Not converting Shots to Goals: Which teams has Europe's least efficient finishers?

If AC Milan could finish chances, where would they be in Serie A...

9:00am on Thursday 27th February 2020
Dan Tracey

After taking a look at who are the most efficient teams across Europe’s major leagues, it made sense to then look at this from the opposite point of view and in this article, the focus will be on which teams are most profligate in the final third.

Once again, our sample accounts for all of the 98 clubs across the ‘Big Five’ and before the numbers have been crunched there is a logical hypothesis that we will look to test and it is one that suggests that the least efficient teams will be found at the bottom of their respective league tables.


Converting Shots to Goals: Which team has Europe's most efficient finishers?

The logic here is that if you are one of the least efficient, you are creating but not making best use of such a large number of chances and more often than not, this will lead to a very low goals-to-game ratio.

Take Italian outfit SPAL 2013 for example. At the time of writing, they find themselves lying bottom of Serie A and although that is bad enough, they are also the least efficient team across both Italy and our whole data sample.

That’s because they have managed just one goal every 20 shots (both on and off target) and when you consider that they have made no fewer than 338 chances this season, it indicates that there is a lot of work still to be done on the training pitch.

Top Serie A scorers - 19-20Feb 26, 2020
Andrea PetagnaSPALST (C)217810
Kevin BonifaziSPALD (LR)6522
Lucas CastroSPALDM (R), AM (C)8832
Mattia ValotiSPALM (C), W (L)11592
Federico Di FrancescoSPALW (L), F (C)9542

Luigi Di Biagio’s men have a shot efficiency of just 5.63%, having scored just 19 times and when you add the fact that they’ve already played in 25 Serie A fixtures this season, they average just 0.76 goals per league game.

Next in our hall of goalscoring shame is that of SPAL’s Serie A counterparts Udinese and although they find themselves just outside the relegation zone in 15th place, they could probably improve matters through a greater level of efficiency.

They have converted just 6.46% of all the chances that they have created (21 goals from 325) and what is interesting is that they are one of four Italian teams to make the top 10 list of least efficient European clubs.

A look at both SPAL’s and Udinese’s xG this season does not make for good reading either, as the former are 9.48 goals short of their expected measure and the latter find themselves with a deficit of 5.15.

While there is perhaps one club that stands out the most in our list of inefficiency and that is AC Milan, who also go some way to debunking the hypothesis that suggests that the least efficient teams are found at the bottom of the table.

The San Siro outfit currently find themselves lying seventh in Serie A, but are subsequently the fourth-least efficient team in our European sample and with just 27 goals from a rather impressive total of 390 shots, this equates to a conversion ratio of 6.92%.

This is the perfect example of creating a feast of opportunities but failing to punish the opposition and of the 16 least efficient teams in our list, the red and black half of Milan have had the most overall attempts.

While a look at their xG once again tells a rather negative story and the side currently managed by Stefan Pioli have scored 9.60 goals less than their expected value – the highest negative difference of all the Serie A clubs.

If we were to look at the ten least efficient teams, the average league position is 16th and only Reims are the other outfit to be placed in the top half of their respective table (8th in Ligue 1). Something that suggests that our original hypothesis rings true.

Of that group of ten, four of them find themselves lying rock bottom – a list that is made up of SPAL, Toulouse, Norwich and Espanyol, while second bottom of La Liga, Leganes, join them as another team which is also currently in the relegation zone.

This means that 50% of our ten least efficient teams find themselves in the bottom three of their respective league tables and although this quintet have taken an average of 300 shots, it’s the failure to display a ruthless streak which could end up costing them at the end of the campaign.

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