After you’ve checked out Kevin’s holiday post, read this here discussion. But not before, do you hear me?
Fifteen games down, sixty percent of the season still remaining. That’s an awful lot of football to be crammed in between now and the middle of May, when the final jornada is played. But let’s talk about the past for a little bit, rather than dwelling entirely on the future. There has been some amazing stuff going on and it’s well worth discussing.
The very top of the table is not particularly surprising at this point, with Barça leading Real Madrid by 2 points (39 to 37), but what is surprising is the astonishing gap that has opened up between second and third place. Sevilla sits in third with 30 points, seven back of RM and Valencia, in fourth, are a point back of that.
The surprise of the season so far has been Mallorca, which sits in fifth with 27 points to its name. The other surprise, but of the negative variety, is that absolute horror show that is Xerez, who have amassed just seven points in fifteen matches and are on pace to end with 17 or 18, a dismal 15.56% of the available points. Atletico Madrid’s inability to get their season started should also be mentioned. A team that I predicted would finish fourth, Atleti is currently humdrumming away in fifteenth, with a paltry 14 points to their name. That puts them only two points from the relegation zone; ridiculous. The only silver lining for Atleti is that they can really only go up from here and they’ve got 69 points left to play for.
According to Pythagorean Expectation (using 2 as our exponent), Barcelona should be almost exactly two points ahead of Madrid, with 42.4 and 40.7 points respectively, so it’s Sevilla’s underperformance that is causing such a massive gap at the top (they should have 36 points instead of 30, the worst difference in the league). On the other end, Xerez is actually overperforming according to the calculations. They should only have five points for the entire year, according to PE, so they’re doing a bang up job despite their obvious deficiencies.
For those of you doing the calculations at home (feel free to request my spreadsheet), I’ve adjusted my Pythagorean Expectation to consider prior numbers of points earned (so that it can’t tell me that Xerez should be getting 5 points when they already have 7). So I’ve done points previously earned (Pts) plus the Win % (goals scored squared divided by goals scored squared plus goals allowed squared) times points remaining (PtsR in this case 23*3 = 69), expressed as Pts + (Win% * PtsR). With this new calculation, Xerez is expected to pick up 3 more points for a grand total of 10.
If PE is right, the three bottom clubs come May 16 will be Xerez (10pts), Real Zaragoza (24pts), and Espanyol (28pts), with current relegation zone stalwart Malaga ending up at the lofty heights of 13th place. The reason PE hates Espanyol so much isn’t some hidden awesomeness of the calculations, but rather because Espanyol doesn’t score any freakin’ goals. They have 10 after 15 matches, which is second worst only because Xerez is somehow more awful at sticking the ball into the net. A segunda, I say, though the likelihood is very small as they’re currently on pace to end up with 40 points, which should be enough to see them safe***.
The top of the table is expected to look exactly the same as it does now, with Barça going over the 100 point mark and ending up with almost 104 points while Real Madrid trots in with a lowly 99. FCB is on pace to earn almost 99 points while RM is on pace to earn almost 94. Again, the likelihood of either of those two scenarios happening is very unlikely, especially considering Real Madrid will lose three points to us when we visit the Bernabeu in mid April. Sevilla and Valencia will be battling it out for third and fourth and Mallorca should ease into a Europa League spot (though they too will lose their perfect home record come our visit in late March and that could rearrange the table a little bit).
To the awards:
Most goals scored: Real Madrid (40)
Fewest goals scored: Xerez (6)
Fewest goals allowed: Barcelona (9)
Most goals allowed: Real Zaragoza (34)
Best goal difference: Barcelona, Real Madrid (+27)
Worst goal difference: Xerez (-22)
Best Home Record: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Mallorca (100%)
Worst Home Record: Racing Santander (19.05%)
Best Away Record: Valencia (79.17%)
Worst Away Record: Tenerife (4.76%)
And the individual awards:
Pichichi: David Villa (12 goals, none from penalties or freekicks)
Pichichi Redux: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (11 goals in 13 matches, aka best sustained scoring rate)
Zamora: Víctor Valdés (0.60 goals per match, or 9 in 15 appearances)
Newcomer of the Year: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (see above)
Youngster of the Year: Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao, 17 years old, 2 goals, 2 assists, awesomeness)
Most Ninja-like: Roberto Soldado (you never realize he’s there, until it’s too late—what, you thought it’d be Ibrahimovic again?)
Most Hlebtastic: Raul (for obvious Isaiah-doesn’t-like-Raul reasons)
Cuddliest: Bojan “Banjo Crickets” Krkic
Least Cuddly: Weligton (who can go to hell and die**)
LAUGHING OUT LOUD: The Yaya
Now to compare my predicted final table versus what is currently going on:
|FC Barcelona||FC Barcelona||Yes|
|Real Madrid||Real Madrid||Yes|
|Villarreal||Depor La Coruña||No|
|Depor La Coruña||Getafe||No|
|Sporting Gijon||Real Zaragoza||No|
Obviously I’ll still be right later, but if you take the above table and give me 3 points for a correct call (thus 60 total) and 1 point for being within one table position, I end up with 11 points and that’s not so shabby, I don’t think. PS, design a table prediction game for me (say, for the second half of the season) that I use for the site and I’ll write you a lovely poem. Not an epic one, mind you, but a lovely one nonetheless. It can be for your significant other, if you like. Just design the damned thing, okay?
Okay, here’s some league-wide information and comparisons. (You can find a ton of the information here)
Total games: 150
Total goals scored: 415
Average number of goals scored: 20.75
Mean number of goals scored: 20
Average goals per match: 2.77
Goals scored by home teams: 240 (57.83%)
Goals per match scored by home teams: 1.60
Goals scored by away teams: 175 (42.17%, obviously)
Goals per match scored by away teams: 1.17
Number of home wins: 72 (48% of available points)
Number of away wins: 42 (28% of available points)
Of those 415 goals scored, Barcelona accounts for a paltry 8%, but you know, that’s not so bad if you think about it, seeing as they’re 16 goals above the mean, which, if you’re Xerez, is something to be downright jealous about. Obviously it is far harder to win away, so the more points you steal while not at home, the better your shot at, say, winning a title is. Oddly, Valencia, the best team away from home, earns a paltry 47.62% of its home points (partly thanks to Barcelona stealing a point at the Mestalla), which means that the teams capable of winning all their points at home (Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Mallorca) have quite the advantage.
So, going into 2010, the goal for most clubs is to avoid relegation while only a couple of teams have title or European aspirations. I’ll be back with another league-wide wrap up in March, when things are a bit more figured out.
*“Pace” here means current rate of winning points. That is, Espanyol has earned 35.56% of the available points (16 of 45) and thus can be seen as “on pace” to earn 40 of the total 114 available in a season (35.56%).
**Not really, I wish no harm on anyone. Except maybe like a paper cut or two for him because he can go to hell and die.***
***Please see first sentence of second footnote.