03 June 2010

European League Comparisons

Is there room for culture in football? Maybe, but less so at the top, if you believe Kuper and Syzmanski. Here is some data on various statistics from the top European leagues, suggesting that there are at least a few differences:
CategoryEnglandFranceGermanyItalySpainC League
Shots per game21.120.020.420.620.721.7
Goals per game2.772.412.832.612.712.56
Shooting accuracy43.7%42.6%46.0%43.9%45.3%42.9%
Chance conversion13.1%12.1%13.8%12.7%13.1%11.8%
% shots from inside the box59.3%56.1%59.3%53.9%59.3%52.8%
% goals from inside the box86.6%84.4%83.0%86.2%85.0%78.9%
Saves to shots %69.5%71.4%69.5%71.0%70.7%72.3%

* CL data is up to date as of 17/05/2010

Perhaps surprisingly, Italy does not have the fewest goals per game. Here is a bit more data:

CategoryEnglandFranceGermanyItalySpainC League
% goals from set pieces36.7%34.8%33.5%32.0%31.3%30.5%
% headed goals18.3%18.8%18.5%18.6%18.6%17.0%
% goals in last 15 minutes23.5%24.9%22.1%20.0%22.9%25.2%
% goals scored by native players36.3%46.8%35.7%53.8%52.9%N/A

CategoryEnglandFranceGermanyItalySpainC League
Passes per game772751816780760838
Passing Accuracy73.8%75.1%77.1%78.1%75.4%79.4%
Crossing Accuracy20.8%19.9%22.3%20.2%21.0%20.4%
Dribbles per game28.429.234.628.730.734.5
Dribble success73.8%75.1%77.1%78.1%75.4%79.4%

As I mentioned in the comments recently, French natives appear to be scoring less than would be expected by the simple statistics, suggesting that France's best strikers play abroad. Italy and Spain have the most home-grown scoring capability. Will that translate into more offense in South Africa?

What happens when Europe confronts the world? Any guesses as to whether World Cup goals-per-game will be higher or lower than the Champions League? Put me down for the over.

Next up: World Cup predictions.


  1. Maybe this has changed in the internet age, but British soccer fans are/were a lot less interested in statistics than American sports followers.

    Why do England Lose ? Pressure from high expectations and a native, competitive individualism. In Scotland, no one cares why England lose, we are just glad that they always perform worse than they expect to ! In the '60s and '70s, Scottish and English rivalry was truly venomous (at least from this side).

    Kudos for Thomas Dolby track.

  2. Dribbles per game with a decimal point - eh?

    The greatest change in the game came in the 1960s where the goals per game average across the leagues dropped significantly.

    The reason - the adoption of Catenaccio.

    Every change since then has been to unlock the bolt.

    America's World Cup Statistic


    Attempt - 1

    Accuracy - 0

    Collapsing Goal Posts - 1

  3. Definition of football:
    "A field game played by 22 players, a ball, 3 refs and at the end Germany wins."

    As eric sayz, EU football fans don't give a sh!t about statistics, as it just a bunch of numbers and don't say much about the real game.

  4. "the adoption of Catenaccio"

    It didn't always work for Herrera. This is quite entertaining.

    European Cup Final 1967: Celtic 2 v 1 Inter Milan


    "A field game played by 22 players, a ball, 3 refs and at the end Germany wins."

    LOL !

    After extra time and penalties, obviously.

  5. European Cup Final 1960: Real Madrid 7 Eintracht Frankfurt 3


    In that period between 1960 and 1967 football changed for ever. Catenaccio, and all its variants, have been with us ever since.

  6. @eric144: The running gag used to be that Scotland would be home before the postcards, but alas these days you don't even get on the flight out!

    The usual excuse proferred (by lazy journalists and ex-players anyway) for England's consistent failure is that there are too many foreigner players in the domestic game. This ignores the fact that England were even worse during the 70s and 80s when there were practically no foreign players at all. In my experience, most fans put their club before country anyway (and many Man Utd fans seem to actively despise the national team).

  7. Malcolm

    I wasn't disagreeing at all. That game is a legend in Scotland.

    It has lead to more even games, to be honest. No more Liverpool 13 v 0 Finnish champions (or whatever). I stopped attending football when Scottish players evolved the intelligence to play the offside trap in the early '80s. It was tragic.


    Scotland has far more progressive climate policies than the rest of the UK. We asked the team not to qualify for South Africa. Saving the planet is more important than sporting success.

    I am the kind of Scottish supporter who values Willie Johnstone's expulsion from the 1978 Argentina finals for use of amphetamines, rather than local hero Archie Gemmill's famous goal against the Dutch masters in the same tournament.