Real Madrid and Barcelona – Two Horse Race
For me, it’s not the top two that peak my interest this week, it’s the prime movers from mid-table – downwards while looking at the League Table from Week 12 to Week 19.
Here’s how they stand comparing Week 19 to Week 12:
The teams highlighted in Green and Red I”ll get to in a bit, for now note the positional changes have been significant for many teams in and out of the lower half.
For those interested the CPWP Family of Indices continue to have strong correlation to the League Table without using Points Earned in the calculations. Here’s how the Indices show things from a team performance standpoint through Week 19:
Overall the CPWP Strategic Index has an R2 of .89; while the APWP sits at .89 and DPWP sits at -.81.
For those new to the Indices here’s an explanation on how they are created. No other publicly created set of Indices comes any closer to the League Table – not even Expected Goals – a popular Predictability statistic.
I should point out that these Indices are not Predictability Indices – they are not built to predict the future based upon past data – but…….. this Index, developed from the PWP Process is a Predictability Index:
The caution I offer in using it as a forecasting tool is this – when developing a forecasting model you need at “x” amount of samples to reach 95% Confidence Level in your data and its ability to represent trends for the future.
The “x” amount of data needed for this Index is at least 15 games — since games is the primary sample point. The twist is that since teams behave, for the most part, somewhat differently at home versus on the road you need 15 games of data at home and 15 games of data away from home.
Since this is only Week 19 that threshold has not been reached to substantiate that this predictability portion of this Index hits the 95% Confidence Level limit…
But, you say, the R2 is .77 – agreed – so yes, I would venture that those who like to gamble might want to rely on this tool to help them pick a winner – I did a test run in Major League Soccer, where the home and away statistics are notoriously different and my test run varied in success – straight CPWP PI # of one team compared to another.
That success ran as high as 75% to as low as 30% week to week for about 8 weeks – your choice… By the way – the Predictability Index created from PWP is simply my Index outputs minus (missing goals scored for or against)…
Back to the movers in La Liga these last seven weeks…
Recall the teams Espanyol (+6), Real Sociedad (+7) (Nice one Moyes!!!), Cordoba (+6), Levante (-6), and Granada (-6)…
In reviewing the APWP Index for each team, from Weeks 1-12 and Weeks 13-19, only one team has seen their Attacking Index increase, Cordoba – all the other teams have seen their overall attacking performance drop slightly during those two time-frames.
Why has Cordoba shown an increase?
It’s down to improved accuracy in Scoring Goals based upon Shots on Goal – all others have experienced slight decreases in quality; either with respect to percentages of Shots on Goal, Shots Taken per Penetration, or Goals Scored from Shots on Goal.
In reviewing the DPWP Index for each team, from Weeks 1-12 and Weeks 13-19, two teams have seen their Defending Index decrease, Levante and Granada – all other teams have seen their Defending Index improve , with Cordoba seeing the most improvement by as much as 11%.
Cordoba’s improvement in Defending comes from Opponents having less quality in putting Shots on Goal from Shots Taken and Goals Scored from Shots on Goal.
Clearly Cordoba has improved on both sides of the pitch, while with the others it’s slightly more difficult to pin down a specific area…
A few interesting notes here are:
- Cordoba were bottom of the table, and even after having to play Barcelona, Villarreal and Eibar during this stretch they still gained 6 places, and
- The CPWP Index had Cordoba rated 12 best after Week 12, and that Index rating has not changed through Week 19 – meaning it is likely the CPWP Index really did a great job of accurately representing the true team performance of Cordoba compared to other teams in La Liga…
- Finally, the CPWP Predictability Index (PI) had Cordoba rated 12th best, after week 12 as well… (perhaps??) an independent data point to substantiate that the predictability nature of the CPWP PI has value???
Cordoba showed improved performance on both sides of the pitch while the others didn’t… (perhaps???) this means that some of the new positions, for these teams, are as much a function of how others have gotten better, or worse, as it is a function of how those teams have, themselves, gotten better or worse…
Meaning position in the League Table, even when seeing changes by as much as six or seven places, may not mean that individual team is playing better – it may mean that other teams, with less noticeable drops in position are playing worse…
Reinforcing again that predictability is not solely associated with goal scoring – it’s also a function of not scoring because some teams are doing better, however slightly, with improved defending but not improved attacking…
If you are a writer for any team in the Bundesliga, La Liga, Barcley’s Premier League, or Major League Soccer and you’d like to use outputs from my Possession with Purpose Family of Indices in your articles please let me know…
I can provide a broad range of support that may help you better tell the story, (explain) to your readers, what or how well your team is doing compared to others… or even itself given certain time-frames (before and after a coach gets sacked, player gets injured, etc…)
If you’d like an example of the type of support I can provide please read this latest article by @7amkickoff.
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La Liga – Week 3 – Passing Dominates Early
For those not familiar with this phrase – Passing domina temprana (Passing dominates early) – get used to it as my Possession with Purpose analyses moves to La Liga.
I’ll get to the details behind that view a bit later but first a look at the traditional analysis on PWP plus an early focus, like with the Bundesliga, on the slow starters.
The Composite PWP (CPWP) Strategic Index through Week 3:
The clear leader here is Barcelona – as noted last week a team passing Barcelona might find it difficult (both on the pitch and in the league table).
Knowing that I’ll prefer to wait on digging into Valencia, Seville, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid till a bit later.
For now, since this is a relegation league, like everyone else in the World apart from Major League Soccer, let’s take a peak at teams who’ve opened at a snails pace: Levante, Espanyol, Cordoba, Almeria, and Rayo.
