Serie A Round 18 – Pre Winter Break

5 Jan

And so the quest to complete the Average Opposition Index for Europe’s top leagues continues. Hot on the heels of the more glamorous La Liga is Italy’s Serie A – traditionally known as a more defensive league (and still by those who haven’t followed the Italian League since the glory days of James Richardson’s Gazzetta Football Italia).

On reality it still has slightly less goals per game to the Premier League and La Liga but the gap isn’t as wide as commonly thought.

In terms of AOI (Average Opposition Index – hoping it catches on) for the Top Scorers, there’s some familiar names below; perrenial league winner Ibrahimovic (10.55) is flying high, perrenial top scorer Di Natale (11.90) and perrenial big game player Miroslav Klose (10.63), who seems to be enjoying his his first season in Serie A (and first outside of Germany). However, it’s the relatively unknown German Denis on loan to newly promoted Atalanta (from Udinese), that leads the way in goals. Last season, the Argentinian notched just 4 times in 25 Serie A appearances compared to the 12 goals in 16 league games this season.

There’s also a whole host of rising stars in the list as well – Edison Cavani (12.00) of Napoli is one of the most wanted players in World Football at the moment, Jovetic is continuing to impress at Fiorentina, Matri is surprising the haters/doubters at Juventus, and former Juve player Sebastian Giovinco is reaping the benefits of regular first team football at Parma.

And it’s Giovinco that’s leading from an AOI point of view with an impressive 5.14 (second only to Cesc Fabregas in the top leagues). So far this season he’s managed to score away at former club Juventus, away at AC Milan and home to Udinese to prove he doesn’t go missing in the big games. His 3 goals against Top 6 opponents is second only to Lazio’s Klose.

As shown by his record of 14 World Cup goals, Polish born Klose has long been a player that delivers in important games. And despite playing abroad for the first time at the ripe old age of 33, he’s continued to score against the big teams. With 4 goals, he is the outright leader in the Top 6 range and his AOI is only as low as 10.63 due to a recent brace against bottom place Lecce. AC Milan, AS Roma and Fiorentina have already been on the end of his scoring touch in what has been a great start to his Serie A career.

A couple of the AC Milan Players react well to Zlatan’s pony tail

The current holder of the wooden spoon for the worst AOI rating (for those with 5 goals and above) is Emanuele Calaio. Each of his 5 goals have been on average against 15th place. The highest opponent he has scored against was 12th placed Lecce, who are now in 20th place.

In terms of the Average Opposition at the time of playing, Lazio have had the toughest run in terms of playing teams in good form. Their average opponent so far this season is ranked at 9.188. The fact that they’re in 4th place in the table is surely a good sign for the second half of the season. At the other of the table, the team that’s had the worst average opponent is 10th placed Genoa. The average opponent they’ve faced so far this season is 11.875. They finished last season in their current position, which would suggest progress could be greater.

League leaders AC Milan are doing well based on the 5th hardest run, whilst a revitalised Juventus have perhaps been bolstered by the timing of playing out of form teams. AC Milan and Inter Milan were both defeated earlier in the season, whilst ranked 12th and 16th at the start of the round of fixtures. Those teams are now in 1st and 5th after a turn around in form. Whilst Juventus have performed heroics to remain unbeaten in the league, the timing of the fixtures should be considered.

And so that’s the first update for Serie A for this season. I’ll be adding the Budesliga and Ligue Un in the hopefully near future.

Any feedback or comments are always welcome.

Cheers,

Liam

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