Tag Archives: Luis Suarez

Europe’s Best Goalscoring Partnerships

13 Mar

After writing about the Premier League’s best goal scoring partnerships a while back, I was inundated (one comment) with requests for something similar for other leagues. So, instead of signing up to do some accountancy exams that I’ve been putting off for 13 years, I decided the best way to spend some spare time would be to put together another list for absolutely no reward. I hope somebody somewhere enjoys reads this.

With the return to favour of partnerships such as Suarez and Sturridge, (#dare to) Zlatan and Cavani, and Negredo and Aguero, what better time to have a look back at some of the best partnerships before them. Having searched a whole two pages of Google without finding something exactly the same as this, I thought it was time to put together a combined list.

Rules and Workings

I’ve decided to go back 25 years to cover the 1988-89 to the 2012-13 seasons. Why 25 years? Well that just about covers my football watching memory and it’s a nice round number. I’ve decided to include just the Top four Leagues in Europe – the top divisions in England, Germany, Italy and Spain (based on European Trophies won).

A partnership is only considered so if both players (regardless of position)have scored at least 10 goals each. For this list, I’ve only combined those pairs with 30 goals or more, so sadly that would exclude van Wolfswinkel and Elmander’s herculean haul of 2 goals from this season. Tough break fellas.

A further blow to the Norwich duo’s chances are that this season’s partnerships are not included as they’ll instantly make this post out of date. Expect to see Suarez and Sturridge included in the next update in space year 2038.

Joking aside, as I type, Suarez and Sturridge have just hit their combined 44th, 45th, 46th and 47th goals of the season against Cardiff, so they definitely make it into the Top Partnerships list, but as the season hasn’t ended yet, their number is likely to change.

It’s worth noting that the German League has fewer games, and the other leagues have varied in number of teams.

And lastly, it’s league goals only.

The Stats

In all, there’s a whopping 221 instances of 30 goal partnerships in the Top Four European leagues over the last 25 completed seasons – actually a lot higher than I’d expected. Spain lead the way with 70, followed by England (61), Italy (49) and Germany (41). No real shock there as Germany has fewer games, as did Italy for a good chunk of the 25 seasons in question. In terms of clubs represented, there are a decent 61 (Spain 17, England 16, Italy 15 and Germany 13).

At the top end of the food chain are the mighty Real Madrid with a 30 goal partnership in 19 of the 25 seasons recorded. No wonder they win quite a lot. As you’d expect, anything they can do, Barcelona can almost do (that would make a catchy song), and the Catalans are second on the list with a healthy 17 partnerships represented. Aside from Spain, England have Man Utd and Liverpool in double figures (13 + 10), whilst somewhat surprisingly, it’s Bayer Leverkusen who lead the way in Germany with 10 partnerships making the 30 goal mark. For Italy, AC Milan are the team with the most deadly duos, featuring 8 times.

At the bottom end, there are 25 clubs with just one 30 goal partnership, sadly, my team don’t even have that. The likes of Coventry’s Dublin and Huckerby, are joined for their day in the sun by Villarreal’s Forlan and Riquelme (2004-05). And who could forget Bochum’s world famous Thomas Christiansen and Vahid Hashemian with their 31 goal haul in 2002-03. I know I certainly won’t.

The 50 goal club

As mentioned above, there’s a great deal of 30 goal partnerships, so many in fact, that I wonder why I used that number. So to get things going, here’s a list of those partnerships that scored at least 50 league goals in a season. Just to manage expectations – it’s a bit heavy with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Best Strike Partnerships (50 goals +)

In fact it’s basically La Liga’s greatest partnerships plus three others.

As its illegal not to mention both Ronaldo and Messi when speaking about the Spanish league, it’s worth having a quick look at their record in this list. Interestingly, both players have been part of a successful partnership as the second scorer – which is really what you’d have expected a few years back, with both players featuring out wide early on. Ronaldo’s first season in Madrid saw him form one of the most balanced partnerships on this list, with Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentine banging in a decent 27 goals to the shy Portuguese’s 26. A pretty good debut season before the championship manager stats started kicking in. Messi’s season as the second scorer was in the 2008-09 season that saw Samuel Eto’o hitting 30 to Messi’s 23.

Man City fans may be surprised to see Edin Dzeko in 6th place with the wall decorating Brazilian Grafite (I’m sorry) making up the pair – the highest Bundeliga entry with 54 goals. Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard have combined for 30+ goals on two occasions, with the 2009-10 season seeing a combined 51 league goals for the Chelsea legends – albeit not a typical strike partnership. However, in first place for England are Andy Cole and Peter Beardsley with a whopping 55 – all for a promoted club too. Impressive stuff. Must have been before Cole needed five chances to score (Glenn Hoddle’s words, not mine).

