Here’s a round-up of the finest goals, worst misses and easiest finishes in expected goals (xG) terms of the 2018-19 Bundesliga season to date.
Pretty much everyone is familiar with xG nowadays, but just be sure: it measures the likelihood of a scoring opportunity resulting in a goal by comparing it to a large number of similar chances in the past.
A very high xG value means that a chance was almost certain to produce a goal, whereas a very low figure indicates that the odds of a goal being scored were extremely small.
All numbers are taken from Understat and were correct as of February 7, 2019.
The best 2018-19 Bundesliga goals so far
The most unlikely goal of the season to date was Lucas Hoeler’s glorious 46-metre injury-time strike for Freiburg against Gladbach in late October. It had a minuscule xG value of 0.0085 and inspired Christian Streich to jump around like a lunatic, which is one of the Bundesliga’s most joyful sights. Credit is also due to Yann Sommer for his inadvertent assist.
It feels as though no team has scored as many improbable goals over the past 18 months as Domenico Tedesco’s Schalke side, so it seems fitting that second position here is occupied by Daniel Caligiuri. The strike in question was his mid-December equaliser against Augsburg, which had an xG value of just 0.0105.
Mainz centre-back Jean-Philippe Gbamin’s 0.0131 xG goal away at Freiburg in November currently lies third. It was also only his third goal in two-and-a-half years at the club and just his ninth in a professional career that began back in 2012.
Freiburg really have scored some remarkable goals this season. Robin Koch’s 0.0134 xG equaliser against Hertha at the Olympiastadion was probably even more impressive than Hoeler’s strike, in fact, given that the opposition goalkeeper was actually standing in the way on this occasion.
It’s been a season with very few high points for Hannover, but Ihlas Bebou’s 0.0144 xG goal against Augsburg is certainly one of them. His team still lost the game, of course.
The worst misses of the season to date
Nine penalties have been missed in the Bundesliga this term, two of them by Thorgan Hazard. A penalty has an xG value of 0.7578, and of the 4,881 shots taken in the Bundesliga so far, only 27 have had a higher xG value than that. Just four of those chances have been missed, and we’ll take a look at them here.
Mid-December certainly wasn’t a good time for finishing quality in the Bundesliga, because three of these misses came in the space of four days just before the winter break.
The dishonour of producing the worst miss of the season in xG terms belongs to Hoffenheim defender Ermin Bicakcic. It occurred during injury time in his side’s entertaining goalless draw with Gladbach on December 15. The chance had an xG value of 0.9656, but the accolade seems a little harsh on the Bosnian.
A day later, Leipzig’s Konrad Laimer committed the Bundesliga campaign’s second-worst miss (0.8668 xG), during his team’s 4-1 win over Mainz. This also seems a little rough on the player, firstly due to the awkward way the rebound comes at him, and secondly because Timo Werner was clearly offside in the build-up, so a goal would have been disallowed by VAR anyway.
Third in the list is Abdou Diallo’s 0.8045 xG chance for Dortmund in their 3-1 home win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
What’s remarkable about this sequence is that Diallo in fact did manage to score a split-second afterwards from the rebound. As we’ll see later in the article, that was also the second-easiest goal of the season. So the centre-back at least gained some almost instant redemption.
Given that we saw one of the Bundesliga’s better keepers, Yann Sommer, doing something very bad for Lucas Hoeler’s goal earlier, then it only seems fair that that we see him doing something very good indeed here against Nuernberg.
Sommer’s brilliant save in December from Adam Zrelak’s header means that the Slovakian forward ranks fourth on this list.
The campaign’s easiest goals
The most straightforward goal to score in xG terms came from Mario Goetze’s little brother, Felix. It was his chested equaliser during Augsburg’s visit to Munich in late September, which led to Bayern dropping their first points of the season. The chance had an xG value of 0.9755.
It’s unclear whether or not the Understat model takes into account Manuel Neuer’s decision to wander off his line, wave at the ball as it arced over him and then complain to the referee that he’d been obstructed by Niklas Suele. But I think we can all agree that this sort of thing does tend to increase the expectation of a goal being scored.
Just behind Goetze’s goal is Abdou Diallo’s aforementioned 0.9665 xG opener for Dortmund against Frankfurt.
Third in the list is the second goal in Jonas Hofmann’s hat-trick – his first in the Bundesliga – for Gladbach against Mainz in October. Hofmann was aided by some extraordinary goal-keeping from Florian Mueller, who ended the game with two individual errors leading to a goal, a feat that was still unmatched in the Bundesliga this season come late January.
Next up is Andrej Kramaric’s 0.9529 xG second-half equaliser when Hoffenheim met Wolfsburg shortly before the winter break. The goal saw the Croatian forward become Hoffenheim’s all-time third-highest scorer in the Bundesliga, even though he only joined the club in January 2016.
The final entry also comes from a Hoffenheim player, this time Joelinton’s 0.9403 xG finish in their late October 4-0 win over Stuttgart.
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