Lille, Lewandowski and LaLiga drama until the last – 2020-21 review in Opta numbers

By Sports Desk May 24, 2021

The domestic football season concluded at the weekend in typically dramatic fashion.

The title went down to the wire in France and Spain, while Champions League qualification was up for grabs for some big names in England and Italy.

Much of the focus during the closing rounds in Germany was on Robert Lewandowski's record bid, but there was no shortage of intrigue whichever way you looked.

It was in keeping with the rest of an unpredictable campaign, one that Stats Perform breaks down with the use of Opta data.
 

LILLE, LALIGA AND LUKAKU SHAKE THINGS UP

Lille, Atletico Madrid and Inter all have relatively recent history of league glory, but a pre-season wager would have fetched long odds.

In Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain had won seven of the previous eight titles and would have expected to do so again, having claimed a domestic treble and reached the Champions League final in 2020.

As it was, under new coach Mauricio Pochettino, they had to settle for pushing Lille all the way.

Les Dogues claimed the title but had already set a club points record when they reached 79 with two games to spare. PSG finished on 82, though, meaning Lille desperately needed the final two results to boost their tally.

Despite the presence of Real Madrid and Barcelona in LaLiga, Atletico's triumph was perhaps more likely, even if the impressive nature of it may have come as a surprise.

Although they stuttered on the home stretch and had to come from behind on the last day to edge out Madrid, Atleti spent 30 matchdays at the top of the table – a mark only bettered once in their 10 other title-winning campaigns (36 matchdays in 1995-96).

Indeed, Atleti are used to having to wait to celebrate, with 10 of their 11 championships seeing the destination of the trophy decided on the final day (all except 1976-77).

Inter are another big name but had been waiting even longer than Lille for their most recent title, with one Milan victory and then nine in a row for Juventus since the 2009-10 Nerazzurri treble.

Antonio Conte's men completed the job in style, though, confirmed as champions with four games to play before finishing with 91 points (behind only their 2006-07 haul of 97) and 89 goals (third-most behind the classes of 1949-50 and 1950-51 – 99 and 107 respectively).

Talisman Romelu Lukaku was involved in 35 of them, becoming the first Serie A player to have at least 20 goals and 10 assists in the same season since at least 2004-05.


BAYERN BACK ON TOP, CITY SCALING NEW HEIGHTS

In Germany, the title race was a little less exciting. Winners of everything in 2020, Bayern Munich took home the Bundesliga crown for a ninth successive season.

Prior to this run, no team had won more than three on the bounce, yet there appears no end to Bayern's dominance in sight. They have now won 52 per cent of the championships since the formation of the competition in 1963.

Julian Nagelsmann, arriving from RB Leipzig, will be the coach tasked with achieving 10 in a row and Hansi Flick has set the bar high. His 86 games brought seven trophies.

Manchester City could soon be reflecting on a similarly dominant dynasty having now claimed three titles in four seasons.

Pep Guardiola played a big part in Bayern's run and now has nine league wins in 12 top-flight seasons as a coach, although this was an unprecedented achievement, with City eighth on Christmas Day – the lowest position at that stage for an eventual Premier League champion.

A record English league run of 12 away victories played a pivotal role in City's season, while defending champions Liverpool saw a club-record 68-game unbeaten home run in the Premier League ended as they subsequently lost six consecutive league matches at Anfield for the first time in their history.

City could yet win the Champions League too, where Sergio Aguero is in line for his final appearance before his contract expires. He will hope it is as successful as his last league outing, during which he scored twice against Everton on Sunday to set a new record for the most Premier League goals by a player for one club (184).
 

RECORD-BREAKING LEWY DELAYS NEXT GENERATION

Aguero might have had his say on the final day, once the title was secure, but he largely took a backseat – unlike Lewandowski at Bayern.

His 41 Bundesliga goals broke Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 in a single season. The next-best tally in Europe's top five leagues in 2020-21 saw Lionel Messi trailing well behind on 30.

Lewandowski unsurprisingly also led Europe in expected goals, with his chances worth 32.2 xG, and expected goals on target, producing shots with a value of 35.8 xGOT.

As Lewandowski took the Kicker-Torjagerkanone and Messi went away with the Pichichi, Cristiano Ronaldo (29 goals) won the Capocannoniere, having also previously topped the charts in England and Spain.

Kylian Mbappe (27) was the leading marksman in France, while Harry Kane (23) earned the Premier League Golden Boot for a third time.

Kane is set to be the subject of intense transfer speculation throughout the close-season – replacing Aguero at City might be one option if he gets his wish to leave Spurs – and he will join Mbappe and Erling Haaland in that regard.

Haaland also scored 27 league goals and only just trailed Mbappe's seven assists with his six.

The expectation is both players will establish themselves as the world's best in the coming seasons, but it is now Lewandowski, rather than Messi and Ronaldo, they must surpass.

