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Italian footballers waste the least time, Spain's players waste the most

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For many years, an unwritten rule in football said a game lasted 90 minutes. The survey by a sports magazine has now revealed that the actual average playing time in the top four football leagues in Europe is less than 58 minutes - even accounting for added time.

While in Germany's Bundesliga, the actual net playing time is 56 minutes and five seconds, in the English Premier League it is also about 56 minutes. The Spanish La Liga only provides its fans with just under 54 minutes. Italian fans are best off with the Serie A's 57 minutes.

As international and national associations in Europe are intent on increasing net playing time all over the continent, German referees were advised before the start of the current season to take a closer look at the time added on after the regular 90 minutes.

The result is an increase of four minutes and three seconds on average -- an almost 50 per cent increase compared to the 2011/2012 season (2.42 mins).

In comparison to other European leagues, the Bundesliga still plays the least added time - EPL referees play an average of 6.35 minutes, Serie A plays an extra 5.24 minutes and Spain 4.15 minutes.

Despite England topping the averages, net playing time is virtually the same as in Germany -- the EPL seems to be wasting time in other areas.

It all indicates that net playing time depends on the style of football played in the different countries from different clubs as there seems to be a strong connection with the number of interruptions such as fouls, substitutions and throw-ins.

As for the breaks in play, England has the lowest figure with only 100 interruptions per game on average followed by Spain with 106 and Germany and Italy (both 107). In general interruptions have decreased compared to ten years ago when there often up to 125.

Sports scientists see a strong connection between net time played and interruptions. More breaks they say lead to less playing time.

Therefore, a team can influence net time by its game style. Fouls, free-kicks and corners, injuries and goals can be seen as a tactical strategy to influence a game as for instance a more aggressive game style will inevitably lead to more interruptions.

In the Bundesliga, the current champions and table toppers Bayern Munich lead the way with the most actual playing time with 60.50 minutes and at the same time has the lowest figure when it comes to added time (3.26 minutes).

Sports scientists are convinced teams keeping the ball in the game can count on more net time than others.