Chelsea will win the league; Manchester United will finish 6th

| 12th Jan 2017

Chelsea will win the league; Manchester United will finish 6th

Four out of the five current leaders in the big-5 European leagues are the most likely champions, according to the 21st Monthly Report of the CIES Football Observatory, a research group within the International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES), Switzerland. The teams are Chelsea in the English Premier League, Real Madrid in the Spanish Liga, Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga and Juventus in the Italian Serie A. However, in the French Ligue 1, Monaco should overtake Paris St-Germain and Nice.

According to CIES’s approach, despite recent wins, Manchester United won’t be able to rank higher than sixth this season, while Liverpool will finish second ahead of Manchester City and Arsenal.

In Germany, Hamburg will be relegated for the first time in its history, while in Italy, Inter will only rank fifth, while Milan AC will downgrade to seventh position. Let’s us wait a few months to see how accurate these predictions will prove to be.

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The big-5 league team having conceded the most shots from within its own box is Hull City. At the other extreme, Liverpool conceded the least. The other teams by league having left their adversaries with the fewest chances to shoot from short range are Atlético Madrid, Paris St-Germain, Bayern and Juventus.

A team’s strength is also measured by its capacity to keep possession of the ball. The indicator of the number of successful passes is very useful in this regard. Moreover, teams who are successful over the long term are capable of territorial domination. In this case, the indicator of the number of successful passes in the opposite half is particularly relevant.

The record number of passes per match up until the 31st December was recorded for Bayern Munich: 635. This value is 3.5 times higher than that observed for Darmstadt. The other clubs by league having achieved the least number of passes per match are West Bromwich Albion, Osasuna, Nancy and Crotone.

Bayern Munich is also the club that made the most successful passes in the opponents’ half of the pitch. This result reflects the ability of the Bavarian team to territorially dominate their adversaries. Barcelona, Naples and Arsenal also made more than 300 successful passes per match in the opposite half of the pitch.

Goals are of fundamental importance in football. Similar to goals conceded, the indicator of the number of goals scored is a reasonably accurate reflection of the clubs’ level. The ability of teams to shoot after penetrating their opponents’ box is also a very useful indicator to estimate the offensive abilities beyond the role played by chance.

Monaco is top of the rankings for the number of goals scored per match. Only two other teams in the big-5 scored more than 2.5 goals per game: Real Madrid and Barcelona. At the other end of the spectrum, the offensive sterility of Empoli is noteworthy. Similarly, Nantes, Darmstadt and Pescara scored less than 0.7 goals per match.

No big-5 league team attempted as many shots from within their opponents’ box as Real Madrid. The other top performing teams in this area by league are Liverpool, Paris St-Germain, Bayern and Rome. Palermo’s supporters have, on the other hand, every right to be worried. The same holds true for clubs at the bottom of the tables in their respective leagues.