By Ted Knutson

As I mentioned last week [LINK], we’ll be posting the predictive model rankings for each team across the leagues, every five weeks or so. This week both Bundesliga and Ligue 1 came online, so we’ll look at the current rankings there and add some descriptive elements plus caveats on why some things aren’t quite as clear as they should be. Since I am pretty well versed in the teams in these leagues compared to the ones I reviewed last week, I also noticed an issue with strength of opponents across the first five matches that appears in certain leagues and not others, which I will also highlight below.

Bundesliga – Through Week 5

Rank Team

1

Borussia Dortmund

2

Bayern Munich

3

Augsburg

4

Bayer Leverkusen

5

Schalke 04

6

Hertha Berlin

7

VfB Stuttgart

8

Hamburger SV

9

Hoffenheim

10

Wolfsburg

11

Hannover 96

12

Borussia M.Gladbach

13

Braunschweig

14

Werder Bremen

15

Mainz 05

16

Nurnberg

17

Freiburg

18

Eintracht Frankfurt

League Winner: Dortmund, Bayern
Champions League Places: Augsburg, Leverkusen, Schalke
Relegation: Nurnberg, Mainz

The league winner fight is exactly as expected. Thus far in the season there is basically nothing to separate Dortmund and Bayern (which is saying a lot about Dortmund) – they are both out-of-this-world good.

A very large caveat about these rankings. Through five matches, there is no strength of schedule correction (at least partly because in other leagues, it’s hard to tell who is good and who isn’t before the season). Thus if you played Dortmund or Bayern, your stats are skewed in a bad way. Leverkusen are also good enough to give a slightly unfair negative skew in the coefficients. If you somehow were unlucky enough to play BOTH Bayern and Leverkusen AWAY, like Gladbach did, well, you are probably a lot better than your current coefficient looks. (Freiburg also had the same double dip, but one of those was at home. Frankfurt had Munich and Dortmund, both at home. Facing a couple of hugely talented opponents when others have not skews things a lot right now. There are solutions to this type of problem, but they all have their own issues.)

Looking at the Champions’ League spots, you will see a very surprising name in there: Augsburg. The same Augsburg that was bottom of the table last winter and barely avoided a relegation playoff. The simple fact is that they have been playing good football for the entire year, and have the lowest shots conceded number in the league. I checked last year’s stats, and they were considered the 6th or 7th best team then, despite exhibiting relegation form for half a year. They are real and they are not likely to go away unless an injury crisis hits. [Also, if any team out there needs a new manager, take a long, hard look at Marcus Weinzierl.]

As for relegation candidates, I am giving Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt a pass for now because of their strength of schedule. Mainz doesn’t get that pass. They have yet to play any of the big three, and their fundamentals are quite poor. The good news for them is that they won their first three matches, but I expect heavy regression before the winter break. Nurnberg are also in here based on poor fundamentals. They did face Bayern in Munich, but have been absolutely dreadful otherwise, giving up the most shots against in the league by far. Corrected for schedule, they are far and away the most likely team to get relegated this year.

Ligue 1 – Through Week 5

Rank Team

1

Paris Saint Germain

2

Monaco

3

Marseille

4

Lorient

5

Lille

6

Lyon

7

Rennes

8

Evian Thonon Gaillard

9

Reims

10

Guingamp

11

Valenciennes

12

Nantes

13

Saint Etienne

14

Sochaux

15

Nice

16

Montpellier

17

Ajaccio

18

Bordeaux

19

Bastia

20

Toulouse

League Winner: PSG
Champions League Places: Definitely Monaco. Then two of Marseille, Lorient, Lille, Lyon
Relegation:  Bastia. Ajaccio? Lots of uncertainty here so far.

I know PSG are technically in third and Monaco lead the league, but at the end of the year I don’t think the race will be that close. PSG are miles ahead of anyone in the league in terms of quality (both perceived player quality and coefficient quality), and are much more aggressive in trying to destroy teams than they were under Ancelotti. Blanc has let slip the dogs of war and they will maul most of the league at one point or another this year.

Monaco are also very good, and likely will go from promotion to 2nd in the league this season. After that, you have lost of the usual suspects for Ligue 1, with Lorient pitched in the middle. There are some questions about whether Marseille and Lorient can sustain their form, but for now they appear to deserve their markings.

At the bottom end of the league you have Bastia, who are awful. They haven’t played anyone good yet and have a terrible coefficient. It’s just going to get worse from here out. Toulouse and Ajaccio might also be awful, but I’d want a few more games to be certain. Bordeaux is probably not awful, and are only hanging out down here in the French sewers because of opposition strength. They’ll get better, but not enough to challenge for Europe.

Conclusion
So there you go. After five games, we can make some very early conclusions. Dortmund, Bayern, and PSG are all incredibly good, again. Monaco are immediately reflecting their summer spending spree (and Ranieri was actually a statistically solid manager at his many past teams). Bastia and Nurnberg are both very bad, and excellent choices to be relegated.

We’ll check back on these teams in another five games and see how much movement there is in each league.

 

  • Wild Willie

    Good stuff. Any chance you can put that knowledge of League 1 and Bundesliga and do a preview of the Arsenal, Dortmund, Napoli and Marseille Champions League group?

  • Richard

    interesting thoughts, and although I agree about Nurnberg being terrible, Braunschweig are easily still the worst in the league.

    I disagree with you on Mainz as well. I don’t think the “heavy regression before the winter break” will happen. Tuchel’s side are solid year after year and there’s plenty of other contenders with shaky defenses that will finish below Mainz this season, Bremen, Hamburg, Hannover, Freiburg, Hoffenheim, Stuttgart to name a few!