No Ballon D’or For Ronaldo Or Ribery, Thomas Muller Should Win It

Another year has passed and a 23 man shortlist has been made for Ballon D’or. The last four years we have seen the magnificent Lionel Messi collect the award on every occasion and the last three years Cristiano Ronaldo has taken second place. This year could potentially be the same, and not many would argue against it. As individuals they are the greatest footballers of the current generation.

I’m going to discuss who deserves the award from a statistical point of view, not through what they have won throughout the season with their respective teams, but what they have done as individuals.

Manchester United, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain won their respective league with Bayern Munich winning the biggest prize in European club football, the Champions League. 13 of the 23 players shortlisted for the Ballon D’or were part of the title-winning clubs mentioned above last season, six of whom were part of the squad which won the treble with Bayern Munich.

Now to assess the players, I cannot compare them all the same, as attacking players would out trump defenders in scoring and creating goals. So to make this as fair as possible I will categorise the players in their selective groups (e.g. goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, wingers and strikers) and look at the individual stats to see which players could shock in regard to player performance.

Another issue with the shortlist is that it contains only two defenders and just one goalkeeper. If there is no one to compare to in their respective category, I will pick the goalkeeper and defender who won the league of that nation and the runners up of the Champions League (Borussia Dortmund).

Goalkeepers

The goalkeepers who were a part of their respective league-winning teams and runners up in the Champions League are as followed:

Manuel Neuer  (Germany) Bayern Munich
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy) Juventus
David de Gea (Spain) Manchester United
Víctor Valdés (Spain) Barcelona
Roman Weidenfeller (German) Borussia Dortmund
Salvatore Sirigu (Italian) Paris Saint-Germain

To look at who was statistically the best goalkeeper last season, I will base my data on:

  1. Clean Sheets
  2. Shots saved
Clean Sheets Total Saves
Manuel Neuer Bayern Munich 31 136 (Played 60)
Gianluigi Buffon Juventus 23 158 (Played 57)
David de Gea Manchester United 12 141 (Played 44)
Víctor Valdés Barcelona 14 97 (Played 49)
Roman Weidenfeller Borussia Dortmund 13 124 (Played 48)
Salvatore Sirigu Paris Saint-Germain 25 115 (Played 45)

 

I have collected all the data from league and International games for the players in the 2012/2013 season. Manuel Neuer had the most clean sheets last season with a fantastic 31 shut outs. Most surprisingly, Salvatore Sirigu had the best clean sheets to games played ratio, with an impressive 1.8 games a clean sheet.

As Manuel Neuer had played 15 games more than Sirigu and with only a slightly worse ratio (1.9), Neuer takes it for the best goalkeeper last season, with Sirigu a close second.

Defenders

As most teams play with four at the back, to gather information for 24 players would be very difficult. To make it fair and reliable, I have picked the best defender of the aforementioned teams.

Philipp Lahm (Germany) Bayern Munich
Thiago Silva (Brazil) Paris Saint-Germain
Giorgio Chiellini (Italy) Juventus
Gerard Piqué (Spain) Barcelona
Nemanja Vidić  (Serbia) Manchester United
Mats Hummels (Germany) Borussia Dortmund

 

To analyse who statistically was the best defender last season, I will look at:

  1. Clean sheets
  2. Goals conceded
  3. Goals scored
  4. Assists created

I will not include international fixtures for outfield players, only league and tournament competition.

Clean Sheets Goals Conceded Goals Scored Assists Created
Philipp Lahm Bayern Munich 28 (Played 45) 30 1 19
Thiago Silva Paris Saint-Germain 21 (Played 34) 22 4 0
Giorgio Chiellini Juventus 18 (Played 31) 24 1 2
Gerard Piqué Barcelona 11 (Played 47) 54 3 0
Nemanja Vidić Man. United 9 (Played 22) 19 1 0
Mats Hummels Borussia Dortmund 9 (Played 40) 50 4

4

 

From the data collected, Phillip Lahm leads the ‘clean sheets’ and ‘assists created’ by quite some distance. Thiago Silva has the least amount of goals conceded, with himself and Mats Hummels top goal scorers with four goals each.

Phillipp Lahm and Thiago Silva both have the same ratio of clean sheets to games played with an impressive 1.6, and Giorgio Chiellini is just behind with a very impressive 1.7.

