Scatter graphics: La Liga, 15 Feb 2016

With the Champions League and Europa League about to start up again, I thought that it would be a good idea to take a look at each of the main European leagues. 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).

2016-02-15 Spain Att Def

Unsurprisingly the traditional top two of Real Madrid and Barcelona are in the dominant bottom right, with Real outshooting everyone by far while Barca allow fewer shots than anyone except Atletico.

The quietest attack is that of Villarreal, who sit fourth in the table despite taking far fewer shots than anyone else – the remaining two graphics will shed some light on this.

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:

2016-02-15 Spain AttThey may not take many shots, but only the “big two” and Eibar have been more clinical than Villarreal this season. At the other end of the scale, the most wasteful finishers are Betis who have fired in twice as many efforts for each goal scored this season.

Along with Betis, Malaga and bottom side Levante have also struggled to convert their chances this season.

Barcelona edge Real Madrid as the league’s most clinical finishers but the latter more than make up for that with the sheer volume of shots they take.

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:

2016-02-15 Spain Def

The most formidable defence is that of Atletico, with the fewest shots allowed and comfortably more than double the number of shots faced per goal conceded than the average side.

Villarreal compensate further for their shot-shy attack with some resilient defending, while the next most stubborn defence is also the busiest: that of fifth-placed Sevilla.

The most porous defence so far has been that of Granada, with fewer than six shots faced for each goal conceded.