What is the impact of Home Advantage on the rate of penalty conversion?

Playing a match at home is considered to be an advantage. But how can this influence the outcome of an action in critical situations, like a penalty? There are two aspects of that influence. On the one side the fans will obstruct the concentration of the opponents when they are taking a penalty, but on the other side the pressure is bigger when you HAVE to score in front of your own audience. Which of the above has greater impact then?

The last three seasons in the five major European leagues (i.e. Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, Primera Division and Ligue 1) there were 1,470 penalties awarded. From those 1,122 were converted into goals, a conversion success rate of 76.3%. The chart shows the conversion rates of penalties for Home and Away teams for each of the three seasons, as well as the corresponding rates:

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El Clasico Leverage

Despite conceeding the fastest goal in an El Clasico, Barcelona still triumphed 3-1 on Saturday. This drew them level with Real Madrid on points and ahead on the head-to-head rule.

But how important was this single match in terms of the chance of being top at the end of the season? To investigate I used the DecTech team strength model to simulate four scenarios: the chances each team had of winning the league before a ball was kicked on Saturday, plus the probabilities of taking the title after the Barca win, if the match had been a draw, and if Madrid had won instead.

This “six pointer” of a match is particularly interesting because Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate the league so thoroughly. At the end of August our model predicted one of these clubs would win the league with a chance of 99.5%. After this weekend’s games that figure is now in excess of 99.9%. The match’s importance is enhanced by the head-to-head rule which ranks teams on their record against each other if there is a tie on points, unlike the Premier League, which uses goal difference against all other clubs in the league. Continue reading

Is Spanish Football Broken?

The start of La Liga was delayed, Sevilla president Del Nido claimed La Liga is “A load of rubbish”, Real Madrid and Barcelona romp home most weeks by massive margins – is Spanish football broken?

In our work with the Fink Tank (paywall) we’ve tracked competitiveness for the past few years. One recurring pattern is that the Championship is more competitive than the Premier League. Let’s look at competitiveness across Europe and see how Spain compares.

We should cite some related work – Soccer By the Numbers used the variation in wins across teams to measure competitiveness, and 5 Added Minutes looked at points per game gained by top five and bottom five teams.

These analyses are worth a read. However, Spain doesn’t really stand out as an uncompetitive league using those rough measures since it’s only the top two teams who have extreme results (see our La Liga pre-season predictions). We used a different approach to highlight why Spain is different.

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Summer Transfers 2011: Part Three

Read Part One here

Read Part Two here

Another neat way of looking at the transfers is by division and by country – where do the new players come from and where do the old players go?

Across the football league structure, transfers are still quite parochial. Of 760 total deals, 144 were free agent signings and 356 were loans and transfers from one of the 92 English League clubs. A lot of that is due to the national rather than international nature of the lower divisions; but even of 105 deals with players signing for Premier League clubs, 39 were from another Premier League club, 20 were from the Championship and 13 were free agents. Only 33 signings came from overseas leagues.

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On Tour: Spain, La Liga

This is the first in a regular column looking at Decision Technology’s predictions for the coming season in leagues outside of England.

Last season was dominated by the undignified battles between Barcelona and Real Madrid, and although Madrid won the Copa Del Ray, Barcelona came out on top by winning the league and securing their fourth crown as champions of Europe. Continue reading