Ligue 1 Data Dumping: Vol 1

11 weeks have past by in Ligue 1 (if you missed week 11, here’s our customary roundup: . Marseille are still atop the table, but for the first time their potential title quest is being questioned. Lyon have been the most in-form side in Ligue 1 and are back in a Champions League spot (albeit it’s a CL playoff spot and Lyon proved that the playoffs for European football can be much tougher than expected). There’s also other subplots in the league: Nantes are 5th despite having a transfer ban that won’t be lifted until the summer of 2015, Monaco have finally begun to rebound after the worst start imaginable, PSG are only 4 points off of Marseille and 6 points separate 9th place Rennes from 20th place Guingamp.

11 weeks seems like a decent time to do some data dumping for the French Domestic League. Below is a number of shot data led statistics with the league average at the very bottom so we can see a rough barometer for how well teams has played versus the rest of the pack through 11 games:

Ligue 1 2015


A Few Notes/Ramblings:

  • I decided not to include PDO in the data above. Lately there’s been talk about the usefulness of the stat in football, something you can read in much greater detail in Richard Whittall’s piece on 21st Club: I may experiment with PDO for Ligue 1 in a historical matter in the future but for now I’ve decided to not include it and simply just use pure shot data, percentage of shots on target on offense/defense and Open play Goal %.
  • Bordeaux are 6th currently and until recently were in a Champions League position. I’m a bit unconvinced of them being good enough to be in European football next season let alone be in a top 3 position. Bordeaux are around average in pretty much every statistic in that picture other than their Open Play goal conversion rate, and their Open Goal % could be explained a little with Diego Rolan and Cheick Diabete’s finishing being above average relative to their shot volume. Bordeaux have been historically solid when it came to shot suppression, and under ner manager Willy Sagnol their defensive data is around league average. Sagnol perhaps is still trying to implement his ideologies on the club and 6th place for Bordeaux is where they’ve roughly finished in the last few years. We’ll see how their defensive work shapes out over the next stretch of games
  • Lorient’s Open Goal % pretty much screams of the absence of Vincent Aboubakar. He contributed 14 non penalty goals last season for Lorient, which was massive in Lorient finishing in the top half of the table. They’re actually doing rather decently in non conversion statistics, which may be an indicator that they should be all right in the long term but it doesn’t look good that the only match they’ve won in their last 7 matches was against probably the worst team in Ligue 1.
  • Bastia… you’re not good. I’m sorry Claudio Makelele.
  • I’ve taken my fair amount of shots on Monaco on Twitter this season, as have a lot of people. Yes, James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao aren’t walking through that door, but this is still a very young and talented squad they have. Yannick Federick-Carrasco has had his ups and downs (though he was spectacular versus Bastia last Saturday) and Dimitar Berbatov is maybe on the decline, which would put Monaco in a pickle in terms of who plays as the ST/CF in their 4-3-3. One thing I do wonder is whether they’ll use the money from the money they recoup on player sales like perhaps Joao Moutinho to fund for more players in their prime instead of having a massive dichotomy between their very young core and their over 30 players. Either way they’ll be fine in the long run and will be in the thick of it for the Champions League next year.
  • I’ve already given my two cents on the problems Lille are facing this season so I won’t rehash them again. Inefficient is probably the best word to sum it all up
  • Speaking of inefficient, there’s our good friends Nantes look down upon many other teams in fifth place. It’s weird, their data is pretty much similar to Lille except in terms of shot location. Both them and Lille would be very interesting to look at in terms of game states (how teams fare when leading, trailing or tied). This is an avenue I may look into in the future if I have enough time to do so. Nantes though have two players I enjoy watching in Georges-Kévin Nkoudou and Jordan Veretout, and Veretout in particular is becoming one of the better creative midfielders in Ligue 1.
  • Not much else other than that, Saint Etienne have the best TSR in Ligue 1, the top 3 have offensive data that out laps the competition, and again pray for Claudio Makelele.



