Part 1: Our Top Scorers – A Comparison

The official Barça website recently published an article reporting on the number of goals scored by the First Team. It explained that Messi and Villa had scored 54.7% of the 126 goals scored this season.

That got me curious about how that statistic compared to other teams, so I set about analysing the Barça result with Real Madrid, as well as the 1st and 2nd placed teams in the German, English and Italian Leagues – Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United, Manchester City, Juventus and Napoli.

Below are the results for each of the teams:









Once I had that data, I entered the information into a Summary Table and ascertained the percentages of goals scored for each team by its Top Scorer, Top 2 Scorers, Top 3 Scorers and those goals scored by the Rest of the team:


Top Scorer Comparison
When comparing Messi (43.7%), as Barcelona’s top scorer, to those in other teams, only Napoli’s Cavani (44.6%) has scored more as a percentage of total goals.  Madrid’s Cristiano (39.8%) is 3rd, and there is then a significant drop down to Dortmund’s Lewandowski (30.6%).

Man. City (Tevez 20.3%), Bayern Munich (Mandzukic 19.8%) and Juventus (Giovinco 15.3%) were the teams who relied less upon one player being the dominant goal scorer in terms of total goals scored.

Top 2 Scorers Comparison
When comparing the Top 2 scorers of Barcelona to that of Real Madrid, there was a +1.1% difference between the percentage of goals scored by Messi and Villa (54.8%) to the percentage number scored by Cristiano and Benzema (53.7%).

Man. City (37.8%), Bayern Munich (37.5%) and Juventus (29.4%) again showed that they were not dependent on just 2 players to score the majority of the goals.

Top 3 Scorers Comparison
Juventus (42.4%) and Bayern Munich (46.9%) were the only 2 teams whose Top 3 scorers scored less than 50% of the teams’ total goals.  Napoli’s Top 3 players (66.2%) scored the most goals (as a percentage) than the other teams’ Top 3.

The Rest of the Scorers
57.6% of Juventus’ goals were scored by players other than their top 3 scorers.  Napoli had the lowest percentage (33.8%) scored by the rest of their players, followed by Real Madrid (35.2%) and Dortmund (35.3%).  Barcelona was the 4th lowest with 38.1%.


It was interesting to take the breakdown further by calculating the percentage of goals scored by each of the Top 3 Scorers in each team.


Barcelona’s figures showed that, of the 2nd and 3rd Top Scorers, Villa and Cesc scored the lowest amount of goals as a percentage.  Napoli, Madrid and Bayern Munich also reflected similar results.

Man U, Man City and Dortmund’s 2nd and 3rd Scorers were roughly even in the amount of goals that each player scored.

Juventus was the team with the most even spread between their Top 3 scorers – 15.3%, 14.1% and 12.9%.

As a total % of goals scored by the 2nd and 3rd players, Barça (18.3%) had least goals scored with Man City’s Top 3 scoring the most, closely followed by Man U and Dortmund.


The next step was to calculate what percentage of goals was scored by the Forwards, Midfield and Defensive lines in each team.


Apart from Madrid, Barça’s Midfield scored less than any other team, whereas the Defence scored the second highest.  Man U reflected a similar spread to Barcelona’s, with their Defence figuring highly when it came to scoring.

Madrid’s Forward Attack scores the majority of their team’s goals, with both the Midfield and Defence figures quite low in comparison to other teams.

Bayern Munich and Napoli’s main sources of goals are their Forwards and Midfielders, with the Defences chipping in from set pieces.

Yes – Dortmund and Juventus have the same figures!  Their Midfield sections contributed the most goals when compared to other teams, with their Forwards contributing the least goals.

Bayern Munich, Dortmund, Man U, Man City, Juventus and Napoli have Midfields that actively and purposely shoot for the goal.


Our BFB Mod Team has interesting email threads which can sometimes lead to posts on the blog.

Upon sharing these above results in emails with the rest of the team, a great discussion broke out with our resident tactician, Euler, contributing some golden information.

Coming up next:  Euler’s explanation about how some of these numbers reflect the tactical make-up of the teams, as well as some amazing statistics when comparing individual players.