Fans of 90s football will be disappointed not to see any Italian partnerships breaking the 50 goal mark but heartened to see the Original Ronaldo and (possibly the original) Luis Enrique with 51 goals in the 1996-97 season. Ronaldo who started the season aged just 19 would score 47 goals (all tournaments) in his only season with the Catalan giants. Damn you Gods of injury.

What is also interesting (depending on your definition), is that 11 of the 50 goal partnerships have been in the last five years – at a time when 4-5-1’s have become the norm. Although a lot of them are rather dependent on Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo being involved.

The number one partnership sees Ronaldo paired up with Higuain for the 3rd time to make a 50 goal mark. The winning season being 2011-12 when Mourinho’s men managed to break Barca’s dominance of La Liga. A phenomenal 68 league goals from just two players is quite frankly bonkers. Both Ronaldo and Messi feature in four 50 goal partnerships – Messi with 4 different partners, the big flirt.

Top 20 Partnerships By Country

I planned to show a top ten by country, but La Liga’s are already on show, and it would also mean leaving out the likes of Batistuta and Oliveira who thrived on Rui Costa’s assists in 1997-98. And because we haven’t featured much from Serie A just yet, now seems as good a time as any. So without further ado:

Serie A Top Scoring Partnerships 1988-2013

Serie A Top Scoring Partnerships

Premier League/Division One Top Scoring Partnerships 1988-2013

Premier League Top Scoring Partnerships

La Liga Top Scoring Partnerships 1988-2013

La Liga Top Scoring Partnerships

Bundesliga Top Scoring Partnerships 1988-2013

Bundesliga Top Scoring Partnerships v2

I know what you’re thinking – where’s Vialli and Mancini? They were undoubtedly a great strike partnership, but they were also playing in the most defensive era of a league known for being defensive. They’re best season together came in 1990-91 when they combined to score 31 league goals (ranked 35th in the Serie A charts).

There’s three entries from before the Premier League began in England, with Barnes and Rush scoring a decent 39 combined goals in the triumphant 1989-90 season for Liverpool.

Spain’s list sees the crowd pleasing entry of Romario and Stoichkov, who notched 46 goals in 1993-94 whilst the Bundesliga entry reminds us of just how good Roy Makaay was. In fact the Dutchman is one of a number of players who feature across multiple leagues, with the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldo (not a typo), Ibrahimovic, Eto’o, Raul and Berbatov (along with others).


Other Notes of Interest

Top 10 Teams are:

Real Madrid 19
Barcelona 17
Man Utd 13
Liverpool 10
Bayer Leverkusen 10
Arsenal 9
Bayern Munich 9
AC Milan 8
Valencia 7
Juventus 7

Most Featured Players:

Only 8 players have featured in five or more 30 goal partnerships and top spot doesn’t go to Messi or Ronaldo, but rather Raul who has been involved in 10 great partnerships. Across two countries, he scored goals with Morientes, Zamorano, van Nistelrooy (2), Ronaldo (2), Guti, Huntelaar, Higuain, and Suker. That’s impressive.

The other compatibles are Cristiano Ronaldo (7), Messi, Del Piero, Makaay, Eto’o, Berbatov, and Rooney (all five).


So there you have it, it’s not just the big man-little man partnership (Quinn-Phillips), or the classic goalpoaching number 9 and playmaking number 10 (Romario and Stoichkov) that make great partnerships. It can be wide men with false number 9s, a lone striker with an advanced midfielder (Torres and Gerrard/Drogba and Lampard) or if you’re lucky, it may even be Toni Polster and Bruno Labbadia (FC Koln 1994-95).

This season will see entries from Suarez and Sturridge, Ronaldo and Benzema, and Messi and Sanchez. Tevez and Llorente also stand a good chance of joining the elite club along with a few others

I’ll chuck the full list up in the coming days.




Notable ommissions – maybe other countries/world cups

Near miss


Premier League Round 9

28 Oct

Almost a quarter of the way through the season now, and the big game players are starting to establish themselves. Robin van Persie and Luis Suarez both scored in the weekend’s biggest games against Chelsea (1st) and Everton (5th), whilst Juan Mata’s free kick continues his good early season form and maintains his position as the league’s big game player – with an average ranked opponent of 5th, and 3 of his 4 goals coming against Top 6 teams. The other was against Arsenal – then in 8th.

Demba Ba has mirrored his form of last season, offering Robin van Persie some competition on the golden boot front. He was on fire (not literally Jamie) for the first half of the season, before scoring just once after the African cup of nations. Bizarrely, there’s another tournament this season, though fortunately for Newcastle, Senegal didn’t qualify.