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Bundesliga Roundup: Week 9


Hannover 96 1 – Borussia Dortmund 0: Since facing Arsenal, Borussia have yet to win a game in the Bundesliga, and last year’s second place team now find themselves in 15th place, two points away from relegation as they lost 1-0 to Hannover last weekend. Manager Jurgen Klopp has voiced concerns about the style of football his team plays, saying that this style isn’t working right now, especially in the Bundesliga. Dortmund did recently welcome back midfielder Iklay Gundogan, however, and that could help them significantly as he is one of the only midfielders in the world who is capable of playing the hybrid defensive / central midfielder role integral in Borussia’s gegenpressing system. And what timing for him to round into form, as Dortmund head to Munich to face Pep Guardiola and Bayern Munich.

Stuttgart 5 – Eintracht 4:  Christian Gentner’s goal in the 84th minute helped Stuttgart capture a 5-4 win at Eintracht on Saturday in a thrilling offensive display from both sides. Gentner and Martin Harnik scored two goals apiece for Stuttgart, while Eintracht’s Alexander Madlung also found the net twice as the two sides combined to score six times in the final 40 minutes of the match.

Bayern Munich 0 – Borussia Mönchengladbach 0: After scoring 13 goals and only conceding one in their last two fixtures, Bayern Munich ran into a buzzsaw in the Borussia Park on Sunday. Bayern were saved by some Manuel Neuer heroics and both teams were fortunate not to concede a penalty. Guardiola’s squad thought they had a legitimate claim after Mario Götze went down in the box, while Lucein “Don’t call me Brett” Favre’s team questioned the referee after some foul play from Mehdi Benatia. Speaking of referees, this game was also marred by Pep Guardiola getting handsy with the fourth official.

Guardiola was skeptical of Gladbach’s Granit Xhaka injury in stoppage time, which delayed the game for over a minute. Pep felt he had to let the fourth official, Bibiana Steinhaus, know that he wouldn’t stand for these shenanigans. Ms. Steinhaus decided to let Pep know that she wouldn’t stand for his shenanigans either, and the Catalan could face a touchline ban for his antics.

Other Results: 1.FC Köln 0–1 Bremen, Augsburg 2–0 Freiburg, Hertha 3–0 HSV, Hoffenheim 1–0 Paderborn,  Leverkusen 1–0 Schalke, Wolfsburg 3–0 Mainz.

Screen Shot 2014-10-28 at 2.55.15 PM

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La Liga Roundup: Week 9

It’s time for another edition of the Liga BBVA roundup! Lots to discuss from over the weekend, so let’s get started…

- There’s only one place we can start this week, and that would be in Madrid…with Getafe 0-1 Atlético! The Primera División champs secured all three points away in this ill-tempered derby clash, as Mario Mandžukić netted off – what else – a set piece just before halftime. That goal was the Rojiblancos’ 15th of the year and 11th from a set piece. In the second half, Getafe captain Alexis was sent off for smacking Mandžukić across the face, and in the ensuing scuffle, Miranda observed Juan Rodríguez “standing” on the fallen Mandžukić’s leg and got into the book for shoving him out of the way.


Nothing gets past Inspector Miranda.

- There’s just no stopping Unai Emery’s Sevilla train right now. The Andalusians rallied late to defeat Villarreal 2-1. The Yellow Submarine looked to have won through substitute Luciano Vietto’s 79th minute goal, but the hosts had other ideas. A cross into the area two minutes from time wreaked havoc on the Villarreal defense, and Denis Suárez popped up to poke home the equalizer. And in stoppage time, Carlos Bacca banged in a (deserved) penalty – his seventh goal in nine games – to leave Marcelino and his men stunned. Sevilla have come a looooong way since the UEFA Super Cup.

- The pressure was on at Mestalla on Saturday night. With new owner Peter Lim in the house and a 3-0 pasting at Deportivo still fresh in the memory, coach Nuno’s troops were not lacking in motivation against Elche. Los Che breezed past the El che, 3-1. The hosts were up 2-0 inside 20 minutes, as Shkodran Mustafi and Dani Parejo found the back of the net via corners, and a Lombán own goal (also from a set piece) completed Valencia’s scoring on the night. Sevilla’s win the next day prevented Valencia from moving into second, but they’ll no doubt be happy with fourth place.

