When a team is simply the best a picture speaks a thousand words…
Rarely do I ever focus on just one game in my analyses but I think it’s worthy to spend just a wee bit of time on the Bayern – Bremen match to really drive home what my Family of Indices can show.
Here’s how the two teams matched up in Week 8 using my PWP data array:
I’m not sure the obnoxious dominance of FC Bayern Munchen can be pictured any more clearly than this without some creative graphics.
So is Werder Bremen really as bad as this one game shows?
Before Week 8 here’s where they stood in the CPWP Strategic Index:
Sixth from the bottom, so in the space of one week they’ve gone from 6th worst in overall PWP to worst…
I’ll call that the Bayern Bruise… both Stuttgart, FC Koln, Paderborn, and Hamburger have felt that to some extent as well…
That being said, Bremen have played all the top teams in the Index apart from FSV Mainz and Mochengladbach – so is it any wonder their near bottom?
Hmmmm… not so sure but they have yet to play Hamburger, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Paderborn, Augsburg, or Dortmund. Most likely meaning, with the exclusion of Dortmund, some points are to be had.
Can they get them though? I’m not so sure.
After Week 8 they are sixth bottom in the APWP Strategic Index – and yes, they have played most of the top teams in the Bundesliga – and when peeling back the attacking team performance data it’s not anemic by any stretch.
They are 7th best in converting Shots on Goal to Goals Scored (>35%)… usually that means a bit of patience to go along with a bit of time and space to get goals.
They are 10th best in having their Shots Taken be Shots on Goal (>35%)… another indicator that time and space is being created to generate accurate shots – even against some of the better teams in the Bundesliga.
They are 7th lowest in taking Shots per penetrating possession (>17%) – for the most part a lower percentage here is not a bad thing – it usually indicates patience, along with taking a bit more time to create space.
Indeed, the top team in having the lowest percentage of Shots Taken per penetrating possession is FC Bayern (11.55%).
They are also 5th best in their percentage of possession resulting in penetration (24.45%).
Where things go pear shaped is overall Passing Accuracy and Possession; they are the worst team in the Bundesliga when it comes to Passing Accuracy (64.39%) and only Paderborn has less possession (37.68% to 43.93%).
So what’s that mean?
From an attacking standpoint in and around the 18 yard box all seems very good – usually meaning they have at least one good midfielder with vision and at least one good striker who can score goals.
But, with the poor passing accuracy and overall possession it may also mean there are some defensive weaknesses bleeding over to impact that attack, like having too many turnovers in their defensive half, or/and
Playing the ball a bit too quickly out of their Defending Half, or/and
Their back line may be defending too high, or/and
Their central midfielders just aren’t good enough to control the run of play between the Defending Final Third and Attacking Final Third…
So in considering potential Defending issues bleeding over to impact the Attack here’ how they compare to others in the Defending PWP Strategic Index:
Dead last – of course some of that may have to do with the Bayern Bruise syndrome – but even after Week 7 Werder Bremen was still 2nd worst. So the Bruise is there but not as deep based upon Bayern as one might think.
In terms of overall performance here’s a few observations for consideration:
Opponents average 73.25% Passing Accuracy – in other words the opponent is doing better at completing passes than Werder Bremen – weaknesses, it would seem reasonable, exist in the overall talent of this team compared to others…
We already know they are second worst in overall possession. Now is that down to how the Coach likes to run a specific system – or is that down to simply having weaker players than the opponent?
Not sure yet – but it’s a good bet that Werder Bremen is looking to play counter-attacking football and that style, coupled with poor passing accuracy is compounding the issue.
In terms of goals scored against – even when you take the six goals out of the equation that Bayern scored – Werder Bremen still average 2.29 goals against per game.
The worst in the Bundesliga – so now only do they have a lower skill level in overall passing it would seem to be that they also have a back four – and goal keeper – who simply aren’t good enough at closing down the time and space the opponent needs to score goals.
