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Why Are German Clubs So Damned Good At Shooting?

By Ted Knutson | June 20, 2013 | Analytics

There’s a stat I’ve looked at before that I’ve dubbed SoTPAR which stands for Shots on Target versus Par. You can find my original article about it from January here. Anyway, I started doing research today to revisit it now that the season is done. I’ll have a much larger article or two on its use and implications in the coming days, but for the moment I wanted to make a quick post on what’s happening in the Bundesliga right now.

This is the sort for the English Premier League. Delta is how many more shots on target each team averages above the 3 year average for their leagues. As you can see, Manchester United are really good at putting shots on target, while QPR were truly dreadful (and were last season too).  Anyway, the EPL 3-year average for this was 32.5%, so that’s how I calculated the expected.


Now this is the Bundesliga, based on their 3-year average as well.


As you can see, Munich were incredible at making sure the shots they took were on target. Dortmund were also really good, and so were Leverkusen and Schalke. Conveniently, all four of those teams also qualified for the Champions’ League. The bottom end has a number of clubs who were not very good at shooting the ball, to a much wider degree than you saw in England.

The thing is… this is based on the Bundesliga average of 36%. What happens if you calculate the expected at the same percentage as the Premier League?


Wooooow.  German teams are far, far better on average at putting the shots they take on target than teams in England.


I can think of a few possible reasons (and I'm sure you guys can probably think of many more):

1)      In some cases this can be caused by a talent disparity. Better players create better chances, and shoot the ball better. Regardless of how good Munich and Dortmund are, can the whole league be that much more talented than England?

2)      This could be also caused by more "lax" defense played in the Bundesliga versus the PL, which in turn results in slightly easier shots on the whole. Having watched a good bit of both leagues this past year, this one seems dubious.

What about a different wrinkle? What if more pressing and the use of a high line also has a tendency to allow attacking teams to get more breakaways and 1v1s with the keeper? (Thanks Dirk!)

3)      Finally, could German managers simply be better at coaching their players to create and take better shots? Are they shooting from better locations? Are they better at employing schemes and tactics that create better shots?

I don’t know what the actual answer is, but one of the cool things that analytics can do is look at the data and start to hazard educated guesses. Expect to see some of those crop up before the new season starts.

In the meantime, maybe England should be sending perspective coaches on extended internships in Germany to try and mine some of the secrets, because if your team creates more shots on target it has a significant correlation to winning more as well. Both at the league level and *gulp* at various national team levels as well.

Article by Ted Knutson