Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Most Common Scores in Soccer: Comparing the Big Four Leagues

In an earlier post, I reported the most common scores in the English Premier League. To summarize briefly, the data showed that there are two groups of results: First, there is a group of results that occur with a frequency of around 10% each (1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-0, 0-0), totaling fewer than 50% of all matches. Second, there is a group of more mixed results, each of which occurs 5% of the time (1-2, 3-1, 3-0, 2-2), with both home and away teams scoring. And then there's everything else.

One question this raises is whether these patterns are similar in the other big leagues or whether there is something unusual about the Premier League. To answer the question, I took a look at the differences across the English Premier League, the Bundesliga, La Liga, and Serie A for the 2005/06-2009-10 seasons. Below are tables that calculate the frequencies (in percentages) of various outcomes, listed by goals scored in a match by home and away teams. As before, to help orient readers, I've shaded outcomes that occurred more than 10% of the time yellow; outcomes that occurred with a frequency of between 5-10% of the time green; and outcomes that occurred between 2.5-5% of the time blue. So what do we see across score lines and leagues?

As in the Premier League, one thing to notice is that there is quite a bit of variation across types of scores; and as before, 1-0 home wins and 1-1 ties are the most common scores three of the four leagues. The one league where this is not the case is the Bundesliga: there, the most common score is a 1-1 tie (12.5% of the time), followed by a 2-1 home win as the second most common score (9.7%) and a 1-0 home win (8.7%) as the third most common match score. Mind you, these differences aren't large, but they are, well, differences. Take a look.

At the same time, none of these score lines make up the majority of outcomes in any of the leagues (as the slightly fewer than 3 goals per match average would suggest). Instead, these "most common" outcomes typically occur at a rate of around +/- 10% of the time. Together, 1-0 and 1-1 are most common in Serie A where they comprise about 25% of all match outcomes. Jointly they occur least frequently in the Bundesliga in about 20% of matches.

Once we move beyond 1-0 home wins and ties at one goal a piece, scores tend to be clustered right around the 0-2 goal mark. And when there is a third goal scored by one side, it typically is scored by the home team, consistent with a home team advantage widely documented elsewhere.

The cluster of scores ranging from 0-2 goals for either team occur about 70% of the time,with the leagues relatively close together. They occur most frequently in Serie A and least frequently in the Bundesliga. So as far as scores are concerned, the Bundesliga offers a little more variety than the other leagues:

Frequency of scores ranging from 0-2 goals for home or away team

Serie A: 73.4%
EPL: 72.1%
La Liga: 70.3%
Bundesliga: 68.4%

In a future post, I'll take a look at how common it is for a half time score to be the final score. Stay tuned.