EXAMINING OFFENSIVE TACTICAL ACTIONS PERFORMED BY YOUTH SOCCER PLAYERS WITH DIFFERENT COMPETITIVE CONTEXTS

EXAMINANDO AS AÇÕES TÁTICAS OFENSIVAS REALIZADAS POR JOVENS FUTEBOLISTAS DE DIFERENTES CONTEXTOS COMPETITIVOS

Matheus de Oliveira Jaime Insook Kim Vanessa Menezes Menegassi Leandro Rechenchosky Marcos Magossi Claudio Kravchychyn Wilson Rinaldi Paulo Henrique Borges About the authors

ABSTRACT

The study examined offensive tactical actions performed by U-15 soccer players with different competitive contexts. 34 matches played by three different contexts of U-15 soccer clubs were used; brazilian national (BN), brazilian regional (BR), and italian national (IN). Five categories where used to analyze the soccer offensive actions: “number of players involved” (NJ), “ball touches” (NT), “passes” (NP), “corridor changes” (NTC), and “duration of ball possession” (TRA); the results were coded using Match Vision Studio® software. The BN presented higher values in all five offensive categories (p < 0.05) when compared to the IN. Multinomial regression evidenced relative contributions of NJ and NP on the chances of results in the BN. The increase of one player involved in the offensive action decreases by 84% the chances of “total success” with respect to “unsuccessful” (p < 0.05). The performance of each additional pass increases 4.9 times the chance of the play ending in “total success” and 4.7 times (p < 0.05) in “partial success” when compared to the “unsuccessful” category. The NJ in the action and the NP have a direct influence on the outcome of the offensive actions of the BN.

Keywords:
Soccer; Sports performance; Youth sports; Task performance and analysis

RESUMO

O estudo examinou ações táticas ofensivas realizadas por jogadores de futebol sub-15 em diferentes contextos competitivos. Foram analisados 34 jogos disputados por clubes sub-15 de três diferentes contextos competitivos, sendo estes: brasileiro nacional (BN), brasileiro regional (BR) e italiano nacional (IN). Cinco categorias foram utilizadas para analisar as ações futebolísticas ofensivas: “número de jogadores envolvidos” (NJ), “toques sobre a bola” (NT), “passes” (NP), “mudanças de corredor” (NTC) e “duração da posse de bola”. ”(TRA); os resultados foram codificados usando o software Match Vision Studio®. O BN apresentou valores maiores nas cinco categorias ofensivas (p <0,05) quando comparado ao IN. A regressão multinominal evidenciou contribuições relativas de NJ e NP nas chances de resultados no BN. O aumento de um jogador envolvido na ação ofensiva diminuiu em 84% as chances de “êxito total” em relação a “sem êxito” (p <0,05). O desempenho de cada passe adicional aumentou em 4,9 vezes a chance da jogada terminar em “êxito total” e 4,7 vezes (p <0,05) em “êxito parcial” quando comparado à categoria “sem êxito”. O NJ na ação e o NP tiveram influência direta no resultado das ações ofensivas do BN.

Palavras-chave:
Futebol; Performance esportiva; Esportes para jovens; Análise e desempenho de tarefas

Introduction

Soccer is known as a team sports where the team actions are linked to the opponent’s actions, as well as being classified as an invasion game, where the aim is to invade the opponent’s space to put the ball in the goal while seeking to defend your own goal. Soccer requires the player to be constantly committed to decision making, where, while players have to observe, process, and evaluate situations, they must also choose and execute the tactical and technical solutions appropriate to a given match situation11 Greco JP. Conhecimento tático-técnico: eixo pendular da ação tática (criativa) nos jogos esportivos coletivos. Rev Bras Educ Fís Esporte 2006;20(5):210-12.. Numerous scenarios arise during a match, whose frequency, chronological order, and complexity cannot be predicted, requiring a high capacity of adaptation and immediate response by players and teams to the notions of opposition present in all phases and moments of the game22 Garganta JM. Modelação táctica do jogo de futebol: estudo da organização da fase ofensiva em equipas de alto rendimento [PhD thesis in Sports Sciences]. Porto: Universidade do Porto. Postgraduate program in Sports Science; 1997.. Social network patterns33 Clemente FM, Martins FML. Estudo da sequência de passes entre jogadores profissionais de futebol durante os jogos em casa ao longo de uma época desportiva: aplicabilidade das medidas de social network analysis. Rev Ibero Psi Ejerc Dep 2017;12(2):195-02.

