Bundesliga leading the way across Europe
The Bundesliga has long been the European league with the highest goals-per-game average, while it is also home to the reigning Best FIFA Men’s Player in Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich. But how does Germany’s top flight compare in 2021/22 with the other top five leagues in Europe based on UEFA coefficient (England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1)?
bundesliga.com looks at the numbers ahead of German football’s return from the winter break.
Most goals again
For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Bundesliga has seen the most goals per game across Europe’s top divisions in 2021/22. Germany’s 153 top-flight fixtures have produced a total of 473 goals at a rate of 3.09 per match.
Serie A is the only other league above three goals (3.04), followed by the Premier League (2.85), Ligue 1 (2.82) and La Liga (2.49).
The Bundesliga’s rate is an increase on last term from 3.03, which was its lowest in four years and the only time since the start of 2017/18 that it wasn’t Europe’s most goal-filled league. Italy pipped Germany by a smidge (3.05).
Watch: All of Lewandowski’s goals in the first half of the season
Europe’s top marksman (actually, marksmen)
Name a better goalscorer in Europe right now than Lewandowski. We dare you.
Bayern’s Polish goal machine has netted 19 times in the first 17 matches of this season to lead both the Bundesliga scoring chart and that of Europe’s top five leagues. Those strikes took his annual total of league goals to a new Bundesliga record of 43, once again surpassing the late, great Gerd Müller.
Lewandowski is three goals clear of everyone else in top five leagues this season. Three players are tied for second: Mo Salah of Liverpool (16 in 20 games), Fiorentina’s Dusan Vlahovic (16 from 19) and Bayer Leverkusen’s Patrik Schick.
Watch: All of Schick’s goals in the first half of the season
The Czech striker has got his 16 goals in just 14 appearances. Next in the list in fifth place is Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema with 15 in 19 matches.
Long reign the assist king
Thomas Müller has long lived to assist teammates. And this term he’s even set a new Bundesliga record for the first half of a season with 13 provisions in just 17 games. That total is also the most by any player in Europe’s top five leagues in 2021/22.
Watch: All 21 Müller assists in 2021
Some way behind on nine each is Liverpool duo Trent Alexander-Arnold (18 games) and Salah (20).
Joint-fourth is another up-and-coming Leverkusen star, Florian Wirtz. The German playmaker has set up eight goals from only 15 Bundesliga appearances this term. He shares that spot with Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain and Rayo Vallecano’s Oscar Trejo, although both from 17 appearances.
However, 18-year-old Wirtz is the youngest by some distance in the top five providers across Europe’s major leagues. He and Müller also boast the highest average number of assists per game of all players in Europe’s top five league to make at least 10 appearances, with 0.53 and 0.76 respectively.
Watch: Wirtz is among the Bundesliga’s Fantastic Four from the Hinrunde
In the safest hands
While we saw Wirtz coming some way off, very few people will have had Mark Flekken (or Freiburg) marked on their card ahead of 2021/22’s kick-off.
The Black Forest club sit third and boast the Bundesliga’s joint-meanest defence alongside leaders Bayern. However, Flekken has had to work for that honour and in fact ranks highest across Europe’s top five leagues for the number of goals prevented.
Based on xGoals against, Freiburg should have been breached 20.4 times this season. Instead, it’s just 16. When excluding own goals, it means Flekken’s saves have spared Christian Streich’s surprise packages 5.4 goals going in.
Freiburg’s Mark Flekken has been the Bundesliga’s toughest goalkeeper to beat this season. - Markus Fischer via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Passion2Press
That value is the greatest of all goalkeepers in the respective top divisions, coming out ahead of Celta Vigo’s Matias Dituro (5.2 goals prevented), Nice’s Walter Benitez (5.1), Marseille’s Pau Lopez (4.9) and Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale (4.8). It has justifiably seen Flekken earn his first call-up to the Netherlands national team – and helped Freiburg to their best-ever position at the midpoint of a Bundesliga season.
Referee, referee on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
Germans do things by the book. And the same applies in Bundesliga football as well, with players preferring not to have their names written in referees’ books.
The Bundesliga has seen an average of just 3.55 yellow cards per game in 2021/22, making it the fairest league at Europe’s summit. The Premier League sees 3.64 cautions per match; Ligue 1 3.78; Serie A 4.51; and La Liga 4.83.
The Bundesliga sees the fewest yellow cards per game in Europe’s top five leagues. - DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga
The order isn’t the same when it comes to red cards, but again the Bundesliga shows it does fair play best, with only 0.1 dismissals per fixture. Next comes England (0.13), Italy (0.23), Spain (0.24) and France (0.27) – the latter being more than double the rate of German football. There’s also no Bundesliga team that’s had more than two players sent off all season. Europe’s worst offenders with dismissals each are Lyon (France), Udinese and Fiorentina (both Italy).
>> The Bundesliga has introduced its new Fair Play Award for 2021/22
And although Germans are said to be fond of penalties, they are a less common occurrence in league fixtures than other parts of the continent. A spot-kick is only awarded in the Bundesliga on average every four matches, working out at 0.27 per game. The Premier League is again second in that regard (0.29), followed by Ligue 1 (0.31), La Liga (0.32) and Serie A (0.37).
The German top flight also sees the fewest dismissals in Europe’s top five divisions. - DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga
Keep the game moving…
Fed up with the ball being out of play and the game stopped? You need to watch the Bundesliga.
Almost three quarters of all goals in Germany’s top flight come from open play. This season, set plays have accounted for just 129 out of 473 goals. That works out at 27 per cent and is the lowest proportion across the top five leagues, meaning a Bundesliga game sees a greater number of goals scored from genuine play.
France is the place if you’re particularly fond of a dead ball; 31 per cent of goals in Ligue 1 this season have been scored in that manner. The Premier League and La Liga both come in at 30 per cent, while Serie A is 29 per cent.
…but also not afraid to cross
In the Bundesliga, crossing the ball into the box means doing so from open play. And when the delivery is high, that spells danger. Germany’s first division is tied with France for the greatest proportion of goals scored from headers this season (both 18 per cent; La Liga 17 per cent; Serie A 15 per cent; Premier League 14 per cent).
Watch: Analysing high-flying Anthony Modeste
And nobody does it better right now than Cologne’s Anthony Modeste. His eight headed goals make him Europe’s most dangerous man in the air this season, quite literally head and shoulders above the rest. He’s got three more than the next best, Mattia Destro of Genoa (five).
Unsurprisingly, that makes the Billy Goats the Bundesliga best team for headed goals with 11 in total. Only Inter Milan (12) have more across the top five leagues.