The 2018 Big 4 Leagues Statistical Universe

Inspired by KenPom’s D-1 Universe and my previous league charts I wanted to plot all teams from top 4 leagues offenses and defenses and see what pops out. First looking at team defenses


explainer: share of passes leading quickly to shot means if a shot occurs within 15 seconds of a pass, it counts as a quick shot. That is the x axis, the y axis is simply actual completion % divided by my model of expected completion %. Variables that go into my model include position of ball at start and end, speed of attack, how many passes into a possession it is, and a couple more things. Field position is just how far away from goal the average possession starts and good shot% is what % of total shots come from within 15 yards.



Look at Eibar! They have the lowest completion% against of any team in a top 4 league and force opponents to start their possessions higher up the pitch than any other team. 2nd in both of those categories: Manchester City. Other teams in top 10 of both: Bayern and Barcelona. Eibar is 17th in La Liga, is based in a city of 27,000 and their stadium used to hold 5,000 until very recently. Absolutely fascinating.


Roma have an enormous problem, giving up shots in possession quicker than anyone in the top 4 leagues. Quicker even than Frosinone, who look to basically have an amateur side defensively. Roma have decent field position (the color of the dot) and aren’t allowing good shots at a high proportion (the size of the dot) so it doesn’t seem like an entire defense that is awful, but it needs to be fixed that is an enormous leak.


Parma basically let you pass it around extremely well but then somehow keep you from taking shots…I’m imagining basically 11 guys defending hard and well around the box.


Interesting to see Manchester United not really dominating field position battle: Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City and Tottenham are. Arsenal essentially look like an average team in all of these graphs.


Juventus is hard to see because they simply don’t allow good shots. This has been true for a long time, their defense doesn’t do anything amazing in many areas but you just can’t get good shots.


Atletico have allowed only 4 goals but are allowing 12 shots a game and don’t stand out here at all, this is not a typical Atletico shutdown defense at all.


Villarreal and Fulham do some nice passing offensively but their defenses aren’t up to European quality really.


Napoli is in a weird place where they have good field position when their defensive possessions start but they are extremely easy to pass against, not many other teams with blue circles are easy to pass against.


Now, the offense.



Barcelona, Juventus and Man City really stand out here as teams that pass, control field position, take a high% of good shots and generate shots quickly on the ball. This is all assuming league quality is equal, as in I don’t make any adjustments so if you think the Premier League is significantly harder, that would change the interpretation.


Here you see Eibar offensively is pretty terrible, not standout at generating good shots, average at generating shot volume in general and terrible at passing. Which makes their standout defense even more interesting.


Getafe and Cardiff are interesting in the terrible passing team zones, both start possession in pretty good position, Cardiff is actually great at generating shots quickly while Getafe is utterly awful .

Southampton for some reason look really good offensively in these numbers.

Newcastle and Frankfurt are just horrific, doing absolutely nothing even close to ok.

Leipzig generate shots ridiculously quickly, Bundesliga in general is higher than the other leagues.


Real Madrid’s attack is off after losing Ronaldo, usually it’s essentially an unstoppable machine, right now they aren’t generating shots rapidly and the shot quality isn’t impeccable.


It’s interesting how kind of meh Bayern look on lots of these metrics. They don’t scream run-away-and-hide-in-the-Bundesliga-scary-big-3 team as of yet.


Now, the combined universe.



Man City essentially maxes out almost every metric included here, Barcelona does the same for everything except good shot%, opponents actually take a higher % of their shots inside 15 yards than do Barca. But there is a reason those two are the two favorites for the Champions League. Now this is not adjusted for schedule so Man City’s easy opening schedule can inflate these numbers a lot, it will be more even later on in the year.


Bayern, Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Juventus are the next 4 favorites and while all have impressive numbers, aren’t to the extent of the two at the top. Real Madrid’s shot generation deficit is the biggest problem to fix among this group.


Some oddities show up here: Atalanta, Lazio and Eibar. We talked about Eibar’s ridiculous defense earlier, Atalanta were close. I will certainly keep an eye on these 3 teams whose results and other numbers don’t suggest anything special.


Look at where Arsenal are, it hasn’t been pretty at all for them. They look like any other standard team like Cagliari or Celta Vigo. Not much going on looking at these metrics.



If you have any ideas for what this could be missing or ways to improve this viz, please leave a comment or message me. I think the shot generation bit could be a little better and will work on that, but I love scanning these as a way of learning the fundamentals of these teams. I wonder how sustainable it is to generate big xG gaps without doing some of these underlying things.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s