Data Visualization: Barcelona’s 2015 UEFA win was inevitable

By Eshan Wickrema and Lachlan James

Football fans across Europe, and indeed the world, saw Barcelona romp to a 3 – 1 win over Juventus in the final of the 2015 UEFA Champions League. But, what many probably didn’t realize, was that the match was a foregone conclusion – even before kick-off.

Let’s use Business Intelligence software and data visualization to show you why.

Barcelona and Juventus by category: Champions League 2015


Insights

  • Barcelona ‘won’ more elements within the ‘positive’ category during its 2015 UEFA Champions League campaign (76%)
  • Barcelona ‘won’ more elements within the ‘neutral’ category during its 2015 UEFA Champions League campaign (60%)
  • Juventus ‘won’ more elements within the ‘negative’ category during its 2015 UEFA Champions League campaign (64%)

Barcelona enjoy ‘positive’ vibes
Putting our data monkeys to work, we categorized all significant elements of play into positive (21 elements), neutral (five elements) and negative (11 elements) categories prior to kick-off. We then developed a head-to-head comparison between Barcelona and Juventus in an attempt to reveal which team had better tournament form leading into the final, and therefore which club was most likely to claim the 2015 championship.

What we discovered was that, by comparison, Barcelona had ‘won’ more positive elements of match play throughout its 2015 UEFA Champions League campaign (16 out of 21) – those factors likely to contribute to a favorable result (76%). Juventus outperformed Barcelona in just 14% of ‘positive’ elements (3 out of 21), with the two teams equal for just two out of the 21 ‘positive’ elements (10%).

Conversely, Juventus ‘won’ more negative elements during its 2015 UEFA Champions League campaign (seven out of 11) – those factors likely to contribute to an unfavorable result (64%). Of the negative elements, Barcelona ‘won’ just three of 11 (27%), with both clubs equal for just one of 11 negative elements (9%) – the number of losses, at two apiece.

The ‘neutral’ category was populated with tournament elements we considered to have no impact on a teams’ form or ability to win the final – such as the number of matches played per team (12 each) or how a goal was scored (right foot, left foot or header).

Elements of play categorized as ‘positive’, included things such as: Number of crosses completed, average attempts on goal per game, total goals for, average number of goals scored per game, average time in possession per game, number of penalties won, total corners for, average corners for per game, and number of wins.

Elements of play categorized as ‘negative’, included things such as: Number of fouls committed, number of red and yellow cards, number of penalties conceded, total goals against, average number of goals conceded per game, total corners against, average corners against per game, number of own goals, and number of loses.

Elements of play categorized as ‘neutral’, included things such as: Type of goal (left foot, right foot, header) and number of matches played per club.

Disagree with our assessment of what constitutes ‘positive’, ‘negative’ or ‘neutral’ aspects of play? Then let us know how you would make amends via Twitter @YellowfinBI, or via email: pr@yellowfin.bi

Barcelona and Juventus by number of winning elements: Champions League 2015


Insights

  • Barcelona ‘won’ double the number of ‘elements’ compared to Juventus – be they positive, neutral or negative – winning 22 out of 37 total elements assessed (59%)
    • Of the 22 elements that Barcelona won, 16 were positive (73%)
  • Juventus ‘won’ half the number of ‘elements’ compared to Barcelona – be they positive, neutral or negative – winning 11 out of 37 total elements assessed (30%)
    • Of the 11 elements that Juventus won, just three were positive (27%)
  • There were only four elements out of 37 for which Barcelona and Juventus were tied – be they positive, neutral or negative, representing just 11% of total elements assessed

Categorizing positive, neutral and negative elements of play: Barcelona vs Juventus at Champions League 2015

Alright; so we admit that the way in which we categorized our ‘elements’ of play is a subjective approach – to some extent.

Removing that from the picture for a moment, Barcelona ‘won’ double the number of ‘elements’ compared to Juventus – be they positive, neutral or negative – claiming 22 out of 37 total elements assessed (59%). Juventus ‘won’ half the number of ‘elements’ compared to Barcelona – be they positive, neutral or negative – winning 11 out of 37 total elements assessed (30%).

To see which match elements we assessed – and how we categorized them – simply view the below charts, which are grouped by category:

Positive elements

Negative elements

Neutral elements

If we reintroduce our somewhat subjective categorization, we can see that of the 22 elements Barcelona won, 16 were positive (73%). On the other hand, just three of the 11 elements that Juventus won were positive (27%).

But, 37 elements is a lot to digest. So let’s take a closer look at the elements most critical to each teams’ 2015 Champions League campaign.

Barcelona vs Juventus: Assessing the critical elements of each teams’ 2015 Champions League campaign


Assessing the outcomes of the 12 matches each team played, before the final, indicated a likely Barcelona victory. Barcelona won 10 of its matches, while Juventus only managed seven wins.


Leading into the final, it was clear that Barcelona had the forward firepower to take out the title. While Juventus conceded just seven goals throughout the tournament prior to the final (0.58 goals per game), its record was only marginally superior to Barcelona’s, who conceded10 goals from 12 starts (0.83 goals per game). However, in attack, Barcelona averaged one goal per game more than Juventus (2.33 goals per game compared to 1.33 goals per gamed), outscoring Juventus 28 – 16.


Barcelona also generated more scoring opportunities during its run to the 2015 final, with a total of 177 attempts on goal, compared to Juventus’ 152. Unsurprisingly, Barcelona also had more attempts on target, with 72 shots that required the keepers’ attention, compared to 61 from Juventus.


Juventus picked-up more yellow cards throughout the tournament (23 – 19), which could be an indication of more sloppy play and ineffective aggression. Whilst Barcelona was the only one of the two teams to be given a red card during the tournament phase of the championship, they also committed fewer fouls throughout (126 – 155).

Note: Juventus registered 17 goals leading up to the final, but only scored 16, benefiting from an opponents’ ‘own goal’.

Between them, Barcelona and Juventus scored 44 goals during their respective runs to the 2015 Champions League Final (28 for Barcelona, 16 for Juventus).

Barcelona netted 74% (26) of the 35 goals scored by the two teams ‘inside the area’. Of the 10 goals scored from ‘outside the area’, Juventus netted 80% (8).

In terms of their own scores, Barcelona scored 26 of its 28 goals from inside the penalty area (93%), whereas Juventus only scored nine of its 16 goals from inside the area (56%).

These statistics point to a more potent Barcelona attack, capable of penetrating deep into its opponents’ defensive lines, with Juventus more reliant on long-range goals to impact the scoreboard.

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