European Football

Barcelona are the best in Europe: The stats say it all

tacticsUEFA Champions League winners Barcelona really are the most dangerous team to play against, according to research published by CIES Football Observatory.

In the think tank’s performance analysis paper, Barcelona repeatedly come out on top in a broad range of categories involving Europe’s top five leagues: Spain, Italy, England, France and Germany.

CIES use different criteria to calculate team performance: dangerousness (shots for and against); grip on the game (passes); duelling (contests) and set-pieces (set-play).

Barcelona are way ahead in the dangerous section, with a 4.42 ratio – shots attempted v shots conceded. Juventus, who lost the UEFA Champions League final to Barca, are next with a 3.25 ratio.

Barca’s tiki-taka style may have changed under Enrique, but Barca still made almost 11,000 passes last season and they made three times as many passes as their opponents. Unsurprisingly, given Pep Guardiola is at Bayern Munich, the German champions were in second position, making more than 2.5 times as many passes as the opposition.

There are better teams at scoring at set-pieces than Barca, but their ability to restrict opponents at corners free-kicks makes them the best all-round team in this category. Atletico Madrid, for example, are certainly more proficient with their own set-pieces, but Barca’s defence allows very little room for their opponents. Chelsea and Lyon are also very good with their own set-pieces.

CIES also looks at individual players. The most successful centre backs are Thiago Silva of Paris St. Germain and Jerome Boateng of Bayern Munich.The Barca pair of Dani Alves and Jordi Alba are the most highly-ranked full backs. Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea comes out on top as a defensive midfielder, while Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez is the number one attacking midfielder.

The battle for top striker is won by Lionel Messi of Barcelona, with Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid in second position.

To see more, visit the CIES site: http://www.football-observatory.com/

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