- Y’ALL. ATHLETIC CLUB BILBAO WON. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. The much-maligned Basque club went away to Almería and claimed a 1-0 victory. This was a sloppy affair, as the two sides managed only four shots on target between them (Almería had three of them) and neither side completed 70% of their passes. So it makes sense that this is how the game’s only goal would be scored. Aside from scoring that goal, Athletic center-back Xabier Etxeita won five aerial duels and recorded five clearances. Ander Iturraspe also had a nice bounce-back performance, as he won four aerials, accrued three interceptions, and notched two tackles.

-Oh yeah, a Clásico happened on Saturday. Ahmad talked about that in detail here.

Other scores: Celta Vigo 3-0 Levante, Córdoba 1-1 Real Sociedad, Eibar 1-1 Granada, Málaga 4-0 Rayo, Espanyol 0-0 Deportivo.

Here’s the table after nine weeks. The top five haven’t been this close in years:


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Ligue 1 Roundup: Week 11


  • The big matchup in Ligue 1 this week was Marseille traveling to Lyon. The away match was the toughest test of the season for Marcelo Bielsa’s men. They failed in a 1-0 loss. Yoann Gourcuff followed up his brace last week with the match’s only goal. WhoScored awarded man of the match to Lyon’s keeper, Anthony Lopes. He only made four saves, but they were all pivotal to securing the win for Lyon. Lyon is now undefeated in their last six matches. Andre Ayew received a yellow card, which means he will miss Marseille’s huge fixture at PSG on November 11th. With PSG winning, Marseille’s first place lead is now four points.
  • PSG and Bordeaux entered their fixture in Paris level on points with 18, second and third in the table. PSG is still second, but Bordeaux dropped down to 6th after PSG’s 3-0 win. Lucas Moura was the star of the match. He scored twice (albeit both penalties) and completed five dribbles. The match also marked the return of the beloved Policeman Lavezzi, who scored in his first appearance since late September.
  • Nice shellacked Guingamp, 7-2. Five of Nice’s goals came from one man: Carlos Eduardo, pictured above. (No, not the only who plays for Rubin Kazan.) Alassane Pléa had a goal and two assists as well for Nice, but was understandably overshadowed in the match. Guingamp was currently last in Ligue 1 and with a performance like that, it’s very easy to see why.
  • Lille’s run of bad form continued, losing 2-0 at Rennes. Lille has only take four points out of a possible 18 from their last six games, is on a three game losing streak, and has scored a whopping total of two goals in this six game span.
  • Don’t look now, but Monaco is three points away from a third place. After stumbling out of the blocks, the men from the principality have gotten it together. They beat Claude Makelele’s Bastia 3-1, with Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco having a part in all three goals. Monaco has the third best form in Ligue 1 over the last six games, with only one loss.
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Is Luis Enrique Bad At Managing Big Games?

If Paris was a warning, Madrid made it perfectly clear. Barcelona’s approach again left them vulnerable to sides that can attack them with speed and pace, and in Real Madrid, there is no one better at exploiting that.

The big news coming into this fixture was that Barcelona would be getting Luis Suarez back from his four month ban. By the end of this game, Suarez was a mere footnote, with the headline being the disappearance of Barcelona’s midfield. How did that happen? Two words: Luis Enrique.

The Barcelona manager fielded a bizarre team, to say the least. Claudio Bravo was between the posts, while the defense was composed of Dani Alves, Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano, and Jeremy Mathieu. Seeing that, you’d expect a more defensive left side of the pitch, the tall Frenchman to stay back while Dani Alves did Dani Alves things (heart attacks to Barcelona fans after he gets dispossessed and teams break down the right flank not included). But for some reason, Luis Enrique decided Mathieu could also attack, linking up with Messi and Neymar on more than one occasion with disastrous results. If you wanted your fullbacks to attack, why not play Jordi Alba, who is the better offensive fullback by far?

