Tag Archives: Levante

La Liga Season Review: 2011-2012

9 Jul

Next up in the season reviews is the Spanish League. More specifically, Real Madrid, Messi, Ronaldo and a few others. Okay, maybe not as blatant as that, but with the season’s that they’ve had, it’s going to be hard to look past them on all of the calculations. But I’ll give it a shot…

It was of course a record breaking season in Spain’s top flight, Barcelona beat the previous record of 107 goals with some breath taking attacking play, unfortunately for them, Real Madrid scored more than them with a jaw dropping 121. Madrid also beat Barca’s 99 point haul with 100, and Messi scored 50 league goals on his own – more than 13 of the teams in the League. You could be forgiven for thinking that it was a very weak league, but with the showings of Atletico Madrid and Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League, and with Barca and Real in touching distance of an El Classico Champions League final, the standrad is still sky high. But I’m here to look at the stats from how players and teams did based on their opposition. If you want a very good season review by a proper journalist then click here. So without further ado – the statistics.

Goalscoring

Big Game Players – Messi, 17 goals versus Top 6 opponents, and Da Costa, Average Oppostion 8.40

Despite what you may think, this is actually a surprise win for Messi. Throughout the season, based on opposition based on the time of play, Cristiano Ronaldo has led the scoring vs Top 6 from almost start to finish. However, this review is based on the final positions, meaning that hat tricks against Atleti and Malaga (both ranked 8th at the time of play) translate into 6 more goals against Top 6 teams based on final positions:

That’s 17 goals in 10 games against the other Top 6 teams. That’s ridiculous. But, and it’s a big but (not in the Jennifer Lopez way), he didn’t score against Real Madrid. And for those that incorrectly think there’s only two decent teams in Spain, it’s a glaring ommision for Messi. No surprise that Cristiano Ronaldo was in second with an almost as brilliant 13 goals against the big teams. The Madeira born winger scored against all of the teams in the Top 6, including crucially, the winner against Barcelona in the Nou Camp – which ultimately settled the whereabouts of the League Title. Big Game performances for a man often accused of not doing it. Add to that the brace he scored in the Champions League semi final, and a further brace against Holland in the Euros, and all of a sudden, it’s clear that he’s not just a flat track bully that some would have you believe.

Real Betis’s Castro Martin (left) is the best of the rest with a very decent 6 goals – impressive considering that Betis finished in 13th position. He scored three goals against Barcelona, two against Valencia and one against Malaga.

In terms of those with the highest average ranked opponent per goal, that honour (and it is an honour), goes to Rayo Vallecano’s Diego Da Silva Costa with 8.40. Although only 23, the Brazilian forward is somewhat of a journeyman, with 7 clubs under his belt so far. On loan from Atletico Madrid, he managed a very impressive 10 goals from 15 starts, including strikes against Top Sixers, Valencia, Malaga and Levante. Such was his dislike of the small occasions, he only scored once against the teams at the bottom of the table. Three strikes against Osasuna and Sevilla just outside the Top 6, helped his average up.

Castro Martin’s average was also suitably impressive with 8.81 – bouyed by the 6 goals mentioned above, against the elite teams, whilst Alexis Sanchez was the only other player with 10 goals or more to have an average under 10.00

Of course, for every player that thrives in the big games, there’s another who bottles it.

Flat Track Bullies/Big Game Bottlers

Below is a list of the players with the most goals against the Bottom 6 teams. I’ve taken out Messi (15) and Ronaldo (14) as they scored just as many against the Top teams. Looking at the below, it’s reasonable to suggest a couple of them are Flat Track Bullies, or just Big Game Bottlers:

My old pal Falcao is present in the final table, as he was throughout the season. He undoubtedly had a great debut season with 24league goals, but for me, he just didn’t do it enough against the best teams. A split 11-11-2 suggests there’s a tendency to go missing against the better opposition, and although he did score goals against Real and Barca, that’s just two goals from 10 games against the other teams in the Top 6. He can of course point to another goal in the Europa League final, but is that perhaps the right level for his talents? Time will tell.

Valencia’s Jonas and Agirretxe of Sociedad both had near identical records, with 60% of their league goals scored against the poorer teams. Both scored just one goal against the Top 6 teams. Flat Track Bullies? Indeed. Benzema and Kone can be excused for their large haul against the Bottom 6 teams as they at least had the good grace to score a respectable amount against the good teams as well.

Unlike del Moral of Sevilla.

And as if to prove his status as the ultimate Flat Track Bully, here’s handy table showing the players with the worst Average ranked opponent per goal scored (10 goals or more).

An average that low doesn’t really need any extra commentary, but I’ll just point out that four of his 10 goals came against bottom team Racing Santander. The big bully.

So that’s the deal from a Big Game Player/Bully/Bottler situation. But there is another parameter. The importance of the goals – both to the result, and to the team.

Points won and Importance to the Team – Lionel Messi, 23 points earned, and Castro Martin, 34% of his team’s points

And it’s another nod to Messi. It’s no real surprise given he scored 50 league goals last season, but he was the player that won themost points for his team last season. Of the 25 games he scored in, his goals were decisive to the result in 11 of them. The 23 points won by Messi’s goals are second only to Robin van Persie’s 24 for Arsenal (from 30 goals).

The table below shows both the number of points won (see rules and workings link above for calculations), and the percentage of the team’s points.

