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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Most of the Headlines went to Manchester United crushing a helpless Queens Park Rangers this past week and rightly so, I suppose, given how poorly Man U has played this last year or so.
Anything good happening to United usually spells trouble for others in the English Premier League.
For me though, I’m taking my analysis to the Aston Villa, 1-nil win, against Liverpool this week.
With that let’s take a look at Aston Villa, two different ways – compared to the other teams in the EPL and dig a bit deeper, statistically (team performance wise), into their great start.
For starters; here’s my standard Composite PWP Strategic Index filtering out all games where a team has passed the ball less than 450 times (the EPL League average):
While not blazing saddles, by any stretch, the positive from this is that Aston Villa are on the giving end as opposed to receiving end.
In the four games played, Aston Villa have not once exceeded the 450 pass barrier – but in every game the opponent has.
So there is consistency of purpose with respect to the general attacking strategy given the expected higher volume of passes by the opponent; at least that’s what I would offer given Paul Lambert is a pretty switched on Coach.
In the four games Villa have played their highest percentage of possession was against Hull City – do many of us consider Hull City a passing team?
They had 55.78% of the possession when playing Villa. Oddly enough that is the lowest amount of possession, by any opponent against Villa, this year – and Hull City have scored the only goal against Aston Villa this year! Hmmm…
Anyhow, the lowest level of passing accuracy, by Villa, was against Liverpool (63.09%); the 1-nil thrilla; otherwise, all the other games have seen Villa meet or exceed 70% in passing accuracy.
Bottom line here, in attack, Aston Villa show frugal play and measured penetration; 7th best in the EPL (26.13%).
And they have been able to create and take shots that have at least a 21% chance of being on target – while also averaging 50% goals scored success based upon that volume of shots.
Very frugal and very productive… all round a solid team performance in attacking so far.
Now let’s take a look at this same Index for all teams who have passed the ball greater than 450 times this year:
So with a frugal, but effective and efficient attack, how have they performed in defending against teams who pass as many as 200 times more, in a game, than Villa do?
Opponents so far have been Stoke City, Newcastle United, Hull City, and Liverpool.
As noted, those opponents are averaging over 450 passes per game – the actual average Villa have faced is 581 per game with a high of 743 passes, faced, in the game against Liverpool.
With respect to opponent penetration – Liverpool again was best in penetrating Villa’s Defending Final Third – nearly 36% of the total possession Liverpool had resulted in penetration of the Villa Final Third – that’s 12% greater than the overall average for every team in the EPL this year… my oh my… Liverpool really was on the offensive this game!
Perhaps what really drives home the aggressive nature/execution of Liverpool this game was their 71% completion rate of passes within the Villa Final Third. So not only were Liverpool frequent in their penetration – they were accurate as well.
Yet, when the scope narrowed, and the sphincter got tighter, Liverpool put just 1 of 18 shots on goal (5.56%) terrible; simply terrible.
So while Villa ceded possession and penetration (high passing accuracy penetration) they didn’t cede time and space that resulted in Liverpool getting more than one shot on goal… I’d offer that’s a pretty effective zone defense.
Through either filter Aston Villa have done well. It’s early days though, and this analysis probably has more value later this year when more data points are available to confirm/refute early prognostications.
For now I’d offer Paul Lambert is running a Counter-attacking / Direct attacking scheme – and to date, it’s been pretty effective so far.
How long that success lasts is hard to tell; they play Arsenal next and it’s likely they will face as many as 800 passes in that game.
And so you know – Arsenal have not started out as slowly as Liverpool.
In looking ahead to that game…
Arsenal average 9.92% Shots Taken per penetrating possession while Liverpool average 14.72%.
And both average nearly the same amount of Shots on Goal percentage (33.01% to 33.61%) yet Arsenal convert that same percentage of Shots on Goal to Goals Scored 37.50% of the time while Liverpool only manages to convert those Shots on Goal to Goals Scored 25.63% of the time.
That’s a 12% difference in success rate for Goals Scored – as noted in all my research from Major League Soccer, patience, in creating time and space adds just as much, if not more value than the location on where the shot is taken…
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