Serie A Season Review: 2011-12 Part 1

17 Jun

Hot on the heels of the Premier League review, the Italian equivalent gets the treatment next. Throughout the season I’ve been looking at the opponents at the time of play, now that the season is over it’s a chance to look at the opponents based on their final rankings. Part one, is based on the goalscorers

Most of you know the drill now, this is a site looking to prove who the big game players are based on how they do against a range of opponents – we have the average ranked team scored against, we have the ranges (Top 6-Middle 8-Bottom 6), and we also have importance of goals in terms of points won. Chuck in the assists and we’ll have a good idea of how the attacking players have stood up to be counted in the big games. Similarly, we also have the numbers that are damning for the Flat Track Bullies. To see the big game players based on the ranking at the time of play, click here to read the Round 38 review.

Goals versus Top 6 Teams – Fabrizio Miccoli, 8 goals

Although it was a pretty shocking season for Palermo, there was one shining light. Dropping from 8th in 2010-11 to 16th this season is not what the fans had in mind at the start of the season, but whilst they can point fingers at the crazy chairman, the three different managers or the second worst defence in Serie A, they certainly couldn’t accuse Fabrizio Miccoli of under performing.

Well, if you’re gonna be picky you could accuse him of not turning up against the shit teams in the bottom 6, but where’s the glory in that? For Miccoli is the outstanding big game player in Serie A this season. Hitting 16 goals in just 28 league games, the 32 year old enjoyed a great season with the Sicilian club. As seen above, 50% of his goals came against the Top 6 teams in the country, with a team that finished just two places above the relegation zone. His victims included Inter Milan (a whopping 5 goals in the two meetings), Udinese, Lazio and Napoli. This left him comfortably above any other player in terms of goals against the Top 6 teams this season. He’s at his seventh professional club, but it’s very much been his home after spending the longest period of his career there (5 years after spells at Juventus, Fiorentina and Benfica).

He’s got heart…..providing he’s playing against someone decent

Behind Miccoli (who only scored 9 goals in 2010-11) were a couple of Argentine strikers. Diego Milito rediscovered the devastating form that saw Inter win the Treble in 2010, but this years Inter is nowhere near as good as that team, despite containing a large number of the same players. Like Palermo, Inter also had three managers in what was a very turbulent season for the Milan giants, but this didn’t seem to bother the big striker as he stepped up in the biggest occasion for any Inter Milan player – the Milan derby. Scoring the winner whilst beating AC Milan 1-0 in the middle of the season was one thing, but to beat them 4-2 to hand the title to Juventus was another, and to score a hat trick smacks of a player with a big game temperament. He also hit goals in both games against 4th placed Lazio to cement his claim to be a big game player. The other Argy was the slightly less known Rodrigo Palacio of Genoa who will be lining up for Inter Milan next season, and it’s easy to see why. The former Boca Juniors forward had his best scoring season with 19 league goals in 32 Serie A appearances, and like Miccoli, he preferred to play against the best teams. His six goals against the Top 6 teams were against Inter Milan, Lazio (home and away), Napoli (2), and Udinese. At the age of 30, this move could be his last chance to make it at an established European Super Power.

Further down the list are a few of the Italian Euro 2012 squad members, Di Natale, Giovinco and Diamanti all grabbed 4 goals against the big guns, whilst Edinson Cavani hit 5 against the other Top 6 teams. Joining Cavani on 5 goals is a relative new comer to Italian football Mattia Destro is only 21 but the young Siena striker certainly had an eye for the big occasion. Despite having only score 14 career league goals (12 this season), 5 of them came against this years Top 6 with goals against Napoli, Udinese and Lazio (3). He’s already getting attention from the bigger clubs, after a brief stint at Inter.

Honourable Mentions to – Jovetic in a struggling Fiorentina team still managed to perform in the big games with 4 goals against the top teams – Scoring against both 1st placed Juventus, 2nd placed AC Milan and a brace against 3rd placed Udinese. Not just that, but he also scored home and away against 7th placed Roma, who were in the Top 6 at the time of play. All in all, a big game player, and he’s certainly earned his £20m price tag.

Highest Average Opposition per goal – Marco Di Vaio, 8.40

It turned out to be a good final season in Serie A for the veteran Bologna Striker. The former Italy international recently announced a move to footballing giants Montreal Impact after ending a four year stay with Bologna. And he will be missed with 65 goals in 135 Serie A appearances for the Northern Italy team. And as you’ll see above, he was the man with the highest ranked opponent per goal (with those players with 10 goals or more), with his 10 goals being against an average of 8.40.

Di Vaio just leads the way ahead of Miccoli’s 8.75, as he scored just once against the Bottom 6 teams, resulting in his low average (the league average is 10.5, though this varies depending on what position each team finished). Like Jovetic, Di Vaio notched against both AC Milan and Juventus, whilst a brace against 6th placed Inter and another agaisnt 7th placed Roma saw him grab the coveted Average Opposition Award (I may even e-mail him to tell him about the non-existant award).

Aside from the top two, Destro and Jovetic rear their heads with decent averages, whilst the likes of Milito (11 goals vs Bottom 6) and Giovinco (33% of his goals were against Bottom 6 teams) have lower than expected numbers.

Honourable Mention to – Although he scored less than 10 goals, Lazio’s Stefano Amauri’s 4 goals were on average against 4.75 ranked teams, with goals against Inter, Juventus, Napoli and Roma – a big game player. Inter Milan’s Maicon only scored two goals this season – though the opponents were Champions Juventus, and Milan Rivals and 2nd placed, AC Milan.

