UEFA Champions League – Let the games begin…

Well, it’s started – the World Cup of League Football for most; at least in my eyes that is.

Who’s going to come out on top and who’s not?

Of course these teams are the best of the best (so-to-speak) and that means I won’t be using words/phrases like sucks, bottom dweller, or some other derogatory term to describe loser.

In other words no comparisons to Chivas USA, Newcastle (sorry lads and I did see Alan Pardew is under fire already), Levante or some other team not starting/doing well in regular season competition.

On to the Family of Indices in Possession with Purpose – but before going there a few obligatory reminders, on things past, in a competition such as the Champions League.

In case you missed it I took my possession with purpose analytical approach to the World Cup this year and here’s a reminder on how things started and then how things ended

As a refresh, the Composite PWP Strategic Index diagrams are provided below for that prestigious event:  How it started…

CPWP After Game 2 Group Stages
CPWP After Game 2 Group Stages

 And… how it ended:

CPWP INDEX JULY 9TH 2014 WORLD CUP
CPWP INDEX JULY 9TH 2014 WORLD CUP

Notice that the trends after Game 2 seem to be pretty consistent (in terms of what teams performed better and worse) all the way through to the final.

The overall R2 (correlation to average points scored) to the Final CPWP Index was .82; Goal Differential was .89.  The DPWP Strategic Index R2 was -.81 and the APWP Strategic Index was .65.

The Goals Scored R2 to average points was .69 and the R2 for Goals Against was -.74.

To be sure I was a bit surprised on how well the Family of Indices played out.

I’m hopeful the relationship will be somewhat near the same for the UEFA Champions League competition.

So how do the CPWP, APWP, and DPWP Indices show after Game 1?  

Well, it’s a bit earlier than the World Cup Indices but the intent here is to 1) let you know I’m tracking the Champions League this year, and 2) all the Index outputs will be made available for consideration.

CPWP Strategic Index Group Stages Game 1

CPWP Strategic Index Group Stages Game 1

Seems pretty clear that FC Porto would be where they are given the 6-0 romp over Bate Borisov.

It’s still very early days so we’ll leave it at that and just note that their were five draws.

Here’s the Attacking PWP Strategic Index offering up the first to worst team performances in Attack:

APWP Strategic Index Group Stages Game 1
APWP Strategic Index Group Stages Game 1

Perhaps a surprise in seeing Roma ahead of FC Porto?  Why is that?  

A couple of reasons and the last one, in my opinion, is the most telling one on who may proceed a bit further:

  1. Roma had 91.07% passing accuracy compared to FC Porto’s 86.65%
  2. Possession was basically equal (~67% each)
  3. Roma was 55% accurate in scoring goals based upon shots on goal; while FC Porto was 50% accurate.
  4. Roma had a 69.23% accuracy rating in having their Shots Taken end up on goal, as opposed to FC Porto (also very high) who was 60% accurate.
  5. Now for the final difference, and most telling in my view — FC Porto generated 23.53% Shots Taken per penetrating possession – while Roma generated just 11.40%.

Why do I have that one last, when it also shows that FC Porto exceeded Roma by over 10%?

The reason why gets back to patience, along with time and space…

Roma was patient.  They statistically, give the appearance, that they waited for better opportunities to take shots (more time and space to shoot) and that reduced volume of shots, per penetration, ended up generating a 9.23% difference in goals scored.

This is type of pattern, that good teams continue to show in Possession with Purpose analysis, reinforces for me that the ‘unmeasured’ amount of time and space has as much, if not more value, than the location of the shot taken.

As a reminder – here’s three previous articles speaking to that in better detail…

On to the Defending PWP Strategic Index and the teams performing best/worst in that area:

DPWP Strategic Index Group Stages Game 1
DPWP Strategic Index Group Stages Game 1

Juventus take the top spot – even ahead of the possession and passing mad Barcelona, the biggest difference really comes down to one team defending statistic:

With Juventus, Malmo FF completed only 36% of  their passes within the Juventus Defending Final Third.

While APOEL Nicosia were able to complete 56% of their passes within the Barcelona Defending Final Third.

Perhaps this is down to how deep or how shallow the back four for each team lined up in the defending half?

Perhaps not?

However viewed it should be noted APOEL Nicosia had fewer passes attempted, in total (292) , than Barcelona had attempted in the Nicosia Final Third (303).

Wow…  Not unlike the same run of play that Barcelona sees in La Liga.  But is that indicative of a team that is going to win the Champions League?

It didn’t work last year… I guess we will see.

In Closing:

It’s only one game – and trends can never be seen with just one game.

They do, however, provide a starting point for a trend.

Best, Chris

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