4 Praça GM, Clemente FM, Andrade AGP, Morales JCP, Greco PJ. Network analysis in small-sided and conditioned soccer games: the influence of additional players and playing position. Kinesiology 2017;49(2):185-93. Doi:10.26582/k.49.2.8
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, tactical principle execution1212 Teoldo IC, Garganta J, Greco PJ, Mesquita I. Análise e avaliação do comportamento tático no futebol. J Phys Educ 2010;21(3):443-455. Doi:10.4025/reveducfis.v21i3.8515
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13 Serra-Olivares J, Clemente FM, González-Víllora S. Tactical expertise assessment in youth football using representative tasks. Springerplus 2016;5(1):1301-1309. Doi:10.1186/s40064-016-2955-1
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, and psychological attributes1515 Møllerløkken N, Lorås H, Pedersen A. A Comparison of Players' and Coaches' Perceptions of the Coach-Created Motivational Climate within Youth Soccer Teams. Front Psychol 2017;8(109). Doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00109
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interact to produce high performance, given the chaotic nature of the game and its complexity1717 García-Manso JM, Martín-González JM, Silva-Grigoletto ME. Los sistemas complejos y el mundo del deporte. Rev Andal Med Deporte 2010;3(1):13-22..

All these complex variables work together to produce high performance. The level of the championship (quality and level of equality between the teams) and the characteristics of the teams (game model) are parameters that interfere in the final result1818 Sánchez-Flores J, Martín-González JM, García-Manso JM, de Saa Y, Arriaza-Ardiles EJ, Silva-Griglotetto ME. Análisis de los goles conseguidos en 13 temporadas (2000/01-2012/13) correspondientes a la Primera División de la Liga Española de Fútbol Profesional. Rev Andal Med Depor 2016;9(2):55-61.. However, some behaviors, when repeated, form a pattern of events, known as a game model1919 Hewitt A, Greenham G, Norton K. Game style in soccer: what is it and can we quantify it? Int J Perform Anal Sport 2016;16(1):355-72. Doi:10.1080/24748668.2016.11868892
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. The game model is defined as the characteristic playing pattern demonstrated by a team during matches1919 Hewitt A, Greenham G, Norton K. Game style in soccer: what is it and can we quantify it? Int J Perform Anal Sport 2016;16(1):355-72. Doi:10.1080/24748668.2016.11868892
https://doi.org/10.1080/24748668.2016.11...
. When building the team game model, coaches should consider several factors that operate within a specific context, where each factor is equally important2020 Delgado-Bordonau J, Mendez-Villanueva A. Tactical periodization: Mourinho's best-kept secret? Soccer NSCAA J 2012;3(1):28-34. Characterizing and understanding the playing style of a team in the process of offensive construction can be very useful to help teachers and soccer coaches to verify how players are learning the content that they are working on2121 Sarmento HMB. Análise do jogo de futebol - padrões de jogo ofensivo em equipas de alto rendimento: uma abordagem qualitativa. [PhD thesis in Sports Sciences]. Villa Real: Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro. Postgraduate program in Sports Science; 2012. Variables such as the number of passes per attack, the actions of passes that precede the goal, the frequency of passes, the percentage of correct passes in the 5 minutes before the goal and in the next 5 minutes, or the combination of touches on the ball prior to the pass can make up this assessment2222 Lago-Peñas C, Acero RM. Determinants of possession of the ball in soccer. J Sports Sci 2007;25(9):969-974. Doi:10.1080/02640410600944626
https://doi.org/10.1080/0264041060094462...