A similar pattern appeared with Philadelphia Union this year in Major League Soccer – the solution to stop that goal rot was simply a move by the new Head Coach to have his defenders drop deeper – about 10 yards deeper to be exact.
When that happened the goals against for the Union went from 1.71 to 1.25…
It’s still early days but eight weeks are gone and trends ARE forming – Werder Bremen is NOT showing the team indicators that point to a side who’s had bad luck – they are pointing to a side that aren’t that good…
But it’s not too early to remember that the best indicator for a team taking a nose dive in overall performance is defending – and right now Werder Bremen is not defending as well as a team should do if they expect to finish near mid-table as they have in the past.
If things continue like this it is likely this team gets relegated – and an offering up of that after just eight weeks should be enough time for the organization to make the appropriate changes to right the ship…
It’s a tough hill to climb but if 13th or 14th is to be realistic again this year then things need to change pretty bloody quick.
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FC Bayern Munchen and Borussia Dortmund take a big leap in working towards the knockout stages as each sit on six points, along with Real Madrid.
Others falling in line for a push into the knockout stages include Roma, Chelsea, Monaco, Paris Saint Germain (stunner that was), Zenit St. Petersburg and FC Porto.
In seeing those results here’s how the Possession with Purpose Strategic Composite Index (CPWP) shows:
Of the teams with six points – all three fall within the top five of the Index, For those on four points, each, only Paris Saint Germain falls in the negative end of the Index.
Clearly the statistical impact of playing Barcelona is painful – and the orange star above Nicosia also highlights how far down the Index they are after that 6-1 thumping in Game 1. Yet now they’ve won their second game and sit on three points…
From a statistical standpoint the CPWP Index, correlation to average points earned, (R2) is .69 – very reasonable given only two games worth of data.
Oddly enough; and this doesn’t happen very much – the DPWP Index R2 (-.60) was slightly stronger than Goals Against (-.53); normally it’s about 5 one-hundreth’s of a point lower.
The Goal Differential R2 is .76; still the single best indicator that reflects results but doesn’t tell you anything about the internal activities of the game like the PWP Family of Indices.
Moving on – Defending PWP first:
Like the other DPWP Indices for the other leagues I analyze – I’ve adjusted the Y axis to begin at 1.5, as opposed to 0, in order to magnify the differences between those teams that don’t perform well versus those teams that do.
Note both Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Munchen are 1 -2 in the DPWP Index – while Real Madrid are 11th best – is that an early indicator that Real’s attack (see below) isn’t going to get them past a much tighter defensive network offered by the two German clubs?
As for other observations – I’d say it’s pretty clear that Benfica, Ludogorets, and CSKA Moscow are toast – all three are 7th worst or worse in team defending… nevermind they all sit on nil-pwa.
Moving on to the APWP Index, with some additional diagrams to sweeten the observations:
As noted above, Real Madrid are much better in team performance for attacking versus defending – for the most part teams that defend better advance further in competitions like these. I’d imagine Real will need to play a whole lot tighter if they are to succeed.
And what about Barcelona?
Wow – it’s unlikely they don’t advance but it should be an electrifying wake up call that possession for the sake of possession is not going to cut it in the Champions League this year.
This league is a far cry more skilled than La Liga – a reminder on how Barcelona looks in overall CPWP for La Liga is below… you’re not in Kansas anymore Toto!
Okay – now a few extra diagrams for your consideration:
First off – here’s what the APWP looks like when you filter the teams based upon the volume of passes attempted in the Opponent’s Final Third; in this diagram here’s the teams who have exceeded (the average) of 132 passes attempted.
Those teams with red bars are those that sit on zero or one point; those with yellow bars are teams sitting on two or three points, while those with green bars have four or six points.
Of course it’s unlikely that Barcelona doesn’t advance – but the same can’t be said for Arsenal.
In this diagram Arsenal are 2nd best in APWP – when looking at the diagram for Final Third passes attempted below 132 note where Arsenal is -(last in APWP).
Clearly they perform much better when they attempt to penetrate more – that style of play where more is more in the EPL seems to translate to Arsenal doing better here too.