Once again Castro Martin’s name pops up, and he managed a very decent point per goal with 16. And due to Betis’ relatively modest points haul, that 16 was 34% of their total amount, meaning that he is the most important player to his team – in terms of goals as points.

And the goalscoring review wouldn’t be complete without a nod to the guys creating the goals.

Assists – Mesut Ozil, 17 Assists, and Cristiano Ronaldo, Average Opp of 9.08

There’s a pretty clear winner there, with Mesut Ozil of Germany and Madrid, leading the way with 17. He didn’t bother the scoresheet as much as a player with his ability should, with just 4 league goals, but at just 23, 17 assists in the league is a great return. However, there is an element of the flat track bully about his creations, with 9 assists against the Bottom 6 teams and just two against the Top 6. It is worth pointing out though, that if the goal is not scored due to poor finishing, that’s not the fault of the bloke that set it up.

It’s a Real Madrid heavy table, which is no real surprise given that they scored 400,000 goals last season. Argentine’s Di Maria and Barca’s Messi, followed in second with a decent 15 assists each. Like Ozil, Di Maria’s assists were weighted towards the lower opposition with an 11.47 average rank, and just two recorded against the big boys. Messi managed a decent four against the Top 6 teams, which is impressive given that he was normally on the end of chances.

Like Messi, Ronaldo also managed four assists against Top 6 opposition, but none against the Bottom teams. As a result, his 9.08 average ranked opponent per assist, is the highest in the Top 10 assisters.

It’s a pretty good list to be part of, with inclusions for Jesus and an Angel. Holy Creators!

For those that are interested, I’ve put up the full scoring stats of any one with double figures, and i’ll be adding the Team Stats shortly (ish).

So well done to the Big Game Players – Ronaldo, Messi, Ozil, Castro, and Da Costa. Shame on you Falcao and del Moral. And in the words of Forest Gump, that’s just about all I have to say on that.

Cheers,

Liam

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La Liga Round 37

8 May

With the league title already tied up last week, there’s only one place to start. Lionel Messi. Although Barcelona will end up with fewer medals this season than in recent years, it’s been Messi’s greatest season personally. In the last two league season’s, he’s scored a combined 65 goals in just 68 games – phenomenal. I, like many, wondered if he’d peaked already, and if he could stay at that level. Boy is my face red. In the weekend’s Barcelona derby against Espanyol, Messi gave Pep Guardiola a parting gift – scoring all the goals in a 4-0 win. That takes his league tally to a ridiculous 50 goals in 36 games. We’re going to have to invent some more words for him as I’m all out of superlatives. In all competitions for Barcelona, he’s hit 72 goals in 58 games (beating Gerd Muller’s record). When you add in his 28 assists, he’s been responsible for 100 goals in all competitions this season. Anyone who doubts his credentials as an all time great doesn’t deserve to watch him play.

In what’s been a quite frankly ridiculous season, Barcelona have now gained 90 points, and scored 112 league goals. And that’s not even good enough for first place. Real Madrid only scored the two in a 2-1 away win at Granada, to take their tally to 97 points and 117 goals. Ronaldo scored one to take his personal count to 45 in the league – a career best for him. How he must curse Messi.

So with the news on the big two out of the way, the next port of call is the race for a top 4 spot. And as with the Italian League, it’s going to go down to the final day:

Valencia tied up their customary 3rd place finish with a 1-0 over Villarreal (more on that one later), courtesy of Jonas’ 7th goal in 8 games, taking his tally to 10 for the season (12.10). It’s below 3rd that it becomes interesting. Going into the final day of the season, one of four teams can take that final Champions League spot. However, it’s all in Malaga’s hands despite a 2-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid at the weekend. They face 19th placed Sporting Gijon at home, making them clear favourites. Atletico are also facing a team fighting relegation in Villarreal (16th), whilst Levante host Bilbao, and Mallorca who beat Levante at the weekend to make it 4 wins in a row, have to try and stop Real Madrid reaching 100 points. Based on that, it’s likely to be Malaga’s spot, though with Sporting still in with a chance (albeit slim) of staying up, it should be theirs.

In terms of the average opposition stats, Messi’s 50 goals have been against an average ranked opponent of 10.22 in the league table (average position in a 20 team league is 10.5). The split of 12-25-13 (24% vs Bottom 6, 50% vs Middle 8, 26% vs Top 6) is close enough to where you’d expect it to be for a regular scorer with just Ronaldo ahead of him in goals against the Top 6 teams. Barcelona team mate Alexis Sanchez hols there best average with 6.91, whilst there was also no change at the bottom as del Moral retains the lowest average ranked team per goal with an impressively low 17.30, and no goals against Top 6 teams. Valencia’s Jonas (12.10) and Vallecano’s Costa (8.30) both move into the Top Scorers chart with goals at the weekend. Costa in particular has done it against decent teams, with 5 of his 10 against the big boys, and 4 against mid table opponents, including his double at the weekend against Seville (who scored 5 in response).

And so onto the battle to avoid relegation:

Sporting will require a miracle of sorts to escape the drop as they travel to 4th placed Malaga. They will have to hope that Vallecano (hosting 15th placed Granda) and Real Zaragoza (away at 11th placed Getafe) will both lose. Villarreal host 4th placed chasing Atletico Madrid. They looked to be safe just a few weeks back, but one win in five (against Sporting) has seen them fall right back into trouble. Couple that with Real Zaragoza’s excellent recent form and it really could be any team up to 15th that fall. Zaragoza’s latest win (4th in 5) was at home to Sporting, winning 2-1. Sporting have faced and lost to both Zaragoza and Villarreal in recent weeks as they look set to play their football in the Segunda Division next season. If I were a betting man (and i’m not), I’d go for Sporting and Villarreal to drop this weekend.