23 Redwood-Brown A. Passing patterns before and after goal scoring in FA Premier League Soccer. Int J Perform Anal Sport 2008;8(3):172-82. Doi:10.1080/24748668.2008.11868458
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-2424 Almeida C. Caracterização das sequências ofensivas no futebol juvenil: efeitos da experiência e de variantes reduzidas do jogo. [Masters dissertation in Training of the Young Athlete]. Lisboa: Universidade Técnica de Lisboa. Posgraduate program in Sports Sciences; 2010.

Offensive actions with few passes are more effective to produce opportunities and goals compared with elaborate attacks; registering a higher odds ratio for scoring a goal and creating a scoring opportunity2525 Tenga A, Ronglan LT, Bahr R. Measuring the effectiveness of offensive match-play in professional soccer. Eur J Sport Sci 2010;10(4):269-77. Doi:10.1080/17461390903515170
https://doi.org/10.1080/1746139090351517...
. Although teams using a ball-possession style created more chances of goals, most goals were scored in situations with few pass changes2626 Hughes M, Franks I. Analysis of passing sequences, shots and goals in soccer. J Sports Sci 2005;23(5):509-14. Doi:10.1080/02640410410001716779
https://doi.org/10.1080/0264041041000171...
. However, studies indicate that different playing styles when well executed can be equally effective2727 Kempe M, Vogelbein M, Memmert D, Nopp S. Possession vs. direct play: evaluating tactical behavior in elite soccer. Int J Sports Sci 2014;4(6A):35-41. Doi:10.5923/s.sports.201401.05
https://doi.org/10.5923/s.sports.201401....
. These variables result in the interpretation of what happens throughout the games, what is regular or repeated behavior, thus being able to find, through analysis of the movement patterns of the game, a differentiation between teams more and less efficient in achieving the objective of the game, the goal.

Most published studies in the literature were conducted with adult football players2222 Lago-Peñas C, Acero RM. Determinants of possession of the ball in soccer. J Sports Sci 2007;25(9):969-974. Doi:10.1080/02640410600944626
https://doi.org/10.1080/0264041060094462...
. Furthermore, evaluation of tactical actions with young players from different soccer schools and competitive contexts is still a poorly investigated topic in the researched literature; studies were not found with this thematic, identifying a knowledge gap. This study aimed to examine different offensive game actions performed by youth players with different competitive contexts and from different soccer schools. The specific research questions were: (a) How do offensive actions performed by youth players with different competitive levels differ? and (b) Which offensive variable can predict the success or failure of the offensive plays in U-15 soccer players?

Methods

Characterization and Sample

Data were collected from 34 video recorded soccer games played by three different contexts of U-15 soccer clubs (Brazilian national, Italian national, and Brazilian regional) during the 2015/2016 seasons. To obtain the videos, the cameras were located on a higher plane in relation to the game plan to facilitate a topographic view of the playing field. The three clubs and parents of the fifty athletes were informed about the procedures to be adopted and signed the free and informed consent term. The project was approved by the local ethics committee (Proc. 1.627.516).

The Italian club weekly routine was composed of three training sessions, generally including regional players that play in the national championship. On the other hand, the Brazilian national club presented in the study included athletes selected from many states of the country and a weekly routine composed of five training sessions, playing national and state competitions. The Brazilian regional team disputed the regional U-15 championship with a frequency of three training sessions per week and a group composition of selected athletes from the region of the club’s host city.

Procedure

After filming, only the offensive actions that finished in shooting in opponent’s goal direction were selected. To code five offensive actions including: “players involved”, “ball touches”, “passes”, “duration”, and “corridor “changes”, and three levels of offensive action results including: “total success”, “partial success”, and “unsuccessful” (Frame 1), we used Match Vision Studio Premium® software, which has been used in studies that performed observational game analysis2828 Camerino O, Chaverri J, Anguera MT, Jonsson GK. Dynamics of the game in soccer: detection of T-patterns. Eur J Sport Sci 2012;12(3):216-24. Doi:10.1080/17461391.2011.566362
https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2011.56...
,2929 Pratas J, Volossovitch A, Ferreira AP. The effect of situational variables on teams' performance in offensive sequences ending in a shot on goal, a case study. Sports Sci J 2012;5(13):193-99. Doi:10.2174/1875399X01205010193
https://doi.org/10.2174/1875399X01205010...
. This software enables the researcher to create the intended categorical matrix to be used. The categorical matrix was composed of variables proposed by Garganta22 Garganta JM. Modelação táctica do jogo de futebol: estudo da organização da fase ofensiva em equipas de alto rendimento [PhD thesis in Sports Sciences]. Porto: Universidade do Porto. Postgraduate program in Sports Science; 1997. and Almeida, Ferreira and Volossovitch3131 Maroco, J. Análise estatística com o SPSS Statistics. Lisboa: ReportNumber; 2014. Portuguese., presented in Frame 1.

