For some, football statistics are the be-all and end-all of every debate. However, as this best XI in Europe from CIES Football Observatory shows, it’s not always the best evidence to use.
The think-tank believe that they’ve come up with the best XI from the five big European leagues below based on player performance based stats.
Some of the selections simply can’t be argued from a bigger picture. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been instrumental for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively, while Dries Mertens has scored 31 goals in 44 games for Napoli this season to establish himself as one of the most prolific forwards in Europe.
However, this is where things get a little more complicated. Paul Pogba gets the nod despite an indifferent start to his second spell at Manchester United, following his world record £89m arrival from Juventus last summer, as per BBC Sport.
The stats suggest he is one of the best in Europe in his position, but tell that to United fans who probably expected a lot more from the Frenchman and a more consistent and influential Premier League campaign on an individual basis.
Further, Roma full-back Bruno Peres also makes the cut and it’s fair to say if you held a poll of Roma fans and asked them if he deserved to be there, the majority would surely say no after an average first year at the Stadio Olimpico.
There’s no doubt he’s a top player but he hasn’t produced for the Giallorossi, even if the statistics say otherwise.
Bayern Munich dominate with a quartet of players, while Juventus left-back Alex Sandro and RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita complete the line-up.
That means not a single Chelsea or Tottenham player gets in despite a number of them excelling in actually winning games, while there’s just one Juventus player and no Monaco stars. If we’re going on stats alone, fair enough. However, these findings surely beg the question as to how much credence this deserves?
CIES – Europe’s best statistical XI: Neuer; Peres, Martinez, Hummels, Sandro; Keita, Alcantara, Pogba; Messi, Mertens, Ronaldo.