- Levante – bottom feeder – the worst in team performance to begin – enough said.
- Espanyol – while they sit on just one point they are near mid-table in CPWP – that means they are either performing pretty good in attack – or they are performing pretty good in defense – or – they are weak in both, but not REALLY weak yet…
- Cordoba – On two points and near bottom; Malaga have four points and are placed further down – perhaps??? the APWP and DPWP will help shine a light on that?
- Almeria – not quite as good in overall performance compared to Espanyol – but they are higher up the CPWP food chain.
- Rayo – like Almeria and Cordoba they are on two points – oddly enough they are on the positive end of the CPWP Index – more to follow on that.
Next up Attacking (APWP) Strategic Index:
The surprise here for me is seeing Valencia ahead of Barcelona – for me this reinforces, at least for now, that obnoxiously huge levels of passing numbers don’t over-influence the Index.
As for the bottom feeders… here you go:
- Levante – again – bottom of the pile. They almost look oxygen starved given their major drop off to the right of Villareal…
- Espanyol – mid-table of the Index – so not overly dominant in APWP – perhaps this means they are roughly mid-table in the DPWP Index?
- Cordoba – about 1/3rd the way up from bottom – nothing eye catching at the moment and certainly showing better team attacking than Malaga.
- Almeria – like Cordoba – about 1/3rd of the way from bottom; are both these teams showing early indications they might be better placed, in the league table, a bit later this year? Hard to say – we will have to wait and see.
- Rayo – again, up near the top half – I suppose that means their DPWP leaves a bit to be desired. Of course the other issue might be who they’ve already played so far this year… Elche, Deportivo, and Atletico Madrid… somehow; even without watching this team play I suspect they won’t stay in the bottom third for long… It would be interesting to hear thoughts from those who follow La Liga a bit closer though.
Moving on to Defending (DPWP) Strategic Index:
As expected – a team with huge passing numbers is likely to be in the top half (at least huge by Barcelona standards). More interesting, and good stead for Villareal, is their position near the top of DPWP.
In looking at the early relegation battle here’s how the bottom five look:
- Levante – near bottom; and given past history on some teams in MLS – I’d say they are an early bet to get relegated – even after just three weeks; provided their defense doesn’t perform better compared to others.
- Espanyol – ah… here’s where things get a bit dodgy; they seem okay in attack and overall yet their defense is what is letting them down. Does that continue? We’ll see…
- Cordoba – like Espanyol – they are near bottom in DPWP – that means of course, that the opponents are not only completing good numbers of passes, but it also means they are penetrating, creating and generating shots taken that hit the back of the net – all told they’ve conceded four goals and scored just two.
- Almeria – a bit higher up the DPWP Index, this may provide an early indication that this team is slightly better than the two points that they have. More to follow…
- Rayo – again quite good and not expected given their APWP and CPWP – those two draws against Deportivo and Atletico Madrid have done them well… as noted in the APWP thoughts; I’d offer this team may not stay in the bottom third for long.
Now for the “more to follow” on this league being a passing league – the CPWP Strategic Index for teams where they have exceeded the league average in volume of passes (415):
In terms of overall performance it would appear that there are roughly eight teams that average more than 415 passes while also generating other positive attacking outcomes.
Note that Rayo and Levante are in this mix… In considering the poor performances for Levante so far this season is it better or worse that they are attempting to mix it up with some of the other teams who are really – really good at passing?
I wonder if Levante also has games that are below the league average of 415 passes?
To answer that question here’s the CPWP Strategic Index where teams’ passing volume has not exceeded the league average:
In answer to the leading question, yes Levante have games where their total passes fall below the league average. And like when they exceed that figure they are near the bottom.
Only Rayo is not in the mix for the current bottom dwellers – again that seems to reinforce that Rayo may end up being a bit higher in the table as the season plays on.
In addition, note that Villareal were a better team in overall performance (positive ~.4) when exceeding the league average compared to (~-1.2) when falling below the league average. Having played Barcelona skews that Index rating here I’m sure…. On the flip side they defeated Levante and drew nil-nil with Granada.
And of the teams that don’t pass a lot – does this show (already?) that teams like Deportivo, Eibar, Atletico Madrid, and Real Sociedad are better in counter-attacking and direct attacking than a team like Eiche, Villareal, or Athletic Club?
I’m not sure – but it sure does raise some interesting questions as PWP comes to La Liga.
Before moving on; I wonder how this Index will look at the halfway point of the season… time will tell.
A wrap up of sorts for the five bottom dwellers with a focus on overall passing accuracy:
- Levante – 3rd worst = 70% – the key stat here appears to be goals scored – they have none.
- Espanyol – 8th worst = 75.08% – the key stat here appears to be the opponents ability to put a shot taken on goal – 44.09% – 2nd worst
- Cordoba – 10th worst = 76.62% – the key stat here appears to be lack of penetration (17.27% of their possession results in penetration) 3rd worst
- Almeria – 7th best = 77.72% – the key stat here appears to be controlling time and space in defending – as the opponent percentage of penetration increases so does the percentage of shots taken, shots on goal, and goals scored; in other words their defending percentages get worse as the opponent draws nearer the goal.
- Rayo – 6th best = 78.27% – the key state here appears to an inordinately high percentage of shots on goal faced versus the 2nd lowest amount of possession, by percentage, of their opponents.
Overall, even after just three weeks and the dominant indication on how passing influences CPWP, the Index is still not overly influenced by it when peeling back overall performance.
Still early days though, and the race to avoid relegation has begun.
I’ll not ignore the top half of the table but I’ll also not ignore the bottom half.
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