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EPL v La Liga v Serie A V Bundesliga - the big statistical analysis according to SM


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The rating changes are now over for the major European leagues. The usual disgruntlement regarding various players rating ensued. This in turn lead to the age old arguments about which league is better than which. Some of the usual discussion points emerged:

  • EPL is over-rated
  • Serie A is under-rated
  • Certain teams are over-rated
  • The mid-table teams in La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga are better than the EPL mid-table teams
  • etc etc

I decided to challenge these and have a bit of fun by looking at the best starting XI of the supposed best four leagues in Europe (apologies to French and Russian league advocates but went with Bundesliga ahead of you :o). The formations used do not necessarily resemble the formation in real-life in all cases I might add, but are based on the best possible team SM rating-wise. To add some spice, I set up the comparison to put teams like-for-like based on their current position in their respective league i.e. I compared the team leading in the EPL with those leading La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga - then the 4 2nd place teams in all the leagues and so on. Sounds complicated but it will become a little clearer below. As stated, I looked at the average of the best possible starting line-up as according to SM ratings. Off course this is not the whole picture, and shows no representation of the squad overall which obviously would be a more accurate picture. But it's an interesting comparison nonetheless. To the results:

League Pos......Order of teams as according average of best possible starting line-up

1......................Barcelona (94.36) > Manchester U (94.09) > Inter Milan (93.54) > Wolfsburg (89.09)

2......................Real Madrid (93.63) > Liverpool (93.18) > AC Milan (93.09) > Bayern Munich (92.45)

3......................Chelsea (93.92) > Juventus (92.27) > Sevilla (91.00) > VfB Stuttgart (89.73)

4......................Arsenal (92.45) > Atletico Madrid (91.45) > Fiorentina (90.82) > Hertha Berlin (88.54)

5......................Valencia (91.18) > Everton (89.82) > Genoa (89.00) > Borrusia Dortmund (87.93)

6......................Roma (91.91) > Villareal (91.09) > Hamburg (89.63) > Aston Villa (89.6)

7......................Palermo (88.91) > Deportivo LA Coruna (88.45) > Fulham (87.63) > Hoffenheim (87.54)

8......................Tottenham (89.91) > Schalke (89.82) > Udinese (89.45) > Malaga (87.00)

9......................Bayer Leverkusen (89.45) > West Ham (88.18) > Real Mallorca (88.09) > Cagliari (87.09)

10.....................Werder Bremen (90.36) > Manchester C (89.91) > Lazio (89.09) > Almeria (87.73)

11.....................Atletic Bilbao (88.27) > Atalanta (87.73) > Hannover (87.18) > Stoke (85.73)

12.....................Racing Santander (88.54) > Sampdoria (88.27) > Wigan (87.64) > Fc Koln (86.82)

13.....................Napoli (88.63) > Bolton (87.73) > Eintracht Frankfurt (87.45) > Real Valladolid (86.82)

14.....................Portsmouth (88.73) > Espanyol (88.45) > Siena (87.09) > VfL Bochum (86.63)

15.....................Real Betis (88.45) > Blackburn (87.82) > Catania (87.00) > Borussia Moenchengladbach (86.18)

16.....................Getafe (87.73) > Sunderland (87.00) > Chievo (86.54) > Arminia Bielefeld (85.82)

17.....................Torino (87.18) > Hull (86.09) > Energie Cottbus (85.91) > Sporting Gijon (85.82)

18.....................Newcastle (88.00) > Osasuna (87.18) > Bologna (86.36) > Karlsruhe (86.18)

19.....................Middlesborough (86.73) > Reggina (86.00) > Numancia (85.18)

20.....................Recreativo Huelva (86.63) > Lecce (86.09) > West Brom (86.00)

Note there is no German side in the last two comparisons as the Bundesliga only comprises 18 teams

The way to look at this is to imagine each set of four teams (and in the last two three teasm) and imagine they were in a mini-league on their own. The placings represent how SM would have them finish in their mini-league as going by ratings. For example picking on the 11th placed sides, SM suugest a mini league between Atletic Bilbao, Stoke, Atalanta and Hannover would finish like this

1. At Bilbao

2. Atalanta

3. Hannover

4. Stoke

Whilst a case could be made for a few finishing differently, I would suggest the vast majority of the mini-leagues seem quite accurate :). But I leave you to discuss the comparisons.

How about the comparisons overall? Well, allocating a points system according to these mini-leagues whereby the best side in terms of average rating is awarded 4pts, the next 3pts and so on, should in theory give us a nice comparison. So in the above example, At Bilbao would get 4pts for La Liga, Atalants 3pts for Serie A, Hannover 2pts for the Bundesliga and Stoke 1pt for the EPL. Totalling the points for all the 20 mini-leagues (1pt awarded for Bundesliga in the bottom two comparisons despite no team), the final table looks like this:

EPL...........59pts

La Liga.......57pts

Serie A.......52pts

Bundesliga...32pts

So, despite the calls that one league is way over-rated or another is way under-rated, the leagues according to starting line-up at least are relatively even barring the Bundesliga when comparing these 4 leagues. This would seem to suggest that although the upper sides in the EPL and La Liga are rated higher by SM, the mid-table sides in Serie A are rated higher than their counterparts in the other leagues. However, someone could argue this may be due to false positions of some of the sides this year. Well the overall average starting line-up for the sides in the various leagues is as follows:

EPL.............89.00

La Liga.........88.86

Serie A.........88.81

Bundesliga.....88.15

Now, Im not here to debate whether the gap should be larger or smaller, but what this does show, is that when you compare the quality of starting line-up in the league as a whole, the leagues are a lot closer than when comparing the top sides alone. It shows SM rates them realtively evenly and no league is extremely over-rated over another. It also seems to dispel the myth that SM does not rate the mid-table sides of the Bundesliga and Serie A fairly in comparison to La Liga and the EPL as it's clear it's the ratings of these sides which closes the gap on the EPL and La Liga in terms of average rating.

Everyone will draw their own conclusions and will no doubt dispute soem of the comparisons and continue to suggest certain teams and/or players are over-rated based on their experiences. However, my overall conclusion based on this analysis (prompted by the various calls of unfair ratings), is that in general SM has it near enough spot-on (barrign a few individual ratings which will always be disputed) :)

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Re: EPL v La Liga v Serie A V Bundesliga - the big statistical analysis according to

SM does a very good job and thanks for giving us the league averages.

Sometimes players get well overhyped on these forums and when managers don't get the hyped expected rises, they bleat on about it unecessarily.

Too much emphasis from managers on "player x has played more minutes playing time than player "y" and therefore deserves a bigger increase proves that many do not understand the rating criteria.

Playing for a NT also gets missed by many, many moaned about Melo getting a +2 to 91, well he plays for Brazil and should hold down his position, so what do people expect?

Well done SM, its a thankless task.

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Re: EPL v La Liga v Serie A V Bundesliga - the big statistical analysis according to

Nice thread. I can see you really put in a lot of effort. I also agree that the ratings are generally fair.

By the way, I think best possible starting XI rating may not truly reflect the team. For example, Pique has been solid in Barca's first team now, despite he's only 90. Van Nisterooy is not a Real Madrid regular player due to injury this season. And Ronaldnho is not a first team player for Milan despite his rating is higher than Milan's first team average...

I think it will be better if the most used starting XI are taken into consideration instead of best possible XI.

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