to give everybody a fighting chance.”