Does height matter in football?

| 30th Oct 2017

Does height matter in football?

Some football managers will do anything to sign tall players. For what it’s worth, they have an advantage over several other footballers in aerial balls and their height could prove very useful in must-win games. But what have players like Peter Crouch really contributed to their teams?

Issue number 201 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post presents the lists of the 50 clubs from 36 European leagues who fielded the tallest and shortest line-ups since the start of the season. At the head of the rankings are FC København (186.2cm) and Ludogorets Razgrad (177.0cm). But does height explain success at adult level?

No correlation exists between the average height of teams and results achieved. The gaps observed rather reflect different approaches to the game. While some coaches prefer tall players, other give priority to shorter ones. However, very short players will struggle to establish themselves as professionals. The average height of all footballers in the leagues surveyed is 182.1cm.

In total, only 67 clubs out of 572 (11.7%) fielded players on average shorter than 180cm. Among them, we notably find Manchester City (Guardiola), OGC Nice (Favre), Barcelona (Valverde), Olympique Lyonnais (Génésio) and Real Madrid (Zidane). The data for all teams in 31 top division European leagues is available in the CIES Football Observatory Digital Atlas.

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