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Statistical Analysis: How have La Liga clubs performed going forward this season

Adem Demirdag
2.02K   //    05 Jan 2015, 19:54 IST
A look at all the key attacking stats from the Spanish La Liga

Shots per game

It’s a good indication of a team’s offensive tendency. I have used the word “tendency” as shots per game is not the sole indicator of a team’s attacking capability. There are some teams who enjoy possession and look for a killer pass instead of shooting the ball from long range when an opportunity arises. Shots per game reflects a team’s tendency to shoot and directness to goal:

  Shots Per Game League Position Goals Scored Goals Per Shot
1.Real Madrid   18.3 1 56 0,19
2.Barcelona  16.9 2 41 0,14
3.Celta Vigo  16.3 9 17 0,06
4.Villareal  13.9 6 29 0,12
5.Rayo Vallecano  13.8 11 19 0,08
La Liga Average: Shots Per Game Goals Scored    
   11.69 21.95    

Celta and Rayo Vallecano are in top 5

Shots per game statistic usually give you the team that likes to attack thus it’s no surprise that Real Madrid and Barcelona are at top of the shots per game table in La Liga with 17 games played. However, it’s surprising to see Celta at third place since they are placed 9th in La Liga. But if you look at the following column, they only scored 17 goals with 16.3 shots per game which brings leads to a very poor goal conversion rate of 0.06 goals per shot taken. Two teams in the list; Celta and Rayo has scored goals below the La Liga average of 21.95 goals per game. This is mostly due to the poor finishing, but also the teams’ tendency to take long shots more often than the others. 

Real Madrid leading in shots per game, goals scores and goals per shot categories

Real Madrid is not just the team that takes most shots, they are also the team that scores most goals and has the best goal conversion rate with 0.19 goals per shots taken. With a trio of Benzema, Bale and Ronaldo it’s not a surprise at all for them to lead in those categories. 

Positions of shot per game

So, we have seen the shots per game, goals per shot stats from the table above. Now, we’d see the positions of those shots taken per game. As I have suggested above, let’s see if surprise teams like Celta and Rayo are at top 5 of the list because they take long distance shots more often than others:

  Shots Per Game Out of Box Six Yard Box Penalty Area
1.Real Madrid   18.3  7.4  1.2  9.8
2.Barcelona  16.9  5.6  1.5  9.8
3.Celta Vigo  16.3  4.8  0.8  8.4
4.Villareal  13.9  5.1  1.3  7.4
5.Rayo Vallecano  13.8  6.6  0.8  5.4

The table is sorted from Shots Per Game column

Real Madrid and Barcelona take 9.8 shots per game in the penalty area

The teams that take the most shots in 6 yards box and in penalty area are the ones who are producing real threat. Atletico Madrid is having 1.8 shots per game in six-yard box which leads La Liga with Barcelona having 1.5, Villareal 1.3, Real Madrid 1.2 shots in Six yard box per game and are listed as 2nd, 3rd and 4th. When we look at the shots in the penalty area, Barcelona and Real Madrid are at top with 9.8 shots per game in penalty area for both. Celta is third with 8.4 shots in the penalty area and Villareal is fourth with 7.4 shots there.

Rayo Vallecano is at top 5 in shots per game and possession % list in La Liga this season

Rayo Vallecano is 10th in shots taken in penalty area with 5.4 shots per game and they are also 10th in shots per game in Six Yard Box per game with 0.8 shots. So Rayo Vallecano is in top 5 of the shots per game list because of their high number of out of box shots. Celta Vigo, however, is taking most of their shots inside the box as they take 8.4 shots in the penalty area per game. 

What about Last Year?

Real Madrid led the league in shots per game last year with 19.6 shots per game – 1.3 more than this year – and Barcelona had the same shots per game rate as they have right now; 16.9. Rayo was once again in top 5 , in third position with 14.1 shots per game and Valencia and Athletic Bilbao were positioned as 4th and 5th on the list. Real Madrid took 10.6 shots per game in the penalty area and led the league in this category with Barcelona coming in second with 9.8 shots per game in the penalty area.


It is what Barcelona enjoys and leads over the years. Let’s see which teams are at top 5 this year in Ball Possession Category:

  Possession % League Position
1.Barcelona 70.5 2
2.Rayo Vallecano 58.1 11
3.Celta Vigo 57.4 9
4.Real Madrid 57.4 1
5.Athletic Bilbao 53.9 12

Barcelona’s ball dominance

Barcelona’s 70.5 % ball possession rate per game is a very high number. In fact, it’s the highest if you compare it to last 6 years’ stats. It was argued that Tiki-taka and ball-possession game would be over under Luis Enrique, but Barcelona somehow has the highest rate of ball possession by far! Having Suarez, Neymar and Messi upfront led to many teams to surrender the ball to Barcelona totally and control this upfront with high number of defensive players. 

I have checked the Bundesliga stats to see how Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich fare in ball possession rates and I'm surprised to see that they have the identical 70.5 % ball possession rate like Barcelona. It makes me wonder about ball possession rates if those two face each other in the Champions’ League this year.

Pass success rate

Barcelona boasts the high pass success percentage in La Liga

Pass Success rate is a good indicator in measuring a team’s capability to hold on to the ball. However, we don’t know if those passes are completed under pressure in the opponents’ end or not. Still, any successful team in top European league have to has a pass success rate over 75 % to be considered to be a good team.

  Pass Success  % League Position
1.Barcelona 88.3 2
2.Real Madrid 86.1 1
3.Celta Vigo 78.5 9
4.Rayo Vallecano 77.9 11
5.Valencia 77.8 4

Barcelona and Real Madrid have very high pass success rates 

Barcelona has nearly 90 % pass success rate and Real Madrid is very close to them with 86.1. Real Madrid doesn’t like to dominate the ball as much as Barcelona do, but their passes find their way most of the time. Celta and Rayo are once again at top 5 which is another proof that they tend to attack more than defend their goal.

  Short Passes   
1.Barcelona 642  
2.Real Madrid 479  
3.Celta Vigo 416  
4.Rayo Vallecano 393  
5.Athletic Bilbao 390  

If you scroll up and look at the Possession % table, you will see that top 5 teams there are the exact teams in short passes per game category. It’s very easy to see why as teams with high ball possession rates keep the ball by playing short and (usually) simple passes.  

Only offensive stats are written and the reason behind it

So, those are some easy to read, definitive and useful information about teams in La Liga. I preferred to use offensive statistics as most of the defensive statistics are a result of a team’s league position and I don’t consider them as a success. For example: A team with most tackles per game can be 19th or 20th in the league. Having that many tackles doesn’t bring you much. It’s a demonstration of how often you are being attacked. It’s like the number of saves a goalkeeper makes per game; An inferior teams’s goalkeeper would have higher number of saves as they concede more shots than the stronger clubs.

*Stats are retrieved from 

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Adem Demirdag
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