Opta Leagues 09/10

With the European leagues finished, Opta investigate the differing styles of play on offer in each nation.

With the five major domestic leagues in Europe now finished, Opta investigate the differing styles of play on offer in each nation, as well as the Champions League, starting with shooting. The Bundesliga saw the most goals (2.93 per game), while Ligue 1 recorded the fewest (2.41 per game), whilst these two countries likewise had the highest goals-to-shots ratio and lowest in domestic leagues. This is likely a reflection of German sides pushing forwards: the Bundesliga recorded over six offsides per game compared to 4.3 in France (see below), as well as the highest proportion of shots coming from inside the area. It would seem that defensively, Champions League sides were amongst the most organised in Europe this season. The chance conversion rate in the competition was the lowest, likely as a result of the fact that teams found it difficult to get inside the box to get shots off.

Category England France Germany Italy Spain C League
Shots per game 21.1 20.0 20.4 20.6 20.7 21.7
Goals per game 2.77 2.41 2.83 2.61 2.71 2.56
Shooting accuracy 43.7% 42.6% 46.0% 43.9% 45.3% 42.9%
Chance conversion 13.1% 12.1% 13.8% 12.7% 13.1% 11.8%
% shots from inside the box 59.3% 56.1% 59.3% 53.9% 59.3% 52.8%
% goals from inside the box 86.6% 84.4% 83.0% 86.2% 85.0% 78.9%
Saves to shots % 69.5% 71.4% 69.5% 71.0% 70.7% 72.3%
* CL data is up to date as of 17/05/2010 Indeed, Internazionale, who famously frustrated Barcelona in the semi-final, almost certainly learnt this tactic of keeping the opposition out of their area in their domestic league: outside of the Champions League, Serie A saw the lowest proportion of shots coming from inside the area.

Category England France Germany Italy Spain C League
% goals from set pieces 36.7% 34.8% 33.5% 32.0% 31.3% 30.5%
% headed goals 18.3% 18.8% 18.5% 18.6% 18.6% 17.0%
% goals in last 15 minutes 23.5% 24.9% 22.1% 20.0% 22.9% 25.2%
% goals scored by native players 36.3% 46.8% 35.7% 53.8% 52.9% N/A
As regards how the goals were scored, England lead the way in terms of goals scored from set pieces, with 37% coming this way compared to 31% in the Champions League. Most leagues saw a similar proportion of goals coming via headers, though the Champions League was the place to witness late drama, with over a quarter of goals coming in the final 15 minutes of matches, whereas the Italians were best at shutting up shop. Surprisingly, in light of accusations often levelled at the division, the Premier League did not have the lowest proportion of goals scored by players native to the country, as the Bundesliga did.Next up, passing:

Category England France Germany Italy Spain C League
Passes per game 772 751 816 780 760 838
Passing Accuracy 73.8% 75.1% 77.1% 78.1% 75.4% 79.4%
Crossing Accuracy 20.8% 19.9% 22.3% 20.2% 21.0% 20.4%
Dribbles per game 28.4 29.2 34.6 28.7 30.7 34.5
Dribble success 73.8% 75.1% 77.1% 78.1% 75.4% 79.4%
Though the English and Spanish leagues have the reputation of being two of the fastest-paced in the modern game, it is Bundesliga matches that saw the most passes per game in 2009/10 (after the Champions League). Indeed, Premier League sides averaged the lowest pass completion rate in all six competitions this season at just 73.8%, significantly behind the Bundesliga, Serie A and the Champions League. Players in England also seem to have been the poorest dribblers, attempting fewer of these than in any other competition, as well as completing fewer, whilst the Champions League and Bundesliga seem to have been the two sides that most favour dribbling.

Category England France Germany Italy Spain C League
Ave fouls per game 26.3 32.5 33.9 35.3 31.7 30.7
Ave yellow cards per game 3.17 3.53 3.47 4.74 5.08 3.56
Ave red cards per game 0.18 0.23 0.13 0.31 0.39 0.22
Ave fouls per card 7.85 8.64 9.41 7.01 5.80 8.13
Ave penalties per game 0.29 0.23 0.18 0.32 0.21 0.15
Ave off-sides per game 4.61 4.31 6.27 6.15 5.89 5.60
Despite the roughhouse reputation of English football, it is interesting to note that fewer fouls were seen per game in the Premier League than in the other five leagues, whereas Serie A saw the most, as well as the most penalties. Spanish referees were perhaps the strictest. Despite awarding fewer fouls per game than three of the other four domestic leagues, referees in La Liga gave more yellow and more red cards than anywhere else, as well as brandishing a card for every 5.8 fouls, significantly fewer than the others. Finally, changes of managers:

Competition Changes of managers
Serie A 16
Bundesliga 10
La Liga 9
Premier League 6
France 3
Premier League includes Gianfranco Zola and Phil Brown. Does not include caretakers. The toughest place to manage this season appears to have been Serie A, where amongst the 20 teams there were no fewer than 16 changes of managers. The Premier League enjoyed a fairly calm campaign, with only six managerial switches. The last time there were fewer was back in 1995/96, when only five bosses left their jobs.

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