Click here for Part 2


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  1. blaze0fglory
    March 23, 2013

    Well, numbers can sometimes be distorted to lead to different results. These analyses are in percentile terms. How about checking absolute figures? Our midfield has more goals than maybe most, if not all (havent counted) of all mentioned teams. Messi scores a ridiculous amount of goals that reduces others’ goals in percentage terms.

    • nzm
      March 23, 2013

      It’s all up there in the figures, but I’ll count them for you.

      Midfield Goals:
      Barca: 23
      Madrid: 15
      Dortmund: 32
      Munich: 29
      Man U: 20
      Man C: 23
      Juventus: 32
      Napoli: 22

      So no, we don’t have more than most.

      I had to put a stick in the ground when classifying the Player positions and took them from the individual club’s websites. Messi is classified as a Forward on the Barca website.

      Granted that numbers can be distorted. That’s why I give little credence to passing stats, for instance, because it tells little about the impact of those passes.

      Percentiles is the way in which to get a comparison between the teams, as well as dividing the distribution of goals between Forwards, Midfield and Backs. Going on actual goal numbers can’t reflect that, unless the total goals scored is the same value for each team.

      So the Barca Midfield scores 23 goals of 126, and Madrid scores 15 out 108. How can you compare that without presenting it as a percentile?

      • blaze0fglory
        March 23, 2013

        Interesting to see the stats. 3 teams have more midfield goals than us.

        Juventus : 44 goals by forwards. Our 31 by forwards excluding messi.
        Their forwards n midfield are pretty similar when it comes to goals.

        Bayern and dortmund : wow!! They have great forwards and freely scoring midfield. Goetze, kroos etc. my my we really need to be careful if we meet them later at the ucl.

        Btw, let us look at barca.
        Suppose say, we didn’t have messi who scored 55 goals. If we had a stiker who scored less than half, say 25 goals in his place, we would still have a total of 96 goals.

        And they dare to say we are only messi.

        • blaze0fglory
          March 23, 2013

          Btw, we are tiki-taka-ians and messi isn’t an out and out striker. He is part midfielder part striker. Haha. But nzm, you’re right. Our system should have had more goals for the midfield, an issue raised in the previous posts too.

  2. March 23, 2013

    Blazeofglory makes an interesting point. For example:

    Bayern gets 30% or goals from midfield vs. Barca’s 18%. But in total goals that means Bayern has 29 goals from midfield compared to Barcelona’s 23.

    If you were to perform some statistical tests we may find that this difference isn’t even significant. Which brings me to my second point – no p-values? :p

    • nzm
      March 23, 2013

      And where were you when we were having the email mod discussion? 🙂

      Go ahead – do the tests. My figures aren’t hypothetical, so no p-values were required. 😛

      • March 23, 2013

        I suck at actually applying statistics, or I would have already done it with no games to watch today! I’m not entirely sure which test would apply, a students t-test is my best guess.

        Not trying to be contrarian, but p-values would apply, they just don’t exist unless we actually do a statistics test, and like I said I suck at applied statistics, even if I’m slightly less bad at hypothetical stats.

        • mom4
          March 23, 2013

          Because precision is as important as accuracy.

  3. March 23, 2013

    Kick-ass post. The best Barça blog doesn’t stop. This post came from a casual aside during another convo about something else and blammo. nzm kicked out the jams.

  4. March 23, 2013

    The most simple conclusion from all this information is the one that surprises me most.

    We score a lot more goals than any other team!

    With the exception of Madrid, we are scoring more than 130% of any other teams’ return. I knew we scored goals but I didn’t realize the difference was that profound.

    • nzm
      March 23, 2013

      Maybe that’s another one we need to look at – goals for in comparison to goals against!

      But yeah – when you look at those totals, we score a lot, especially when you see that Bayern, Man U and Juventus are leading their leagues with <100 goals.

      But then, you only need 1 more goal than your opponent to win the game!

  5. bhed
    March 23, 2013

    Watching the Spain Finland game, I was struck by how much more direct and dangerous Pedro looked with Spain. Less back passes and more balls into the box. I wonder if the pressure of playing to the system explains the relative lack of goals from Pedro, Villa, Sanchez, and even Cesc lately (I said relative, mind you). There are always trade-offs though. If we let them play more freely, how much width would we give up? The lack of width has been a big problem in the past (as mentioned on the blog).

