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The CIES Football Observatory is happy to disclose its exclusive rankings on the the best performing clubs and players of the big-5 league season. The full tables are presented in issue number 112 of the CIES Football Observatory Weekly Post, as well as in the fifth edition of our Monthly Report. The latter publication unveils the unique approach developed by our research team to measure on a objective basis the pitch performance of clubs and players.

At club level, the analysis shows that Barcelona was the best performing team in terms of dangerousness (ahead of the other Champions League finalist, Juventus), grip on the game (ahead of Champions League semi-finalist, Bayern Munich) and duelling (ahead of surprising Torino). Borussia Mönchengladbach heads the set play table (ahead of Hellas Verona).

At the top of the individual rankings per position are Thiago Silva (centre backs), Dani Alves (full backs), Francesc Fàbregas (defensive midfielders), James Rodríguez (attacking midfielders) and Lionel Messi (forwards). The best performing players compared to teammates are Raphaël Varane (centre backs), Patrick van Aanholt (full backs), N’Golo Kanté (defensive midfielders), Lars Stindl (attacking midfielders) and Antonio Di Natale (forwards).

Launching academy players and recruiting young talents are key success factors in European football. This is the main finding of issue number 111 of the CIES Football Observatory Big-5 Weekly Post. The figures refer to the average age at which current players joint the first team squad of their employer club.

Among the ten teams that integrated players in to the first team squad at the youngest age are many top flights European clubs, including Champions League semi-finalists Real Madrid and Barcelona. The average age of the first match played in the first team is 22.4 years for Real Madrid current squad members and 22.7 for Barcelona ones.

At the top of the tables per league are Real Sociedad (21.7 years), Nice (21.9), Werder Bremen (22.4), Cagliari (22.9) and Manchester United (22.9). Conversely, the recruitment policy of the following teams is based on experienced players: Atalanta (27.4), Eibar (26.8), Manchester City (26.6), Augsburg (25.3) and Guingamp (25.2).

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.

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