Austrian Bundesliga xG Statistics - April 2020
Even in the stats-heavy world of modern football, it’s perhaps no surprise that the Austrian Bundesliga (Europe’s 12th ranked league going by the current UEFA coefficient) is mostly overlooked when it comes to the number crunching side of things. Every so often though, the trusty folks from Opta serve up a helping of delicious figures for us to sink our teeth into, and this week they have delivered with the up to date Austrian Bundesliga xG (Expected Goals) tally.
You probably already know by now that xG numbers are a way to rate the quality of chances created by teams, and it has proven to be one of the most popular (and reliable) metrics for an understandable analysis of a team’s true form and even future outlook. For more detailed information on how xG is calculated and applied, check out the Opta blog.
So without further ado, let’s have a look at the Austrian Bundesliga sides and see what kind of story the xG figures paint for their seasons so far (At the time of writing, all teams have played 22 games).
Table above: Austrian Bundesliga xG as of April 2020.
We can see that Red Bull Salzburg are streets ahead on xG and goals, yet they are not league leaders. Stats: Opta
Salzburg streets ahead
First up, we can hardly fail to notice that Red Bull Salzburg have stormed the charts in both xG and Goals figures, sitting comfortably more than 20 expected and actual goals clear of any other side. Incredible as those figures are, the early part of the season is largely responsible for the huge margins, with Salzburg scoring at least three times in eleven of their first 14 Bundesliga fixtures, and notching four or more goals a remarkable eight times during that blistering start to the campaign. When you bear in mind that coach Jesse Marsch was a newcomer to his coaching role, and has since had his managerial qualities brought into question, it’s worth noting that his Salzburg side have been utterly peerless in terms of goal scoring and chance creation this season.
That said, there has been a drop-off of sorts since then, with Salzburg scoring three or more goals just once in their most recent eight league fixtures, and conceding a whopping (for Salzburg!) 14 at the same time. Add in the fact that when Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino departed, Salzburg had scored around eight goals more than their xG, and yet they’re sitting three goals below their xG tally for their 2020 fixtures, and we start to see that all is not quite as rosy as it appears.
For a team that has been so healthy in attack for most of the season, Red Bull Salzburg evidently need to sort out some defensive issues, and with a surprising chance conversion ranking of only 4th in the league up the other end of the field, you could use the xG data to suggest that the perennial champs will struggle to regain top spot if the season is to be played out in full. That only adds to the pressure on the likes of Patson Daka and Mergim Berisha to fill Haaland’s sizeable shoes in the Mozartstadt.
Are LASK leading on merit?
As unlikely as it may seem looking at these xG tables, LASK are the current Bundesliga leaders, collecting (in real teams) six points more than Salzburg from their 22 matches. The stats show that LASK have been a well-oiled machine this season; a decent xG of 3rd in the league and a conversion rate close to the league’s best tell the story of a side who create chances well, and then absolutely maximise that in terms of real goals scored. This plays out on the field with Peter Michorl providing chances for the attacking trio of Klauss, Marko Raguz and Samuel Tetteh, and whilst no LASK player is troubling the top of the scoring charts, there are a healthy number of goals coming from the midfield and even defence too.
Whilst six goals above xG may not sound like a lot, LASK have won seven games with a solitary goal as the winning margin, so those extra dozen could have added up to 18 points to LASK’s league tally, and even if you conservatively call it half of that, it’s a massive boost in a game of fine margins. That’s a far cry from the early impressions of the season, when it seemed like LASK were failing to convert enough chances. In reality they were failing to create enough high quality chances, and their efficient conversion rate was vital to the side picking up points, meaning criticism of the strikers was probably unfair.
What these stats also suggest is that LASK are running smoothly all over the field. Being ahead of a side who have scored 24 goals more than you requires not only an excellent chance conversion rate, but an extremely stingy defence. The Upper Austrians have just that, with a league best 20 goals conceded, and Gernot Trauner, Philipp Wiesinger and Petar Filipovic among others on good form.
