Google’s AI Transforms Soccer Strategy with Tactical Suggestions

Published March 19, 2024

The world of football, or soccer to some, has evolved from just showcasing physical skills to encompassing a strategic and intellectual battle. With the landscape of the game shifting toward a focus on tactics and technology, a new player has entered the field: TacticAI. This artificial intelligence system, created in partnership with Liverpool Football Club (LFC), aims to revolutionize the sport by predicting the outcomes of corner kicks and providing realistic tactical recommendations to improve in-match strategies.

Technology Enters the Pitch

Football has been transformed by technology, with innovations such as video assistant referees (VAR) and performance analytics altering how the game is played and analyzed. TacticAI represents the next step in this evolution. Through its collaboration with experts at LFC, TacticAI is poised to enhance football analytics.

Focusing on corner kicks, one of the game's most tactical elements, TacticAI has the ability to offer coaches a significant advantage. Corner kicks are not only frequent during matches, but they are also moments where coaching strategies can directly affect the outcome. An automated system like TacticAI, which can analyze data to increase scoring opportunities from corners, could be a game-changer for coaches at all levels.

Testing Tactics with Geometric Deep Learning

Underpinning TacticAI is a sophisticated AI model that employs geometric deep learning. This technique is particularly suited to analyzing football, where player interactions, positions, and the ball's trajectory form a complex network. TacticAI studies past match data to predict corner kick recipient probabilities and their potential to lead to a goal.

A dataset containing thousands of corner kicks from the Premier League was analyzed by TacticAI. Its generated tactics received positive evaluations from a panel of LFC experts, who deemed the suggestions both realistic and competitive against existing strategies. In fact, a user survey indicated that the AI-generated tactics were preferred in the vast majority of cases.

The potential for TacticAI extends beyond theory. AI applications in football are already numerous, and researchers believe that TacticAI can be integrated into the sport. The AI not only forecasts outcomes but also provides concrete, actionable adjustments for player positioning—a critical factor in a sport where the margins for success are slim.

Given the economic scale of professional sports, the integration of AI into football represents a promising collaboration. With clubs like Liverpool FC valued in the billions, the resources to support AI research in the sector are substantial. This synergy has the potential to yield significant benefits in the long term.

Finally, the essence of TacticAI is in preparation for future advancements, such as integrating a natural language interface for more nuanced tactical discussions and suggestions. As the groundwork for next-generation AI football assistants is laid, the realm of sports strategy is set to undergo a profound transformation.

football, AI, tactics