By Dr. Martin Buchheit, Maxime Settembre, Adrien Tarascon, Dr. Karim Hader, Adam Stokes, Dr. Allan Munro, Dr. Derek McHugh and Raymond Verheijen
Professional soccer is truly an international sport with a considerable number of foreign players in each league. At this year’s World Cup, 16.5% of players, or about 1 in every 6, were born in a country other than the one they’re representing—the highest share in World Cup history.
Despite being the same sport across all countries and leagues, there is a common belief that the game may be played differently in each country. This may be due to strong cultural heritages and differing visions of game style and approach. If this belief is true, then understanding how football is played in each league can add context to a team’s foreign player recruitment process, help tailor player development, and better equip coaches preparing matches in European competitions.
In a first-of-its-kind new study, we looked at the top seven European leagues over a 20-year period (21 seasons) to examine what, if any, differences exist between leagues. The areas that we chose to focus on have never, to our knowledge, been investigated before.
Comparing Between-League Differences
The study extracted the fixtures data of the top seven European leagues over the past two decades, representing 43 competitions, 269 teams and more than 61,000 fixtures.
This comprehensive paper is divided into four parts. In Part 1, we began by looking at team formations and how these formations have evolved over the past two decades in the top seven European leagues.
We have just published Part 2, which examines between-league differences in results and goals scored, with reference to match location over the past 21 seasons.
Study Reveals First-Ever Findings on Results and Goals Scored
Overall, we found that there weren’t significant differences between leagues in terms of average home wins/draws/away wins and the average number of goals scored over the past two decades. However, we did note that two leagues had a tendency for having slightly more draws and slightly fewer goals scored versus other leagues.
We encourage you to read the full study to learn:
- What are the overall trends of away wins/draws/home wins over time? Do seasonal differences come into play?
- What is the proportion of away wins/draws/home wins for each league?
- Are home wins increasing or decreasing over the 20-season period? What about the proportion of draws?
- What is the correlation between leagues and the average number of goals scored?
- Which leagues have a tendency for fewer goals to be scored?
- How does the number of goals scored per team correlate to home vs. away teams?