Expected Goals

Lewandowski, Haaland and the forwards outperforming xG

Some of the big hitters within Europe's top five leagues are banging in the goals as we head into the festive period

3:24pm on Thursday 10th December 2020
Martin Macdonald

Robert Lewandowski is currently the player in Europe's top five leagues who is outperforming his expected goals by the biggest amount.

The Polish striker has scored 12 goals in the German Bundesliga so far, up against an xG of just seven.

Expected Goals are a useful metric over the longer term, because any good xG model will see its players regress back to the mean over time. It means that at certain points of a season we can assess a player's goal total, compare it to their xG total, and identify players who are either over or underachieving the model.

EXPECTED GOALS (xG) assesses the quality of a shot based on several variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance. From there that shot is assigned an xG score and the cumulative total of these scores provides a team's xG for a match. Stats Definition

The players on this list are those who have been able to score in a less likely goalscoring scenario, compared to chances with a higher xG.


Player Goals v xG

#Player NameTeamxGxG Diff
1Robert LewandowskiBayern127-5
2Erling HaalandDortmund106-4
3Lucas AlarioLeverkusen73-4
4Kylian MbappePSG107-3
5Andrea BelottiTorino74.1-2.9
6Wilfried ZahaCrystal Palace74.4-2.6
7Ibrahima NianeMetz63.4-2.6
8Cristian TelloBetis41.4-2.6
9Roberto SorianoBologna52.5-2.5
10Boulaye DiaReims85.6-2.4

The Bundesliga the most represented league on the list, with all of the top three positions taken by players who ply their trade in the German top flight.

Joining Lewandowski is Erling Haaland of Dortmund, who has scored 10 against an xG of six, and Lucas Alario, who has scored an impressive seven goals against an xG of just three.

Wilfried Zaha is the only representative from the Premier League to make the top 10, though Bruno Fernandes and Mohamed Salah just missed out with xG differences of +2.4 and +2 respectively.

Like the two examples from the Premier League, Cristiano Ronaldo just missed out on the top 10, as he has scored eight goals from an xG of 5.9.

Lewandowski not only leads the top 10 for outperforming xG, but he is currently the top goalscorer in Europe's top five leagues overall.

Will Lewandowski regress?

What makes Lewandowski so good is his ability to consistently confound xG models, and overperform against his rate. He's consistently done it over the past few seasons, and there's no reason to suggest it won't continue.

That being said, at this stage in 2019/20, he was over 10 goals ahead of his xG target and did regress backwards across the season.

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