Visualising the 2015/16 La Liga and Serie A fixtures

The La Liga and Serie A fixtures weren’t out before I went on holiday, so their fixture difficulty maps have been created a bit later than the rest.

If you haven’t seen these before, what I’ve done is taken an average of leading bookmakers’ title odds (as a proxy for each club’s “strength”) and then divided the clubs four categories based on the bookies’ implied ranking. The categories aim to divide the clubs into four (ideally) equal-sized groups based on the range of odds they have been given to win the title.

This allows the fixtures of each club to be colour-coded as per the graphics below, which can be clicked to bring up a full-sized version.

La Liga

As per the key at the bottom, red matches are tougher and blue ones easier (at least that’s what the odds imply). There are five teams in each of the red categories, four in the lighter blue and six in the darker blue, which made the most sense based on how the odds were distributed:

La Liga 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:

  • Valencia could find themselves flying high at the end of September given that their first six fixtures are all against teams expected to finish in the bottom half of the table.
  • Atletico Madrid could finish the season strongly as their last match against a fellow top five contender is in early March – only three of their final ten matches are against sides expected to end the season in the top half.
  • Newly-promoted Las Palmas have a tough start, facing three of the predicted top five in their first six games and being the first club to meet all five of them (which they’ll have done after their twelfth fixture in mid-November).
  • Real Madrid have four relatively easy matches to begin their campaign, but Barcelona have been handed an easier finish with each of their last five matches against opponents considered to be of below average strength.

For reference the four groups of clubs, based on current odds and in descending order, are:

  • Under 55/1 (5 clubs): Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla
  • 200/1 to 800/1 (5 clubs): Villareal, Athletic Bilbao, Celta Vigo, Malaga, Real Sociedad
  • 1000/1 to 2700/1 (4 clubs): Espanyol, Rayo Vallecano, Betis, Deportivo
  • Over 3650/1 (6 clubs): Las Palmas, Getafe, Granada, Gijon, Levante, Eibar
Serie A

Moving onto Serie A, I had a bit of a dilemma because there were seven clubs who were priced much shorter than the rest, so we have even more lopsided groups in this one and it’s redder overall as a result:

Serie A fixture map 2015-16

  • Newly-promoted Carpi have a pretty horrible introduction to Serie A with their first seven opponents all challenging for a top half place, including four of the seven biggest clubs. In fact their easier matches fall broadly into two runs of games that sit between three tougher ones.
  • Genoa twice have to play four of the “big seven” in a row: once in September, which looks like being a challenging month, and again from late January until mid-February.
  • After a relatively tough start, Milan have an easy festive period with four “blue” matches (including three against the four least-fancied clubs), followed by a similar sequence in their run-in. It’s therefore likely that they will surge up the table during these periods.

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

  • Under 35/1 (7 clubs): Juventus, Roma, Napoli, Inter, Milan, Lazio, Fiorentina
  • 300/1 to 750/1 (5 clubs): Sampdoria, Genoa, Udinese, Torino, Palermo
  • 1000/1 to 1200/1 (4 clubs): Empoli, Verona, Atalanta, Sassuolo
  • Over 1600/1 (4 clubs): Bologna, Chievo, Carpi, Frosinone