Guest blog by Peter Tobac, sports enthusiast and data adventurer at SAS
For these analyses we gathered data from the 5 top European leagues (Spain, England, Germany, Italy and France) from WhoScored.com. We excluded players that played less than an equivalent of 7 full games (630min). To minimize the effect of minutes played we calculated all measures to “per 90min”, except for Total Goals and Total Assists.
We always added an analysis for players of age 23 and lower as such a tournament is often a chance for them to show themselves.
Although not best practice, please take into account we did not always start the X- and Y-axes at 0 to increase readability.
What have we found out?
Who are the top scorers?
We listed the top 20 players with the highest numbers of goals made. The usual suspects – Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo, Lewandowski, Kane, … - are all there. What’s truly remarkable is Ibrahimovic’ efficiency: with 1 shot/90 min less,he made one goal more than Ronaldo. Lukaku (13th) and Batshuayi (18th) are representing Belgium in this list. Lukaku made most goals and was also the most efficient one of the 2, needing less shots for more goals.
Who are the top scorers age 23 and below?
Harry Kane is by far the most productive young striker in the top leagues, but also has the most shots/90min. Under 23 Belgium seems to have the best striker combo, with Lukaku (2nd) and Batshuayi (4th) both in the top 5 of this list. To get the most out of these top youngsters, we would of course need to play with 2 upfront.
Who contributes to team scoring the most?
Here we show the top 20 players ranked by a combination of goals and assists. After all, providing the last pass is as important as finishing it. Of the top strikers, Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic seem to provide a lot of goals to team mates as well, while Lewandowski and Kane seem to be more focused on their own goal production. On assist level we clearly see this season’s most helpful player: Mesut Özil.
Which youngsters contribute to team scoring the most?
When taking into account both goals and assists, we really see that both Lukaku and Batshuayi stand out in the top 5 leagues. Maybe this graph could inspire Wilmots to play 4-4-2?
Who are the best passers?
As an assist requires someone else scoring the goal, we added key passes as a broader indication of passing success. This graph shows the top 20 players ranked by the combination of assists and key passes they made. Both are calculated “per 90min” and bubble size represents the total number of goals made this season. Here we see Kevin De Bruyne appearing for the first time, as one of the top passers in Europe. Dries Mertens also appears in this top 20 list.
And the best young passers?
Two interesting players standing out here are the Turkish Calhanoglu (Leverkusen) and the Spanish Jesé Rodriguez (Real Madrid). Jesé proves to be very efficient in the little playing time he gets.
Who is the most creative?
Next to passing dribbling as well is a good way to create opportunities to score. This graph shows the top 20 ranked by the combination of key passes and successful dribbles. Although Eden Hazard is having a very bad season compared to the previous, stats show that he’s still one of the top players in creating openings. 3 other Belgian players pop up in this analysis: Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Dries Mertens and Kevin De Bruyne. Another remarkable fact is that only France delivers more players to this analysis than Belgium.
Who are the most creative youngsters?
An interesting observation here is that French youngsters seem to be very good dribblers (Boga, Dembele, Coman), whereas the Spanish are focusing more on passing (Deulofeu, Keita, Jesé, Suso). The only Belgian player here is Carrasco.
Who is the most efficient dribbler?
Dribbling can lead to goal scoring opportunities. But if every successful dribble requires 3 attempts, it’s not very efficient. Here we show successful dribbles compared to balls lost for the top 20 successful dribblers. We see three Belgians here: Dembélé, Hazard and Carrasco. 8 out of 20 best dribblers are French, which is remarkable. Even more remarkable is that the current French selection has only a place for 2 of these, Coman and Diarra.
Who is the most efficient young dribbler?
Two things immediately stand out: a lot of these names are the same as on the previous graph and nearly half of the top 20 young successful dribblers is French! The first part is understandable: as players get more experience most of them tend to leave out risky dribbles. Why French players seem to dribble a lot more than others is a mystery to us and could as such be a topic for a next set of analyses.