The table tells us this is the league with the least separation between the top teams as PSG leads Lyon by a point, Marseille by 2 and Monaco trails by 5 with a game in hand (that is currently on-going against St Etienne). The goal differentials tell a similar story as Lyon tops the table there, with Marseille and PSG behind. When we look a little deeper, we find these teams are not as similar as the table tells us.
Marseille are the busiest team in terms of tempo as their games feature a total of 27.4 shots on average, 26% more action than Monaco’s leisurely 21.7. Their goal total is running well ahead of their expected goal total due to a 2nd in the league G/SOT ratio. In a previous post I showed that rate is almost totally luck. Marseille do get a good shot quality off but as you can see both Monaco and PSG get better quality shots and from closer in.
PSG is clearly the best team in the league. They get the best quality shots, allow the lowest quality, and have a solid shot ratio. Basically the reason they do not have a comfortable lead is the shots they put on target and the shots they allow on target are being converted at similar rates: (.28 to .26). The other teams around them have larger gaps between their on target conversion rates and their opponents (Marseille .34 to .25 (.09 edge), Lyon .31 to .2 (.11) and Monaco .27 to .2 (.07)). This difference in conversion could be down to something the teams are doing on the field but more than likely the large part of it is luck. It’s the reason a team that is playing basically at the level that Chelsea is in the EPL is struggling to move past teams playing at the level of Saints and Liverpool. It’s also why every non-PSG fan should be cheering for Marseille this Sunday night. They are at home vs PSG, a draw means the title odds shift heavily in PSG’s favor. A win and the Bielsa side that loves to play an open, attacking game has a chance of upsetting the clear best team in the league. A season like this doesn’t come along too often, Marseille, Lyon, and Monaco need to take advantage of their luck.