A Tale of 3 Derbies

Merseyside, the Ruhr and Genoa all hosted derbies at the weekend. All three games provided excitement, and the whole range of emotions experienced by supporters during these highly charged fixtures. But what aesthetic and stylistic differences did the 3 games – from England, Germany and Italy – display on the pitch?

The early Premier League kick-off between Liverpool and Everton was expected to be a closely fought contest, with the two rivals separated by just one point in the league table. A late Phil Jagielka thunderbolt rescued a precious point for the Toffees after Steven Gerrard had put the home side ahead, but does the data suggests a point each may have been a fair reflection?

Liverpool (48%) had only slightly less ‘live ball possession’ than Everton (52%), and the two teams were also closely matched in terms of the number of attacks they launched (69-65). Although Everton (19) created notably more ‘medium scoring chances’ than Liverpool (4), they only managed one more ‘high scoring chance’, producing 2 to the hosts’ 1.

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Everton further their claim to have been the better team with their 10 shots on goal, to Liverpool’s 2. Their conversion rate of ‘good scoring chances’ into shots was also better, 53% to 40% from the Reds.

The Premier League, now widely considered to be the world’s favourite domestic club competition, has picked up a reputation for producing an unrelenting pace of football. The comparative lack of urgency seen in Italy’s Serie A, which was once attracted the world’s finest players, may be partly behind its relative demise.

This contrast in speed was certainly in evidence during Sunday’s game between neighbours Genoa and Sampdoria. The game saw the ball in play for 50:17 mins compared to 66:39 mins in the Merseyside derby, demonstrating the relaxed tempo and stop-start nature of the Italian game. As on Merseyside, a late goal was influential to the result of the game, with Manolo Gabbiadini’s free-kick in the 75th minute the difference between the two sides.

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The Italian game saw a much higher use of the long ball than in England – a total of 30 ‘long ball-style’ build up moves were executed in Italy, compared to just 13 in England.

This takes us to Western Germany, where Schalke and Borussia Dortmund and, both inhabitants of the Ruhr area, faced off at the 61,000-capacity Veltins Arena. A total of 40 ‘long ball style’ build up moves were played in this game, but both teams needn’t have bothered – only 4% of Dortmund’s moves and 0% of Schalke’s were classed as ‘quality’.

First-half goals from Joel Matip and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting gave Schalke the victory, as Dortmund could only reply with a goal from Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang. Below par defending from Dortmund gifted Schalke the points in an even contest – Dortmund managed to create 5 shots from their 9 ‘good scoring chances’ while Schalke struck 5 from 7.

Although not high scoring matches, all of these derbies were keenly fought with a fiery atmosphere inside the stadiums. We certainly would have liked to have attended any of the three occasions.

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