Frame 1
The categories of offensive actions and results of the offensive actions

Figure 1
Screen capture from Match Vision Studio Premium® software with the categorical matrix used in the study

Figure 2
Recording obtained through of Match Vision Studio Premium®

Statistical Analysis

Data were analyzed using SPSS 23.0 software. Medians (Md), interquartile ranges (Q1-Q3), relative frequencies, and odds ratios (OR) were used to describe the results. The normality of the data was evaluated using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test (p < 0.01 for all variables). Analysis of variance ANOVA and post-hoc Games-Howell were used to compare the offensive actions of the teams evaluated. Next, Multinomial Logistic Regression was performed to estimate the relative contributions of the tactical indicators to the chances of the results of the offensive actions in each of the teams and in total3232 Tabachnick BG, Fidell LS. Using multivariate statistics. 6th ed. London: Pearson Education; 2012.. Regarding data quality control, 21 days after the video analysis, 21% (42 actions) of the total offensive actions were analyzed by an independent researcher and reanalyzed by the main evaluator, aiming to obtain the level of agreement between intra and inter raters. This percentage is required to be higher than that recommended (10%) in the literature3232 Tabachnick BG, Fidell LS. Using multivariate statistics. 6th ed. London: Pearson Education; 2012.. For this purpose, the intraclass correlation coefficient for quantitative variables and the Kappa index for qualitative variables were used, obtaining values situated above k > 81 and r > 0.91. These reliability values are classified as "near perfect" (0.81 to 1)3131 Maroco, J. Análise estatística com o SPSS Statistics. Lisboa: ReportNumber; 2014. Portuguese.. The level of significance was set at 5%.

Results

The result of the study showed that the Italian national club performed 137 offensive actions during the 18 matches, while the Brazilian national club performed 63 offensive actions during 11 matches. The Brazilian regional club performed 79 offensive actions during 5 matches. Descriptive values are presented in table 1.

Table 1
Description of tactical performance in offensive actions of U-15 teams (n=279)

Figure 3 presents significant differences in the comparison between the Brazilian national and Italian national club, and it was evidenced that the Brazilian national club presented higher values in the variables “number of players involved” (p < 0.04), “number of ball touches” (p < 0.02), “number of passes” (p < 0.01), “duration of ball possession” (p < 0.05), and “number of ball corridor changes” (p < 0.01). Regarding the Brazilian regional club, it differed significantly from the Brazilian national club only in the variable “duration of ball possession” (p < 0.01), signaling a pattern of faster actions. The results also indicate that, considering the analyzed variables, the Brazilian regional club and the Italian national club presented similar offensive tactical performance.

Figure 3
Comparison between tactical indicators executed by U-15 players from different competitive contexts, represented by median and interquartile range

Table 2 presents the relative contributions of the variables analyzed on the chances of the results of the offensive actions performed by the U-15 soccer players, with the aim of understanding whether offensive variables can predict the success or failure of the offensive plays in U-15 ages. For the Brazilian regional and Brazilian national club, offensive actions did not have a significant influence on the effectiveness of the offensive actions. Regarding the Brazilian national club, the results show that the increase of a player in contact with the ball during the offensive actions decreases by 84% the chances of having “total success” in the actions compared to the result of the action being "unsuccessful" (p < 0.05).

Table 2
Relationship between the result of the action and the tactical offensive performance of the U-15 teams

With respect to number of “passes”, the results demonstrate that the achievement of an additional pass increases by 4.9 times the chance of the action resulting in "total success" and 4.7 times finishing in "partial success" when compared to the reference category. Finally, when analyzing the teams together, the multinomial regression analysis showed that the "partial success" result is influenced by the increase in one player's participation (43% decrease in odds) and the increase of one pass during the play (increase of 1.6 times the chance) with respect to the category "unsuccessful" (p < 0.05).