Whether that holds true for all teams in the Group stages is unclear – I’m sure we’ll see soon enough.
Before moving on; note that there are seven teams in this diagram who exceed 132 passes in at least one game – while four teams sit on one or zero points.
That’s not the case here where the APWP Index is filtered based upon teams/games where passes attempted in the Final Third fall below the average:
Only four teams here have four or six points – actually all four of them sit on four points.
I don’t know (yet) if this is more or less impacted by how the opponent dictates play – nor do I know if this is more or less impacted by how the attacking team dictates play… More to follow on that one.
Note the high volume of teams with red bars in the lower end of APWP when pass attempts in the Final Third fall below 132 – the lone wolf at the bottom end is Arsenal – kind of reaffirming the need for them to sustain a high passing volume game in order to maximize their team attacking talents.
All for now – only two games in and detailed statistical analysis really isn’t worthy at this time – for the most part it is what it is…
The teams not best suited to do well in this competition are beginning to appear – Game three begins 21 October – should be exciting and the special match-ups I see might not be yours.
Here’s the ones that intrigue me given the state of affairs today:
- Roma at home to FC Bayern Munchen
- Barcelolna at home to Ajax
- FC Schalke at home to Sporting Lisbon
- BATE Borisov at home to Shaktar Donetsk
- FC Porto at home to Athletic Club
- Atletico de Madrid at home to Malmo FF
- Liverpool at home to Real Madrid
- Beyer Leverkusen at home to Zenit St Petersburg
Exactly – that’s almost all the games – well you’re right 😉
Looking forward to that round and any upsets that might occur like Paris Saint Germain beating Barcelona 3-2.
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Perhaps still too early? I don’t think so – at least not with who’s the best – clearly FC Bayern Munchen are firing on all cylinders. So…………
What to do?
Well, I’ll be ignoring FC Bayern Munchen in this effort because they are simply head and shoulders above everyone else… give me about another month or so and I’ll do a special week on Bayern.
For now my focus goes to FSV Mainz (eight points), TSG Hoffenheim (eight points) and FC Paderborn (eight points).
And yes, there are games being played this week where the data you are offered will not be up-to-date —> I gotta have a stop/start point somewhere – so I chose Monday evening… 🙂
Now, to begin, here’s my customary link for those new or wanting a refresh on Possession with Purpose – An Introduction and Explanations…
And now my CPWP Strategic Index through Week 4:
I’m not sure the clarity can be any more clear that Bayern is clearly the leader in PWP.
For now it’s worthy to note that my PWP End State, ””try to match the league table as close as possible without using points”’ looks pretty good as the 6 best teams in CPWP match the six best teams in the Bundelisga League Table – not one-for-one, but close enough to again lend credence to this effort.
Statistically speaking, the correlation (R2) to average points in the league table is .75; still strong.
Will these teams stay in these positions as the season wears on? Maybe Bayern will but the others? Probably not – but it helps to begin peeling back info on certain teams now to get a better sense of their progress (success or failure) for the future…
Anyhow – time to peel back the attack of Hoffenheim, Paderborn, and Mainz in my APWP Strategic Index:
It should be worthy to note that Hoffenheim, Mainz, and Paderborn fall below Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin, and Wolfsburg – in short what that means is the three teams I’m focusing on have better team defending performances than those other three teams…
Defense usually wins out when both teams are good in attack – so it will be interesting to see how these teams compare as the season progresses; for now here’s some key attacking statistics I’ve seen w/r/t Hoffenheim, Mainz, and Paderborn:
- Passing Accuracy – a surprise here for me is that all three of these teams, average in passing accuracy, falls below the league average of 74.13%; Hoffenheim ~66%, Mainz ~72%, and Paderborn ~71%.
- At first glance, without watching any of their games, I’d offer these three teams tend to play counter-attacking football where the intent is to take advantage of the opponent getting out of position. Another indicator to support that is overall possession – Mainz sits on ~49%; while Paderborm and Hoffenheim are lowest and 3rd lowest in the Bundesliga, respectively (37.69% and 42.96%).