Midfielders

The first category of my article to include only Ballon D’or nominated players as there are seven to choose from. Arguably this is the most difficult position to get statistics for as most of them play different roles for their respected club. The seven nominated players are as follows:

Andrés Iniesta (Spain) Barcelona
Thomas Müller (Germany) Bayern Munich
Mesut Özil (Germany) Arsenal
Andrea Pirlo (Italy) Juventus
Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany) Bayern Munich
Yaya Touré (Côte d’Ivoire) Manchester City
Xavi (Spain) Barcelona

 

I will look at the stats for this category based on:

  1. Win percentage
  2. Goals scored
  3. Assists
Games Played Win % Goals scored Assists
Andrés Iniesta Barcelona 49 67.3% 6 18
Thomas Müller Bayern Munich 44 88.6% 22 15
Mesut Özil Arsenal 42 85.7% 10 20
Andrea Pirlo Juventus 45 68.8% 5 10
Bastian Schweinsteiger Bayern Munich 45 86.6% 9 9
Yaya Touré Manchester City 42 57.1% 10 6
Xavi Barcelona 48 70.8% 7 12

 

 

 

 

 

The data above reveals some very interesting results. Thomas Muller leads the ‘win percentage’ column with an impressive 88.6% win rate, followed closely by Bastian Schweinsteiger with 86.6%. The most unexpected result was undoubtedly Mesut Ozil with an 85.7% win rate when playing for Real Madrid and with a combined total of thirty goals and assists, which you could argue means he had the better year, ahead of Schweinsteiger.

Thomas Muller with an incredible combined total of 37 goals and assists last season shows he was quite clearly the best midfielder out of the seven.

Wingers

Six wingers have been nominated for the Golden Ball this year, as I have enough players to complete the stats, I will only use the six nominated. The players nominated are:

Gareth Bale (Wales) Tottenham Hotspur
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Real Madrid
Eden Hazard (Belgium) Chelsea FC
Neymar (Brazil) Barcelona
Franck Ribéry (France) Bayern Munich
Arjen Robben (Netherlands) Bayern Munich

This is the first category without a German player.

For this category, the data will be made up of;

  1. Assists created
  2. Goals

In my opinion a winger’s role should be to provide for the striker and to score should be a bonus.

Games Played Assists created Goals scored
Gareth Bale Tottenham Hotspur 45 10 26
Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid 59 11 57
Eden Hazard Chelsea FC 64 20 14
Neymar Barcelona 31 10 29
Franck Ribéry Bayern Munich 42 18 11
Arjen Robben Bayern Munich 30 11 13

 

 

 

 

Very interesting results are shown from the table. Strictly looking at assists, Eden Hazard is on top with 20 assists and Frank Ribery second with 18 assists.

I then combined both assists and goals in games played to create a ratio for each nominee, the results are shown below:

Gareth Bale 1.25
Cristiano Ronaldo 0.86
Eden Hazard 1.88
Neymar 0.79
Franck Ribéry 1.44
Arjen Robben 1.23

 

Based on the ratio, Neymar has the best stats with the ratio of 0.79. This impressive stat suggests, on average, Neymar will have either scored or assisted in every match played last season. Cristiano Ronaldo is second with a ratio of 0.86. The rest of the nominees, on average, produced either a goal or assist in every other game.

Strikers

Seven players have been nominated in the striker category. This is arguably the easiest group to decide, judging them solely on how many goals he has scored. The following seven players are:

Edinson Cavani (Uruguay) Paris Saint-Germain
Radamel Falcao (Colombia) AS Monaco
Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden) Paris Saint-Germain
Robert Lewandowski (Poland) Borussia Dortmund
Lionel Messi (Argentina) Barcelona
Luis Suárez (Uruguay) Liverpool FC
Robin Van Persie (Netherlands) Manchester United

Strikers are seen as the end product of any team. Therefore, I will analyse the following:

  1. Goals scored
  2. Goals scored in individual matches

With regards to the ‘goals scored in individual matches’ column; a player can score a hat trick in 5 games and it looks like a fantastic record. However, a player who scores one goal a match in fifteen consecutive matches is a more accurate way to identify the nominee’s performance for last season.

Goals Scored Goals/Matches
Edinson Cavani Paris Saint-Germain 38 26 (Played 43)
Radamel Falcao AS Monaco 34 24 (Played 41)
Zlatan Ibrahimović Paris Saint-Germain 36 26 (Played 47)
Robert Lewandowski Borussia Dortmund 35 27 (Played 48)
Lionel Messi Barcelona 60 36 (Played 50)
Luis Suárez Liverpool FC 30 23 (Played 44)
Robin Van Persie Manchester United 30 24 (Played 48)

 

Clearly Lionel Messi stands out with an impressive record of 60 goals scored in 50 matches, no other player comes close. Second place is Edinson Cavani with a record of 38 goals in 43 matches.

The Player & Team of the Year

The best player from each category finishes like this:

Manuel Neuer

Phillipp Lahm

Thomas Muller

Neymar

Lionel Messi

To determine who has been the best player of the five listed, is to find who had the best stats in their respected groups. In my opinion Thomas Muller should win the Ballon D’or, Lionel Messi second and Phillip Lahm third.

The team of the year, I will place who had the best stats in their groups into a 4-4-2 formation. The team of the year looks like this:

Manuel Neuer

Thiago Silva -Mats Hummels – Giorgio Chiellini – Phillip Lahm

Neymar – Thomas Muller – Mesut Ozil – Cristiano Ronaldo

Lionel Messi – Edison Cavani

All the Stats are taken from ESPNwhoscored.com and FourFourTwo.com/StatsZone

Written by Guest Author James Ferrier

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Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
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