Scoring first and not losing in association football

A bar chart of probabilities of scoring first and not losing in six European football leagues

After this week’s games in six European football leagues, it is interesting to see how each league is tracking against a prior probability of scoring first and not losing.

I established the priors from results in the 2017-2018 season. Two of the six leagues (Bundesliga and Eredivisie) are different to their priors in comparison to four other leagues (EPL, Ligue 1, Serie A and Primera).

Six Weeks?

Last year, Ben Cronin wrote about the importance of the first six games of a football league season (link) in the context of positions at the end of the season.

Ben’s analysis of the English Premier League noted:

The winner of Premier League has been outside the top four after six games on only thee occasions since the 38 game season was introduced in 1995/96 Р(Manchester United moved from 10th to 1st in 2002/03, Manchester City won the league despite being 7th after six games in 2013/14 and Chelsea moved from 8th to 1st in 2016/17).

I followed up on Ben’s work with a look at six European leagues for the 2018-2019 seasons. Teams’ points per game averages after six games (PPG6) were:

After the latest rounds in all of the leagues, the average points per game (PPGn) are:

I looked at teams’ current performance relative to their week 6 positions (Change6n):

Postscript

In the 2017-2018 seasons in the six European leagues, four were won by the team leading their respective tables at week 6. The two exceptions were: in the Bundesliga, Bayern were third in week 6, the leaders then, Dortmund, finished 4th (29 points behind Bayern); in Serie A, Juventus were second on goal difference to Napoli, by the end of the season Napoli had moved to 2nd and were 4 points adrift of Juventus.

Champions in waiting?

The profile of the champions of six European football leagues in 2017-2018 included these measures:

In the 2018-2019 seasons, the league leaders in these six leagues are:

The goals scored as a % column is measured in relation to the league champion’s goals in each of the leagues in 2017-2018.

It will be interesting to see how the leadership in the Bundesliga and the Primera are resolved in the next few weeks. In the four other leagues, last year’s champions are displaying the dominance that will make it difficult for others to challenge. Any challenge will need to have an 80%+ win ratio and include frequent goal scoring.