Flat Track Bullies

With every Miccoli or Di Vaio, there’s someone that finishes at the other end of the scale, with the lowest Average Opposition per goal, or the most goals against the Bottom 6/least against the Top 6. And there’s a couple of surprising names on the list. Below are the players with the lowest rank opposition for each of their goals (10 goals or more):

Marco Rigoni isn’t exactly a household name, and perhaps this is why. He specialises in the games against lower to mid table opponents. Of his 11 goals, almost half of them were against the strugglers at the bottom. He only scored in two games against Top Half teams, and a hat trick against bottom placed Cesena added largely to his lowly 13.82 average opposition. But he isn’t the surprise name – Udinese and Italy striker Antonio Di Natale scored a massive 9 goals against the bottom teams which has pushed his average down to 12.26, whilst Milan duo Nocerino (11.90) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (11.69) were regular scorers against the teams fighting relegation. Cavani, Klose, and Milito are all big names that scored significantly more against the Bottom 6 than the Top 6 – although that is to be expected as the defences aren’t as strong.

And there’s some similar names when looking at the most goals scored against the Bottom 6 teams:

Milito leads the way with 11, but at least has the decency to score 6 against Top 6 teams. Behind him is Ibrahimovic with 9 goals. He’s often been described as a flat track bully, and to a certain extent it’s justifiable. But it’s probably fair to say that he excels against average opposition – with 16 goals coming against the teams ranked 7th to 14th.

And with just three against the Top 6 teams (one of which was a penalty), there is a case to be made for Ibrahimovic bottling it in the big games. He scored in just two of the games against the best teams (Lazio and a double against Inter). So whilst he’s not an out and out Flat Track Bully, there is evidence that he’s a big game bottler.

Honourable Mentions to –Kevin Prince Boateng scored just 5 league goals, 3 against 18th placed Lecce, one against 12th placed Atalanta and one against 17th placed Genoa. Strangely though, he scored against Barcelona in the Champions League, and Inter Milan in the Super Cup. And Chievo’s Pellisier scored the most goals without bothering the Top 6 teams.

Palacio Good Player, crap hair

Valuable Goals – Diego Milito 16 points from 24 goals, whilst Rodrigo Palacio’s goals won 33% of Genoa’s points

To soften the blow for Milito, who was said to be visually shaken when he found out he had the most goals against the Bottom 6, he can be rightly satisfied that his goals have been so important, worth 16 points for Inter Milan. At times, he was a one man team as Inter went through a comedy run of terrible results – scoring 9 goals in a 6 game run, including all 4 in a 4-4 draw with Parma. He scored the winner in a 1-0 win against AC Milan (2 points) and then scored a hat trick in the return game in the 4-2 win (3 points). Decisive goals against Lazio, Genoa and Siena (8 points) amongst others saw him cement his place at the top of the points won table.

In terms of efficiency, Lazio striker Miroslav Klose has more than a point per goal before injury cut his season short but that’s nothing compared to Chievo’s catpain Sergio Pellisier. Whilst he specialised in bulying the weaker opponents, at least he can say that it was worth while. Each of his goals were worth on average 1.5 points, as every goal he scored directly impacted the final score. Five of his goals were in one goal wins for Chievo, whilst a further three were in draws (2 in a 4-4 draw with Palermo).

As mentioned above, Rodrigo Palacio was the most important to his team as his 19 goals resulted in 14 points for Genoa, which was equivalent to 33% of their overall points.

At the other end of the scale, Juventus’ Vidal Prado scored 7 goals in his debut season with the Turin club and whilst that’s a pretty good return from midfield, none of them were decisive – all came in games where Juve beat their opponents comfortably. Similarly, Lazio’s Rocchi did the same with his 5 goals.

Of the big scorers (those with 15 goals or over), Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 28 goals were only worth 9 points:

So although he had the best goals scoring season of his career, he wasn’t quite the one man team that some commentators would suggest. Di Natale and Cavani both had 23 goals that were worth 12 points although this measure doesn’t pick up the other measurement of goal importance – when they were scored. So whilst a Cavani scored the opener against Palermo in a 2-0, as Hamsik scored the other goal, it meant that if Cavani’s goal was removed, Napoli would still have 3 points as they’d win 1-0. Not an exact science, but a good indicator of the importance to the team.


And just to conclude the goalscoring look at the 2011-12 Serie A season, a quick nod to the men that have created the goals, and none have created more than Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo. Eyebrows were raised when the Italy international was allowed to leave AC Milan for the Turin giants and with good reason, as he rolled back the years to become one of the Champions most important players.

But he’s not the big game player in terms of assists – that is Parma playmaker Sebastian Giovinco. The former Juventus man joined Parma on a full time basis last summer and it’s worked out well with the diminutive (another word for small – think Zola) front man not only scored 15 goals, but he also got 11 assists, five of which were against the Top 6 teams (Inter, Lazio twice, Udinese and Napoli).

Fabrizio Miccoli also chipped in with 4 assists against the big teams to add to his eight goals. That’s a combined 12 goals or assists in a maximum 12 games – impressive stuff, and undoubtedly a big game player. Antonio Cassano deserves a mention as well, as he hit 10 assists and 3 goals in just 16 games – with a stroke sandwiched in between. It’s certainly been a great relief for all football fans seeing him lining up for Italy in Euro 2012.

That’s it for the goalscoring look back on Serie A. The team stats will be in part 2.



One Response to “Serie A Season Review: 2011-12 Part 1”


  1. Serie A Season Review: 2011-12 Part 2 « average opposition .com - June 27, 2012

    […] 2 of the Serie A Season Review focuses more on the team stats, Part 1 can be found here with the individual player […]

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