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    Cristiano Ronaldo became the European Championships' record assist-maker as Portugal won Group F with a 3-0 victory over Turkiye at Euro 2024 on Saturday.

    Having won late against Czechia in their opening game of the tournament, Roberto Martinez's side knew an improved display was needed on matchday two in Dortmund.

    The Selecao dominated from start to finish, with defensive errors aiding their triumph as Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes netted either side of a calamitous Samet Akaydin own goal.

    Portugal now have the luxury of being able to rest key players when they face Georgia in Gelsenkirchen next Wednesday. 

    Meanwhile, Turkiye know they must avoid defeat against Czechia to be certain of their progression to the knockout stages.

    With Arda Guler and Kenan Yildiz, who starred in Turkiye's opener against Georgia, both on the bench, Portugal were able to dominate from the off and went ahead after 21 minutes.

    A slick move down the left-hand side saw Nuno Mendes' delivery deflect kindly into the path of Silva, who swept the ball home from inside the area for his first goal at a major tournament.

    But for all their intricate passing play, Portugal would double their lead in comical fashion. Joao Cancelo's attempted pass to Ronaldo was cut out by Akaydin, but the defender sent a blind back pass beyond Altay Bayindir to score the sixth own goal of Euro 2024. 

    The Selecao further extended their advantage 10 minutes into the second half, profiting from more poor defending from Vincenzo Montella's side. 

    A simple ball over the top picked out Ronaldo as he was played onside by Zeki Celik, and with the goal at his mercy, he unselfishly squared for Fernandes to tap home. 

    Portugal tried to add to their tally as Silva saw his effort blocked late on, but they did not need a fourth as they clinched progression to the last 16.

    Bernardo breaks major tournament duck

    With 11 goals and 10 assists for Manchester City this past season, it is incredible to think Silva had yet to register a goal involvement at an international tournament until Euro 2024. 

    The 29-year-old finished well when presented with the first clear chance of the contest, and his overall play was excellent as Portugal cruised.

    Silva created more chances (three) than anyone else on the pitch, while also recording a 92.2% pass accuracy from 51 attempted passes. 

    Defensive howlers cost Turkiye

    Having impressed in the forward areas against Georgia in their opening Group F fixture, all eyes will now be fixed on Turkiye's defence following an error-strewn display.

    Perhaps a breakdown in communication contributed to the own goal after Bayindir was brought in between the sticks, and now Montella has a decision to make as to who he starts against Czechia next week. 

    Turkiye have now lost all four of their encounters with Portugal at the Euros without scoring a single goal: 1-0 in 1996 (group stages), 2-0 in 2000 (quarter-finals) and 2-0 in 2008 (group stages).

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    Schick, who netted five times at Euro 2020 to tie Cristiano Ronaldo at the top of the goalscoring charts, is now his country's all-time leading marksman at the Euros with six goals, overtaking Milan Baros outright. No player has matched his return across the last two editions of the tournament.

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    "We were able to equalise, we were going at them but we were not able to score a second goal and in the end we made a stupid mistake and could have lost. 

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    The draw leaves both teams on one point with one game remaining. Czechia face Turkiye in their final Group F match, while Georgia take on Portugal.

    Czechia accumulated 3.11 expected goals (xG) to their opponents' 1.09, with Lobjanidze's late miss coming from an opportunity valued at 0.16 xG.

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    "He needs to continue training and playing, he's a great football player and he will definitely score a goal in the coming matches.

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    "From above, everything seems easier, but it is very difficult to perform in those situations because you have less time than it seems. Whatever he did, he did it right, but he didn't score."

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    Patrik Schick, who shared the Golden Boot with Cristiano Ronaldo at Euro 2020, restored parity midway through the second half on Saturday, cancelling out Georges Mikautadze's opener from the penalty spot.

    Georgia's goal came on the stroke of half-time, after Robin Hranac was adjudged to have handled in Czechia's area after a VAR check.

    That came after VAR had denied Adam Hlozek an opener for Czechia, with the ball having struck his arm on its way in.

    Schick had no such trouble with the technology when he bundled home at the back post in the 59th minute, though.

    The Bayer Leverkusen striker hobbled off through injury soon after, and Czechia looked all set to slip to a second defeat right at the end when Georgia broke, only for Lobjanidze to fire over in a one-v-one with the final kick of the game.

    It would have been a stunning smash-and-grab for the tournament debutants, with their goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili having made a tournament-record 11 saves, who must now beat Portugal if they are to stand a chance of making the knockouts.

    Data Debrief: Schick the Euros sharpshooter

    Schick has now scored six goals across the last two Euros, ahead of Ronaldo (five) and Harry Kane (five).

    The 28-year-old has the second-best goals per minute ratio (0.86) in Euros history, of players to play at least five times in the competition, with only Michel Platini (1.8).

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