Dependencia in La Liga! – What do the Stats say?

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Spanish football has a tendency to throw up buzz-words from time to time and ‘Dependencia’ has been a bit of a hot topic this season. Talk of so-called Messi-dependencia crops up every time Barcelona win a game thanks to the brilliance of the best player in the league but there are several other teams who have also been very dependent on one man this season.

Here are some of those players and the stats to show whether talk of their teams’ over-dependence on them is fact of fiction:

Leo Messi, Barcelona

  • League Games Started in 2018-19 – 26/31
  • Goals – 33
  • Assists – 12
  • Barça Win % with Messi Starting – 73%
  • Barça Win % without Messi Starting – 60%
  • Points per Game with Messi Starting – 2.38
  • Points per Game without Messi Starting – 2.2
  • % of Barça Goals Scored by Messi – 41%
  • % of Barça Goals Scored/Created by Messi – 56%

When you have a player as brilliant as Leo Messi, it’s only natural that life is going to be a lot easier with than without him. It should be of surprise to nobody that the stats back that up. 56% of Barcelona’s goals in La Liga this season have been either scored or created by Messi. He leads the division in both goals and assists but Barcelona have actually managed to cope reasonably well in La Liga without him, most notably hammering Real Madrid 5-1 in the first clasico of the season when he was injured. Luis Suarez stepped up that day and between them, Messi and Suarez have scored a huge 65% of their team’s league goals this term.

Iago Aspas, Celta Vigo

  • League Games Started in 2018-19 – 20/31
  • Goals – 15
  • Assists – 4
  • Celta Win % with Aspas Starting – 35%
  • Celta Win % without Aspas Starting – 9%
  • Points per Game with Aspas Starting – 1.4
  • Points per Game without Aspas Starting – 0.36
  • % of Celta Goals Scored by Aspas – 33%
  • % of Celta Goals Scored/Created by Aspas – 42%

While Barcelona may be able to get by without Messi, Celta Vigo seem almost totally incapable of coping without their talisman Iago Aspas. The Galician was sorely missed during the first few months of 2019 as he dealt with a couple of injury setbacks. Celta collected just 4 points from 11 games during his spell on the sidelines. He has since returned to inspire his local team to 7 points from 3 games with Aspas scoring 5 goals in the space of a week. The image of him crying on the Celta bench having inspired the comeback over Villarreal will go down as one of the moments of the season. Celta average more than a point per game more when he plays and unquestionably, the concept of Aspas-dependencia is very real!

Cristhian Stuani, Girona

  • League Games Started in 2018-19 – 25/31
  • Goals – 18
  • Assists – 0
  • Girona Win % with Stuani Starting – 24%
  • Girona Win % without Stuani Starting – 33%
  • Points per Game with Stuani Starting – 1.08
  • Points per Game without Stuani Starting – 1.17
  • % of Girona Goals Scored by Stuani – 55%
  • % of Girona Goals Scored/Created by Stuani – 55%

When it comes to Cristhian Stuani, the picture is a bit more blurred. Girona are certainly very dependent on the Uruguayan for goals. He is the only player in La Liga to have scored more than half of his team’s goals this season and that’s extraordinary when you consider he has actually missed six matches. However Girona have actually claimed more points in the games he didn’t start. They beat Rayo at home and Valencia away when Stuani was sidelined, although they were reliant on some brilliant goalkeeping from Bono for that win at the Mestalla and the figures would look very different had they lost or even only drawn that game. Stuani will certainly be key as the Catalans try to edge towards safety over the final few weeks.

Check out our Spanish football blog for more insight into the season’s league.

Raúl de Tomás, Rayo Vallecano

  • League Games Started in 2018-19 – 27/31
  • Goals – 13
  • Assists – 1
  • Rayo Win % with R.D.T. Starting – 26%
  • Rayo Win % without R.D.T. Starting – 0%
  • Points per Game with R.D.T. Starting – 1.00
  • Points per Game without R.D.T. Starting – 0.00
  • % of Rayo Goals Scored by R.D.T. – 38%
  • % of Rayo Goals Scored/Created by R.D.T. – 41%

Another striker having an excellent season is Raúl de Tomás at Rayo. The Madrid club haven’t picked up a single point without him this term. Those were all games against top half sides though and that includes trips to the Wanda Metropolitano and the Bernabeu, where in all likelihood Rayo would have left with nothing even if R.D.T. had featured. The stats do make good reading for the Real Madrid loanee though and he proved his worth again with the opening goal as Rayo claimed a vital win over Valencia on match-day 31 last weekend.

Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid

  • League Games Started in 2018-19 – 31/31
  • Goals – 13
  • Assists – 8
  • Atleti Win % with Griezmann Starting – 58%
  • Atleti Win % without Griezmann Starting – N/A
  • Points per Game with Griezmann Starting – 2.00
  • Points per Game without Griezmann Starting – N/A
  • % of Atleti Goals Scored by Griezmann – 29%
  • % of Atleti Goals Scored/Created by Griezmann – 47%

Griezmann-dependencia also gets muted from time to time. He has certainly been Atleti’s biggest attacking threat again this season and 47% of their goals have been either scored or created by the Frenchman. He has been selected to start in every single league game this term by Diego Simeone which perhaps highlights his importance as much as any of the above stats. However he may be slightly disappointed by a return of only 13 goals in the league this season, having scored 40 for club and country in 2018. It would be an exaggeration to say Atleti are totally dependent on him, given so much of their success over the past few years has largely been the result of their ability to keep goals out rather than score them.

Via @marksoc1

Stats based on WhoScored figures.

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About Mark Sochon 2079 Articles
Mark is a freelance writer based in Madrid. He has been writing about Spanish football since 2014 and regularly attends and covers matches across Spain. His work has also been published by various newspapers and websites including These Football Times, World Soccer and Guardian Sport. Freelance requests: marksochon (at)

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