Earlier in the month I presented a breakdown of offensive and defensive expected goal performance in Argentina’s Primera División. Here’s an update after the most recent matches played last weekend (Round 25).
Below is the offensive performance chart for Primera as of Round 25. The actual and expected goals are reported for open play events, set piece events, and penalties, and the most and least goals in each category are highlighted in purple and red text, respectively.
Below is the defensive performance for the Primera clubs. The actual and expected goals allowed are reported for open play events, set piece events, and penalties, and the most and least goals in each category are highlighted in red and purple text, respectively.
So after a matchday in which Boca won and all of their direct rivals lost, save for River Plate and Independiente, here are the main points:
- Boca Juniors remain clear leaders in offensive and defensive expected goal performance, but the margins to the next team have narrowed slightly (+2.5 offensive xG and -2.0 defensive xG).
- My pronouncement of Newell’s Old Boys as Boca’s only real challengers was a case of the commentator’s curse. I did wonder how a side with an offensive xG in the lower third of the division could be a title contender, and concluded that their defense was so strong that it gave them a chance to take advantage of the one or two chances that they would get. Since then they have lost three matches (two at home) by yielding scoring opportunities while failing to create any of their own.
- Despite going out on a limb and getting it sawed off, I’ll put myself out there once more and say that River Plate could be Boca’s main challenger for the title, and this may actually be the case this time. Earlier in the month River were in the top six of offensive and defensive xG but had been put in the shade by sides that were strongly overperforming or underperforming their figures (Colón, Newell’s, Racing). River have generated more than 6.0 xG but allowed just 1.2 xG since Round 22, and River have won all three matches by multi-goal margins.
- If Defensa y Justicia were any good at creating chances, they could have contended for a Sudamericana or even a Libertadores place. Those defensive stats are fantastic and I need to explore why that is the case.
- The gap between Vélez Sarsfield’s actual and expected goals allowed from open play is yawning: 30 goals from shots totaling 14.2 xG. There’s almost certainly more going on, but something seems seriously broken in Liniers and I worry for the club next season.
- On the flip side of Vélez’s situation, Colón has allowed set piece opportunities totaling 18.1 xG yet have allowed just two goals from those plays. Is it luck? Is it Jorge Broun? Either way, el Sabalero has been very fortunate.
- Arsenal (Sarandí) have been pretty wretched on both sides of the football, but they’ve been placed at the bottom of defensive xG by Sarmiento, who are almost certain to be relegated. Their only saving grace is that Quilmes are their direct rivals for the drop, but the gap is down to one win now.
- The only sides in Primera División not to be awarded a penalty have been Arsenal…and Boca. I would not have expected that.
Data for Primera División are supplied by DataFactory Latinoamerica.