Michu leads the charge from midfield with 6 goals. Interestingly, none have come against the Top 6 teams, leaving him with an average ranked opponent of 14.83 per goal – topped only by Tevez (16.50) and Jelavic (16.00). Last season, Michu scored 15 La Liga goals, with just two against Top 6 teams (a double in a 6-2 defeat to Real Madrid), and had an average ranked opponent of 11.53 per goal.

In terms of the value of goals, it’s no surprise to see last season’s leading points earner, Robin van Persie at the top of the charts. His seven league goals have been worth 9 points to his new club – and whilst Arsenal are doing okay this year, there’s a good change they’d be closer than 7 points behind at this stage with him. Demba Ba’s goals have been the most important to his team, at 61.54% whilst Juan Mata’s goals have been against good opposition, and have won Chelsea 4 points, although only 18.18% of their total. Steven Fletcher is the only player to have scored for Sunderland this season, but thanks to some particularly dull 0-0 draws and an own goal from Demba Ba in last week’s derby, his goals have only been worth 55.56% of Sunderlands points total.

That’s all for now, there’ll be a piece on Youth System’s shortly – looking at which academies have produced the most big game players.



Premier League Round 32 – Lite

10 Apr

Due to two sets of fixtures within a short space of time, i’ll just put up a very quick update before the main one later this week. With that in mind, something a little different – a look at the usual average opposition rankings at the time of playing, and then by way of comparison, another look at the same scorers, but measured against current positions in the table.

Based on opposition ranking at the time of play:

Based on opposition ranking in current table:

 Well well well, that’s a turn up for the books. It’s England’s very own Wayne Rooney who’s doing it most regularly against the Top 6 teams. After adjusting for current league positions, Rooney’s Top 6 goals are increased by his hat trick against a poor early season version of a struggling Arsenal (now 3rd), and a goal against Spurs who were poor, then really good, and now poor again – but they’re still in the Top 6 at the moment. The average rank of opponent he’s scored against has now jumped from 12.27 to a respectable 10.41 (over the 10.5 average). The only man with more goals than him is Robin van Persie – and there’s not much change for him. He still has 7 goals against the Top 6, but his average has improved to 10.69 from 11.27.

The biggest change is Edin Dzeko. Although he’s been as useful as a Chocolate Teapot of late, his 4 goals against an early season Spurs, are now transformed into Top 6 opposition, and his average has jumped 4 places from 14.54 to a decent 10.15. Steven Fletcher gets the nod for the best average – of 8.70. As mentioned earlier in the season, he’s scored against Spurs, Arsenal, Man Utd, Newcastle and Liverpool – big games one and all. Adebayor on the other hand see’s his average fall from 8.15 to 11.15.

Interesting, I’m sure you’ll all agree…..

A couple of talking points:

  • Clint Dempsey scored his 14th and 15th league goals of the season in round 31, away at Bolton. Cue questions about where he’ll be next season.
  • Arsenal got back to winning ways with their 8th win in 9 games against Man City. In recent weeks, they have wins against Man City (2nd), Spurs (then 3rd), AC Milan (then 1st in Serie A), Liverpool (then 7th). It’s fair to say that they’ve turned things around, and are no longer reliant on van Persie’s goals. Which is a very good thing, as he hasn’t scored for 4 games (thanks to some great defending by Vermaelen).
  • Is Papiss Demba Cisse the new Tony Yeboah? As of Round 32, he has 9 goals in 8 games (which got better in round 33). Yeboah joined Leeds mid season, and scored 12 in his first 18 games. His strike rate fell dramatically after 18 months. Time will tell.
  • Liverpool avoided 4 consecutive defeats with a 1-1 home draw against Villa. Suarez scored his 8th league goal of the season, with an average of 11.4. They’ll be hoping for a better return next season from the talented Uruguayan.
  • Stop the press, Man Utd are relentless.
  • Stop the press, Everton are finishing the season strongly:

You’ll notice that for the last 5 seasons, aside from a good start to the 2007-08 season, they have always finished the season in their highest league position. No one seems to be able to explain it, it’s just accepted – like the guarantee that England will always lose a penalty shoot out and Big Sam will believe that he doesn’t play the long ball game.

I’ll give a more detailed update once Round 33 ends on Wednesday – so far there’s been some decent talking points, and with Man Utd holding an 8 point lead over City, the focus could well be on the race for the Champions League spots (I’m looking at you Newcastle).



