SZ Awards: The best European league, and the average player

As a follow-up to the Stats Zone Premier League Player of the Year Awards in association with Opta, we've compared the top five European leagues across a number of attributes -“ and named the average player in each league...

First up, the English Premier League:

It may upset a few prejudices to find that the Premier League averages the most passes per game, although xenophiles may mutter that this is due to the "100mph" English game. The Premier League also has the lowest number of fouls (lenient refereeing?) and interceptions among the top five top flights (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain -“ all endlessly analysable in our FREE Stats Zone app).

The Premier League player who comes closest to replicating these figures is a Darlington-born Scotsman: West Brom's James Morrison. Don't take it as a pejorative, James: you're the benchmark for other top-flight players to live up to.

And so to la Liga, so often used as a stick with which to beat the Premier League. Considering the tiki-taka cliché, it may come as a shock that Spain not only lags behind the Premier League in passes per game, but la Liga gets the tin medal for the worst passing completion. At least you get more shots per game in Spain than anywhere else, so they're doing something right. Well, that and domination of international football.

Next up is Serie A -“ the former standard-bearer of European leagues, known for its tough tackling and excellent ball retention. And sure enough, Italy gets the gold medal for tackles per game and pass-completion percentage. However, they have by far the lowest shot-to-goal conversion rate, which can't all be due to Gigi Buffon, and only avoid the tin medal for lowest shots per game because of the shot-shy French. Speaking of whom...

Oh, France. There are those who would make arguments for other leagues to be in the Top Five, and you're not helping yourself with results like this. Ligue 1 doesn't top any of the seven categories, and provides the fewest shots, passes and tackles per game. Oh well...

Finally, to Germany, and with stereotypical efficiency they've hoovered up three gold medals while avoiding all the last-placed tin medals. The Bundesliga has the highest shot-conversion rate and also produces the most interceptions and... fouls, which is probably not ethically worth a gold medal. But even if we consider that a booby-prize gold, Germany tops two categories and "loses" another, which is the same as Italy and, if we apply the fouls-are-bad logic, England. Germany denied final win by controversial pro-English decision: whodathunkit?

Before we go, we though we'd throw in the two continental competitions -“ also available via Stats Zone, folks -“ as a comparison. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Champions League outdoes the domestic leagues in three categories -“ shot conversion, pass completion and passes per game. Meanwhile, the Europa League has more passes per game than the five country competitions, but tends to sit just below the Champions League. Which makes perfect sense to us...


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