Cheers,

Liam

La Liga Round 36

4 May

It’s been described by Jose Mourinho as his hardest title win, and that’s fair enough given the opponent. Whilst he won league titles in Portugal, England and Italy at the first time of asking at each club, this one took a little longer. But they’ve done it, and they’ve deserved it. Last night’s 3-0 win away at Athletic Bilbao sealed First place ahead of one of the greatest teams in the history of football, and to do it with two games to spare is certainly impressive. I was of the opinion that Manuel Pellegrini was harshly treated by Madrid after taking them to 96 points – normally enough to win any league but they needed more. They needed someone who could knock Barcelona of their perch. Mourinho was that man, with Pellegrini perhaps sacked for not keeping loan superstar, Julien Faubert. Mourinho’s Madrid have already reached 94 points, and with two games to go, I wouldn’t bet against them reaching 100. The Stats below tell the story of the title win:

Looking at the Top 6 column, there’s 8 wins, 2 draws and just 1 defeat this season – meaning that they’re deserved Champions. The 35 goals, scored in those games also illustrates why they won. Why is there 11 games against the other five Top 6 teams? Well, this information is taking the position at the time of playing, so it includes the 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao back in Round 19 when the opponents were ranked 5th (now 8th). Another big factor is the incredibly small amount of points dropped – against all opponents, just six of the 30 games saw them drop points. Their 115 goals is by far and away the best, and is also a record, whilst a decent defence of 30, is just second to Barcelona’s 27. Build a title based on a solid Defence? Sod that – just score shit loads of goals. So there you have it. Title is done, Barcelona have only the Copa Del Rey to play for, and then it’s a new manager. That’s the end of that rivalry right? Wrong.

In a role reversal of last year, League Champion Ronaldo, is now trailing in the goals race to Messi. Ronaldo has a ridiculous 44 league goals after he scored in the Bilbao win (after missing a penalty – ouch) and in the weekend win over Seville (9th). Whilst Messi has an even more ridiculous (ridiculouser?) 46 league goals. He went ahead after scoring two against Rayo Vallecano (in a 7-0 away win, and then followed up with his 7th league hat trick of the season in a 4-1 win over 4th placed Malaga. This not only put him ahead in goals, but it also brought up his number against the Top 6 teams to an impressive 13. Impressive, but not as good as Ronaldo’s 16:

The Top Scorers list is dominated by Real Madrid – as three players have 20 goals or more. Off the top of my head (lazy research), I can’t recall another time in a major league that three players from the same club scored 20 or more goals? Another reason that they’re worthy champions. The 86 goals scored by Ronaldo, Higuain and Benzema (Hi-Ro-Be?) is more than any total team amount, with the exception of Barcelona’s 108.

Falcao’s goal in Round 35 against 13th placed Betis was proof if proof were needed that his 12.70 average ranked opponent is pretty fair. He’s had a great deubt season, with 23 goals (46% of their total goals), but he’ll need to be troubling the bigger teams on a more regular basis to be ranked with the best. He’s not the Flat Track Bully though, oh no. That is still with Seville’s del Moral on 17.30 and no goals against anyone good. Alexis Sanchez’s 6.91 and no goals against the bottom 6 teams makes him the big game player in this year’s La Liga.

Arsenal fans will take heart from the continued good form of Carlos Vela. He was on the scoresheet again on Wednesday in Sociedad’s 1-1 draw with 6th placed Atletico.That’s 8 goals in the last 11 games, and this was his 4th against Top 6 opposition. Back up to van Persie and Podolski next season? He and Bendtner, returning on loan will certainly be better than Young and Chamakh if Arsenal are serious about challenging next season.

With the title wrapped up, the focus switches to the race for the Top 4 spots, and the fight at the bottom. In 3rd, Valencia continued their strange form with a 4-0 win over 8th placed Osasuna. That’s Win-Lose-Win-Lose-Win, scoring 4-0-4-0-4. I guess there’s some consistancy involved there, but it’s certainly odd. They currently sit 3 points ahead of Malaga, who suffered at the hands of Barcelona in a 4-1 defeat (Messi, incidently scored 2 penalties). Malaga, in turn are 3 points ahead of Spain’s answer to Newcastle, Levante. They beat 16th place Granada 3-1 at the weekend but lost to Real Zaragoza midweek.

With Racing gone, and sporting looking set to follow, it’s looking like one from Granada, Villarreal, Vallecano and Zaragoza. And similar to the fight in the Premier League, the teams seem to have saved their best form until the end of the season (like Wigan and QPR). The big game in midweek was Sporting hosting Villarreal, and once again it was veteran Marcos Senna that drove Villarreal to victory. The combative midfielder scored his 5th goal in 13 games to help the Yellow Submarines to a vital 3-2 away win. That’s one defeat in nine now. Similarly, Real Zaragoza have given themselves a fighting chance after back to back wins against Bilbao (6th) and Levante (5th). That’s now 6 wins in 9 games for a team that were rock bottom from Round 14 to Round 30. And it’s Rayo Vallecano who look most vulnerable at the moment with 5 defeats in a row.