    Also, I thought Pique looked shockingly slow and tired yesterday. I hope its just that he was up late changing diapers or something. He’s no Hussein Bolt on the best of days, but wow, a better team (France?) would have made him pay even more dearly for that performance.

    • Clouseau
      March 23, 2013

      Yeah all the forwards bar Lio suffer from it but i’m particulary surprised on Lexus issues since his skillset unlike P and Villa isn’t driven by scoring goals..
      Cesc is rather more a personal issue than a system one me thinks.

      I don’t think would loose much width to begin with since Alba,Dani etc. are all capable to the job but it would take the midfield to do the defensive work.
      For now it’s not an option though for the future it’s worth a thought. The far better approachement imo.

  6. Momo
    March 23, 2013

    Allas just posted a video on his channel of Alexis vs Peru. Like Pedro, he’s a completely different player when with his NT. Starting to think the system is ultra restrictive for wide forwards.

    The real question is, will Neymar fall into this category as well?

    • BA
      March 23, 2013

      i’d be VERY interested to see how Alexis would do in that role (the “Messi role”?) for us with Villa and Pedro cutting inside.

      • March 24, 2013

        Why? However he performs in that role is irrelevant for Barcelona. We already have the best player in the world playing there.

        • March 24, 2013

          BA is suggesting Sanchez as a creative alternative. Villa and Pedro play differently with Messi. Villa has been good lately, however.

          Barça would have to play a more dynamic, less static sysyem for the Sanchez thing to work. As someone said of Messi playing for Argentina, they have never seen him move that much for Barça.

  7. Clouseau
    March 23, 2013

    Great piece it shows that the club did learn something about past season’s lessons at least for sharing the goalscoring burden.
    Still think that improvement is required but for now it’s a positive increase.
    Used to laugh at Raiolas statements that Pep doesn’t love forwards but maybe he wasn’t that far off 😉
    Using the midfield as semiforwards didn’t pay thus far.

    Napoli suffered past weeks from their Cavanidependencia and basicly gifted Juve prematurly the scudetto. A touch of Barcelona.

  8. mom4
    March 23, 2013

    My my, nzm was busy! My head hurts thinking about all those numbers. There’s statistics hiding behind all that “ooooh purdy!” football!

    Good work, lady!

  9. March 23, 2013

    Very interesting that Dortmund and Juventus lead Europe in %age of goals from midfield.

  10. nia
    March 24, 2013

    Speaking of goals, both mundo and Sport are reporting that Barca are considering signing Kun to help Messi with the goal scoring. Neymar, Messi, Kun, could be a lethal combination if it works out well. Tello, Alexis and Pedro to come in for rotation. Not a bad idea when we look at how little the other players have scored. If there is money for him, hell yeah, go get him and a defender too.

    If Messi were to be injured, we’d probably be screwed. Pedro hasn’t been the same since the injuries he suffered last year. He defends well most times but, that’s the extent of his contribution lately. He doesn’t score and he doesn’t assist anymore. I think just because he’s a cantero and his excellent season of 2011, he’s spared the wrath of the Camp Nou. Alexis offers a little more than Pedro at the moment yet people want him chopped. Villa will probably move on and with Delofeu imminent promotion, there’s gonna be some nightmares for Tito when he picks the squad.

    • Momo
      March 24, 2013

      Neymar, Messi, aguero….. DROOOOOOOOOOLING at the prospect of that front line.

      • barca96
        March 24, 2013

        I’m salivating right now, not from the smell of dinner being cooked in the kitchen but at the thought of my non Barca favorite player. I’ve been wanting him to come since the days at Athletico.

        I used to think that it wouldn’t work though as he is not a wide player but ever since Villa played in front of Messi, why not?

        But I don’t think it’s possible. Man City doesn’t look like they want to sell their star players. They’re not a selling club anymore.

        • barca96
          March 24, 2013

          Damn it. Let’s do it!


          Hmmm the back line would be really weak. Oh well. Just keep it as dreams then.

