BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 03:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona conducts the ball during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF at Camp Nou stadium on December 3, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Stats Reveal Which of Europe's Top 5 Leagues Is Really the Most Technical This Season

The Premier League might be considered the most entertaining and exciting league in the world, but many would condemn what they see as a lack of technical proficiency from the majority of the teams that play in it.


As such, it is La Liga that is widely regarded as the best technical league there is.


Spanish football is heralded the world over for the way players are drilled in technique. Teams know how to play with the ball on the floor and the common perception is that of all Europe's top five leagues, La Liga sides are the least likely to engage in overly simplistic 'route one' tactics.


And yet, as far as this season has been concerned, ​90min research based on raw data available from​ WhoScored can reveal that quite the opposite is true. Using passing statistics it is possible to calculate just how frequently, as a proportion of their overall attempted passes, every team across all five leagues in question have been playing the ball long this season.


From that comes a league average and a value as to just how technical a league is. The lower the percentage of long balls, the more intricate and technical the league as whole is.


Figures correct as of 8th December 2016 at time of publishing

5. La Liga - 16.02% of all attempted passes are long

Somewhat surprisingly, teams in La Liga are, on average, playing long balls more frequently and more willingly than in the Premier League, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A.


Just over 16% of all attempted passes per game attempted this season have been long rather than short. The accuracy of those long passes has been 46.6%.


Barcelona have only sent 9.33% of passes long. But despite the club's reputation, at least one team in the other four top leagues has gone long less frequently than the Catalans so far in 2016/17 - PSG, Nice, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Napoli.


The La Liga average is significantly affected by the likes of Eibar (23.27%), Osasuna (22.67%) and Espanyol (20.1%), who all attempt to play more than one in every five passes long. Leganes, Sporting Gijon, Alaves and even Athletic Bilbao are also close to 20%.

4. Premier League - 15.97% of all attempted passes are long

England's Premier League is marginally less 'kick and rush' than La Liga, perhaps the result of the undoubted foreign influences in terms of both players and coaches.


Long passing accuracy among English clubs is ever so slightly inferior at 46.51% than in Spain, but three teams (Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City) play less than 11% of their total passes long - only Barcelona can match that in Spain.


What is not surprising about the Premier League is that the most 'long ball' team is West Brom. Tony Pulis' Baggies hit in excess of 23.5% of their attempted passes long, with only Burnley (23.1%) and Sunderland (21.49%) also going above 20%.

3. Bundesliga - 15.91% of all attempted passes are long

It is often said that the Bundesliga and the Premier League share similarities in terms of overall style. There is only a 0.6% difference in the proportion of average long balls per game this season, while long ball accuracy in Germany is 47.04% compared to 46.51%.


At this moment in time, it would appear that the Bundesliga is, on average, just about more technical, but it is a world of real extremes. Borussia Dortmund have played long balls just 7.68% of the time, while no side in any of the top five leagues more readily punts it forward than Darmstadt at 26.85%.


Beyond Bayern Munich (8.57%) and the aforementioned Dortmund, it is Borussia Monchengladbach who are the next most intricate and technical team in Germany, with only 10.2% of their attempted passes going long.

2. Ligue 1 - 14.56% of all attempted passes are long

What is interesting about Ligue 1 is that it is the only league where three teams are playing long balls less than 10% of the time. So far this season, Paris Saint-Germain have tried long passes just 7.12% of the team - the lowest in Europe's top five leagues.


Nice (8.78%) and Lyon (9.94%) are also keeping the ball on the ground more than most on the continent. There is also only one team, Bastia, that is playing in excess of 20% of their passes long each game.


But the reason why Ligue 1 is not the least 'long ball' league in Europe is because beyond the most technical teams there is a skew in overall average with a number of teams - Saint-Etienne, Dijon, Guingamp, Montpellier, Toulouse and Caen - between 15% and 18%.

1. Serie A - 14.14% of all attempted passes are long

Finally to Serie A in Italy, where the league average for long passes as a percentage of total passes is the lowest in any of Europe's top five. No other division can boast a better long ball accuracy than the Italians either, where such punts find their target 50.55% of the time.


Relegation threatened Crotone aside, where 21.77% of passes are played long, Cagliari are the only other Serie A side where more than 16.23% of ball go long. Barring the extremities, it is a generally much tighter data range.


Napoli are the leaders in terms of the most intricate and least 'long ball' style of play. Only 8.64% of their attempted passes per game have been long. Title contenders Juventus and Roma are both in excess of 12% in that respect.

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