Cheers,

Liam

La Liga Round 34

24 Apr

First they said he couldn’t do it against Barcelona. Then they said that he could only score penalties against them. After that they said that he could only score from open play against the reserve keeper Pinto. Well now there’s no more excuses. Ronaldo has finally killed off any lingering doubts about his ability to perform in the biggest game – el Clasico. And this time, like his winner in last years Copa del Rey final, it was crucial. Now this blog isn’t a Ronaldo love in. Truth be told, I had a thorough dislike of the Portuguese winger during his time at Old Trafford due to his diving, cheating and general arrogance. Something changed though, I don’t know if it’s because he’s now something of an underdog (to Messi) or that it seemed that until now, everything he did had a “but” close behind. Now that Chelsea have knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League, Ronaldo potentially has the upper hand in the claim to be the World’s best. And the stats below, both assists and goalscoring back it up.

After beating Barcelona in their own backyard, Real Madrid moved 7 points clear of their hated rivals in the bid to win the title for the first time since 2008. Mourinho has all but delivered, and like with Ronaldo, the team can also say they have passed the hardest test. And what cannot go unmentioned is the excellent throughball that Mesut Ozil played for the winning goal. That’s his 16th assist of the season, meaning he’s top of the creators:

Although he has the lowest ranked opponent per assist from the top 5 players, the assist for Ronaldo at the weekend is likely to win the league. He’s just above team mates Angel Di Maria (14 at 10.07) and Ronaldo who has the 11 assists – and like the goals, he has the most against Top 6 Opponents as well with 5, which is reflected in his average opposition ranking of 7.36. Barca pair Messi and Dani Alves make up the top five creators.

And so on to the goalscoring.

Ronaldo’s goal against Barca takes him one clear of Messi in the race for the Golden Boot with a mind boggling 42. It also increases his number of goals against Top 6 teams to 16 – a number I doubt will ever be matched after this season. Whilst Ronaldo is the big game player in the Top 6 measure, it’s Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez that has the best average ranked opponent per goal with 6.91. His equaliser against 1st placed Real Madrid was his 4th against Top 6 teams, and none of his 11 league goals have been against the Bottom 6.

The flat track bully continues to be Seville’s del Moral with 17.30 for his 10 league goals. None of his goals have been against Top 6 teams. Worryingly for Cesc Fabregas, he’s fallen out of both the Top Scorers and Top Assists league.

In the battle for the Champions League spots, Valencia continued their inconsistent consistency with a 4-0 win over 12th placed Betis. Roberto Soldado was once again on the scoresheet – hitting his 17th of the season – against an average opponent ranked 8.59, his goals have been worth 15 points for the team that seem to always finish 3rd. And that position looks a bit stronger after Malaga drew 1-1 with Osasuna in another all Top 6 game. Santi Cazorla scored his 9th goal of the season (12.44) and his 3rd against Top 6 opposition with a brilliant strike from 25 yards into the top corner. For once it wasn’t a free kick, but it was familiar territory.

Levante made it three games without a win as they look set to fall just short for the Champions League spots. A 1-1 draw away at 9th placed Seville sees them just about cling onto 5th place. Arouna Kone scored his 14th La Liga goal of the season (10.50) against his parent club. Athletic Bilbao have finally shaken off their funk with their third win in four games, this time against bottom club Racing Santander who are all but relegated. This put Bilbao back up into 6th after hitting the depths of 11th just a few games ago.

At the bottom, Villarreal are dragging themselves to safety, largely down to one of the old guard. Marcos Senna enjoyed the good times at the club which saw them reach the 2006 Champions League Semi Final, and consistently high finishes in the league. Aged 35 and predominantly a holding midfielder, the Brazilian Born former Spanish International has scored 4 goals in his last 11 games – winning the club five points (average opposition 7.00). The latest was at the weekend against 15th placed Real Sociedad in a 1-1 draw. That point takes them 6 points clear of 18th placed Sporting Gijon and Zaragoza in 19th. With 4 games to go, it looks like Senna’s sudden goal rush could be the difference in staying up and going down. His previous highest La Liga tally? Also 4 – when he was 30. The late equaliser in that game for Real Sociedad was Carlos Vela (10.27). He’s now extended his run to 7 goals in 9 games, and 11 overall for the season. Chuck in 7 assists and it’s been a good loan move for all invloved. He wants to stay in Spain, but with little back up for van Persie at Arsenal, maybe next season could be the one to see him finally establish himself in North London.

With four games to go, the title and relegation is all but wrapped up, with the last battle taking place being the race for Champions League Football. Three games without a win couldn’t have come at a worse time for Barcelona – meaning that they’ve effectively lost the Title and Champions League crowns in the space of a week. Guardiola still hasn’t signed his new deal, and Messi still hasn’t scored against Chelsea.

