Bundesliga – Week 3 – Relegation Discussion Already? U Bet!

No doubt Bayern Munich will continue their disciplined march to the top of the Bundesliga League Table;  a few teams like, Borussia Dortmund, or even Hannover 96, might have something to say about that.

Before getting started on this week’s update though; a reminder for those who wish to refresh, or learn anew, what Possession with Purpose is all about, click this Introduction.

Now, for today, I’m going to take a look at some pending relegation battles from two points of view; my standard approach on PWP and then a split view in how the teams compare when filtering CPWP based upon the volume of passes teams offer.

So with Week three in the history books, here’s the five teams who have failed to get a good start on Points: SC Freiburg, Hertha Berlin, FC Schalke 04, Vfb Stuttgart, and Hamburger.

My traditional Compositive Possession with Purpose (CPWP) Strategic Index:

CPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Through Week 3

The top three in the Index also match the top three in the League Table; the correlation to average Points earned (R2) after Week three is (.74). 

Early days still, but (okay) strong when comparing to average points per game.  So you know – Goal Differential – the single, most consistent statistic relative to points, R2 is .94…

As for the other end of the Bundesliga League Table?  Well…  here we go.

  1. SC Freiburg – not bad for starters; although with just one point they do appear to be holding their head above water when it comes to having a positive CPWP Index number; that means their Attacking PWP outweighs their Defending PWP (how good the opponent does against them).
  2. Hertha Berlin – hmmm; not so good but not bottom, yet…???
  3. FC Schalke 04 – again, like Hertha Berlin, their difference between APWP and DPWP is not so good…
  4. Vfb Stuttgart – bottom dweller!?  Is THIS the early sign of things to come?  How long before changes are made – or will they be made?  I don’t know – guess we will see.
  5. Hamburger – same hear, hopefully for Hambuger supporters this team won’t be minced meat all season long…

So how have these five teams opened the season in the Attacking PWP Strategic Index (APWP)?

APWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Through Week 3
A surprise perhaps to see Hertha so high? 

At first glance… Hertha Berlin are pretty close to being up top in attack – if you follow Major League Soccer you’ll know that the Portland Timbers are a very strong attacking side – but, they are also pretty poor in defending.  Will that strong attack carry the day?

As for the others:

  1. SC Freiburg – again, not bad for starters; mid-Index so plenty of room to go higher or… lower!?
  2. FC Schalke 04 – just a tick below SC Freiburg… nothing overly compelling one way or the other yet; so plenty of room for them to show improvement against others as well.
  3. Vfb Stuttgart – near bottom dweller! Not a good sign; but on the bright side it may provide a great contrast if improvements in attacking are made.
  4. Hamburger – changing places – this time they are the bottom dwellers.  Does this mean devastating attacks are a rare thing?  Probably…  We’ll know more about their consistency of purpose, or lack thereof, as the season unfolds.

Moving on to the Defending PWP Strategic Index (DPWP):

DPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Through Week 3So Bayern Munich are at the top –  as are Hannover… hmmm – when do those guys play?  Saturday, October 4… 6:30 AM PST I think…  for those in Germany, I have no clue…

So how about those five teams in DPWP?

  1.  SC Freiburg – near the top (5th best) – that’s probably a good thing for Freiburg supporters.  I personally think it’s better to have a better defending team than attacking team – usually a better defense keeps a team from relegation.
  2. Hertha Berlin – where Hertha Berlin were fourth best in attack – they are now worst in defending.  Might that comparison with the Portland Timbers, in MLS, be true?  Hard to say – but the opponent penetration, shots taken, shots on goal and goals scored against will be something to watch for as the season unfolds.
  3. FC Schalke 04 – near bottom – all told, kinda in the middle of near bottom and near middle; perhaps ‘consistency in being near worst’, as opposed to worst, keeps them from being relegated?
  4. Vfb Stuttgart – not as low as Hertha, nor FC Schalke, but something to consider if they remain consistently bad in defending against their opponents.
  5. Hamburger – If I were a Hamburger supporter I’d be feeling a bit better seeing that Hamburger are above average when it comes to defending.  Defense wins Championships, and as such, you would expect good defending, on a regularl basis, to help them survive relegation.

Okay… with that offered here’s a slightly different view of CPWP.

I’m going to apply a filter, before hand, to see which of these five teams performs better or worse when it comes to the volume of passes they have in their games.

First up is a look at the CPWP Index where the volume of passes in a game exceeds the league average of 427:

CPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Through Week 3 Passes Greater Than 427

When Frieburg exceed 427 passes, per game, their CPWP Index is positive – in other words they perform better, as a team, when they pass more often.

Of course this is early days and only represents three games but – it is what it is… and any positives are worth noting at this early stage.

Stuttgart, Hamburger, and Schalke all have exceeded the league average at least once – yet even when they do they don’t perform so well as a team.

Note Hertha Berlin is not here – what that means is Hertha are attempting to play more of a counter-attacking/direct style approach, in lieu of a possession-based game (compared to others)…  at least that holds true if the measurements in MLS have relevance to the measurements/outcomes in the Bundesliga.

I’ll look for those comparisons later this year.

Now for the CPWP Index where the volume of passes falls below the league average of 427:

CPWP Strategic Index Bundesliga Through Week 3 Passes Less Than 427

There’s Hertha Berlin near bottom – so it would appear that Hertha will be playing slightly more direct, and a more counterattacking style in order to try to glean points in the league table.  Others may have a different view that follow Hertha Berlin more closely – if so please add your comments/thoughts.

As for the other four?

Schalke, Hamburger, Stuttgart, and Freiburg all bring up the bottom of this Index – clearly, for me, falling below the average in league passing is a great indicator, at this time, on how the overall team performance plays out for winners and losers…

Will this pattern continue?  I’m not sure, but it’s certainly something to review and follow as the season progresses.

In Closing…

In a wrap up of the early season bottom dwellers on Passing Accuracy:

  1.  SC Freiburg – 3rd best = 80.15% – key stat appears to be – one goal scored and 2nd worst percentage of shots taken per penetration (13.68%) {League average 19.03%}
  2. Hertha Berlin – 3rd worst = 65.50% – key stat appears to be 3rd worst in goals scored against per shots on goal (53.33%)
  3. FC Schalke 04 – 7th best = 76.42% – key stat appears to be 4th lowest percentage of opponent penetration but the 7th highest goals scored per shots on goal.
  4. Vfb Stuttgart – 6th best = 77.62% – key stat appears to be – one goal scored and worst percentage of shots taken per penetration (12.84%)
  5. Hamburger – 8th best = 76.39% – key stat appears to be – no goals scored

Notice FSV Mainz – when exceeding the league average, in passes, their team performance is not near as good as when falling below the league average.

Might this be an early indicator that they are a good (direct attacking/counter-attacking) team?  What do others think that watch the Bundesliga on a regular basis?

All for now…

Best, Chris

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