Bundesliga 2017-18: End-of-Season Stats Round-up (Part 1)
Football statistics such as expected goals (xG) and expected assists (xA) have finally entered the mainstream in recent times. By comparing a shot to thousands of other shots taken from similar positions in similar circumstances, xG provides us with a measure of how likely it is to result in a goal.
A high xG value indicates that a chance is very likely to produce a goal, and vice-versa. Similarly, xA stats allow us to gauge the probability of a pass resulting in a goal. This means that we can assess the quality of the set-up, as well as of the chance itself.
The season’s most statistically extraordinary goals, misses and saves
The easiest goal scored this season – statistically, at least – was by Simon Zoller for Cologne against Leverkusen in March, with an xG of 0.979. Lovely assist from Aranguiz:
Meanwhile, the most difficult opportunity converted – in other words, the goal with the lowest xG value – was Nils Petersen’s exquisite long-range lob against Dortmund. His shot had an xG of just 0.008147.
The season’s worst miss statistically will also be painful viewing for Dortmund fans – it was Michy Batshuayi’s extraordinary second-half fresh-air shot at Leipzig in March. It had a your-blind-drunk-grandmother-couldn’t-miss-it xG value of 0.91919893.
Finally, the most difficult non-penalty save this season was by Leverkusen’s Bernd Leno against Gladbach in October, although it’s hard to see how Leno could have avoided Thorgan Hazard’s shot even if he’d tried to.
The ignominy of putting in the season’s worst overall performance in front of goal was shared by Freiburg’s Florian Niederlechner – who at least won the penalty that he went on to miss – and Sehrou Guirassy of Cologne. Both of them managed to score no goals from 1.51xG of chances.
Niederlechner and Guirassy perhaps shouldn’t be too disheartened – in past seasons, this distinction has belonged to Xavier Hernandez, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the mighty Bas Dost, so they aren’t in such bad company.
Here are the lowlights of Guirassy’s efforts on goal that day, which at one point caused the incredulous commentator to exclaim, not unreasonably: “Das ist Slapstick!”
Of course, forwards will also sometimes spin gold from straw, scoring freely despite receiving limited service from their team-mates. Hoffenheim’s Andrej Kramaric had the biggest over-performance in front of goal of the season with his hat-trick versus Hannover, which came from just 1.15xG of chances.
Perhaps even more impressive is Daniel Didavi’s brace for Wolfsburg against Freiburg (seen below), achieved from a minuscule 0.16xG of opportunities, although Divock Origi’s skill prior to the second goal is at least as good as Didavi’s finish. An honorable mention also goes to Hannover’s Niclas Füllkrug, who scored twice versus Augsburg against an xG of just 0.19.
The best chances – or highest total xG – presented to a striker during a single game were the 3.93xG that saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang score a hat-trick in Dortmund’s 6-1 early-season hammering of Gladbach, which now feels like an eternity ago:
Robert Lewandowski, who had enjoyed that privilege for the previous two seasons, had to settle for second place this time around. That was his 2.87xG during Bayern’s annual home trouncing of Hamburg, in which he also scored a hat-trick.
The Perfect Set-up
Germany’s assist kings, according to the numbers
The record for the best chances created by an individual player for his teammates – or highest xA – during a single game was shared between Karim Bellarabi and Mo Dahoud. Both managed to produce 1.52xA, Bellarabi in Leverkusen’s 4-1 victory over Frankfurt and Dahoud during Dortmund’s away draw with Leipzig. Each of them achieved it via just two passes – and Bellarabi’s assists for Kevin Volland were so similar that watching them makes you feel like you have double vision:
Dahoud continued the good recent showing by Dortmund players in this metric, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan in 2015-16 and Marco Reus in 2016-17 having both also posted league-best single-game xA totals in recent seasons.
Creators will always be at the mercy of those to whom they’re supplying chances, of course, which can work both ways. Nobody was let down by their team-mates in a single match more than Mario Götze, who created 1.09xA worth of chances in Dortmund’s goalless draw with Wolfsburg. Götze had already presented 1.04xA of unconverted opportunities to his team-mates earlier in the season in Dortmund’s 6-1 thrashing of Gladbach, the league’s third-highest total over the entire campaign.
In contrast, Stuttgart’s Erik Thommy picked up a hat-trick of assists against Cologne in March after creating a paltry 0.23xA, due to some excellent finishing and a howler by Timo Horn, as seen below. That was by far the season’s biggest xA over-achievement.