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2011/12 La Liga Season--A Review Of The Numbers

Welcome to my review of the 2011/12 La Liga season.

Today we shall be looking at each La Liga team and that teams proficiency in several different categories. Think of goals, shots, save % and I shall also be looking at how many points a team gained in comparison to the monies the team was given from the 2011/12 TV deal.

Warning, this is a long post.

Join me after the jump.

Here we go, the 2011/12 La Liga season

Points and Possession%


This is the La Liga table after 38 games.

How about the home and away points totals?


This is an interesting chart. I presume most teams lose nigh on 6 points a year by way of having to play Barcelona and Madrid away from home. But, still, it's interesting to see just how few teams register a healthy away points total.

Taking Madrid and Barcelona away from this chart the average looks to be in the mid to late teens in terms of away points accrued. That is a rough record of 4 wins 5 draws and 11 losses for the 19 away games.

In the 2011/12 EPL, when talking of away points gained, we have to drop down to 11th (bar Fulham and their notorious away form) until we get to a team that has gained less than 20 points on the road.

A trend towards more home wins in La Liga?

Now, we know how many points each team gained but how did each team gain that specific points total?



This is the goals for chart.

We can see how closely goals for correlates with points gained, at times goals for is an exact match for points gained. It's almost spooky, people say that defense wins titles, but looking at the above chart, we can say goals, in isolation, is a good indicator of points totals.

Notice how Madrid and Barcelona outscored the other La Liga teams by such a wide margin. Madrid scored double the amount of goals than every of other La Liga team not named Barcelona and over 4 times as many as Racing.

If a team scores more thus they are expected to gain more points. This we know already. Does goals against tell us anything new?

Goals Against


This chart tells shows us points in blue and goals against in red.

The information we see in the graph above tells us what we already know. Concede more goals and you don't accrue as many points.

We see some odd results here, Osasuna conceded the joint 4th most goals in the division but managed still to finish in 7th place. Osasuna are truly the odd team out.

Rayo conceded 73 goals, including 7 near the end of season game against Barca, but were still relatively comfortable.

How about goals for and goals against combined?

Goal Difference


These are graph 1 and graph 2 combined.

It's a useful method. We see as points decline (left to right decline) so does goal difference.

The staggering thing about this chart is how few teams have a + goal difference, staggering even more so is the extent to which Madrid and Barcelona dominate. Far more so than any other League I have looked at. Barcelona have +70 better goal difference than the 3rd place team. Plus seventy! La Liga is not a level playing field. TV monies and individual clubs income make this so.

Goal difference seems to be a far more consistent measure than goals for or against in isolation. Goal difference weeds out the oddities like Osasuna and Rayo's high goals conceded numbers and gives us a good overall picture.

Still, we can see some teams are still slightly out of place in what is otherwise a good correlation between declining goal difference and a decline in points.

Malaga with a +1 goal difference crashed into the top 4, Osasuna look out of place in 7th with a -17 figure. Villarreal also look a little unlucky in being relegated with a superior goal difference than some of their rivals had. Injuries tore the heart out of that team for a good portion of the season.

Now we know what goals for and against meant, let's look how the teams got said goals.

Shots for and Shots on Target for


Again we see points decline (and league position) as we go left to right.

What we see here is that shots for is a little more erratic and that shots on target for tends to decline at a steadier rate in comparison to points gained. Shots on target, in my opinion are a far more accurate tell on a teams performance.

Madrid and Barcelona are, quite boringly, well above the rest of the league again when looking at shots on target per game. Levante have the best shooting efficiency in the league and Zaragoza have the worst shooting efficiency. Levante's shooting efficiency of 49.5% is truly special.

Note how only 3 teams are above the mean line in shots on target for. This is the Barca/Madrid effect, they push the mean line up by virtue of their hugely superior shots on target totals. Levante are the third team above the mean in shots on target for.

Overall we do not see the same variance in shots on target for that we saw in the 2011/12 EPL review.

Scoring %


Here is the scoring % graph.

Barcelona and Madrid are the 2 best teams in La Liga by scoring %, but not by a huge margin. Their greater volume of shots in comparison to the rest of the league and in conjunction to their slightly higher scoring % is what enabled them to score so many more goals than all other teams.

Shoot more and convert those shots into goals at a higher rate than the rest of the league equals a lot more goals.

Granada have the worst scoring % I have ever seen at 18%. If this isn't corrected I would expect the club to struggle next season.

Why did Getafe and Rayo have a better scoring % than the teams around them? That is a question for you guys.

Now for the defensive measures.

Shots Against and Shots On Target Against


Again we look at shots against and shots on target against and see that shots against has more variance and is less well linked with points gained.

