GOTP European Challenge: All hail Hibernians!

Hibernians Malta

This not a bunch a Scots from Edinburgh on holiday in Malta: Vintage Hibernians

Who has the best playing record in 2014-15 across European football? We all know that in England, Chelsea are top of the Premier and therefore have the best playing record. But all things being unequal, who are the top sides at the moment in Europe?

Any team that has an unblemished record deserves respect, regardless of the underlying strength of the competition they are playing in. How you seed teams, weight their performance or apply algorithmic theory to the relative quality of these leagues is another matter. It will, inevitably, lead to the usual suspects being placed at the top of the table. Isn’t that a little tiring?

So, Game of the People is pleased to announce its European Challenge Merit Table – a meaningless little competition that ranks teams according to their league performance in terms of percentage of points won. If nothing else, it may introduce one or two new teams to your footballing vocabulary.

Such an exercise can conjure up a few surprises. In 1967-68, year zero to some people, Manchester City won the Football League. In those days, the English competition was far more democratic than it is today. Talk of going through a season undefeated was almost unheard of. In 1967-68, the best playing records did not belong to the likes of City, or even European Champions Manchester United. It was Scotland’s finest that topped the list – in fact, both Celtic and Rangers. Celtic, of course, were all-conquering back in the mid-1960s. As European Champions in 1966-67, they went on to secure their third successive Scottish League title, part of a nine-year winning streak. Celtic lost just once in the league in 1967-68, but so too did their Glasgow neighbours, Rangers. Celtic’s points haul was 92.65% and Rangers was 89.71%.

Drinks all round, chaps, we're top of Europe

Drinks all round, chaps, we’re top of Europe

But the only unbeaten side across Europe in 1967-68 were Floriana, the most successful club from Malta. They won 11 of their 14 games and conceded just three goals. Admittedly, we are talking about a pretty low level league, but Floriana’s consistency put them in third position. In fourth were the rising force of Ajax and the top 10 included Partizani (Albania), Rapid Vienna (Austria), AEL Limassol (Cyprus), Glentoran and Linfield (Northern Ireland) and Ferencvaros (Hungary).

So what of 2014-15? Interestingly, another Maltese club is currently topping the bill. This time it’s Hibernians, who are one of a cluster of teams who remain unbeaten this season. You could argue that the top of the table lacks some credibility given that teams from Malta, Hungary, Cyprus and Greece occupy the top four. Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia are fifth.

Among the elite leagues (England, Spain, Italy, France, Germany), Chelsea have the best record with 86.67%.

As for goals, Real Madrid’s sharpshooters have the best goal-per-game average at 3.7 with Red Bull Salzburg next on 3.36. The best defensive record can be found in humble Albania, where Partizani have let in just 0.182 goals per game (2 in 11).

The top 10 performances 2014-15 (as at November 4, 2014)

1- Hibernians (Malta) 93.33
2- Videoton (Hungary) 92.31
3- Apoel (Cyprus) 91.67
4- PAOK (Greece) 91.67
5- Zenit (Russia) 88.89
6- Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine) 86.67
7- Chelsea (England) 86.67
8- Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) 85.71
9- Partizan Belgrade (Serbia) 84.85
10-Juventus (Italy) 83.33

Unbeaten teams this season include Hibernians, Apoel, PAOK, Zenit, Dynamo Kiev, Chelsea, Dinamo Zagreb, The New Saints, Varda, Bayern Munich, Porto, Dudelange, Differdange, Borussia Moenchengladbach and Paris St. Germain.

Hibernians, based in Paola, continued their great start to the season last weekend with a 5-0 win at Mosta. They have been fairly well free-scoring, notching up 29 goals in 10 games. Inevitably, Hibernians have a Brazilian contingent in their squad (who hasn’t these days?) and one of them, Luis Edison, has netted 10 times already this campaign, including four against Mosta. That win put Hibernians 10 points clear at the top of the Maltese Premier, although the gap has since been closed to seven.

The merit table will be published monthly. The next one will appear at the beginning of December, although GOTP will update the leaders in the left-hand sidebar.

To see the latest merit table, click here:  European_Challenge_November_2014

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