By The Numbers: The Best In Europe

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Statistics, in every sport, are sought for various reasons. For players, it gives them a sense of achievement when looking back. Coaches and managers monitor them on a regular basis to assess their players, while fans spend hours each week browsing through various numbers and combinations, in order to enhance their connection with the sport, as well as to delve deeper and become pseudo-analysts.

By the end of the season, or the year, we all know who the top scorers have been, which team has won most trophies, or which player has led the assists charts. But perhaps it’s time to look at some of the finer points and numbers, in order to come to a few more conclusions, and direct the spotlight on players who might have gone unnoticed.

Just like last year, we did some serious number-crunching for Europe’s four best leagues – the Premier League, La Liga, the Bundesliga, and the Serie A – for the entire 2011-12 season, as well as the current campaign, and came up with some interesting conclusions for all of you. Are the winners of various categories the same as last time? Who are the new entrants? Have a look!

The Most Efficient Attacker

It’s getting to a stage where we can tell who the most efficient attacker is, without even looking through one stat. Just to be clear, the concept is to include both goals and assists and combine them as ‘goal contributions’, with the most efficient attacker being the player who made the most contributions per game.

As expected, the winner (by far) is Lionel Messi. Whaddaplaya! The Barca talisman has had a phenomenal last 18 months, and also scored a record-breaking 91 goals in 2012. For the record, Messi racked up a grand total of 97 goal contributions (76 goals, 21 assists) in 54 league games, at a rate of 1.79 contributions per match.

Cristiano “Always the Bridesmaid” Ronaldo finishes second yet again, with 1.36 contributions per game. Third place in such a list is a prize of its own, to see who’s the best behind Messi and Ronaldo. This time around, it’s Zlatan who has Zlatan-ed his way to this list, finishing with 1.16 contributions per match. The Premier League’s topper is Robin van Persie, who has 1.01 contributions per match in the last 18 months for Arsenal and Manchester United.

The Best Passer

Good quality passing is one of the most pleasing and aesthetic aspects of football, and no team embodies this more than FC Barcelona. It is no surprise then, that like last time, Xavi heads the list this year as well. Completing 93.47% of his passes, the Spaniard has yet again shown no sign of ageing, and will remain a crucial part of the Barca set up for a few more years at least.

The surprise entry in this list is Swansea City’s Leon Britton, who finishes second, completing 92.94% of his passes in league matches. The Swansea midfielder is an important part of the team’s short-passing style, and keeps the ball moving quickly as the Welsh team builds momentum in attack. While not the most hyped footballer, numbers-wise he one of England’s best midfielders. Third in the list is Barca youngster Thiago Alcantara, who completed 92.87% of his passes in 35 league appearances in the last 18 months.

However, if we only look at players who have played a majority of their team’s games, it’s Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta who comes in third, successfully completing 91.52% of his passes.

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