clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Off the Crossbar: What if the Bundesliga table was decided by xGoals?

New, comments

If there was an alternate reality where xGoals reigned supreme, Borussia Dortmund would sit atop the Bundesliga table after Matchday 11.

BUNDESLIGA - 1 FC Union Berlin v FC Bayern Munich Photo by Mathias Renner/City-Press via Getty Images

This is pure speculation for fun, so try and enjoy it for what it is. Let’s look at what the Bundesliga Table would look like if the table was decided by xGoals.

Okay, right off the bat I need to lay down some law. There are some major assumptions made so that this table could be decided in the “fairest” way possible. This article assumes that:

  1. Expected Goals is the most accurate depiction of a team’s performance in a match.
  2. The xGoals stats used in this article were accurately recorded in an error-free analytical model. xGoals were provided by fbref.com.
  3. The team with the higher Expected Goals is the team that deserves to win every match.
  4. To earn a win, a team must have an xGoals of at least 0.6 or higher than their opponent, anything less should count as a tie. This number was tweaked until 0.6 was decided. If it was any higher, there would be way too many ties. And 0.6+ is enough to justify giving a team the win.

Sounds about fair, now let’s get into this.

Title Favorites

1st: Dortmund — 9-1-1 - 28 points

This is one that will upset many readers I’m sure. But Borussia Dortmund has been significantly dominant in almost every game this season. A key difference here is a win over Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker. All of the games had a clear winner except for Dortmund beating Frankfurt by xGoals of 1.2 to 0.8, which was not enough to give them all three points. Lucien Favre is sacked even though his team seats clear ahead in this hypothetical table (lol). BVB’s only loss here was the unanimous crushing by VfB Stuttgart. Not only are they first in the table, but they have an outstanding Expected Goal Difference per 90 minutes of +1.01.

Borussia Dortmund v Club Brugge KV: Group F - UEFA Champions League
In this alternate reality, Erling Haaland would be leading his Borussia Dortmund side at the top of the table.
Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

2nd: RB Leipzig — 7-4-0 - 21 points

Leipzig are invincible in this updated table. Their defensive ability is why this team has been so successful in Europe and can be backed up with these advanced stats. They have the lowest xGoals Against in the league at just 8.8. That is crazy. They will aim to seriously contend for this year’s Bundesliga title. Their +1.07 Expected Goal Difference per 90 minutes is the highest of any team this season.

3rd: Union Berlin7-4-0 - 21 points

The Promotion Honeymoon stage is over for Union Berlin, but they have shown that they are still a Bundesliga level team. Union Berlin are one of only two teams that are invincible under these new conditions! They just about claimed a victory over Bayern Munich on Matchday 11 with a result of 1.4 to 0.9 xGoals, but a xGoals difference of +0.5 was not quite enough to send them home with all 3 points. Keep an eye out for this team to make a serious push for European competition next season. Is Loris Karius making a return to the Champions League?!

4th: Borussia Mönchengladbach — 6-2-3 - 20 points

M’Gladbach are the perfect example of an unlucky team. They have drawn five games this year and they easily could’ve won two of those games.

5th: Bayer Leverkusen — 5-5-1 - 20 points

Bayer Leverkusen currently sit at the top of the Bundesliga table with an impressive record of 7-4-0. Unfortunately, in this updated record they do not stay invincible. In a game where they beat M’gladbach 4-3, they were actually the lesser team with only 1.6 xGoals compared to Gladbach’s 2.6 xGoals. They are only a mediocre team offensively, but they allow their opponents very few chances.

Fighting for European Competition

6th: Wolfsburg — 5-4-2 - 19 points

I have really enjoyed watching Wolfsburg play this year. Wout Weghorst is an absolute machine and could bring Wolfsburg back to European’s major tournaments. Wolfsburg are strong after 11 matchdays, and their xGoals back them up as a serious threat to teams who are competing for a top spot this season.

7th: Eintracht Frankfurt — 5-3-3 - 18 points

Now, this is an interesting one. Frankfurt have played well this year but have not been able to seal the deal in so many close games. In the Bundesliga, they currently sit at a record of 2-7-2, which is a substantial difference from their xGoals record. Keep an eye out on Eintracht Frankfurt for the remainder of the season should they start playing a much more offensive style.

8th: VfB Stuttgart - 5-3-3 - 18 points

Newly promoted Stuttgart have shown the competition that they are for real. Not only do they sit 7th in the Bundesliga, but their stats back them up as being a serious competitor this season.