Cheers,

Liam

La Liga Round 32

13 Apr

In what could become a theme on this site, let me begin with “Shit! Did you see that?” again. And once again it’s a Cristiano Ronaldo rocket that grabs the attention:

That was his second goal of his seventh league hat trick of the season. This now puts him on 40 league goals for the season, which is just stupid really. This was of course during the Madrid derby – the bi-annual event which always leaves Real with 6 points. Due to nature of a derby, this should be classed as a big game – though due to the nature of the Madrid derby, it probably wasn’t. The final score was 4-1 to the visitors in what could have been a slip up. Madrid had the added pressure of knowing that Barcelona had closed a previous 10 gap margin to just one point with victory over 10th placed Getafe on Tuesday night. It didn’t seem to make a difference to Mourinho’s men though as they extended their unbeaten run to 17 league matches. The biggest surprise for me, was the continuation of Falcao’s big game performances. After notching against Barcelona in round 24, he has now got the other one of the big two, after his strike briefly brought the game level. I’ve been quick to judge him as a Flat Track Bully, but he’s now starting to show up in the big games. A debut season in a foreign league will always be hard, so to score 21 league goals is impressive. Sure his average ranked opponent is only 12.67, but he’s going in the right direction.

Messi of course scored in Barcelona’s 4-0 win over Getafe, but rather embarrasingly for him, he only got one. This leaves him on just 39 league goals for the season. I actually posted a question to the Knowledge wondering what the highest tally of goals was to not win the Golden Boot in any of Europe’s top leagues. One of these two are surely going to do so this season? Also on the scoresheet for that game was Alexis Sanchez who scored a brace. In what’s been another good debut season, he now has 10 league goals for the season and has the best Average Opposition rating for any player in double figures, with 7.50. He was previously behind Cesc Fabregas, but it’s now been 11 games since he troubled the opposition goal.

Ronaldo continues to lead the way against the Top 6 teams, with an incredible 15 strikes. One player who has entered the Top Scoring charts of late is Real Sociedad’s Carlos Vela. The young Mexican forward is on loan from Arsenal, and has, until now, failed to live up to the early promise shown in the U17 World Cup that convinced Wenger to sign him. However, something seems to have clicked of late and he’s now scored 6 goals in his last 7 games – and his average opposition ranking of 9.7 suggests that he can live at the top. He’s still owned by Arsenal but given the lack of chances he’s had there, and the insult of being behind Chamakh in the pecking order, he’s made noises about staying in Spain on a permanet basis. You can’t really blame him, I’d be insulted if Chamakh was picked ahead of me, and I’m an unfit, untalented Centre Back in my (early) 30s.

Also on the list above and with a half decent average is Levante’s Kone. He scored his 13th league goal (10.62) for Levante in their defeat to bottom team Sporting Gijon. What’s strange about his goal is that it takes him closer to 18 goals – at which point he has to contractually go back to parent club Seville. He has 15 in all competitions, but wants to stay at Levante. Unfortunately for everyone’s favourite underdog, this defeat sees them remain in 5th as both Malaga and Valencia have won in recent rounds. Malaga have actually had a certain Ruud van Nistelrooy amongst the goals in recent weeks, with strikes against Racing and Espanyol in the last few games. Unfortunately for them, he couldn’t stop a 2-1 defeat to a desperate Villarreal who scored twice in the last 7 minute move seven points clear of 18th place. This should be a big enough gap to keep them up. With Malaga slipping to a late defeat, Valencia finally snapped out of their lump with a 4-1 defeat of Rayo Vallecano to move back into 3rd. Rayo were brought back down to earth with a bump after their 6-0 win last time out against 6th placed Osasuna. What a strange league it is.

The Flat Track Bully continues to be Seville’s del Moral with a massive 17.30 ranked opponent per goal. Whilst he’s in danger of falling out of the top scorers list, it could be Falcao inheriting the unwanted title next time round. Time will tell.

Cheers,

Liam

La Liga Round 30

4 Apr

In the words of Alan Partridge “Shit! Did you see that?”. I am of course referring to Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal, away at 6th placed Osasuna, from around 210 yards out. He just laced it – as if it was Messi’s face. As seen here (the goal, not Messi’s head).

But wait. That wasn’t even the best goal of the match.

In my opinion, Karim Benzema’s opening goal was even better. It’s drawn comparisons to Marco van Basten’s famous volley in the Euro ’88 final, and you can see why here. Now that’s impressive. Ronaldo’s was a triumph for power, whilst Benzema’s was a triumph for technique. Both were pretty audacious.

Benzema is trying to work out how he’s only the 3rd top scorer at Madrid with 17 league goals

And whilst on the subject of Madrid’s 5-1 win, it’s worth pointing out that the 5th goal (by Higuain) was their 100th league goal of the season. That’s an average of 3.33333333333333333…..recurring…….goals per game. They’re now within 7 goals of equalling the Spanish record (held by Real Madrid), and with 8 games to go, you’d fancy Mourinho to break another record. There’s been plenty of love for Barcelona over the past few seasons, it’s time to send some plaudits the way of Madrid, who are often painted as the baddies of the league (and in the case of Pepe, it’s entirely justified).

Of course, when mentioning Madrid and Ronaldo, it’s a legal obligation to talk about Messi and Barcelona. Guardiola’s team won their 8th game in a row and Messi has scored 13 times in this run. This win was against previously fashionable Athletic Bilbao, who began the weekend in 11th place. Barca won 2-0 with a goal from Iniesta (only his second league goal of the season), and a penalty by Messi. That’s his 36th league goal of the season, one behind Cristiano Ronaldo who scored a rather less glamorous second in the win against Osasuna. The lead is still 6 points, with a game at Barcelona to come. Both have progressed into the Semi Finals of the Champions League, and are in separate sides of the draw, leaving the path clear for a Final meeting. They’re comfortably the best two teams in the World at the moment, and the rest of the season will be great for the neutral.