We see shots on target against rise as we go left to right and decrease in points. The more shots against per game a team concedes the less points a team is likely to gain. This, again, points to Villarreal being a touch unlucky.

Villarreal's 4.65 shots against per game number is, at a minimum, 1 shots against less per game than their relegation rivals. For every 10 shots conceded a team would expect to concede 3 goals.

Athletico Madrid post an excellent defensive number here, with 3.65 shots against per game. Valencia, Malaga and Mallorca also look strong, but naturally Madrid and Barcelona are the top clubs.

Now, a comment from Arron over at Barca Blaugranes had me thinking about some numbers. Arron said, and I paraphrase, one of the consequences of Barca's high possession number is containment of the oppositions attack. In other words if a team has a high possession % then you tend not to give up many shots against, although we are not sure of the quality of shots against.The quality of shots conceded may have been Barca's undoing away from home.

So let's have a look and see if a teams high possession number restricts the oppositions volume of shots?

Shots Against With Possession


The above chart deals solely with shots against as a total, these are blocked shots, shots on target, shots off target, shots that went for throw-in's!

Now this is a pretty telling graph. We see a relationship between declining possession and increasing shots against. The less possession a team has the more shots against that team concedes. From that we point we know how likely it is to concede more shots on target thus goals, thus a team are less likely to gain as many points.

Only Bilbao, 5th in the possession table, but with the 3rd worse shots against number stand out as an oddity in the above graph

Now we know about shots and shots against let's take a look at each teams ability to keep those shots out of the net.

Save %


The first thing that strikes me about save % is the consistency throughout the league. 19 out of the League's 20 teams are close to the mean line of 70%. Only Rayo with 61% were disappointing, but still, their number was only 9% way from the mean.

In the EPL there was far greater variance, with some teams far over the mean and teams like Blackburn and Arsenalbeing around 14% below the mean. Why is their a greater consistency in save % in La Liga?

Again, I put this question out to you, the fans. Has it something to do with a tactical consistency from team to team in La Liga, thus we don't see different systems that may be more defensive and gain a higher save %, or more attacking and have a lower save % as a result of being more open at the back?

Now lets put each teams save % together with their scoring % and get an overall team measure of their proficiency in scoring and saving. This I call PDO.



So this is the graph that points to a teams ability in all the categories we have looked at in the above graphs.

PDO is expected to trend toward the mean line over time. Every game has an available pdo score of 200 to be shared between the two teams.

We some very consistent numbers once again here. No team drops too far behind, no team races too far ahead. teams being relegated with a scores of 97, 96 and 95 is very strange for me to see.

Madrid and Barca are the two leaders in pdo, both teams have a lower pdo score than Man City and Man United posted in the 2011/12 EPL.

Valencia and Getafe's 108 number is very strong. Getafe's number is especially interesting as they finished in 11th place. They were able to finish in eleventh because of their strong scoring and save %. Getafe posted the 6th worst shots on target against and 5th worst shots on target for. Their skill (or luck) in converting so little shots on target into goals and keeping shots against out of their own net despite a high volume of shots against facilitated their 11th place finish. I'd expect a drop in their pdo next year.

PDO shows how well teams are doing with with what few or many shots for and against.

La Liga points by TV Money


Now I shall leave the reader with this graph. TV money in La Liga is a hot topic at the moment. Money in blue, points in yellow.

Some teams, Athletico Madrid, Malaga excel here. As do Osasuna, Sporting and Levante.

This graph is not an accurate read on wealth and points. TV money is only one aspect of the money a club earns and thus spends on playing staff.

I am not sure how the teams from Getafe downwards, 13 teams in all, are expected to compete at the top pf the table when they earn 9 or 10 times less TV money than Madrid or Barcelona. The big two teams are clearly more marketable, have a higher fan base and generate more global interest. But, if the TV monies continue to be distributed in such a manner throughout the league it will end in the two teams who earn the most monies in TV deals (and shirt sales etc) being so far ahead of the rest of the teams in the league that the word competition starts to become redundant.

It seems so long ago that Valencia won La Liga under Benitez, since then Valencia, due to it's financial state, have been plundered and are now forced to sell it's best player every year just to stay alive. Sounds like a struggling club, but no, Valencia finished 3rd in 2011/12. If the rich teams don't help the poor teams in the future we may see bankruptcies and liquidations.

If the rich don't help the poor there may not be much of a La Liga left for Barcelona and Madrid to utterly dominate and win every year. A good start to redress the in-balance of finances in La Liga would be a fairer distribution of TV money.

Thanks for reading

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