The Week in Stats: Champions League final preview

This week, we’ll be trying on the numbers behind this season’s Champions League finalists – Liverpool and Spurs – to see which has the sting.

Factors of order

In a season when Liverpool by no means dropped out of the highest three, Spurs didn’t as soon as sit above them within the desk, though they have been solely separated by purpose distinction for the primary few video games of the marketing campaign.

Whereas Liverpool completed the season a mammoth 26 factors forward of Spurs, the hole between the 2 groups was comparatively small for the primary two-thirds of the marketing campaign. It was by no means greater than six factors till matchweek 20 and stood at simply 5 factors after 25 video games.

It wasn’t till the ultimate 9 or so matches of the season the hole between the 2 sides broadened right into a chasm. And it maybe isn’t a coincidence this era noticed one or all of Harry Kane, Eric Dier and Harry Winks out injured. Every of these gamers is more likely to be match for the ultimate.

Broadening our scope to cowl the previous few seasons, rolling anticipated targets (xG) averages are a wonderful method of gauging the standard of the possibilities a staff has been creating.

Right here, we will see that Spurs had the higher of issues as a rule from 2014-17. The 2017-18 season turned out to be very even certainly, however this time period Liverpool have clearly had the simpler assault.

Taking a look at anticipated targets in opposition to (xGA) averages – in different phrases, the standard of the possibilities a staff has allowed its opponents – an identical image emerges. In distinction to the xG chart, decrease values are higher right here, as they point out the opposition’s alternatives have been of a poorer high quality.

From 2015 by to across the center of the 2017-18 season, Spurs tended to have the simpler protection. That time, after all, corresponds with the arrival of Virgil Van Dijk at Liverpool. And ever since that juncture, Juergen Klopp’s aspect have posted markedly superior xGA figures.

Spot the distinction

Following Klopp’s arrival in England, parallels have repeatedly been drawn between the tactical strategy of himself and Spurs supervisor Mauricio Pochettino. Whereas we must always anticipate to see some broad similarities between the 2 sides, then, coming into this remaining each the diploma and the quantity of statistical resemblances between the groups is exceptional.

For instance, if we evaluate a variety of the top-line attacking stats for the 2 golf equipment, then it’s arduous to inform the distinction between the edges.

A lot the identical may be mentioned once we have a look at a few of the most-used defensive metrics. The figures for aerial duel stats, for instance – totals, quantities received and misplaced, percentages received – are very comparable. That is additionally true of the variety of tackles, lengthy balls, interceptions and blocked passes for the 2 groups.

Subsequent: Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool’s magician-in-chief

So, the place are the broad variations between the edges?

Nicely, Liverpool have barely extra possessions total and full the next proportion of their passes, though to not a level that appears particularly vital.

However there are areas by which the variations seem extra essential. Spurs concede an ideal many extra pictures, for instance, whereas Liverpool take each extra pictures total and have extra pictures on the right track, which is more likely to show pivotal over the course of a league season – though not essentially in a remaining, after all.

Tottenham additionally commit a vastly larger variety of fouls on common.

Maybe extra essential to this sport — given the prodigious artistic output of each Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson this season — is the actual fact Spurs block crosses at a a lot larger fee than does Liverpool.

Wanting additional up the sphere, though in absolute phrases the quantity of pictures from outdoors the penalty space isn’t so completely different – 198 for Liverpool, 211 for Tottenham – if we as a substitute to measure the proportion of whole pictures for every staff, the distinction is marked: just below 35 p.c for Klopp’s aspect, in distinction to 39.three p.c for Pochettino’s.

Spurs’ gamers clearly have a really marked desire for a selected space of the pitch, that darkish purple sq. round 25 yards from purpose within the left half-space. This isn’t massively shocking, although, provided that of Tottenham’s forwards, solely the little-seen Erik Lamela favors his left foot.

The distinction is much more conspicuous when it comes to the place on the pitch these sides are scoring from. A mere 5.eight p.c of Liverpool’s targets have come from outdoors the penalty space, whereas these pictures account for greater than 4 instances that quantity of Tottenham’s strikes – 21.2 p.c in all.

In the meantime, the plain space by which Liverpool outperforms Spurs is creating probabilities with through-balls: Klopp’s aspect have accomplished this almost twice as usually as Pochettino’s – 29 instances to 16. And given through-balls are likely to create very high-quality probabilities, it’s one thing Liverpool followers ought to take consolation from.

These are two likable, forward-thinking, entertaining sides, which bodes nicely for spectacle Saturday. It’s a knock-out sport, so roughly something can occur. However the apparent bets appear to be both on a Spurs win settled by a long-range strike, or a Liverpool victory courtesy of a through-ball. No matter what occurs, although, this may very well be a match for the ages.

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