It’s time once again for your weekly dose of SVQ. Recommended to be consumed with food, a cup of tea/coffee and a positive, stat-cuddling attitude.
It was another exciting weekend of football across the globe, with the Bundesliga and Serie A getting under way just as the FIFA Women’s World Cup was coming to an end. Harry Kane showed the world what €100 million can buy you, while Enzo Fernández and Moisés Caicedo showed that €260m can’t buy you everything (we’re sure they’ll come good, Chelsea fans; please don’t ask your owners to buy us out and turn SVQ into a ‘Wonderful World of Amortisation’ newsletter!)
This week, we look at Phil Foden’s impressive showing for Manchester City against Newcastle United, we’ve got a world champion viz (or two), and a quiz all about those who have led the way. So, grab a snack, boil the kettle and get ready to cosy up to some numbers.
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STAT – Foden Gets Creative to Fill De Bruyne Void
Manchester City fans have been used to watching football with almost permanent smiles on their faces in recent years. Whenever City play, fans know there is a pretty good chance they’ll be presented with a trophy shortly after. It was always going to take something bad to shake that mood.
Kevin De Bruyne walking off the pitch injured in the opening-day victory at Burnley last week, just as he had done in last season’s UEFA Champions League final, was not something City fans will have been pleased to witness. That feeling of dread will only have been compounded when Pep Guardiola confirmed that the Belgian maestro will be out for “months”.
However, Saturday’s 1-0 win over Newcastle United will have gone some way to allaying fears that City could struggle without their chief creator, as Phil Foden took his opportunity to step into the breach.
The 23-year-old struggled to hold down a regular place in the treble-winning team last season, starting just 22 of his 32 Premier League appearances, and starting only three times in the Champions League. He has been in the first XI for both league games so far in 2023-24 though, and on Saturday, he broke a personal record.
Foden created seven open-play chances against Newcastle, including setting up Julián Álvarez for the winner in the 31st minute. It is the most open-play chances Foden has ever recorded in a single Premier League game, in what was his 131st appearance in the competition.
It would be a lot to expect him to keep up that level of creativity – he averaged 1.9 open-play chances created per 90 minutes in the Premier League last season, while De Bruyne averaged 2.5 per 90. It appears to be a sign that Foden is in the mood to cement his place back in the City team regularly though, which can only be good news for the fans and bad news for nearby defenders.
VIZ – Spain the Line Breakers
An impressive performance from Spain on Sunday saw them lift their first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup. Olga Carmona’s fine strike was enough to beat England 1-0 in the final in Sydney, making Spain just the fifth nation to win the tournament since it began in 1991.
It also meant they became just the second side to be crowned champions of the Women’s World Cup despite losing in the group stage, with Spain having to bounce back from a chastening 4-0 defeat to Japan. Funnily enough, the only other team to do the same was Japan in 2011.
They also impressively ended Sarina Wiegman’s outstanding record as England boss, handing the Dutch coach her first competitive loss since taking charge in September 2021. The Lionesses had gone 29 competitive games without defeat since losing against Spain in the SheBelieves Cup in March 2020 (W25 D4).
Key to Spain’s success down under was their ability to execute line-breaking passes. Their 655 across the tournament was comfortably the most (ahead of England’s 550) at an average of 93.6 per game, showing how often they were able to get through opposition defences all over the pitch to turn them around and potentially create chances.
They were slightly down on that average in the final, with 71 LBPs, but that was more than the 63 managed by England, and as the below bonus viz shows, captain Carmona was central to Spain’s approach, not just because of her excellent goal.
The 23-year-old – who became the fourth-youngest player to score in a WWC final – made 49 LBPs across the tournament, including 11 in the final.
QUIZ – A Lesson in League Leaders
Brighton’s 4-1 win at Wolves on Saturday sent them to the top of the Premier League, ending the day top of the English top flight for the first time in their history, and making them the 53rd different team to do so.
With that in mind, this week’s quiz is based on those who have also led the old First Division/the Premier League. If you listened to this week’s The Data Day podcast, you will already know the answers to two of them. Answers are at the bottom of the page.
1. Name the top 10 teams to have been at the head of England’s top flight for the most days in history?
2. Which two teams have been top of England’s top flight for just one day each? (Clue: They are both from the Premier League era)
3. A team called ‘United’ could also be called ‘Devils’ as they have spent 666 days top of England’s top flight in their history. They’re not from Manchester, though. Which team?
4. Which two north-west clubs are the only two current non-league sides to have led England’s top flight at some point in their history?
5. Two Welsh sides have previously sat top of English football, but who out of Cardiff City and Swansea City has done so for more days?
The Data Day
On this week’s podcast, Graham Bell, Matt Furniss and David Segar review the weekend’s Premier League action, discussing yellow cards, Mohamed Salah and British sitcom Birds of a Feather… obviously.
This week’s question was sent to us on X by @DietDrBurpsi, who asks: “Which league has the most natives to travel abroad? Like Germans leaving Bundesliga, English from PL etc.” Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on X @OptaAnalyst if you’d like a stat query answered or would like to see a specific data viz and we’ll pick the best one.
Answer: Well Doctor, I hope you’ll appreciate that we’ll just go with Europe’s top five leagues for this one, otherwise it could be a very long answer.
If a player is on loan for the 2023-24 season, we have counted their loan club rather than their parent club.
While more and more English players are making moves abroad these days, with the highest profile being Jude Bellingham and more recently, Harry Kane, they are still trailing other countries for exports. There are currently just 17 English players registered to clubs across Ligue 1 (5), the Bundesliga (5), Serie A (5) and La Liga (2).
Italians aren’t any more adventurous, also with only 17 taking up residency in the other top five European leagues of Ligue 1 (4), the Bundesliga (2), the Premier League (9) and La Liga (2).
There are 23 German players spread across Ligue 1 (3), the Premier League (11) Serie A (5) and La Liga (4).
After being all the rage a decade or so ago, Spanish players are still fairly sought after compared to other nationalities. There are 60 Spaniards plying their trade in Ligue 1 (13), the Bundesliga (5), the Premier League (26) and Serie A (16).
However, by far the most popular nationality, with an almost insatiable willingness to travel, is the French. It makes sense given their outstanding production of talent in recent years, with 115 French players currently registered to clubs in the Bundesliga (28), the Premier League (30), Serie A (37) and La Liga (20).
What Are We up to at Opta Analyst?
Here’s some of the latest data-driven offerings you can find on our website:
1. Manchester United (4,486 days), Liverpool (4,038), Arsenal (3,075), Everton (2,123), Chelsea (1,861), Aston Villa (1,573), Manchester City (1,495), Sunderland (1,146), Leeds United (1,104), Tottenham (987)
2. Hull City and Wigan Athletic
3. Sheffield United
4. Oldham Athletic (98 days) and Bury (30 days)
5. Cardiff City – 179 days to Swansea City’s 33 days
Before you go…
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