Whilst at the top of the table, things have gone a bit strange in the race for the Top 4 spot again. The teams in 3rd to 6th all failed to win, with 3rd placed Valencia hosting 5th placed Levante. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with Jonas and Kone amoung the goals (vs Top 6 opposition). This gave Malaga (in 4th) and Osasuna the chance to close the gap on 3rd – we know Osasuna didn’t, and it was the same for Malage who lost 2-0 to 15th placed Real Betis. It seems as though the race for the Champions League spots will go all the way to wire, with just 6 points between 3rd and 8th.

In terms of what the goals mean to the stats, Ronaldo’s brace now takes his number of goals against the Top 6 to a mind boggling 15. To put that into perspective, only 6 players have scored that many goals against all ranked opponents. This also increases his average ranked opponent per goal to a decent 9.32. Similarly, Higuain’s (9.10) brace in the same game and Benzema’s (10.12)awesome effort increased their averages and goals against the Top 6. It’s quite spectacular that Real Madrid have 3 of the 5 top scorers in the league. Benzema has scored 17 league goals, yet is still behind two club mates. The three Madrid players have scored 74 (or 74% with some complicated maths) of the team’s goals this season.

Cesc Fabregas is the Big Game Player in terms of average rannked opponent, but as mentioned previously, he’s gone a long time without scoring, and will soon drop off the top scorers list. His average of 4.78 is comfortably the lowest in the four leagues covered on this site, but his bright start at Barca seems to have slowed somewhat. It’s worth noting that in a European Championships year, with Villa out and Torres out of sorts, Roberto Soldado has 8 goals against Top 6 opponents.

Friend of averageopposition.com, Radamel Falcao banged in his 20th league goal in an impressive debut season – this time against 10th placed Getafe in a 3-o win. This improves his average ranked opponent per goal to 13.25. He’s very much the La Liga equivalent of Serie A’s Cavani. The holder of the Flat Track Bully tag is Seville’s del Moral who has an impressively low 17.30. His 10th goal of the season arrived against 13th placed Mallorca. That’s now eight against the bottom 6, two against the mid tablers and a big fat zero against the Top 6. Not that Seville will mind. He’s now scored 5 goals in the last 3 games, all of which were won by Seville. Equalling Seville’s recent form is Real Zaragoza, who recorded their 3rd succesive win against 19th place Sporting Gijon.

A couple of teams nowhere near the top of the form table are Villarreal and Bilbao. Despite their impressive performances in the Europa League, Bilbao have now lost four of their last five which is confusing for anyone that saw their performances against Man Utd. In another comparison with Serie A, Villarreal appear to be the Fiorentina equivalent. A team of a decent recent past, with the likes of Forlan and Riquelme delighting the crowds, they’ve now slipped to 17th place – just one above the drop zone, after just one win in eight. It sounds like the Yellow Submarine’s will have trouble staying afloat. Let’s hope they don’t go under….sorry.

And just to finish off, a quick look at the points that each player has earned with their goals, and the importance to their team:

La Liga Round 29

27 Mar

After 29 league games, the score is now Lionel Messi 35 – 35 Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s starting to get silly now. The race for the golden boot between the best two players in the World is captivating. As with last season, the league seems to have been decided pretty early on this year round and the focus is on the shoot out between the majestic Messi and the powerhouse that is Cristiano Ronaldo. In the two rounds since the last update, Messi has scored four goals (3 vs 16th place Granada, and 1 vs 13th place Mallorca) and in doing so, has become Barcelona’s all time Top Scorer – aged 24. Not bad when you think about it. By comparison, Cristiano Ronaldo started to show signs of his advancing years (he’s 27 now), by only scoring three times in the last two games – and not a hat trick in sight. His first was in a 1-1 draw away at Villarreal (17th) where around 17 people were sent off, and he then got out of his funk with a brace at home to 14th placed Sociedad in a 5-1 win.

From a stats point of view, Ronaldo has more goals against the Top 6 with 13, and only 4 against the riff raff at the bottom. His average ranked opponent per goal is 9.51 – impressive stuff. Messi’s “only” got 8 against Top 6 teams, and has an average of 10th placed opposition per goal. In Messi’s favour though are the rest of the stats. He’s only scored 3 penalties to Ronaldo’s 11, and his goals have been more important as well – yielding 16 points for Barca, compared to the 11 points won by Ronaldo’s goals. The assists are actually a lot close than you’d expect. For those who want more on the rivalry, click here.

Messi, almost as good as Bendtner

Some believe that Messi and Ronaldo dominating the scoring charts so much, and indeed Madrid and Barca’s dominance is a sign of the weakness of the league, and a gap of 32 points between first and sixth does point to this, but it’s worth remembering that Manchester United were made to look very very ordinary by Athletic Bilbao, a club currently ranked 11th after the latest round of fixtures.

At the top, Madrid’s lead has been cut to just 6 points, but they’re still odds on to win the title. Even with defeat to Barca in the next el Clasico, you’d still fancy a Mourinho team to see it out. You have to feel a bit sorry for Real Madrid. In almost any other era, they’d be regarded as the best team in the World and one of the best of all time. Even if they do go on to win the league, many will still believe Barcelona are the best. It’s similar for Ronaldo. He does has one World Player of the Year title, but only Real Madrid fans and possibly some Man Utd fans would argue he was better than Messi. And it’s worse still for Benzema and Higuain – scorers of 27 and 23 goals (in all competitions) this season, and barely mentioned. It’s a tough life.

