Using scatter graphics to compare the big four European leagues

I’ve updated my scatter graphics for the major European leagues this week and I thought that while I was at it I’d have a bit more fun by smashing some of the graphics together to allow comparisons across different divisions. Unfortunately putting more than four divisions on these makes them unreadable (as a lot of average teams get crammed into small spaces), so I’ve limited this to just the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga and Serie A.

Each of the three graphics is explained briefly below but there’s a longer explanation here. All data is correct as at 4 January 2017, just like the individual charts I’ve produced this week, so you can make direct comparisons with the individual division graphics listed 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).

2017-01-04-big-four-adStarting in the bottom right we can see that Liverpool and Bayern are dominating games to a similar extent, as are Tottenham and Real Madrid. Both pairs of clubs are leading performers in a cluster of dominant teams, which interestingly doesn’t include Arsenal, who sit a bit further towards the middle along with the likes of Atletico Madrid and Dortmund.

In the opposite top left corner we find three Premier League sides – Burnley, Sunderland and Hull – cast adrift along with a few from Serie A – Empoli and Cagliari – as the least dominant across these four divisions.

There’s plenty of entertainment for the neutral at Torino, where roughly 15 shots per match fly in at each end, while thrillseekers are best avoiding matches involving Leganes where the tallies are closer to 10.

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:


Starting over on the left, the two clubs taking the fewest shots are experiencing vastly different fortunes. While Empoli are also one of the most wasteful finishers, Espanyol are among the most clinical.

The sharpest finishers of all however have been Sevilla, having created a similar number of chances to the most wasteful side – Pescara – but requiring almost 10 fewer to find the net on average. Interestingly Southampton complete the three most wasteful finishers despite taking a healthy number of shots.

Man Utd and Inter look to be experiencing similar problems in converting an impressive number of shots into goals, and while Tottenham were almost matching Real Madrid for quantity they’re some way off on quality so far.

Defensive effectiveness

Next 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:


While Liverpool allow similarly few shots to Bayern, the Reds – along with Man City – have struggled to keep the efforts they do face out of their net. However there are three La Liga sides – Leganes, Valencia and Osasuna – who have been even more porous.

Apart from the German giants, Chelsea, Tottenham and Frankfurt have put in the most impressive all-round defensive performances so far: allowing relatively few shots and standing firm against those that get through.

However at the top of the graphic nobody is absorbing more shots for each goal conceded than Villarreal, with Köln also soaking up an impressive amount of punishment.