With two thirds of the 2016/17 campaign now done and dusted, I thought I’d take a look at the stats from the Bundesliga to see what they can tell us about how the season so far has unfolded, ahead of matchweek twenty-four this weekend.
In my last article (which you can read here), we saw how there is a genuine tussle in both the league table and the numbers between the giants of Barcelona and Real Madrid. It won’t surprise you here though to see that Bayern Munich lead the way in virtually everything, so don’t be disappointed if they barely get a mention from here onwards as there are far more interesting stories elsewhere. The obvious question is do RB Leipzig deserve to be where they are?
If we look at the shot ratios for the Bundesliga, it certainly suggests that they do.
There are certainly plenty of discrepancies between this and the actual league table at the time of writing though. Hertha BSC are fourth bottom here but fifth in the actual table, whilst the likes of Bayer Leverkusen (10th in the league table) and Schalke (13th) are dominating the shot stats far more than they are the result stats, and FC Ingolstadt, who are currently five points adrift of safety, are doing pretty well on shots. Hertha Berlin are a particularly interesting case, as they are rock bottom of this table for the period since the winter break, and have only taken seven points from their seven matches in 2017, so don’t be surprised if they slide down the table before the season is out.
The ‘shots on target ratio’ seems a little more reliable in Germany, as the top four here match the top four in the league table.
Perhaps the most interesting team here is Borussia Mönchengladbach, as they have gone from having a shots on target ratio of 46.7% before Christmas (which was the eleventh best in the division in that period) to posting 55.4% in the games since the new year dawned. That in turn has powered them to third place in the 2017 league table, with five wins and a draw from their seven matches, and in the match they lost (which was 2-1 at home to Leipzig) they missed a penalty and had ten shots in the box to their opponents’ five.
I might not have included a table of the clear-cut chance stats in this round-up, but I decided to as Bayern are not currently top and that makes it worth a quick look.
Whilst this table is very clearly a two horse race, it’s interesting to look at the form. Bayern held a 32-20 clear-cut chance difference lead over Dortmund at the end of 2016, but in the seven games since the score is 21-8 in BVB’s favour. Dortmund have put in some truly stunning performances on the clear cut chance front since Christmas; 6-0 vs Leipzig, 7-1 over Leverkusen, and a 7-0 at Freiburg which is the biggest ‘win’ by an away team in the Bundesliga, English Premier League or La Liga so far this season. Thomas Tuchel’s side have an identical 2017 record to the aforementioned Borussia Mönchengladbach, except that their one defeat was deserved (as they had four shots on target to their opponent’s eight, and no clear-cut chances to three). The only strange thing about that is that they lost to the division’s rock bottom side, Darmstadt 98, who have only won two other league matches this season.
Perhaps the best way to assess how teams have done is by the use of expected goals, so using a very simple system (which divides shots into four categories: penalties, other clear-cut chances, other shots in the box, and shots outside the box) let’s see how the Bundesliga looks for 2016/17.
Much like with shots on target, the top four from the league table make up the top four here, albeit not in exactly the same order. Looking at this table, I have to wonder how Leipzig have been six points better than Dortmund thus far, as they’ve each defeated the other 1-0 at home this season so there was no advantage gained anywhere there. The main difference seems to be that Leipzig have used their goals more efficiently, as despite scoring nine fewer than BVB they lead the win count by fifteen to twelve. Dortmund may have chalked up seven wins by three-goals-or-more to Leipzig’s three, but the top flight new boys have had seven one goal wins and four draws, whilst the eight time Bundesliga winners have had seven stalemates but only four of the narrowest type of wins, and that difference accounts for the six points that separates the two clubs at the moment.
Leipzig can be very proud of their debut top flight campaign, and as their underlying stats have been virtually identical both before and since the winter break, and seven of their remaining eleven matches (including their next five) are against sides in the bottom half of the table, they stand a very good chance of claiming the runners up spot ahead of Dortmund this season, and what a remarkable achievement that would be.