Middle of the Table

9th: Bayern Munich 4-4-3 - 16 points

Before you all riot, remember to take in some deep breaths. Here are some key results that would cost Bayern points:

  • 1.0 to 1.0 draw to Köln on Matchday 6
  • 1.1 to 2.0 loss to Dortmund on Matchday 7
  • 1.0 to 1.8 loss to Stuttgart on Matchday 9

If we are being honest, I can’t disagree with the xGoals in many of these results, including the draw against Werder Bremen. It is only 11 matches into the season, but Bayern would drop down significantly in this imaginary table. You can’t argue the stats, however, there are players like Robert Lewandowski who defy measures such as xGoals, the dude just scores however he likes. But this is a hypothetical table for a reason. It should also be noted that Bayern are actually 5th in xGoals Difference on the season, but that is largely due to a 4.9 xGoals difference after crushing Schalke 04.

VfB Stuttgart v FC Bayern Muenchen - Bundesliga
Robert Lewandowski’s Bayern Munich side would have some work to do if the table was determined by xGoals.
Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

10th: Hoffenheim — 4-3-4 - 15 points

Hoffenheim are the only team to have beaten Bayern Munich in umm, well, a very long time. Their season has not gone to plan as they have now only won once in their last seven domestic matches. However, this updated record shows they are better than their actual results would suggest.

11th: Mainz 05 — 4-2-5 - 14 points

Based on these updated results, Mainz seem to have been quite unlucky so far this season. They have only won once in their first 11 games, but deserve to have won closer to 4 games in this updated model. They move up from 17th in the relegation zone, all the way to 11th.

Not Meeting Expectations

12th: Hertha Berlin — 3-3-5 - 12 points

Funny enough, Hertha Berlin have had the fairest results so far this season based on their team’s performance. Their new updated record, is the exact same as it stood before at 3-3-5. However, their game-by-game results would still have differed of course.

13th: Werder Bremen — 3-2-6 - 11 points

After a disastrous last season, Werder Bremen want to bounce back. They’ve gotten some decent outcomes, and they’ve played alright. There is not a whole lot to talk about here.

14th: SC Freiburg — 3-2-6 - 11 points

Just like in actuality, Freiburg are always just there. Not making a whole lot of noise, but still in the mix of things. The same goes for their position in this table.

Fighting for Survival

15th: FC Köln — 2-1-8 - 7 points

The Billy Goats stay at two wins in their updated record, but go home with no points on three more occasions.

16th: FC Augsburg — 1-3-7 - 4 points

Augsburg is a great example of a lucky team so far this season. They have not lost a game so far this season in which they did not deserve to lose. You can expect Augsburg to continue dropping down the table with their current performance.

FC Augsburg v FC Schalke 04 - Bundesliga
Schalke 04 is bad in any table.
Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Automatic Relegation

17th: Schalke — 1-0-10 - 3 points

This one really hurts. They have had a xGoals Difference of -1.0 or worse in 9 of 11 games this season. That is very bad. The only time they deserved to win was on Matchday 11, when they drew Augsburg 2-2. Schalke’s xGoals have been improving significantly since the first five games of the season, but they are still so far behind the competition. They have the league’s worst xGoals Difference per 90, at a -1.57.

18th: Arminia Bielefeld — 0-1-10 - 1 point

They have not deserved to win a single game this season. Ouch. Relegation is the clear outcome in both tables.

Final Thoughts

I know there are a ton of critics openly against advanced stats such as xGoals, but they do a decent job at depicting team performance into one relevant stat. Just by the eye test, if you think your team deserved to win a game but were denied some key chances, odds are your team had the xGoals result.

It’s hard to argue the accuracy of these metrics. Bayern Munich are a mid-table side in these standings, but all of the game-to-game metrics checked out for me. Maybe a team like Bayern with pure class has the ability to finish chances that other teams wouldn’t be able to. It’s the mentality and work ethic that makes us that so lethal in front of goal, and xGoals can’t consider other factors.

What are your thoughts on xGoals and do you think that this is an accurate table? One that more accurately depicts team performance than the current Bundesliga table after 11 games? If the xGoals metrics have any merit, then the actual Bundesliga table should gradually shift to a table that looks more like this one. But I have a strange feeling that Bayern still won’t drop to ninth.