With the 2023-24 football season pausing for an international break, we have delved into the data to uncover the key stats from the season so far from Europe’s big five leagues.
Read on to find out which team is yet to fall behind in a single match and which Bundesliga striker is outscoring his counterparts across the continent – including Harry Kane.
Which teams have started well and which are struggling?
Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen are the form team in Europe, having taken 19 points from their opening seven games to sit top of the Bundesliga.
As well as being the joint-highest scorers in the big five leagues with 23 goals – the same number as Bayern Munich – Leverkusen have spent a higher percentage of time leading matches than any other team (64 per cent).
The impressive Fiorentina – who beat Italian champions Napoli 3-1 most recently – are second for this metric (61 per cent), ahead of 2022-23 Champions League finalists Inter Milan in third (58 per cent).
Meanwhile, the winless Serie A trio of Udinese (2 per cent), Salernitana (5 per cent) and Cagliari (7 per cent) rank among the bottom five teams in Europe for time spent in the lead, alongside Clermont Foot of Ligue 1 (3 per cent) and Sheffield United of the Premier League (4 per cent), who prop up their respective divisions.
Salernitana and Clermont Foot are also among the five teams who have trailed for more than half of their playing time this season.
Werder Bremen, Burnley and Mainz are the other clubs to have spent the majority of time chasing the game.
On the other hand, Nice are the only team in Europe’s top five leagues who are yet to trail for a single minute so far.
Currently second in Ligue 1 behind Monaco, Nice have only conceded four goals in an unbeaten eight-game start – the fewest in the big five leagues – with two of those coming in a 3-2 victory at PSG in which they led 1-0 and 3-1.
Which league has seen the most goals?
Continuing a trend seen in recent seasons, Germany has been the place to see high-scoring games.
The Bundesliga has produced 222 goals in 63 matches at an average of 3.52 per game, comfortably higher than the other four major European leagues.
The Premier League ranks second on 3.00 per fixture, boosted by an increase in stoppage-time goals which account for 10 per cent of the total – the highest in Europe’s top divisions.
Spain’s La Liga comes next on 2.91 goals per game, ahead of France’s Ligue 1 (2.82) and Italy’s Serie A (2.61).
Serie A is the only one of the big five leagues in which at least one team has failed to score in the majority of matches.
It has also seen the most goalless draws with nine – more than the Bundesliga (two) and the Premier League (three) combined.
Meanwhile, eight remains the most goals seen in a match across Europe’s top leagues so far this season.
Five fixtures have produced this tally – the 4-4 draw between Augsburg and Borussia Monchengladbach, 5-3 wins for Nantes, Girona and Real Sociedad against Lorient, Mallorca and Granada respectively, and Newcastle’s 8-0 demolition of Sheffield United.
Who is the biggest goal threat?
One man is dominating Europe’s scoring charts so far this season – not Erling Haaland or Kane but Stuttgart striker Serhou Guirassy.
The Guinea forward has scored a remarkable 13 goals in just seven games this term, with an additional assist taking his average number of goal involvements per 90 minutes above two.
Even Kane has not been able to match Guirassy’s numbers, despite an impressive start to his Bayern Munich career. England’s captain has eight goals and four assists in seven league games for his new club.
Elsewhere in Europe, Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez has caught the eye with 10 goals in eight matches while Manchester City’s Haaland (eight), Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham (eight) and PSG’s Kylian Mbappe (seven) top the scoring charts in England, Spain and France respectively.
However, none of Haaland, Bellingham or Mbappe make Europe’s top 10 for goal involvements per 90 minutes.
Which teams have seen the most and least rotation?
It is interesting to see how different managers have used their squads this season, both to cope with dips in form and the demands of European football.
Serial Europa League winners Sevilla have chopped and changed more than any other club in a bid to qualify from their Champions League group, having averaged more than four changes to their starting line-up in La Liga.
This strategy is arguably yet to pay dividends, with the Spanish club having failed to win either of their first two Champions League matches while also struggling domestically.
Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi is the Premier League’s tinkerman, with the Italian having made 30 alterations to his starting XI already this season.
Leverkusen’s Alonso has reaped the rewards of consistency in selection, with the former Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder having named the same starting line-up in six out of seven matches.
Ange Postecoglou has shown a similar amount of faith at Tottenham during their surprise run to the top of the table, making a total of five changes to his first choice 11 so far.
Who makes their team tick?
To work out which players could be described as indispensable, we have looked at their average number of touches per 90 minutes in 2023-24.
Among players to have made at least two full appearances in the league, Manchester City’s Rodri has accumulated the most touches per match on average at just over 132.
City’s recent form underlines Rodri’s importance to their ambitions.
Since the Spanish midfielder was suspended for a straight red card during a 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest, Pep Guardiola’s side have suffered back-to-back Premier League defeats – against Wolves and Arsenal – for the first time since December 2018.
Rodri has averaged an extra 10 touches per game compared to any other player in Europe’s top five divisions, with PSG’s central defender Danilo being next on the list with 122 touches per 90 minutes.
At the other end of the spectrum, City striker Haaland has been something of a peripheral figure in recent weeks, averaging just 20 touches per game across the season as a whole – the third-fewest among players with at least 180 minutes to their name.
However, there is no reason for City fans to panic. At 25, the Norwegian’s average number of touches was only slightly higher in his 36-goal debut campaign.
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