Discussion

The aims of this study were to identify game model characteristics by analyzing five offensive actions of U-15 teams with three different competitive contexts and their influence on the effectiveness of the offensive actions. The major findings suggest that the Brazilian national offensive actions presented a game model with a positional play style, due to the fact that actions with a higher “number of players involved”, “ball touches”, “passes”, “ball corridor changes”, and “duration of ball possession” were observed compared to the Italian national offensive actions, which demonstrated a direct play style with lower numbers in the same variables.

Studies indicate that teams seeking to adopt a positional play style and playing a possession game instead of direct play are usually more successful2727 Kempe M, Vogelbein M, Memmert D, Nopp S. Possession vs. direct play: evaluating tactical behavior in elite soccer. Int J Sports Sci 2014;4(6A):35-41. Doi:10.5923/s.sports.201401.05
https://doi.org/10.5923/s.sports.201401....
,3434 Lago-Peñas C, Lago-Ballesteros J, Rey E. Differences in performance indicators between winning and losing teams in the UEFA Champions League. J Hum Kinet 2011;27(1):135-46. Doi:10.2478/v10078-011-0011-3
https://doi.org/10.2478/v10078-011-0011-...
,3535 Acar F, Yapicioglu B, Arikan N, Yalcin S, Ates N, Ergun M. Analysis of goals scored in the 2006 World Cup. In: Reilly T, Korkusuz F, editors. Science and football: The Proceedings of the Sixth World Congress on Science and Football. 6th ed. London: Routledge; 2009, p. 235-42.. These characteristics are present in the offensive actions of the Brazilian national club, being composed of more “players involved”, “ball touches”, “passes”, and “ball corridor changes”, resulting in a longer duration of the offensive action in comparison with the other teams. Despite the proven effectiveness of this offensive model, teams with a more direct play style can also be successful, since they have good game control and are highly efficient when attacking2828 Camerino O, Chaverri J, Anguera MT, Jonsson GK. Dynamics of the game in soccer: detection of T-patterns. Eur J Sport Sci 2012;12(3):216-24. Doi:10.1080/17461391.2011.566362
https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2011.56...
, which is seen as a main indicator for successful ball possession2626 Hughes M, Franks I. Analysis of passing sequences, shots and goals in soccer. J Sports Sci 2005;23(5):509-14. Doi:10.1080/02640410410001716779
https://doi.org/10.1080/0264041041000171...
,3434 Lago-Peñas C, Lago-Ballesteros J, Rey E. Differences in performance indicators between winning and losing teams in the UEFA Champions League. J Hum Kinet 2011;27(1):135-46. Doi:10.2478/v10078-011-0011-3
https://doi.org/10.2478/v10078-011-0011-...
.

In this regard, the results show the difference in the game model and interpretation of the phases of the game between teams of different competitive contexts and with different local soccer cultures. This difference can be explained by the players’ ability, coaches’ ideas, objectives and structure of the club22 Garganta JM. Modelação táctica do jogo de futebol: estudo da organização da fase ofensiva em equipas de alto rendimento [PhD thesis in Sports Sciences]. Porto: Universidade do Porto. Postgraduate program in Sports Science; 1997., and by the local soccer culture. In relation to the similarity in the performance of the Brazilian regional club and the Italian national club, it is believed that the characteristics of the players and the composition of both teams are also similar, as these include, in the majority, "local" players, although they participate in competitions with different requirements.

