Long has the debate raged as to which football league truly is the best in the world. The English will argue that theirs is the most well known and of course the home of football. The Germans, however, will point out that last season’s Champion’s League Final was an all German affair. Spain, on the other hand, can say that the two best players on the planet are in Spain. Using the data at our disposal, we decided to examine the differences between these 3 leagues, based on the league games played so far this season.
The first thing to look at is of course, the number of goals scored per game in the various leagues. On average there are 2.4 goals scored per game in the Premier League, 2.8 in La Liga and 3.3 in the Bundesliga. We can see that the German teams score almost a goal a game more than their English counterparts with the Spanish teams somewhere in the middle. One would think that the number of shots on goal per game would be similar in the breakdown but this is not the case at all. Teams in the Bundesliga do have the most with 26.2 but the Premier League is a close second with 25.8. La Liga is third with 25.2. This is interesting as more goals are scored in La Liga than in the Premier League but they don’t have as many shots. In order to look into this further, we took a look at the events leading up to those shots.
We found it interesting, when looking at the building of attacks; many more attacks actually began with short passes from the goalkeeper in Germany than in the other leagues. There are only 12.6 attacks that start off with a short pass from the keeper in England, 14 per game in Spain and an impressive 19 in Germany. This lends to the opinion that in England, it could be about getting the ball upfield as quick as possible whereas in Germany it is about a slow and systematic build up. To try back this up, we looked at the use of long balls and saw that English teams make more use of this tactic than other teams with there being 19.2 long balls per game in England as opposed to Germany where there is an average of 18.6 and in Spain only 15.5.
Looking further into the style of build up play used by the various teams, the Germans teams make use of the counter attack more than the other leagues with 21.8 per game. The Spanish teams have 21 counters per game and the English teams have only 18.6. It would seem from this that the defences in England are much better with dealing with such threats and thus long balls are more effective there whereas in Germany and Spain, their respective defences are not as robust and patient buildups and individual skill seem to be more effective there.
So we have a general idea of how the various teams get the ball up the field towards the opposition goal but what about the actual scoring chances that they create for themselves? German teams find themselves in a position where they stand a decent chance of scoring on 20 occasions per game. The Spanish teams have 18.4 such scoring chances per game and the teams from England only 18.1. Similarly when it comes to chances where the teams stand a high chance of scoring, be it one on one or right in front of goal, the Germans have 7.5 of these dangerous chances per game, the Spaniards have 6.9 and the English only 5.6 per game.
As for the goals themselves, we have seen from the stats that the German teams score more goals from inside the area than the other leagues with an average of 2.2 goals scored from such positions per game. In Spain, they manage to score 1.8 of these kind of goals per game whereas in England, they only score 1.4 per game. Once again, this could be explained, as we have stated above, that the strength of the English defences does not allow for the systematic build up and individual skill used in Germany and Spain and thus English teams are less likely to be able to get into the box and score than their counterparts in the other leagues. This, of course, fits in with the low number of dangerous scoring chances that English teams have per game.
Another interesting statistic that we found was the average length of a game in the various leagues. In an average game in La Liga, there will be 56 minutes 41 seconds of live ball action and in the Bundesliga there will be 57 minutes 39 seconds. In the Premier League, however, there is an average of 59 minutes 41 seconds of live ball action per game. This equates to almost 5% more action in England than in Spain and yet there are more shots on goal in Spain than in England. Once again we come to our point that defences in England are stronger and thus, despite playing longer, there are fewer goals and fewer shots.
It must be said that the difference in styles could also be attributed to the varying quality of teams in the leagues. Whilst only 4 points separate 1st and 4th in the Premier League, 13 points separate Barcelona in 1st and Villarreal in 4th in Spain. There are also 10 points between 1st and 4th in Germany.
So if you are looking for a game dominated by individual skill, then we recommend La Liga, if it is systematic football you are after, you will probably find it in the Bundesliga. Should you be looking for a more old school, traditional robust game, then the Premiership is the place to be.