How Europe’s top five leagues compared in 2022-23
Europe's top five leagues, football, infographics

How Europe’s top five leagues compared in 2022-23

The final round of domestic matches in this marathon season took place over the weekend, with Karim Benzema’s Real Madrid departure and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s AC Milan retirement providing the main headlines.

As the dust settles on the latest campaign, we have reviewed the key numbers from Europe’s top five leagues in 2022-23.

What do the league tables tell us?

Apart from Napoli winning Serie A for the first time since 1989-90, there were no major surprises at the top of the big five European leagues as Manchester City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG emerged as domestic champions.

Napoli were the most impressive of the title winners, having amassed 90 points – 16 more than second-placed Lazio – on their way to a first Scudetto since Diego Maradona’s playing days.

City accumulated 89 points to win their third straight title ahead of Arsenal, while Barcelona (88) and PSG (85) faded after sealing their league triumphs with matches to spare.

Bayern had a poor season by their standards, despite winning an 11th consecutive Bundesliga title. Having suffered a 3-1 defeat at home to Leipzig in their penultimate match, Thomas Tuchel’s side trailed Dortmund by two points going into the final day.

However, with Jude Bellingham nursing a knee injury, Dortmund could only draw at home to Mainz, which allowed Bayern to take the title on goal difference courtesy of a late Jamal Musiala winner at Koln.

Among the clubs to qualify for the Champions League, Newcastle, Union Berlin and Lens stand out as the biggest overperformers. The Magpies exceeded expectations under Eddie Howe to finish ahead of Liverpool in fourth, while Lens qualified for the first time in 20 years by finishing as runners-up in Ligue 1.

Union Berlin, meanwhile, will play in Europe’s elite competition next season for the first time in their history, having only won promotion to the Bundesliga in 2019.

At the other end of the table, Leicester’s nine-year stay in the English top flight – which brought a Premier League title and an FA Cup win – came to an end as they were relegated alongside Leeds and Southampton.

Elsewhere, there was final-day drama in Serie A and Ligue 1, with Paolo Dybala’s late winner for Roma consigning opponents Spezia to a relegation play-off against Verona and Nantes surviving at the expense of Auxerre thanks to a 1-0 victory over Angers.

Which league produced the most goals?

Germany was the best place to see a high-scoring game, with a Bundesliga fixture producing more than three goals on average in 2022-23. This goalscoring rate is comfortably the highest in Europe’s big five leagues, ahead of the Premier League – which saw a record 1,084 goals scored in a 38-game season – and Ligue 1.

La Liga sits at the bottom of the list with just 955 goals scored across 380 matches. Real Madrid were Spain’s top scorers with 75 goals, ahead of champions Barcelona on 70. Barca’s title win was instead built on a strong defence, as Xavi’s side conceded only 20 goals – the fewest of any team in Europe’s big five leagues.

Despite their struggles, Bayern were the most prolific scorers in Europe with 92 goals in 34 games, ahead of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City (94 in 38). Ajaccio’s attack was the least effective, combining for a mere 23 goals in 38 matches.

Meanwhile, there was plenty of exciting football to be found in North London this season, with games involving Tottenham and Arsenal producing 133 and 131 goals respectively – the highest numbers in Europe. Spurs were one of just two sides – along with Montpellier – to score and concede more than 60 goals.

Who finished the season as top scorer?

Erling Haaland’s stunning debut season for Manchester City saw him cement his status as the number one striker in Europe. The Norwegian’s tally of 36 league goals was a full six clear of anyone else, with fellow Premier League marksman Harry Kane next on 30.

With 29 goals in 34 appearances, PSG’s Kylian Mbappe led the way in France for a fifth straight season. His nearest challenger was former Arsenal man Alexandre Lacazette, whose 27 goals for Lyon were as many as he managed in his final three campaigns at the Emirates.

Victor Osimhen (26) and Robert Lewandowski (23) top scored in Serie A and La Liga respectively, while nobody was able to breach the 20-goal mark in the Bundesliga despite the German top tier seeing the highest overall scoring rate.

Which league saw the most cards?

La Liga’s lack of goals was offset by a raft of indiscipline, with Spanish top flight clubs racking up a total of 139 dismissals this season. For context, Premier League teams picked up only 30 red cards in the same number of matches.

Seven Spanish sides ranked in Europe’s top 10 for bookings and dismissals, with Getafe leading the way for yellow cards (122) and Real Betis unrivalled for reds (15). Of the nine clubs who did not receive a single red card, six (Arsenal, Bournemouth, Brighton, Nottingham Forest, Southampton and West Ham) played in the Premier League.

Where did the most managers leave their jobs?

The managerial merry-go-round was in full swing this term, with a total of 54 permanent managers leaving their jobs in Europe’s top five leagues. The Premier League saw a record 14 in-season departures, ahead of Ligue 1 (12), La Liga (11), the Bundesliga (nine) and Serie A (eight).

Bournemouth’s Scott Parker was the first to go back in August, following a 9-0 defeat at Anfield, while Nantes’ Antoine Kombouare was the 54th and final managerial departure on May 7.

As a result of another season of chopping and changing, the average tenure of a top flight manager has fallen below two years in all of Europe’s big five leagues. Only two managers have spent more than a decade in charge of their clubs, namely Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone and Freiburg’s Christian Streich.

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