Regarding the contribution of tactical performance to the result of offensive actions, the multinomial regression showed that the number of players and number of passes are characteristics that contribute significantly to the chances of achieving partial success and total success in the outcome of the actions of the Brazilian national team. It was observed that the increase of one participating player decreases by 84% the chances of total success and that the achievement of each additional pass increases by 4.9 times the chance of finishing in total success and 4.7 times in partial success. The findings reflect that in the reality of this team, it is possible that more explosive plays, in which there is less effective participation of the team as a whole (such as counterattacks or times when there is time pressure, numerical superiority, and the need for sectored offensive actions) reflect in better chances of goal, corroborating with previous studies2626 Hughes M, Franks I. Analysis of passing sequences, shots and goals in soccer. J Sports Sci 2005;23(5):509-14. Doi:10.1080/02640410410001716779
https://doi.org/10.1080/0264041041000171...
,3636 Vogelbein M, Nopp S, Hokelmann A. Defensive transition in soccer - are prompt possession regains a measure of success? A quantitative analysis of German Fussball-Bundesliga 2010/2011. J Sports Sci 2014;32(11):1076-1083. Doi:10.1080/02640414.2013.879671
https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2013.87...
.

In this sense, the fast transmission of the ball, associated with the dynamics of the movement of the players, is directly linked to actions that promote the rupture of the effective game space and that, consequently, induce the creation of risk situations to the opposing goal, by requiring greater attention, anticipation, and quick organization by the opposing defensive block, which has to quickly solve the problems proposed by the team that owns the ball3737 Santos RMM, Andrade MOC, Teoldo IC. Análise da relação entre a circulação e o tempo de posse de bola da seleção espanhola de futebol na Copa do Mundo FIFA(r) 2010. Rev Min Educ Fís 2014;22(1):34-43.. During the transition from the defensive moment to the offensive organization, the objective must be to progress towards the opponent's goal, in a fast and effective way, taking advantage of the momentary disorganization in the positional structure of the opponent3838 Garganta J, Guilherme J, Barreira D, Brito J, Rebelo A. Fundamentos e práticas para o ensino e treino do futebol. In: Tavares F, editor. Jogos Desportivos Coletivos. Ensinar a jogar. Porto: editora FADEUP; 2013. p. 199-263.. This behavior should be encouraged from the initial categories, as it prevents the player from losing sight of the main objective of the game (the goal), seeking to prevent an exacerbated indirect game3939 Garganta J. [Internet]. Competências no ensino e treino de jovens futebolistas. [acess in 2018 Aug 12]. Available from: http://www.efdeportes.com/. Portuguese.
http://www.efdeportes.com/...
.

Conclusion

The findings of the present study allow minimization of the existing gap in relation to the investigation of the tactical performance with groups of younger soccer players from different soccer schools and competitive contexts. The results indicate the importance of participation of fewer players in offensive actions in the Brazilian national club, maybe reflecting a faster and sectored attack, as well as a greater exchange of passes between players in the construction of these actions, being that these characteristics could be strictly related to the outcome of the plays.

It is suggested that further studies be carried out analyzing the offensive tactical actions of other categories, in addition to the U-15. Also, futures approaches could investigate populations from other countries, seeking to verify whether the findings of this study resemble other realities, and, associating the tactical efficiency with the offensive methods (fast attack, positional attack and counterattack), contributing to interpret the offensive phase of the game in different competitive contexts.

We assumed as a study limitation the use of only three clubs, being two competing at the national level in their respective countries (Brazil and Italy) and one competing at the regional level (Brazil). However, the results have proved to be relevant for a better filling of the existing gap in relation to studies about success and failure of offensive actions performed by U-15 players from different competitive contexts and soccer schools.

As practical applications, it is suggested that trainers incorporate evidence-based practices (e.g., fewer players involved in the offensive plays with more frequent passes between involved players without adding more offensive players) into teaching/coaching. By considering factors that include specific play sequences, pass routes, directions, or using spaces, diverse offensive play repertoires should be provided and practiced by players in order to improve their tactical competency in soccer.

Acknowledgments:

To the Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) and the National Council of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq)

References

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    Praça GM, Clemente FM, Andrade AGP, Morales JCP, Greco PJ. Network analysis in small-sided and conditioned soccer games: the influence of additional players and playing position. Kinesiology 2017;49(2):185-93. Doi:10.26582/k.49.2.8
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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    15 June 2020
  • Date of issue
    2020

History

  • Received
    19 Oct 2018
  • Reviewed
    01 Dec 2019
  • Accepted
    10 Dec 2019
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