Statistician’s Journal : Want to catch a Shooting Star? Wish you had been in La Liga


Little Spaniards once made their name for exquisite passing but who could have imagined that they also bring out the pin point accuracy to get the ball past the keeper in  minimal sort of attempts. In this edition of Statistician’s Journal, we intend to discuss upon one of the fundamental aspect of the game- who shoots the inflated ball better?

Now to address this issue, we need some quantitative measure which we can compare with ease. The statistic counting number of attempts per goal ratio (ApG) seems to have solved our problem. We get on to gather some raw data in this regard and in the end, we have landed upon some extra-ordinary findings.

Below, we can see the top 10 teams with minimum ApG ratio. Real Madrid, the best team in Europe last season, leads that list and they require only 5.4 attempts to score a goal. That’s not surprising given that they have some of the World’s finest players in their armory.

Attempts per Goal

What we see next is the most interesting part of the proceedings. Out of top ten European teams, five of them belong to the La Liga and those five are eventually from the top of the current League table. Chelsea and Lyon, respective league leaders from England and France, have found their way into the top ten, whereas, Bayern is much below the pecking order, being ranked 19th with respect to this ratio. Much to our surprise, Schalke and Hertha Berlin represented Germany at the top but none from Serie A could make the cut.

From the above description, a vivid correlation between rankings and shooting accuracy can be spotted in the case of English, Spanish and French League but Serie A and Bundesliga had remained an exception. Palermo sits at the top among Italians, 12th position overall, with a ratio of 7.5 attempts per goal.

Now, if we expand our views a bit to consider the top twenty shooter teams and their distribution over the Europe, we can evidently spot out the Spaniards emerging out as the conquerors. Nearly one-third of the list belongs to La Liga, Bundesliga contributes one-fourth to the population with two, three and four teams from Serie A, EPL and Ligue 1 respectively.

attempts per goal


Moreover, from the data we had, we can carry on the same comparison for the two halves of the game separately. Mostly it remained same but there was one or two significant changes in the up.

If we only consider the last forty-five minutes, then Juventus sneaks into top ten and the Italian champions has an impressive 6.8 attempts per goal in this period, less than 1.5 units from the leader Los Blancos. On another hand, Chelsea will be the team to relegate from the upper tier as you can conclude that the blues do not like to score much goals in the later half of the game.

Now, similarly, we can run the same thing for the initial part of the match and we will see the Catalan giants sliding down abruptly to 30th place from their impressive fourth position. They have an awful 8.8 AgP ratio in the first forty-five minutes, which they overcome with their brilliance in the final forty-five. Barca’s decline results in Paris St. Germain taking its place. Unlike Barca, PSG is a team who likes to score early goals. The half-distribution of their ApGs look like – 5.4 in the first and 9.1 in the second.

With the side-stories being covered up, we again return to the main story of Spanish dominance in terms of shooting. After seeing all these, it is natural to expect La Liga to outnumber other leagues by number of goals. But, if we just take last season’s stats, 1045 goals were scored in the much talked about southern part of Europe whereas it’s north-western perish saw 7 more goals with obviously a better Goals per Match (GpM) ratio. Even this time around, we don’t see a large gap between EPL and La Liga’s ApM ratio, with the difference being close to 0.03.

This little observation prompts us to say that EPL produces a much better Attempts per Match (ApM) ratio than La Liga. Yes, the goals win you matches but the attempts give rise to oohs and aahs in the crowd, which keeps that adrenalin thing rushing fast. The La Liga supporters may vouch for their shooting stars, but EPL can be entrusted to foster humdingers if you believe in the “more attempts, more fascinating” way of seeing the game.