This wasn’t even Lucho’s biggest mistake on the day. Further up the field, Luis Enrique got cute and nostalgic, starting Xavi and Iniesta alongside Sergio Busquets. This isn’t 2011, Lucho, and asking Iniesta and Xavi (especially Xavi) to cover for the fullbacks and press is next to impossible and was suicidal tactically. The fact of the matter is, changing the system like Luis Enrique did renders the Barcelona midfield of old obsolete, and Dani Carvajal and Marcelo especially were delighted to expose the fact for everyone to see as they repeatedly got forward past the nonexistent midfield. But we’ll get to that later.

Up front, Messi and Neymar welcomed Luis Suarez back from his ban, and the Uruguayan made his mark on the game early by setting up Neymar’s 3rd minute goal. He would also be involved later on when he set up Messi on a chance the Argentinian scores 99 times out of a 100. Iker Casillas, playing a great game and answering all his haterzzzzz, parried this one away and Barca were still a goal ahead despite the best efforts of Real. However, Madrid would get their chance to score soon enough.

A Cristiano Ronaldo penalty after a Gerard Pique handball – Pique has been a disaster for Barcelona all season long, some might even say even longer – put Real level with Barcelona and appeared to be the turning point in the game.

From then on, Madrid’s midfield of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos asserted their dominance with James Rodriguez and Isco. The four man midfield was immense today, with Isco playing the role of Angel Di Maria. It’s a shame he doesn’t start on a regular basis because of Gareth Bale, as he gives Real’s midfield the balance they lack when the Welshman is playing.

In the second half, Real Madrid came out flying once again. This game showed how much better Real are than the Catalan team, and whether it’s a fault of tactics or personnel remains to be seen. Lucho’s tactics weren’t optimal, but Real has, for the most part, the fitter, more physical squad. Barcelona’s once obvious technical advantage has also been diminished, as Real possess in Luka and Toni, the better midfield.

(There might have been tears as I wrote this.)

Madrid’s second goal came off of a set piece, Toni Kroos finding Pepe all alone for a powerful header from a corner in the fifty first minute. This emboldened the merengues even more, and ten minutes later, a glorious counter attack goal from Karim Benzema had Real up 3-1.

If the second goal made Madrid confident, then by goal number three, they were treating Barcelona like a championship side, with Barcelona willing to comply. Countless times, Real broke down the Barcelona flanks, getting to the area with relative ease before either overpassing or being wasteful in the final third. Cristiano Ronaldo almost seemed hesitant to shoot, and really, had he played better, he would have had five. The 3-1 scoreline was very flattering to Barcelona.

The once vaunted midfield is all but gone, and Lucho’s decision to go nostalgic and play Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta backfired. Real were playing without a defensive midfielder, something that in theory should have been to Barca – and Messi’s – benefit. But it was all for naught as Barcelona decided to attack down the Madrid flanks with Dani Alves and Jeremy Mathieu, playing right into Real’s counter attacking hands.

This also had a knock down effect on the midfield as Xavi and Iniesta were tasked with covering their full backs, something that they simply cannot do. Because they were out wide often, there was no one in the middle of the pitch to orchestrate play and calm things down. The fact of the matter is, Barcelona no longer create play through their midfield, with the Barcelona midfield shuttled out wide and the middle of the park often static until Messi drops deep enough to collect the ball and create an opening.

Defensively this helps the fullbacks (at least when the right personnel is used), but exposes the middle of the pitch. Offensively, it stifles the midfield and Barcelona becomes more reliant on Messi, Neymar and Suarez to create chances, and those three will create a lot of chances when they click. However, while this will work against the majority of teams in La Liga, as soon as Barcelona is drawn with a team that is willing to attack it, like, say in the Champions League round of 16, they are toast.

Barcelona, for the first time in a long time against Madrid, were disorganized, panicky and lost. In contrast, Madrid were fluid, calm and controlling. In no place was that more evident than in the midfield. Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez and Isco all attacked with purpose, knowing exactly what to do when they got the ball. Meanwhile, Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta, when they were in the middle of the pitch, did not.

The blame for that falls on the manager. Carlo Ancelotti once again had a wonderful game plan which his players – Isco especially – executed brilliantly.

Luis Enrique, however, has seemingly lost the plot.

