Visualising the 2015/16 Ligue 1 fixtures

Following on from my initial run of fixture difficulty maps for the top four English divisions last week, I had some feedback from several readers about the red/green contrast not working particularly well for colour-blind people. I’ve therefore updated the colour palette to something slightly less garish and will re-run the English graphics with updated odds nearer to the start of the 2015/16 season (probably in late July).

Fortunately the release of the French fixture list gives me a chance to road test the updated template, and I’ll do similar for the other large leagues once their schedules are published.

If you haven’t seen this before, what I’ve done is taken an average of eight leading bookies’ title odds (as a proxy for each club’s “strength”) and then divided the clubs into four equal-sized categories based on the bookies’ implied ranking. This allows the fixtures of each club to be colour-coded as per the graphic below, which can be clicked to bring up a full-sized version:

Ligue 1 fixture map 2015-16

The point of this is to help identify easy and tricky runs of fixtures which could cause clubs to surge or fall in the league table. Here are some observations to give you the idea:

  • Marseille have a nice easy start, facing three of the five least-fancied teams first and not having to deal with a title contender until their sixth fixture. They also have one of the easiest run-ins, with their last three matches again coming against the division’s minnows.
  • St Etienne could mount a late surge up the table thanks to a relatively tame run-in. A rough-looking February sees them play their final two fixtures against the bookies’ current top five, with their final 11 matches all looking much more winnable.
  • Newly-promoted Angers have a really nasty-looking December which begins a daunting run of 10 matches of which six are against the five top-ranked sides. If they sink too low in the table here then their two fixtures against similarly-unfancied opposition in early April could well turn into relegation six-pointers.
How the clubs are grouped

The four groups of clubs, based on current odds and in descending order, are:

  • 1st – 5th: Paris SG, Lyon, Monaco, Marseille, St Etienne
  • 6th-10th: Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier, Rennes, Nice
  • 11th-15th: Nantes, Lorient, Bastia, Guingamp, Toulouse
  • 16th-20th: Reims, Caen, Troyes, Angers, Ajaccio

I’m aware that I’ve potentially oversimplified matters here by lumping the clubs into groups rather than using a continuous shading based on their exact odds. For example, the difference between Paris SG’s odds (around 1/7 at the moment) and some of the other teams in the first group is probably greater than the gap between 10th and 11th.

I have used continuous shading previously, but it becomes harder to spot easy and tricky runs of matches. A potential compromise is to cluster teams by their odds (e.g. put all the 10/1 – 20/1 teams in one category), which I’ll experiment with when I update these in late July.