Europe’s Top 5 Football Leagues: What the Data Tells Us about the 2018-19 Season | MicroStrategy
Data Visualization

Europe’s Top 5 Football Leagues: What the Data Tells Us about the 2018-19 Season

When Liverpool lifted the Champions League trophy in Madrid on June 1st, it signaled the end of the season for Europe’s major football competitions. Since the start of the 2018-19 campaigns in England, Italy, Spain, France, and Germany, we’ve been collecting data from Opta and presenting the analytics in our online dossier. Let’s look at what we found across the continent.

Let’s start with the strikers. As we saw in our recent roundup of the Premier League season, three African stars shared the top scorer table with 22 goals each from a possible 38 matches.

In Spain, Lionel Messi picked up his record-equalling sixth Pichichi trophy for top scorer with 36 goals, but that only tells half the story. He finished 15 goals clear of the next top scorer—Barça teammate Luis Suárez—despite having played nearly a whole match (83 minutes) less over the season. Messi also missed less than half the big chances (15) that Suárez squandered (32) and set up 13 goals, more than twice the assists (six) of either Suárez, or third-placed Karim Benzema.

In Serie A, two of the top three strikers were aged well over 30. Sampdoria’s Fabio Quagliarella, aged 36, banged in 26 goals—including a goal-of-the-season contender—while 34 year old Cristiano Ronaldo netted 21 goals in Juventus’ march to an eighth successive scudetto.

In Germany, Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski may have top scored with 22 goals in 2,958 minutes of play and 144 shots, but Borussia Dortmund’s Paco Alcácer notched 18 goals in just 1,201 minutes in just 52 shots. That’s one goal every 2.9 shots and every 67 minutes, compared to Lewandowski’s one goal every 6.5 shots every 134 minutes.

Dortmund’s Paco Alcácer was more accurate than Bayern’s Lewandowski.

In France, it was no surprise that PSG’s Kylian Mbappé ran away with the top scorer’s crown with 33 strikes, but the data also shows why second place Nicolas Pépé of Lille is attracting the attention of bigger clubs. The 23-year-old scored 22 goals from 118 shots, made 104 dribbles, 11 assists (four more than Mbappé) and made 1,199 passes with 79% accuracy.

In France, Mbappé was outstanding again, but Pépé also impressed.

The Midfield Dynamos

In midfield, the most impactful playmakers in the Premier League included AFC Bournemouth’s Scottish winger Ryan Fraser with 14 assists and seven goals, and Spurs’ Christian Eriksen who made 12 assists and scored eight goals. Paul Pogba of Manchester United made 2,068 passes at an accuracy of 83%, scoring 13 goals.

In Italy, Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gómez was instrumental in Atalanta’s highest-ever finish (third) with 11 assists, seven goals and more than 1,600 passes. All the top five assist-maker spots went to players outside Italy’s traditional big clubs; you have to go down to sixth until you get to Roma’s Cengiz Ünder.

It’s a similar story in Spain, where the key assist makers come from outside the Champions League spots. Sevilla’s Pablo Sarabia scored 13 goals and set up 13 more this term, not a bad return given that he cost the club just €1 million in 2016!

England’s teenage star Jadon Sancho was the standout midfielder in Germany, with 12 goals, 14 assists and 113 dribbles. Sancho had an incredible pass conversion rate of 85% from 1,301 passes. Meanwhile, in France, a special mention to Téji Savanier, who topped the assists (14) and contributed six goals in Nîmes’ mid-table finish.

Mean Defenses and Leaky Back Fours

In England, France, Spain, and Germany, the team with the tightest defense did not actually win their domestic title. Liverpool had the meanest defense in Europe’s top five league, conceding just 22 goals in 38 games, one goal every 1.7 matches. Manchester City had the greatest goal difference (+72) across the continent, while Huddersfield Town had the worst (-54).

European champions Liverpool top Europe’s collated league table of tightest defenses.

In all, there were 4,905 goals across Europe’s top five leagues, with the most coming in England (1,042) and the least coming in France (950). Spain produced the highest ratio of goals from set pieces (32.2%) and Germany the least (25.5%).

Finally, let’s look at the bad boys of Europe. Sevilla’s Argentine midfielder Éver Bánega tops the table with 16 yellows and two red cards, while Villarreal has three players in the top four offenders.

That’s a look at the European season in numbers! We look forward to the 2019-20 season, but in the meantime, please explore our online dossier for yourself.

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