Premier League – Round 20

7 Jan

And so another round of Premier League games have come and gone, and we’re now past the half way mark and into the Business Half of the season. Round 20 saw some significant movement at both ends of the table, Man City managed to put their recent poor form behind them and moved 3 points clear of their (equally noisy?) neighbours after dispatching 6th placed Liverpool at home with a comfortable 3-0 win. Man Utd continued to falter with a second consecutive defeat, this time to Newcastle, and as with the Blackburn defeat, they conceded 3 goals again. Spurs continued their impressive form with a hard fought victory against West Brom – courtesy of Jermain Defoe and his odd hair.

Defoe praying that he doesn’t pick up the wrong bottle again

At the other end of the table, Fulham moved out of the Bottom 6 after the late late show against Arsenal. The other winners in the relegation scrap were Bolton, who despite conceding to a Goalkeeper (and a modest one at that – well played Tim Howard), went on to a surprise victory away at Goodison Park. Everton’s goalscoring has been a problem this season and it was good of Howard to contribute, but they need their strikers and the likes of Cahill to take the pressure off of their free scoring keeper. Blackburn, Wigan, Wolves and QPR all lost. Hats of to Sunderland, who followed their win against Man City with a massive 4-1 win away at Wigan.

So how does this affect the AOI for goalscorers?Robin van Persie continues to lead, but Demba Ba has closed the gap to just two goals. Newcastle will be hoping he doesn’t perform similarly in the African Cup of Nations, or else they could be without him longer than they can afford. His Average has jumped from 11.57 per opponent per goal, to a much more balanced 10.93. Remember that the all round regular scorer should be around 10.5 across a season. How West Ham must be cursing their luck that they didn’t recoup any transfer fee for the prolific marksman. Sergio Aguero also increased his tally and indeed his average with a Pepe Reina assisted strike against Liverpool. Not only does this increase his average opponent per goal to 10.93 (the same as Demba Ba), but it also increases his number of strikes against Top 6 opposition. He’s now scored against Man Utd, Liverpool, Newcastle and Spurs in this impressive debut season.

Mario Balotelli continues to hold the Big Game Player tag, though hasn’t moved for a while due to injuries. The worst average per goal belongs to midfielder Rafael van der Vaart of Tottenham. Spurs manager Harry Redknapp certainly won’t mind this, as they’ve now matched Man City as the only teams with 3 players in the Top Scorers lists.

New Stat Alert – Goals as Points!

After adding some Average Opposition stats on the Nationalities and Clean Sheets last time 0ut, I’ve been looking into  another barometer for the importance of goals. This isn’t necessarily linked to their average opponent, but it is a measure of importance to the result – albeit heavily weighted towards Forwards/Goalscorers. The below table is a formula driven stat which is far from an exact science, but is interesting none the less. The below stats shows the number of points that the team would lose if you took out the players goals.

It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t strictly the importance of goals – you could for example Chelsea’s 3-1 win over Norwich earlier in the season. As Chelsea won by two goals and had three different goal scorers, you could take one of Bosingwa’s, Lampard’s or Mata’s goals away and the result would still be 2-1 to Chelsea – meaning that there is no direct impact to the result and number of points. In reality – the opening goal of a game is always important (Bosingwa), and Frank Lampard’s goal in that match was in the 84th minute, which put Chelsea back ahead. Both were important goals, but due to Mata’s injury time goal – the importance in this formula lessens.

So with that in mind – what of the above table? Well it’s no surprise that Robin van Persie is responsible for the most points for his team – with massive 17 (47.22% of Arsenal’s total points). If you took van Persie’s goals away, then Arsenal would be in 15th Place – though of course the player replacing him may well have scored elsewhere.

But van Persie is not the most important player for his team – that honour falls to the Yak, who’s goals equate to a massive 78.57% of Blackburn’s points. Admittedly, they are bottom of the table, but it still shows a) what a great signing he’s been and b) they rely far too much on him. Without him, they’d be even further adrift instead of the 3 points off 17th they are. The syrup loving Demba Ba is the second top scorer in the league, and is 3rd in points gained – however, when taking into account the team’s position and points, his 15 goals at 30.3% are worth less to his team than Jordi Gomez’s 4 goals for Wigan – which are worth 40% of the team’s points.

The current Big Game Player holder is Man City’s Balotelli, but based on the above calculation, his 8 goals, against good teams have resulted in no points. How so? Well every game he’s scored in which has resulted in points for his team (all aside from the defeat to Chelsea), has been won by more than one goal. Even when he scored a brace against Man Utd, the team won by 5 goals – meaning his goals did not directly contribute to the final result.

Does this statistic prove anything? Not definitively – but it does show the importance of certain players to their teams.