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Issue number 110 of the CIES Football Observatory Big-5 Weekly Post presents the best performing U23 players of the big-5 league season. Only footballers who played at least 50% of domestic league minutes are included in the sample.

At the head of the tables per position are Phil Jones (Manchester United) for centre backs, Layvin Kurzawa (Monaco) for full backs, Marco Verratti (Paris St-Germain) for defensive midfielders, Isco Alarcón (Real Madrid) for attacking midfielders and Felipe Anderson (Lazio) for forwards.

In the top-3 positions of the rankings are not only well known players such as Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid), David Alaba (Bayern Munich) or Paul Pogba (Juventus), but also less renowned talents such as José Giménez (Atlético Madrid), Ricardo Rodríguez (Wolfsburg), Granit Xhaka (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Bernardo Silva (Monaco) and Clinton N’Jie (Lyon).

The rankings are based on the CIES Football Observatory exclusive Key performance indicators in the following areas of the game:

  • Shooting: ability to take advantage of goal opportunities through accurate shooting.
  • Chance creation: ability to put teammates in a favourable position to strike.
  • Take on: ability to create dangerous situations by successfully challenging opponents.
  • Distribution: ability to keep a hold on the game through efficient passing.
  • Recovery: ability to minimise goal opportunities for opponents through proficient interception work.
  • Rigour: ability to minimise goal opportunities for opponents through robust duelling.

Issue number 109 of the Big-5 Weekly Post analyses the evolution in the competitive balance since 2005/06 from the perspective of goals scored and conceded by top ranked teams at the current stage of the season. The findings show that the domination of top ranked teams is on the increase.

New record lows were recorded in 2014/15 with respect to goals per match conceded by top ranked teams: 0.64 at big-5 league level, down to 0.43 for Bayern Munich. Barcelona tops the table for the most goals per match scored so far: 2.76. This is the fifth highest figure among top ranked teams at this stage of the season since 2005/06.

On average, teams at the top of the table in their respective league have a goal difference per match of +1.59. This is the third highest figure during the 10-year period analysed. Both Barcelona (+2.18) and Bayern Munich (+2.13) are in the top five of the club by club table since 2005/06.

Issue number 108 of the CIES Football Observatory Big-5 Weekly Post presents the rankings of the club that obtained the best results during the last 10 domestic league matches compared to previous games. This allows us highlighting the teams that are out of shape, as well as those whose performance level is on the increase.

The comparison between points per match achieved during the last ten matches with previous domestic league games reveals that the teams of the moment are Arsenal in England, Athletic Bilbao in Spain, Chievo Verona in Italy, Borussia Dortmund in Germany (greatest positive gap overall) and LOSC Lille in France. These clubs should be able to improve or at least maintaining (Arsenal) their rankings up until the end of the season.

Conversely, the performance levels of the following teams strongly decreased: West Ham in England, Eibar in Spain, Cagliari in Italy, Hannover in Germany and Olympique de Marseille in France. This does not augur well for the last matches of the season.

The CIES Football Observatory just published a new Monthly Report presenting an in-depth analysis of the squad composition of teams qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals. The comparison with values measured for the last five winners makes Real Madrid the CIES Football Observatory’s favourite.

The indicators taken into account in the analysis relate to the experience of players, the stability of squads and the transfer policies followed by clubs. As illustrated in issue number 4 of the CIES Football Observatory Monthly Report, Real Madrid has 27% of chances to win the trophy, compared to 22% for Barcelona and 16% for Bayern Munich.

The main findings of our analysis are also presented in issue number 107 of the Big-5 Weekly Post. No club in football history spent as much as Real Madrid in signing squad members: 590 million € (+54 million € compared to last season’s winning campaign).

Paris St-Germain ranks second among current quarter-finalists with a total transfer expenditure of 443 million €. This is 107 million € more than its next opponent Barcelona. Will this be sufficient to qualify?

Big-5 league footballers only played 40.4% of matches in the five major championships up until 23 years of age. This finding shows the crucial role of leagues outside the big-5 in the sporting development of players employed by the most competitive teams.

The percentage of matches played in the major championships by current big-5 league players until 23 years of age is below 50% for all countries: from only 34.4% in Italy to 45.1% in Germany. These figures are much lower if we take in account only matches played in the league of belonging of employer clubs: 31.4% at big-5 league level, with a minimum in Serie A (24.4%) and a maximum in Ligue 1 (39.9%).

The relative contribution of the employer clubs to the sporting development of current big-5 league players is even more limited. At big-5 league level, footballers only played 17.6% of championship matches in their employer club up until the age of 23. This percentage varies between about one tenth in the Italian Serie A (11.9%) and one fifth in the German Bundesliga (21.7%).

All the data is presented in issue number 106 of the CIES Football Observatory Big-5 Weekly Post. In the next issues, our academic team will develop analysis at club level.

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