But enough about the big two, elsewhere Bilbao’s dreadful run continues. It’s now four games without a win in La Liga, which has seen them slip from 5th to 11th place. This time out it was a 1-1 home draw to 19th place Sporting Gijon. Before that it was a 2-1 defeat to Atletico Madrid with Falcao scoring a brace. unfortunately for our favourite Colombian bully, Bilbao were outside the Top 6 at the time of play, meaning that he still has just the one solitary goal against Top 6 opponents. Though I do have to concede that he’s stepped it up of late and is delivering against better opposition.

And that’s not all. His double against Bilbao, means that he moves into 3rd place in the race for the Golden boot, but even more important than this (in my mind at least), is that he’s no longer the flat track bully! With a jump from 14.18 to 13.42, Falcao has improved his average opposition ranking, and now has two players with worse averages than him. And how. Sevilla’s del Moral has scored a brace in each of the last two games – firstly against 18th place Racing in a 3-0 win, and then against 15th placed Granada last night. This gives him a massive 17.78 ranked opponent per goal. As you can see from the above, 8 of his 9 goals have been against the bottom 6 teams, meaning he’s deserving of the unwanted tag.

Cesc Fabregas retains the Big Game Player tag for another goal less week, but if he carries on without scoring for much longer, he’ll fall out of the above list, giving an opportunity for someone else to take on the Big game Player moniker, with Roberto Soldado the hot favourite (8.38). Ronaldo still leads the goals against Top 6 teams.

It wouldn’t be right to finish the post without a look at Levante. In round 28, they kept up their recent revival with a 3-1 win against Soceidad (12th), but were knocked out of 4th spot after defeat in round 29 to 7th placed form team Osasuna, who have lost just once in nine games. The last champions league spot is now held by Malaga, who have been somewhat off the radar of late. Without anyone really noticing, they’ve won 5 of the last 6 games, with the latest being a 2-1 win over Espanyol. And for those Man Utd fans mentioned earlier, Ruud van Nistelrooy scored the equaliser (Coutinho scored again for Espanyol). And that’s not all! Valencia, who looked like they had 3rd place guaranteed by Christmas, have been dropping points left, right, and centre, with just one win in the last four. as a result, Malaga are now level on points, with Levante just a further 3 behind.

Cheers,

Liam

La Liga Round 27

20 Mar

First and foremost, nothing to do with stats but a bit of class displayed by Real Madrid at the weekend after the terrible news about Fabrice Muamba:

It was a nice touch from a club that has it’s fair share of detractors (not least Fergie), and especially the note to Barcelona’s Abidal who’s awaiting a Liver Transplant after overcoming Cancer last year.

Unfortunately for Madrid, there wasn’t the same amount of goodwill shown to them from Malaga (6th). All looked to be going according to plan with Benzema’s 4th goal against Top 6 opponents, with an assist from Cristiano Ronaldo. This would have been 12 straight league wins – a record held under Pellegrini, now coach of……Malaga! Luckily for him, Santi Cazorla stepped up in the very last minute and scored a fantastic free kick – as seen here. With Madrid finally dropping points, Barcelona managed to clse the gap to a slightly less uncatchable 8 points with a 2-0 win away at Seville (10th). As usual, Messi scored, but what is interesting is that Xavi scored his 8th league goal of the season, and 13th overall. Aged 32, Xavi is enjoying the best goalscoring season of his career. In fact, at the time of writing, he’s just scored against Granada to make it 14 goals for the season.

Messi’s goal meant that he closed the gap on Ronaldo to 1 goal in the race for the golden boot (though he has also juist scored twice against Granada to become Barcelona’s all time leading scorer – more of that in round 28). Ronaldo still leads the way in goals against the Top 6 with a whopping 13. He doesn’t hold the Big Game Player tag though, that still remains with Cesc Fabregas. The former Arsenal schemer is going through a barren run in front of goal at the moment (2 goals since Christmas), but at least that keeps his average opponent ranking per goal at 4.78, and if we’re honest, he’s probably got his priorities right.

One Spaniard who has managed to break his scoring duck is Valencia’s Roberto Soldado. His hat trick against 5th placed Bilbao ended a 2 month dry spell in La Liga. And it’s also increased his AOI to 8.20, whilst taking his goals against Top 6 opponents to 8. Just ahead of him in the goal scoring charts is friend of the site, Falcao. After the blip of scoring against Barcelona recently, he’s returned to form and scored in successive games against 16th place Granada, and 14th place Mallorca. Though it must be said that the goal at the weekend was a beauty (click here). Plus 17 goals in a debut season is not to be sniffed at.

A new face to La Liga currently making waves is Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian youngster is on loan at Espanyol from Inter Milan, and after a slow start, he’s scored 3 goals in his last two games. A brace in the 5-1 win against Rayo Vallencano (11th), followed up with a goal and an assist against Racing Stantander, have helped the Barcelona club into 6th.

And a La Liga round up wouldn’t be complete without checking on Levante. And I’m pleased to report that they are back in 4th place after losing it briefly in the last round. Three wins in four games is a good turn around after three in fifteen. This is a team that finished 14th last season. The latest victory was against the Yellow Submarines, Villarreal. And what of the team that finished 4th last season? Well I think it’s fair to say that they’ve had a shocker this season. The defeat to Levant was their 4th in 5 games, and it leaves them just one place above the bottom 3.

