This post will quickly pass over all nine Eredivisie matches of the past weekend, using my latest creation, the ExpG graphs to tell the match stories. ExpG stands for Expected Goals, which is the result of using shot location, shot type and several other factors to assign each shot a probability of being scored. For more details behind this method, read the introductory post here.
This is probably also the point where I should admit that, as a kind of test, I will write this post without having seen any of the matches. I guess that by the end of the post we will find out if the ExpG graphs do indeed recreate the story of a match then.
The weekend kicked off with title contenders Twente playing away at relegation threatened RKC.
Result-wise, 1-1 was an obvious deception for Twente, as in terms of chance creation they should have won. Judging by the continuous slope of the ExpG line, Twente created chances throughout the entire match and must have been surprised by the RKC opening goal, as they hardly gave anything away during the first half. After a slight spell during the first ten minutes of the second half, RKC defended the single goal lead for most of the second half.
Saturday opened with Heerenveen crushing AZ 5-1 away, in a re-match of the Cup game that saw AZ through on penalties. Managed by Dick Advocaat, AZ now have four consecutive losses and the points-per-game tally is lower under the new manager than under Verbeek.
Heerenveen may have trashed AZ in terms of the score, up until the 55th minute the match was rather equal in terms of chances. In the final half hour it seems AZ gave up a significant amount of chances, while chasing a two goal Heerenveen lead. Yes, it’s good to win matches 5-1, but with ‘only’ 2.0 ExpG to back this up and a level ExpG until the 60th minute mark, Heerenveen fans should not get carried away by this score line.
Next up: Peter Bosz and Vitesse at his old club Heracles. Vitesse lost precious points in a 2-2 draw, as they could have claimed the ‘winter title’ here.
A very low scoring game in terms of ExpG, where both teams did not pass the 0.5 mark before half time. By then, though, Vitesse led 0-2, despite both teams being equal in terms of ExpG. In the second half, Heracles stormed to a 75th minute equalizer with their best chance of the game, while during the entire second half, Vitesse surprisingly, did not create any offense of note.
NAC beat Cambuur 1-0 with a late opening goal to win three important points off the relegation candidates.
Judging from the curves, a 1-0 score line seems fitting. Cambuur hardly put together any offense, perhaps more occupied with holding on to the away point. It took NAC some 20 minutes to get their offense going, and even then, they managed only just of 1.2 ExpG at home against Cambuur. In the end it proved enough, but NAC could just as easily have dropped two points here.
Here’s the most one-sided affair of the weekend, and perhaps for a long time to come.
A Lex Immers brace put Feyenoord 2-0 up by half time, which neatly fitted the ExpG by then. Feyenoord created a lot of chance and some quality ones too. Zwolle put in one of the worst offense performances of the season, which is weird considering the fact that they needed at least a goal for almost an hour.
Early on Sunday, Ajax pulled off a miraculous escape at Roda.
The lines start late, as both teams simply did not create any offense before that time. Roda had the fortune to open the score at a point where 0-0 would still have been reasonable. Ajax could perhaps have scored earlier, but in the final minutes they created two very high quality chances to double their ExpG tally for the match, and more importantly to allow 17-year old Jairo Riedewald to score a match winning brace on his debut for the club.
Go Ahead Eagles suffered from an early Utrecht goal, but deserved their win on the basis of three quality chances.
Groningen beat N.E.C. 5-2 in a match that generates the most intriguing curve of the weekend.
Yes, that’s six goals in 60 minutes, while both teams had created just about 1.0 ExpG by that time. A flurry of excellent Groningen chances followed, with just one goal from them, and in the end a big Groningen win seems justified. This match may also serve to remember that neither the score line (5-2), nor the ExpG’s at 90 minutes (3.7 – 0.9) tell the full story.
Finally, a troubled PSV side beat ADO 2-0 at home.
PSV played for 45 minutes, held a two goal lead that could easily have been more, and then simply quit. Or, better said, they shut down the game, as ADO did not generate any offense to find a way back into the match. The curves don’t (yet) show red cards, as it must be said that the 31st minute penalty and the dismissal of ADO goal keeper Coutinho killed the game for ADO, and the neutral spectator it seems.
In the end
Nine matches, nine curves, nine stories. This is not to say that one could make a habit out of reporting on matches unseen. But my weekend away from football is a nice chance to write out my interpretations of the matches, based solely on the curves, and basic information like penalties and red cards.