        • March 24, 2013

          I love Aguero, and he is a great pal of Messi too. But dont think MCity would sell him.
          I would say, if we are looking to have another heavy goal scorer, then having Higuain ahead of Messi is an even better idea. He is not valued that much by Perez and he has excellent understanding with Messi too.
          Anyways, who knows what the club will do.
          I really hope, we will have one more season with Villa and Alexis.

          • March 24, 2013

            If we are getting Neymar, and I hope we are getting Neymar, that gives us 6 forwards:

            Messi, Neymar, Alexis, Villa, Pedro and Tello (+ Cuenca, Bojan and Afellay coming back from loan).

            We have been needing defensive reinforcements for pretty much two years now. Nay to Kun.

          • Jim
            March 24, 2013

            Not a great fan of Aguero I’m afraid. At least, not for Barca. Neymar every day and tbh if we have any sense and keep playing Villa in the centre rather than wide he’d be good for another couple of seasons by which time we’d know whether Tello, Pedro, Alexis and maybe Delofeu etc. are going to be up to it. However, I suspect the damage will have been done with Villa and he’ll choose to leave in the summer.

          • barca96
            March 24, 2013

            Yeah. They are really close. I still can imagine the gesture Aguero did to the fans during the Copa America when Messi was getting a lot of stick, for not doing something highlight worthy, score, even though he set up his strikers a handful of times in every match.

            After Aguero scored from a Messi assist he looked at the crowd and pointed to Messi (his back)and giving a #1 gesture. Really nice.

            Higuain is another one that has a great chemistry with Messi but we have a better chance getting Aguero since Pipita is already a Madrid player, for 6 years!! And he still can’t nail down a starting spot. I don’t understand.

            Actually, All the Argentina forwards have great chemistry with each other. Messi, Kun, Higuain & di Maria. Lavezzi not so though.

            Agree with Jim. Aguero is not suited for us, our formation. Unless he replaces Villa 🙂

          • Blau-Grenade
            March 24, 2013

            There are rumors of Jackson Martinez coming to Barca. I like that guy. Big young forward who is good with both feet. The guy reminds me a lot to Eto’o.

  11. March 24, 2013

    Excellent analysis nzm. Travelling, hence cant comment in detail, but thats a good work, fans of all leading clubs will be interested in.

  12. Clouseau
    March 24, 2013

    Alba will be out inured for between 7 and 10 days. Theoreticly he could make it to Tuesdays encounter unless Tito/Roura decides to play with a three man backline.

    • March 24, 2013

      Quokkas heal fast. Betting he’s passed fit the morning of the match with PSG. Probably time to “explore other options” vs Celta. 3 at the back, etc.

      • Jim
        March 24, 2013

        Would we be looking at three at the back away to PSG?

        • March 24, 2013

          Don’t think so. Riskier without than with Ibrahimovic. They flow faster, smoither with Lavezzi and Pastore on the full run.

  13. March 24, 2013

    Final test for Vilanova in New York, should be back in Barcelona next week.

    — Physios say if rehab goes to plan, our quokka won’t miss PSG.

  14. K_legit in Oz
    March 24, 2013

    OMG I want to go to Rottnest island!
    Quokkas, Quokkas everywhere!

  15. March 25, 2013

    Sport says that the Neymar deal was signed in 2011, 10m down, 45m total. The penalty for non-completion set at 80m.

    Club wants him there for the 13-14 season. Santos is for some reason thinking that he is going to renew. Neymar has already turned down their renewal offer. Duh. He HAS to leave Santos at the end of this season. All he is doing at Santos is stagnating as a player.

    Rumors that Citeh will bust the deal by paying the penalty for Santos are not to be believed. FFP is weighing heavily on that club, even IF he wanted to go to a club on the down slope.

    RM, Bayern are possibilities, but again, if that 80m penalty is true, tough to overcome.

    Rosell has said this week that the first team is too big, with 30 players, and that the club will be selling. People are looking at the current team. Don’t. Anybody on loan is getting sold. Yes. Cuenca. And Krkic. And Afellay. Muniesa’s contract is up. He’s gone. Bartra could go on loan, could be sold.

    A Montoya sale wouldn’t shock me, either.

      • Jim
        March 25, 2013

        Nobody on those lists really surprises or worries me.