Premier League Update to come once the midweek fixtures have been completed.

Cheers,

Liam

La Liga Round 25

7 Mar

Just a quick update on La Liga this weekend. In what could be an identikit update: Real Madrid won, Barcelona won, 10 point gap…..league over. Done. Scratch the surface a little and Barcelona had to win without Messi as he was surprisingly suspended. What was also surprising is that Iniesta and Keita both scored only their first goals of the season in a 3-1 win against 19th placed Sporting Gijon (Xavi scored the other). Madrid’s win was a little more convincing – scoring 5 without reply at home to 8th placed Espanyol. Cristiano Ronaldo continued his great form – hitting his 30th goal of the season, whilst Gonzalo Higuain’s brace were his first goals in 5 league games. Kaka and Khedira completed the rout.

It was nice to see Levante win again at the weekend and hold on to that 4th spot, and also refreshing to see was Torres finally scoring again. Xavi Torres that is – on loan from Malaga. He scored the second goal in a 3-1 win against 12th placed Real Betis in a game where Kone and Barkero also scored. And it turns out that some of the other teams have realised that 4th place is actually pretty important after all – with Torres’ parent club Malaga and Bilbao both winning.

Cesc Fabregas holds onto his Big Game Player crown, by virtue of a goal drought, whilst Falcao keeps hold of his clown hat, with an average opponent per goal of 14.07. Hot on the heels of Falcao is Rayo Vallecano’s Michu. His brace against 18th placed Racing Santander lowered his average to 13.46. He did score a couple against Real Madrid at the start of the season though, but they were ranked in a lowly 7th place at the time. His goals have been worth 10 points to Vallecano this season, and have had a big impact in their recent form – with 4 wins in 5. Higuain’s return to goalscoring form brought him back up to 3rd in the goalscoring charts, and increased his average opposition ranking to a decent 9.00.

Cristiano Ronaldo stays top of the goalscoring chart, and to score 30 goals by the first week of March is an amazing achievement. When comparing Messi and Ronaldo earlier on in the season, the main difference was Messi’s ability to get assists, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw that Ronaldo is only one behind Messi in the assists table:

What’s not so surprising is that Messi leads the way in the big game assists. He has 5 against Top 6 opposition, and an average ranked opponent of just 4.75 per assist – including one against fierce rivals Madrid. Elsewhere on the list, Carlos Vela is the creative bully, with 5 of his 7 assists against the Bottom 6 clubs, leaving him with an average of 15.14.

Leading the way outright is Angel Di Maria with 13. With an average opponent of 9.46, he’s certainly enjoying a good season – and even more remarkable is that he’s only played one game since Christmas. Madrid and Barcelona dominate the Top 10 with 4 players each in the assists table.

Coming up next is the Bundesliga round up, with my weekend predictions in tow.

Cheers,

Liam

La Liga Round 24

29 Feb

Some strange strange goings on this weekend in La Liga. Firstly, after going 8 games without a win, and finally giving up that last Champions League place, Levante finally got their act together and won. Not only that, but they have somehow gone back up to 4th place with just one win in nine games – the dream is alive!

Secondly, Falcao has finally done it. He’s finally scored against a Top 6 team. And not just any Top 6 team. He scored the equaliser for Atleti against the Barcelona. Ultimately it wasn’t enough though because (thirdly) Lionel Messi decided this weekend would be a good time to show he can bang in a free kick from 25 yards out.

Ronaldo did his best to top Messi’s effort by back heeling in the winner for Real Madrid away at Rayo Vallecano. Those goals mean that Madrid stay 10 points clear and Cristiano Ronaldo stays a goal ahead in the race for the golden boot.

Falcao now has a big proud “1” in the goals against Top 6 opponents column. Sure, it’s only 1 out of 15, and sure he’s still got the worst Average Opposition ranking, but the man now has momentum. In all seriousness, it is his first season in a new country and to be third in the goal scoring charts is a good achievement. Atletico Madrid have games against other Top 6 teams Real Madrid (1st), Levante (4th), Bilbao (5th) and Malaga (6th) before the end of the season, with Falcao having the opportunity to build on his goal against Barcelona.

Levante’s win was against 5th placed Espanyol with a long overdue winning goal coming in the last minute from Ruben Suarez. This was also his first goal against the top ranked bucket of opponents. His average is 10.75 which is close to where you’d expect a consistent goal scorer to be (10.5).

Osasuna’s Dejan Lekic is one of the form players of the league at the moment. He has 4 goals in his last 4 games, including a brace to beat Barcelona 3-2. And not just that, his 4 goals have been worth 6 points to his team – propelling them up to 7th place. His 29th minute goal proved to be the difference as Granada (17th) were beaten.

Cesc Fabregas’s goals have certainly dried up of late, but his assists haven’t. His assist for Dani Alves’ opener was his 7th of his La Liga career. His lack of goals since Round 17 have meant that his average hasn’t been affected. As a result, he’s still the leader in the AOI rankings with 4.78. Barca team mate Alexis Sanchez is the nearest challenger with 6.88. Ronaldo continues to lead the way against Top 6 opponents with 12.

Next week there’ll be a development on the stats. Yes, I finally have assists by game – meaning we can look at big game performance on more than just goals.

Cheers,

Liam