Here lies the crux of this season for leaders LASK; right now they have achieved efficiency all over the field, yet if things are to go off the boil in any area of the pitch in the final ten games, their numbers could fall off quickly, undermining their shot at a first title since 1965. Whatever happens, it’s a hugely impressive feat for LASK to be leading after 22 games, and these figures show that it’s been more about their own outright quality than about Salzburg’s perceived flaws.
Table below: Austrian Bundesliga Ranked by Conversion Rates
Rapid are making the most of their chances, but that might not necessarily indicate a strong set-up. Stats: Opta
Rapid lead conversion but do they have a prayer?
Rapid Wien have shown a resurgence this season after a disastrous previous campaign, but how strong are they in third? The Green and Whites lead the way on conversion rates, and whilst the 14 goals of summer signing Taxi Fountas have helped with that excellent figure, you could also argue that Rapid are overperforming somewhat.
Coach Didi Kühbauer is still battling to win over the fans at Rapid, and these xG stats suggest the Vienna side are actually scoring a lot more goals than they should, potentially meaning that the players are outperforming their tactical set-up. That might shed some light on why keen-eyed football fans have not got too excited about Rapid’s season, despite their current strong league position.
Wolves circling on the top three
Elsewhere, Wolfsberger AC are right up at the business end of the xG table, and lie in second place for actual goals scored as well. They are mired in the midfield when it comes to chance conversion though, albeit with a respectable positive figure of more than four goals above xG. Remarkably, the Carinthian side have both the league’s top scorer in Shon Weissman (22), and the top assist provider in Michael Liendl (15), and yet they’re only fourth in the Bundesliga.
With the stats looking decent across the board for Wolfsberg, they appear to have added goals, quality and consistency this season, meaning that their current fourth place shouldn’t be seen as a downgrade on the third spot they achieved last season, rather, they have improved but have faced an overall stronger field this time. Besides, a place in the top three is still well within their sights, and they’ve also had to overcome the departures of coach Gerhard Struber and a number of first team players, as well as navigating a maiden Europa League campaign, so they’re looking strong all things considered.
Interest from further afield
Further down the table we can see that Hartberg’s top three conversion rate was enough to seal them that coveted top six spot at the expense of Austria Wien. Dario Tadic’s eleven goals for the Styrian side could prove invaluable given the fact that they have saved Hartberg from any thought of a relegation battle this season, although with an xG of around 30 they’re likely to struggle in the Championship Round fixtures.
For Austria Wien, it’s chance creation that’s the real issue, they’re way down in 9th on that count. They’re not creating enough, and given their meagre conversion rate of -0.1 they evidently can’t rely on half-chances. Given that Christoph Monschein is on peak form this year with a massive 15 goals, the big problem for Austria is that he’s a clear outlier, and other players haven’t been pulling their weight. Without him the situation for the Violets would likely look even worse.
Down in the relegation scrap there are some more numbers of note: Admira Wacker have a low xG tally but their goal figures match up to the xG far better than some of their rivals. With Sinan Bakis registering a massive 50% of the team’s goals, their winter signings needed to focus on creating more chances rather than putting them away. The loan signing of Asian Games gold medal winner Kim Jung-Min and the return of the injury-plagued playmaker Kolja Pusch should help on that front, and could be their key to survival.
WSG Tirol sit 7th in xG, and yet are languishing at the bottom when it comes to conversion rates. That goes some way to explaining the signing of proven scorer Stefan Maierhofer over the winter, a move which has proven effective, as both xG and goals per game have increased for WSG in 2020, seeing them arrest a steep decline and even move off the bottom of the table.
If they keep picking up points at the current rate, the promoted side will be nowhere near the relegation spot come the end of the season. Whenever that may be.
The statistics in this article are from Opta, the graphics were created by Simon Clark. For interviews, analysis and coverage of the Austrian Bundesliga in English, you can find us on social media @OtherBundesliga, and please consider supporting us over on our Patreon page!