        • Jim
          March 25, 2013

          Maybe apart from the sheer numbers of defenders who don’t seem to have made the grade. Would have thought with Puyol as role model we might have produced another quality hard man.

          • Jim
            March 25, 2013

            Dos Santos, Cuenca, krkic, Affelay. The others I reckon would’ve had more time had they been that impressive. Personally I liked Muniesa but I’m not kidded that he was necessarily Barcastuff quality. I’ve said often that we need a reality check about our young players. Most wont make the grade at Barca and will end up journeymen players at other clubs

    • nzm
      March 25, 2013

      Going to put up an article later this week on this very subject which will get everyone talking about who to keep and who to let go.

      Vilanova has a headache to come back to – mostly caused by La Masia players.

      • barca96
        March 25, 2013

        From all those listed above, I wouldn’t mind seeing them go and succeed elsewhere except for Cuenca & Montoya. I guess we have too many forwards so Cuenca will get the chop but I would love to if we loan him instead.

        We must keep Montoya! I foresee him to be a Barca RB for many years to come.

        And I can’t think of any RB to replace/challenge Alves for RB. Lahm perhaps but it is impossible to get him.

        • mom4
          March 25, 2013

          I would keep Montoya, loan Sergi Roberto and Cuenca, sell the rest.

  16. March 25, 2013

    Xavi trained as normal with Spain, will almost certainly play against France.

  17. Why would Sanchez and Villa stay in the team if Neymar arrives?
    I have a feeling we will sign Neymar and it will spectacularly backfire. When was the last time a high profile signing actually delivered for us?

    • K_legit in Oz
      March 25, 2013

      ‘Dinho and Villa off the top of my head!

      • Dinho was never a high profile signing. Remember Laporta wanted to sign Beckham first. Dinho was the back up. Thanks god the Beckham signing failed.

        Again Villa’s signing was different. Considering the debacle of Ibra signing it was the only option left. Technically his high profile signing worked for one season.

    • Nik
      March 25, 2013

      What’s your definition of delivering for us?

  18. Archie
    March 25, 2013

    What do you fans of rotation think of this list? Since no more la liga on espn3, I have lost touch with all the amazing players who aren’t on Barca.

    1º iker-alba-ramos-pique-arberloa-xavi-alonso-busquets-iniesta-silba-villa
    2º valdes-monreal-albiol-puyol-azpilicueta-martinez-beñat-isco-mata-cesc- pedro
    3ºde gea-gamez-san jose-rangel-jose enrique-thiago-javi garcia-munuain-navas-cazorla-llorente
    4º reina-Juan Bernat-chico-marc bartra-juanfran-mario-arteta-michu-aspas -negredo-soldado

    by nietoadrian March 21 2013, 5:33 PM

  19. March 25, 2013

    And Rosell is crowing in EMD about the effects of his ausyerity program and how the future of the club is assured, blablablabla. AS IF THERE WAS ANY DOUBT!!!!

    FC Barcelona is a football club, not an accounting firm. I would rather see my president crowing about having gotten his coach the tools that he needs, than recored profits.

    Yes, Laporta was a fiscal wild man. But does anyone think he would have let the club’s CB crisis go on this long? He woukdn’t have been able to have his “austerity works” t-shirts printed up, but we would have Silva or Martinez in our back line.

  20. apcoelho
    March 26, 2013

    I like the idea of the post, I just have something about the percentages of attackers/midfielders/defenders scoring.

    Take, for example, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Both play the same base system, a 4-2-3-1. However, the wingers in both teams are treated differently in the tables. While Bayern’s Ribery, Robben and Muller are considered strikers, Dortmund’s Grosskreutz and Kuba are considered midfielders. In Real Madrid, Cristiano, Di Maria and Callejon are also considered strikers. A similar thing happens with Napoli and Juve, who both play a 3-5-2 (or something close to that – the focus will be on the wing backs). While Napoli’s Maggio is considered a midfielder, Juventus’ Lichsteiner is treated as a defender, even though they play the same position and Lichsteiner’s opposing wing back, Asamoah, is considered a midfielder.

    Again, I think it is a great idea and worth analyzing, but I also think the numbers may be a bit off.

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