An early look at performances in La Liga

For the fourth and final part of our miniseries, attention shifts to Spain. Will anyone be able to put up resistance to the picture perfect season opening by Barcelona? Is Valencia really this season’s surprise package? And will Sociedad recover from their disastrous opening?



Using the recently explained Good-Lucky matrix, in a format adopted from Benjamin Pugsley, we can easily scan the league for the best performance teams (horizontal axis) and the most efficient teams (vertical axis). Anyone into football analysis will know that being highly efficient lasts only so long, and PDO levels tend to revert back to normal before you know it. Depending on team quality, normal is a PDO of 980-ish for poor teams and 1020-ish for good teams.

Good - Lucky Matrix La Liga 2014-15 16 oktober 2014Yes, it’s Barcelona, a bit of nothingness, more nothing, and then the rest. An out of this world ExpG-ratio of 0.799 combined with an extreme PDO wave of over 1175 resulted in six wins and a draw, no goals conceded, and La Liga’s title all but clinched. The PDO will resolve, points will be dropped, but hey, no one really looks like catching Barcelona here.

A close bunch of five teams competes for the honours of second place, as it seems. The expected names of Real, Sevilla and Atletico are there, but Celta seem to do very well in just their second season after promotion, as well as those other boys from Barcelona, Espanyol.

In analytics terms, Valencia are an outlier of note. Their PDO has been even higher than Barcelona’s, riding them to 2nd place in the table. Point is, and ExpG-ratio of 0.493 is not going to take them far, once this PDO wave runs out of steam. Obviously, the 17 points from seven matches will boost their final standings, but on wouldn’t really expected them to threaten the top three.

Orange is trouble in the Good-Lucky matrix, so Granada, Córdoba and Levante catch the negative light here. Bilbao will improve, once their PDO pulls towards the red line, but are still way below mid-table.


Points per Game

If you’re performance is as elite as Barcelona, you won’t drop many points. Their 0.799 ExpG-ratio simply means they are on average four times more likely to scores than their opponents. Hard to see them losing more than a handful over the season then.

As expected, Valencia are flying high, but don’t have the performance levels to back it up, as does Granada, though at another level. Espanyol will pull up over the coming weeks, as will Sociedad, and Deportivo to an extent.

ExpG-r vs PPG by team La Liga 2014-15 16 oktober 2014


Here’s the ‘sticking my neck out’ part of this mini-series. Using ExpG as a basis, a pretty straightforward model can simulate the remaining part of the season and come to predictions for the final league table. I figured it would be more fun sharing these from time to time, for various leagues, and see what we can learn along the way towards the end of the season.

For this model I’ve limited ExpG to 11v11 or 10v10 situations, filtered out blocked shots (since shot blocking is a skill), filtered out penalties (since they are distributed pretty random and skew the numbers a fair bit) and filtered out rebounds. Furthermore, I’ve regressed the ExpG towards last season’s numbers, based on the R2 between ExpG’s on each particular match day to ExpG’s at the end of the season.

Without further ado, here’s the graph of predicted points, along with a box plot showing the spread and most likely number of points for each particular team. Enjoy!

Boxplot projected league table La Liga 2014-15 16 oktober 2014

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