Passing in La Liga – 2019/20 Stats Analysed

Football Index Tips for 2020

We are now a third of the way through the 2019/20 La Liga season and it’s at this kind of stage where the league table starts to become meaningful. The same goes for all kinds of statistics with all teams having now faced a mixture of stronger and weaker opponents and played a relatively even number of home and away games. We’re going to have a closer look at La Liga’s passing stats today to see who the long ball merchants are, which teams cross the most and which teams retain possession the best.


Ball Retention

Possession

1st Barcelona – 61.3%
2nd Real Madrid – 56.2%
3rd Real Sociedad – 55.4%

There’s no major surprise in the possession stakes. Even in what has been a sub-par start to the campaign by their standards, Barça are the clear pass masters with over 5% more possession per game than their closest rivals Real Madrid. The Catalans have an almost identical possession percentage as last season (61.4%). Real Sociedad round up the top three having made an impressive start to the campaign in which they’ve looked very confident on the ball.

The big change from last season is Real Betis who were averaging 59.4% possession with Quique Setien at the helm but are down to 52% this term under Rubi. Atletico Madrid are actually keeping the ball marginally more this season but are still down in 9th with 50.3%, the same amount as newly promoted Osasuna.

18th Leganes – 45.9%
19th Granada – 45.8%
20th Alaves – 43.9%

Leganes and Alaves rank in the bottom three for possession, as was the case last season. Not having the ball doesn’t necessarily lead to bad results though as surprise package Granada have proved. El Graná have made a terrific start to life back in the top flight despite only averaging 45.8% possession. Valencia, Getafe and Athletic Club are other top half sides who rank in the bottom ten for possession.

Passing Accuracy

1st Barcelona – 87.7%
2nd Real Madrid – 87.1%
3rd Celta Vigo – 82.6%

It will come as little consolation to Celta Vigo fans that their side’s passing accuracy has been the third highest in La Liga this season. The Galician club’s patient approach has created few chances however with Fran Escriba ultimately losing his job last week with Celta languishing in the relegation zone.

18th Eibar – 72.5%
19th Alaves – 71.2%
20th Getafe – 62.9%

Jose Bordalas came out with a quite bizarre rant following Getafe’s 0-0 draw with Osasuna where he essentially claimed his side were still unfairly being dismissed as a dirty, long ball team by the media and wider Spanish football public. However the stats don’t exactly back up his point of view. Getafe have committed more fouls and received more yellow cards than any other team in Europe’s big five leagues this season. Their pass completion is also way down at 62.9%, a long way off even the next most accurate side, mirroring the situation from last season when they finished 5th in La Liga with the lowest passing accuracy in the division at just 63.7%.

Read more – Dizzy new Heights in Granada


Long Balls

Accurate Long Balls

1st Real Madrid – 40.6 (per game)
2nd Sevilla – 40.4
3rd Villarreal – 39.1

This is a slightly harder one to read as there are clearly some grey areas as to what constitutes a long ball but Real Madrid, Sevilla and Villarreal lead the way for the most long passes that found their target each game. Barcelona are 7th but couldn’t exactly be dubbed long ball merchants while Granada, Atletico Madrid and Mallorca round off the bottom three.

Inaccurate Long Balls

1st Getafe – 51 (per game)
2nd Eibar – 45
3rd Real Valladolid – 39

It won’t come as a huge surprise to regular viewers of La Liga to see these three teams ranking in the top three for more inaccurate long balls. Eibar are essentially giving away possession by playing an inaccurate long pass once every two minutes while Getafe do so even more frequently. Interestingly all of the top three have if anything over-achieved (relative to the quality in their squads) in La Liga by adopting this approach. Leganes meanwhile come in 4th meaning the top four in this category is unchanged from last season although the order has changed slightly. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia are the teams to have played the fewest inaccurate long passes.

Read more – La Liga matchday 13 Review


Crossing

Accurate Crosses

1st Eibar – 6.5 (per game)
2nd Athletic Club – 5.5
3rd Sevilla – 5.4

Eibar really have forged a living for themselves in the top flight by getting the ball wide and whipping lots of crosses into the box. What’s more, they’ve been finding their target quite regularly too with left-back Cote and winger Fabian Orellana both ranking in the top ten in La Liga for accurate crosses this season. Athletic Club have also really improved in this regard this season with the Basques only ranking 11th in La Liga for accurate crosses last term. Leganes and Real Madrid round off the top five but Barcelona are the side to have completed the fewest accurate crosses so far in the 2019/20 season with an average of just 2 per game.

Inaccurate Crosses

1st Sevilla – 17.3 (per game)
2nd Real Madrid – 16.3
3rd Espanyol – 16.2

These figures further highlight that there is an art to what Eibar do with their crossing accuracy far higher than the likes of Real Madrid and Sevilla who in theory have more talented players. Clearly having a forward or forwards who are strong in the air also increases the chances of the crosses finding their targets but the stats do suggest this is an area Los Blancos need to improve. They have attempted 21.2 crosses per game this season, far more than title rivals Atletico Madrid (14.5) and Barcelona (9.6).

Goals from Crosses

1st Getafe – 6
2nd Real Sociedad – 4
3rd Eibar – 4

Getafe lead the way in terms of the actual number of goals that have come from crosses into the box. Both Damian Suarez and Kenedy have created two goals with balls into the box, although it’s Athletic’s Ander Capa who has been the most effective player from out wide in this category with 3 crossing assists. Despite attempting the fewest crosses, Barcelona have actually scored 3 goals via this method this season in La Liga while Real Betis are the only team to have failed to convert a cross into a goal.

In terms of goals from corners, Alaves and Granada lead the way with 2 each but only 11 goals have been scored from corner kicks so far this season in La Liga, after 13 matchdays.


Stats featured here are courtesy of whoscored.com

Spanish football writer
About Mark Sochon 1602 Articles
Mark is a freelance writer based in Madrid. He has also lived in Seville and Barcelona and has written extensively about Spanish football. His work has been published by the likes of Guardian Sport & World Soccer.

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