I reviewed the stats from the Bundesliga after two thirds of the campaign had elapsed (here), so it makes sense to now finish the job and look at the full season.
It was no surprise that Bayern won the title; in the last five years they’ve spent very little time not being top of the league.
The champions did at least spend a couple of weeks off the top spot, which was in itself something of a rarity as the charts in the above tweet show you, but their triumph was hardly a shock. They dominated the underlying stats too, so we’ll have to look elsewhere for interesting stories.
I’ll begin with the total shot figures, and to a long term Premier League watcher like myself, these make for curious reading.
The league’s top four teams are in the top four of this table, but after that it goes somewhat haywire. This seems very unusual, as in the 2016-17 Premier League the top eight in the equivalent chart made up the top eight in the league table.
Only three of the 20 teams in the English top flight were more than three places away from their shot ratio placing in the actual table, yet in Germany the majority of teams (10 out of 18) were more than three places away. Answers on a postcard if you have any theories as to why this would be.
The clear winners on this front were FC Köln, who qualified for the Europa League despite posting poor figures on the shots front. Meanwhile Ingolstadt finished five points adrift of safety despite a very solid shots performance, though as we will soon see, it’s what you do with shots and not how many you have which matters.
The location of shots is certainly important too, but in terms of shots in the box, Ingolstadt fared even better than they did for total shots.
Köln are fairly low down here, as they were on total shots, but we can factor something else in which starts to explain why they and Ingolstadt were at opposite ends of the table in reality. Opta have a stat called clear-cut chances (which are also known as ‘big chances’) and they are “A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range.” Whilst far from a perfect match to the league table, the list of clear-cut chance differences is closer than either of the above two tables are.
When I did my earlier review of the Bundesliga, after match week 23, Dortmund lead this table from Bayern by one. The champions clearly finished the stronger of the two on this front, but imagine how many goals they might have scored this season if this following stat wasn’t the case:
As we know how many shots each team had, and how many were classed as high quality chances, we can look at what percentage of each teams shots for and against were golden opportunities. The following table shows those percentages, and I’ve sorted the teams by the difference between attack and defence. I’ve also highlighted the top and worst five performances at each end of the pitch.
A-ha, so that’s how Köln outperformed their raw shot stats! Peter Stöger’s team were the second best attacking side and the best defensive team when it came to shot quality efficiency. Only three teams allowed more shots in their box than Köln, so I’d be interested to know how they prevented clear-cut chances so relatively well.
If we look beyond Germany and take in Spain and England too, then only Real Madrid (17.3%), Barcelona (19.0%) and Dortmund (19.8%) had a higher proportion of their shots classified by Opta as big chances than Köln did, and that’s exalted company for them to keep. I shall certainly be keeping a close eye on them next season.
I mentioned that what happens with shots is often the most important factor, so let’s close with a look at the percentages of shots on target which were converted in defence and attack for each team. ‘PDO’ is simply the two figures added together, and the average is always 100 as every shot on target is either scored or saved.
Ingolstadt’s decent shot stats were criminally undermined by finishing at both ends of the pitch, and particularly when it came to their own attack. It’s no surprise to see Köln in second place considering their shot quality, but the interesting team here is RB Leipzig.
The surprise runners up in 2016/17 had a PDO figure of 111.9 prior to the winter break, but a lowly 92.4 for the period thereafter. Had those figures been reversed, it’s highly unlikely they’d have done as well as they have this season, as they would have probably started far more slowly. They’re another team who will be very interesting to follow next season, and particularly as they’ll have to cope with the rigours of Champions League football for the first time too.
It’s clear though that Munich were worthy champions. Can anyone stop them next season? Based on the numbers here, it would be a massive surprise if anyone can.