Most efficient football clubs in England, Spain, Italy and Germany in 2011/2012


The study of football, and its players, is perhaps best accomplished by evaluating efficiency. Of course there are many methods of such evaluation – ranging from weekly player ratings on the typical “start at 6” scale to full scale statistical analysis.

In this article we look at football clubs in Europe’s top four leagues – the English Premiership, La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga – and analyse their offensive and defensive efficiency so far this season.

This is done by plotting each club’s defensive efficiency (measured in shots faced per goal conceded) versus their offensive efficiency (measured in shots per goal) on an XY axis.

Here’s the chart (click on the image to fully enlarge):

Attacking v Defensive Efficiency
Most efficient football clubs in England, Spain, Italy and Germany in 2011/2012

Talking Points:

  • Somewhat surprisingly (1-6!) Manchester United have most successfully combined attack with defense in their home league this season.  While others may attack or defend better, no-one has managed their level of resilience and accuracy. United’s high defensive efficiency can also be explained in part by the ridiculous amount of long-range punts by opposition players at David De Gea, helping him make more saves than usual.
  • There is a stereotypical Italian stolidity to defending, as the worst team in Serie A in terms of shots faced per goal conceded is the normally resolute Internazionale.  There is also less variation in Italian defensive efficacy, with Juventus leading the way riding a defensive wall back into the Champions League next season.
  • In Spain, the difference between Madrid and Barcelona is one of thin margins, showing that marginal improvements in defence and attack can turn the title race around, while Valencia show why they’ve so frustrated their fans this season – they can’t seem to hold a lead.

There’s quite a lot of data here that you can review and interpret – some that is league-specific and other that can be used to better illustrate the problems individual teams have had this season. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Research done by Matthew Wood. You can find more of Matthew’s statistical work at Balanced Sports.

Also See: Most efficient Premier League clubs in the last three seasons (2009 to 2012).

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