The greatest professional team soccer competition continues…
But before digging into the Possession with Purpose Family of Indices some general news for consideration.
As the PWP Indices have shown such a strong correlation/relationship to the league tables without using points earned, in ALL competitions measured, I want to try a create a quantifiable way to measure “luck”. More to follow…
Anyhow, here’s my updated Strategic Composite PWP Index after the Group Stages are completed:
This way others can get an idea of how their team CPWP, APWP, and DPWP Indices compare.
I won’t go so far as to say that the team expected to win has their color first but I would offer it may give you an inkling of who might be favored to advance.
Finally, the red bars represent those teams that did not move on to the knock-out stages.
The knock-out stage pairings:
Barcelona play Manchester City.
FC Porto play FC Basel.
FC Bayern Munchen play Shakter Donetsk.
Real Madrid play FC Schalke.
Chelsea play Paris Saint Germain.
Borussia Dortmund play Juventus.
Atletico Madrid play Bayer Leverkusen.
Monaco play Arsenal.
So here is how the teams compare in the Strategic Attacking Index:
A few observations…
I’m a firm believer that Defense wins Championships – but I’m also not willing to ignore how effective team attacking performance is in relationship to team defending.
With Barcelona, Bayern, Porto, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Real Madrid being slightly head-and-shoulders above the rest, in attack, it’s likely those teams will put on a great performance.
All told I’d offer those teams will work towards a possession based attack – especially seeing their opponents. I’d also offer up that Juventus is likely to work towards that style as well.
Teams like Schalke, Dortmund, Donetsk, Leverkusen, Man City, and PSG can show willingness to possess the ball but I think they will cede somewhat more this stage than in the Group Stages.
Teams like Atletico Madrid, FC Basel, and Monaco are )highly) likely to continue to cede possession and play for a swift counter-attacking (almost direct attacking) style of soccer.
Now for the Strategic Defending PWP Index:
FC Porto have been best, with Bayern, Monaco, Dortmund, Real Madrid, and Barcelona not far behind…
If there is an anticipated blow-out I’d offer Real Madrid is the team most likely to win big – with Porto next up against Basel and Atletico Madrid handling Bayer pretty easily.
As for the others – way too close to call in my opinion – and I’d imagine a huge audience on telly for the Man City/Barcelona match-up – and you can be sure I’ll be watching The Arsenal take on Monaco!
As I noted going into this competition – all these teams are good – what follows as pucker time nears – is the separation of good from great…
If you want a taste on my approach in measuring luck – consider this – Athletic Club had just seven points earned yet they were 7th best in team defending performance and 13th best in the overall Composite Index performance… if any team was unlucky, in the Group Stages, it was Athletic Club.
On the flip side – if any team was lucky, in the Group Stages, it was FC Basel (who also had just seven points earned) – they were 16th best in team defending performance, 22nd best in team attacking performance, and 20th best in overall Composite Index performance.
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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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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.
As a refresh, the Composite PWP Strategic Index diagrams are provided below for that prestigious event: How it started…
And… how it ended:
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
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:
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:
- Roma had 91.07% passing accuracy compared to FC Porto’s 86.65%
- Possession was basically equal (~67% each)
- Roma was 55% accurate in scoring goals based upon shots on goal; while FC Porto was 50% accurate.
- 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.
- 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…
- Sometimes what doesn’t happen on the pitch has more value than what does happen‘
- New statistics in soccer, Open Shots and Open Passes.
- Expected Wins
On to the Defending PWP Strategic Index and the teams performing best/worst in that area:
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?
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.
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.
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