Alert for the net game time in Argentine soccer: the difference with Europe and the ranking of the teams

The time added by the referees is not even close to that lost during the matches (Reuters)

No one in their right mind would pay a movie ticket to sit in a theater for two hours to watch a movie that barely lasts 60 minutes and is constantly interrupted. Nor would anyone do something similar in the theater, if a show is offered in which the actors take time to rest between each line and thus stretch the time of the work, loading it with silences and situations in which the plot does not advance. However, when it comes to football it seems that fans, players and authorities have gotten used to this happening and the show goes on without a hitch.

Unlike what happens in other sports such as basketball or rugby, in football the clock never stops and for this reason, at the end of each stage, the referee adds more time to try to recover some of what was lost. However, the estimates of the judges are far from reality and currently there are matches whose effective playing time does not even reach 60 minutes.

According to an extensive report by the statistics company opt, in the highest division of Argentina the ball rolls for just 51.45 minutes on average. That number comes from an analysis that includes 479 matches, all of the 2021 Professional Soccer League and the first 11 dates of the League Cup that is currently being played.

In the breakdown, the data is even more alarming. 44.3% of the matches in the domestic competition have a net playing time of 50 to 55 minutes, in 30.8% it is less than 50 minutes and only in 3% it exceeds 60 minutes. The most serious thing is that these results are obtained in duels that generally last 111 minutes, since they have 11 additions between the two periods. Practically, the game lasts half.

The last match between Defense and Justice and River Plate had an effective playing time of 65.43 minutes, more than any other match in Argentina in the last year and a half
The last match between Defense and Justice and River Plate had an effective playing time of 65.43 minutes, more than any other match in Argentina in the last year and a half

When this statistic is analyzed by teams, a trend is noticeable. Defense and Justice is the cast in whose matches there is more effective playing time, with an average of 54.02 minutesabove River Plate (53.51), Independiente (53.47), Boca Juniors (53.40) and Vélez (53.40). At the bottom of the table is Barracas Central, with only 48.14, although his data is only from the 2022 League Cup, since in 2021 he was a member of the First National. Above him are Banfield, with 48.56 and Sarmiento de Junín, with 49.58.

There are specific cases in national football that expose this problem. On April 1, Patronato beat Unión 2-1 in Paraná and the ball rolled for just 34.55 minutes, less than in Gimnasia’s victory against Atlético in Tucumán by 2-1 on April 8, where the net time was 35.55 minutes.

Although the situation was already serious in 2021, this year VAR has been added to Argentine football. In the four dates played with video technology that were taken into account for the preparation of this report, the net game time fell from 52.03 to 49.28. That is to say that now less is played than before, despite the fact that the referees add more minutes.

Protests, reviews, infringements, restarts and 10 substitutions per game all contribute to football being far from 90 minutes long. But the problem is not only national, but extends to the rest of the countries.

The ranking of the leagues according to the average effective playing time
The ranking of the leagues according to the average effective playing time

In Southamerica, the Brasileirao is above anyone, with an average of 55.20 minutes per game. It is followed by the first division of Chile (52.06), the League 1 of Peru (51.55), the Argentine Professional League (51.45), the Pro League of Ecuador (51.37), the Tigo Cup of Bolivia (51.05) and the Dimayor league of Colombia (50.49). The red light must also be turned on in Mexico, where matches of 50.46 minutes are held on average.

The report also extends to the five most powerful leagues in Europe, where surprisingly France’s Ligue 1 is the one that dominates the ranking with 56.18 minutes on average, followed by the Premier League (55.03), Serie A (54.49), the Bundesliga (54.21) and La Liga (53.20). Although, it is important to note that all the analyzed matches of these championships had VAR and that in Argentina, with video technology, the effective time has been reduced to just 49.28 minutes. A substantial difference.

In addition, a detail to take into account is that, in Ligue 1, only 5.1% of the matches last less than 50 minutes, while in Argentina 30.8% have that extension. On the other hand, in France, 64.5% of the games exceed 55 minutes of net time, and here that only happens with 25.8%.

Report details

In Argentine soccer, the VAR reduced the net playing time
In Argentine soccer, the VAR reduced the net playing time
Defense and Justice leads the team ranking in Argentina
Defense and Justice leads the team ranking in Argentina
The percentage of games per game minutes in each league
The percentage of games per game minutes in each league
The Argentine football matches with the longest net game time
The Argentine football matches with the longest net game time
The Argentine football matches with the least net playing time
The Argentine football matches with the least net playing time

*Information provided by Matías Tapia – Opta