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.

Related items

  • Williamson out to prove he is a winner by helping New Orleans Pelicans to NBA title Williamson out to prove he is a winner by helping New Orleans Pelicans to NBA title

    Zion Williamson received the ultimate present on his 22nd birthday. 

    As a thank you, he wants to deliver a championship to the New Orleans Pelicans. 

    Williamson officially signed his five-year, $231million rookie max extension with the Pelicans at a YMCA in New Orleans where he was hosting a camp.  

    He signed the deal on Wednesday, the same day he turned 22, and sitting alongside Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon, executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin and coach Willie Green, Williamson – not surprisingly – said this is the number one birthday he has ever had. 

    "For the Pelicans to give me this birthday gift, I'm not going to let them down," Williamson said. 

    A year ago on his birthday, Williamson found out he broke his foot forcing him to miss the entire 2021-22 season. Now that he has been cleared to play, he has lofty goals. 

    "I want to prove that I'm a winner, it's as simple as that," he said. "The ultimate goal is to win a championship. And I feel like that's what we're all striving for." 

    The Pelicans made the playoffs this past season without Williamson and took the No. 1 seed Phoenix Suns to six games before being ousted. 

    With Williamson in the fold, the hope is he can help the franchise take the next step. 

    "It's gonna all come together at some point throughout the course of the season," Green said. "And when it does, I think we can be a scary team."

    Williamson has only appeared in a mere 85 games since being the top pick of the 2019 NBA draft, but he has been outstanding when healthy, averaging 25.7 points, 7 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting just over 60 per cent. 

    Since his rookie season, Williamson has been instrumental to New Orleans' success. The Pelicans have won 47.1 per cent of their games while averaging 116.4 points in the 85 games Williamson has played, compared to winning 40.4 per cent of the games and an average of 111.1 points in the contests he has missed.  

    "Adding [Zion] back on the court with the group that we have is going to be a lot of fun but also really dangerous for the entire league and all of the 29 teams that have to face us night in and night out," Langdon said. "We are incredibly excited about that."

    Suiting up alongside Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, Williamson gives the Pelicans another scoring threat making the offense even more dangerous. New Orleans' offense thrived after acquiring McCollum last February, averaging 115.9 points after the trade compared to an average of 105.9 points in their first 54 games. 

    "We have an opportunity to be able to run toward sustained success for quite a long time," Griffin said. "We're young, we're talented, and most importantly – we are very hungry." 

  • Wilshere considering options going forward after departing Danish club AGF Wilshere considering options going forward after departing Danish club AGF

    Jack Wilshere is "considering all of my options" after the midfielder and Danish Superliga club AGF decided to mutually part ways after five months.

    The former Arsenal player arrived with the club in February on a short-term deal until the end of the season, making 14 appearances for the club that finished one point clear of relegation.

    Wilshere, 30, had been without a club since being released by Bournemouth following the 2020-21 Premier League season, and had been training with both Arsenal and Serie B club Como in an effort to stay sharp.

    In an Instagram post on Wednesday, he thanked the Danish club for taking a chance on him and providing an opportunity to play once again.

    "My time at [AGF] has come to an end," he wrote. "Myself and the club have mutually agreed it’s best for me to move on. 

    "I would like to thank everybody at AGF for the support and confidence they gave me from day one. The club showed trust in me that not many others were willing to give. 

    "Although results were hard to come by, the fans' support of me and the team was unbelievable. Thank you guys for welcoming me into your club and city. 

    "I wish you all the best in the future. Personally I am considering all of my options."

    AGF released a statement saying they "benefited from Jack Wilshere's great footballing and human qualities" and that "there has subsequently been a dialogue on continuing the cooperation, but after careful consideration, the parties have jointly come to the conclusion that the agreement will not be extended."

    AGF's sporting director Stig Inge Bjornebye added: "We all want to thank Jack for the time he has been in AGF. It has been a great pleasure to work with him and experience him and share his experiences from a very nice and special career."

  • Wizards star Beal only player with no-trade clause in NBA Wizards star Beal only player with no-trade clause in NBA

    Bradley Beal's five-year, $251million contract with the Washington Wizards includes a no-trade clause that makes the three-time All-Star guard the only player in the NBA to have a "true no trade clause", according to ESPN's Bobby Marks. 

    Marks also says Beal is the 10th player in NBA history to have the clause in a deal, joining LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan, David Robinson and John Stockton. 

    Beal was eligible to negotiate the clause because he has been in the league for at least eight seasons and spent at least the previous four campaigns with his current team.

    He has been with the Wizards since they selected him third overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. 

    Beal's 25.8 points per game since the 2016-17 season is the 10th-highest scoring average in the NBA over that span. He was limited to 40 games in 2021-22 before undergoing season-ending surgery on his left wrist. 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.