Did you also notice this strange and new World Cup statistic?  What is contested possession?

Have you ever wondered what contested possession is? It appears every game at some point. After Belgium-Canada, the Red Devils turned out to have 46 percent possession of the ball, the Canadians 43 percent. The remaining 11 percent is contested. So contested.

“This is the moment when no team has the ball checked has,” said Arsène Wenger, head of FIFA’s global football development division. According to Wenger, this novelty is a clearer way of depicting team dominance than the previous black-and-white system in which 100 percent possession was neatly divided between two teams.

Because there are of course moments that fall into a gray zone. When two players duel for a ball, whether in the air or on the ground, possession is considered contested. At that moment, Nieuwe has the ball ‘under control’. Also, the moment that a defender clears or blocks a ball is not regarded as ‘controlled possession.’ The same goes for a goalkeeper parrying an attempt. In such cases, possession is only awarded to the team that then catches the ball, controls it and sets up a new phase.

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