- Without looking ahead, a key indicator to me that supports my initial view is the volume of passes the opponent has in their Defending Final Third – more later…
- In terms of Shots Taken per penetrating possession – Hoffenheim are below average (resembling teams that I’d attribute the word patience to) at 15.38%, while both Mainz and Paderborn are slightly above average (21.75% and 22.03% respectively).
- When it comes to converting Shots Taken to Shots on Goal – Hoffenheim, again, is below average (~28%) while both Mainz and Paderborn are above average (~48% and ~38% respectively).
- In looking at Goals Scored – all the teams are above average with Hoffenheim the highest (~60%) – while Paderborn is next up at ~40% and Mainz (9th overall) at ~33%.
What’s all that mean?
- Well it appears to me that Hoffenheim best represent a team who counter-attacks but does so with caution/patience – in other words there isn’t as much ‘abandon’ in their run of play when penetrating… i.e. they look to catch their opponent out of position, and when they do they are very good at executing in that small window of opportunity.
- Perhaps someone who watches Hoffenheim more closely can add some thoughts in the comments section?
- With respect to Paderborn and Mainz; again, without seeing them play, I’d offer they adopt a slightly riskier (more direct?) approach to penetration when they can.
- And that increase in risk may drive down their patience and accuracy in creation and generation of shots – which in turn drives down their efficiency in goal scoring based upon their volume of shots on goal.
It should be noted, however, that all three teams have eight points after four games – and given those apparent strategies is it surprising to see that FSV Mainz and Paderborn drew 2-2 the first game of the season?
In moving on to my DPWP Strategic Index:
Recall that Hertha Berlin, Werder Bremen, and Wolfsburg were all stronger in APWP than the three teams I’m focusing on this week – when viewing DPWP, Hertha is bottom, Werder Bremen is 2nd bottom and Wolfsburg are almost near mid-Index…
On the other hand Paderborn, TSG Hoffeneheim, and FSV Mainz are all in the top half… kind of continues to reinforce that a team who defends better will get better results…
So here’s a look at the volume of passes and passing accuracy percentage for their opponent’s in their Defending Final Third.
- Here, I expected these numbers to be slightly higher than others – to indicate some ceding of possession and space higher up the defending final third.
- Of the three, Paderborn had the lowest percentage of opponent penetration in their defending final third (19.46%) while ceding the 6th highest volume of passes in their defending final third (131 per game)
- Hoffenheim yields the 5th highest percentage of opponent penetration in their own defending third (24.68%) while yielding the 4th highest volume of passes (134.50 per game) in their own final third.
- Mainz yields the 6th highest percentage of opponent penetration in their own defending third (24.40%) while yielding the 11th highest volume of passes in their own defending final third.
All told it would appear that all three teams do cede possession and penetration into their defending final third more than most other teams.
In looking at the bottom line (opponent goals scored per game) Hoffenheim average .5 Goals Against while Mainz and Paderborn (before the Bayern thrashing) averaged 1.00 Goals Against per game.
What is missing?
- Borussia Dortmund… wow – talk about a slot start.
- How well these teams perform on the road versus at home – not enough data yet really.
- How each of the teams do against FC Bayern Munchen – playing Bayern will (usually) negatively impact performance.
- Actually being able to watch the games to pulse the statistical expectations based upon lessons learned from tracking statistics and watching the English Premier League and Major League Soccer – this is where I need your help.
- Overall, simply more data – it’s almost rude to expect that four games of data is going to provide anything other than a great start point to begin trending as week 12 or 13 approaches.
- Can you Adam and Eve it on this strike by Moritz Stoppelkamp, a player from FC Paderborn, – statistics simply can’t account for a goal scored like that!
Next up a look at La Liga and then Expected Wins 3… a statistical look at differences between teams that win, lose or draw in the EPL, MLS, Bundeliga, La Liga, that includes a review of the World Cup 2014 outputs…
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