Scatter graphics: La Liga, 18 Jan 2016

Here are updated scatter graphics for La Liga, which compare the attacking and defensive performance of each club. These are explained here if you haven’t seen them before and you can see the previous set here.

Shot dominance

First of all, here is how the number of shots taken by each club compares with those they face in return. The average number of shots taken per match is on the horizontal and the average number faced is on the vertical, so bottom right (take plenty, allow few in return) is good while top left (take few, allow plenty) is bad. The stripes are like contours: the greener the stripe, the better the performance (and vice versa for red).

2016-01-18 E1 Att DefAs you’d expect, Real Madrid and Barcelona are sat far away from the rest of the pack, with Real firing in a ridiculous 20 shots per match – over eight more than the average – while Barca take just over three fewer but are far better at restricting those of their opponents.

In fact the only side whose defence is more restrictive is Atletico, who allow slightly fewer and take a much more modest number themselves in return. At the other end of the defensive spectrum are Gijon, who face over four and a half more per match.

The quietest attackers are – surprisingly – fourth-placed Villarreal, with just over eight and a half efforts per match: three fewer than the average and around half that of Barcelona. We’ll see how that works for them in the next graphic.

Attacking effectiveness

Now let’s look at attacking alone. The horizontal axis stays the same as in the graphic above, but now the vertical shows the average number of shots needed to score each league goal. Therefore bottom right is good (taking lots of shots and needing fewer efforts to convert) and top left is bad:2016-01-18 E1 Att EffIf we cast our eyes down to the bottom left corner we find that shot-shy Villarreal are one of the most clinical finishers in the division, on a par with RealBarca and Eibar. The latter’s surprising occupancy of sixth position therefore owes plenty to some ruthlessness in front of goal.

At the top of the graphic we find two sides who have struggled to put the ball in the net this season. Both Betis and Malaga have taken a respectable number of shots but needed around twice as many attempts as the average side to score each goal.

Defensive effectiveness

Finally let’s look at the defensive situation – basically take the above chart and replace the word “taken” for “faced” on both axes. Now top left is good – facing fewer shots and able to soak up more per goal conceded – and bottom right is bad:2016-01-18 E1 Def EffLodged in the top left corner are Atletico, who have made themselves obscenely difficult to score against this season. The average of 25 attempts it’s taken to breach them is around twice that of Barcelona and not far off three times the divisional average.

Villarreal are the next most resilient defenders, which has helped sustain their high league position as much as their incredibly sharp attack.

Both Valencia and Sevilla also have to thank their back lines for soaking up a fair amount of punishment so far this season, while Vallecano and Granada have had the worst luck at keeping shots out of their net.