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Every Day Is Zlatan Day Hangout #3: Champions League Matchday Three

Here we are, folks, the third edition of the EDIZD Hangout, recorded Wednesday.

Some notes:

1. If you haven’t watched one of these before: yes, this is normal hangout length.

2. I made a mistake when I said Atlético Madrid did not score a set piece goal. They actually did. Their fourth (courtesy of Diego Godín) was from a Koke corner, not a cross. Escaped me during the hangout. You would think that it wouldn’t.

3. Technical difficulties abounded during this hangout. We weren’t splitting it into three parts, two was enough. Technology is a finicky thing.

4. Feedback is always appreciated!


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Ligue 1 Roundup: Week 10


  • The second international break has passed us by, which means that we’re back to discuss the actions and controversies that occurred in week 10 for Ligue 1. The first week back has delivered 23 goals from the 10 games, with four of them coming in the Friday matchup between Lens and PSG. 3 red cards occurred in the match including one from Edinson Cavani, who after getting a yellow card for his trademark celebration following his penalty conversion got a second yellow card right after for grabbing the ref. Two more red cards followed in quick succession which reduced Lens to 9 men. PSG won the match 3-1 with Yohan Cabaye scoring his first goal in Ligue 1 for PSG, but the main talking points from this match were the red cards given out: 

PSG are back in sole possession of 2nd place in Ligue 1 but still remain 7 points back             from league leaders Olympic Marseille. Bordeaux are next up but the matchup on Nov         9 versus Marseille will be a must watch.

  • Speaking of must watch, Olympic Lyon now move to fourth place in the table following an intoxicating 5-1 victory over Montpellier. It was a bit closer than the score indicates, with Montpellier having two great opportunities to cut Lyon’s 3-0 halftime lead down to 3-2 following Siaka Tiene’s beautiful FK that went past Anthony Lopes. Yohan Gourcuff scored his first two goals in nearly 10 months for Lyon, the second one coming off of a beautiful pass from Christophe Jallet. It was another intoxicating performance for Hurbert Fournier’s side, who’ve demolished Lorient, Lille and now Montpellier in recent weeks. Lacazette has scored 7 non penalty goals in 10 games this year, and Nabil Fekir scored a delightful chip for his 4th goal of the season. Lyon will get to truly test their mettle with a home date versus league leaders Marseille next Sunday at the Stade Gerland.
  • Marseille stay seven points clear of second place PSG with a 2-0 victory over Toulouse. Andre Pierre Gignac scored his 10th goal of the season (9th of the NPG variety). The last two previous matchups produced two draws but enough of that, let’s watch Marcelo Bisla versus Random Assistant Who Put a Plastic Cup of Coffee Without Biesla knowing: 
  • Bordeaux drew 1-1 with Caen after their goalie Cedric Carrasso took the worst angle possible for the Caen equaliser: 
  • Nantes also drew in their match versus Reims 1-1. Johan Audel scored the opening goal of the match off of a dead ball assist from Jordan Veretout in the 13th minute. Reims equalised in the 58th minute from a Diego FK which denied the hosts a chance to be in 4th place, a remarkable achievement considering they were banned in the summer transfer window from making signing and are also banned for the January transfer window. They have two exciting prospects in playmaking midfielder Veretout, one of the fastest wingers in Ligue 1 in Georges-Kévin Nkoudou Mbida and have posted the 4th best Total Shot Ratio through 10 games at 0.596, a solid statistical indicator for future success.
  • Other Scores: Lorient 0-1 Saint Etienne, Lille 1-2 Guingamp, Monaco 2-0 Evian Thonon Galliard, Nice 0-1 Bastia, Metz 0-0 Rennes
  • Next week in Ligue 1 comes the first installment of the Choc des Olympiques between Olympic Lyon and Olympic Marseille. Two teams who have been by far the most aesthetically pleasing to watch through ten games. Both teams having prolific goal scorers in red hot form and a host of creative midfielders who can supply their strikers with beautiful through balls. Marseille have slowed down a bit from their torrid goal scoring streak a few weeks ago while Lyon have won three of their last four, scoring 12 goals in the process. This is the best matchup Ligue 1 has seen so far this year, which means the game will be a total dud.


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