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The Real Records For Players To Break In 2020/21


By now, it is common knowledge that Jamie Vardy scooped up this year’s Premier League Golden Boot or that Kevin De Bruyne equalled Thierry Henry’s all-time assist record with 20. But with statistics now describing much more than achievements relating to goals, here at Stats Perform we’ve analysed which players topped the charts in some of the lesser-known performance categories through Opta data.

By: Oliver Hopkins

As whistles blew around the grounds in Italy last month, they signalled something that had once seemed impossible: completion of Europe’s 2019/20 domestic seasons.

For many, this was a season to remember. Yes, Liverpool won their first ever Premier League title and first top-flight title for 30 years. Yes, Jamie Vardy become the oldest player to win the Premier League Golden Boot. Yes, Kevin De Bruyne equalled Thierry Henry’s long-standing Premier League assist record. Yes, Juventus and Bayern Munich won their ninth and eighth consecutive league titles respectively. And yes, Serie A golden boot winner (and top scorer across Europe’s top five leagues) Ciro Immobile scored 39% of his goals from penalties (14 out of 36).

But come on, conventional awards are boooring. They’re so mainstream.

Let’s try something a little bit different. We’ve analysed which players topped the charts in some of the lesser-known performance categories (think shots on target, tackles and passes) across Europe’s top five leagues and have created an alternative set of records to chase in 2020/21. The definitions for all the event-types included in this piece and against which all our data analysts collect the world’s most trusted sports data, Opta, can be viewed here.

So, without further ado, we introduce the real records players can aim to break in the 2020/21 season. All of the records listed are single-game records.

The Marksman Award For Most Shots

Lionel Messi (Barcelona) v Valencia, 25/1/2020 (11)
Josip Ilicic (Atalanta) v Parma, 06/01/2020 (11)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus) v Lazio, 20/07/2020 (11)
Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City) v Leicester, 21/12/2019 (10)
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) v Hoffenheim, 12/07/2019 (10)
Wahbi Khazri (Saint-Étienne) v Metz, 02/02/2020 (10)

Winner: It is somewhat ironic that the first record in our ‘alternative’ awards features the kings of individual accolades Messi and Ronaldo tied for first place, along with Josip Illic of Atalanta.  So, in the spirit of this – extremely serious – ceremony, we’ll give Ilicic the crown for his 11 shots against Parma in January this year.

Ilicic was part of an Atalanta side that had 710 attempts on goal this season in Serie A, the fifth highest in the history of the competition.

Special mention to: We need to highlight Cristiano Ronaldo’s frankly superhuman salvo against Real Zaragoza in August 2011. The Real Madrid icon fired 16 shots in one match – the highest single-game tally ever recorded in Opta’s database.

Looking at the team level, shot-kings Atalanta have taken the most shots ever in a single match. They had a staggering 47 attempts against Empoli in April 2019 without scoring a single one, producing one of the most absurd game shot maps ever:

Atalanta v. Empoli shot map

The Magic Wand Award For Most Left-footed Shots on Target

Philippe Coutinho (Bayern Munich) v Werder Bremen, 14/12/2019 (6)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) Three Occasions (5)
Mo Salah (Liverpool) v Spurs, 27/10/19 (5)
Manolo Gabbiadini (Sampdoria) v Udinese, 24/11/2019 (5)
Josip Ilicic (Atalanta) v Parma, 06/01/2020 (5)

Winner: Phillippe Coutinho picks up this record with his six shots on target in Bayern’s 6-1 victory against Werder Bremen last December. Coutinho scored a hattrick in that game and assisted another two. Only Timo Werner (three goals and three assists vs. Mainz in November 2019), contributed to more goals in a single game last season across the top five European leagues than Coutinho’s effort that day

Special mention to: Rafael van der Vaart (remember him?) whose 49 shots on target with his left boot for Hamburg in the 2007/08 season remains the German Bundesliga record.

The Rocket Award For Most Right-Footed Shots on Target

Timo Werner (RB Leipzig) v Hoffenheim, 07/12/2019 (6)
Sergio Aguero (Man City) v Aston Villa, 12/01/2020 (5)
Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina) v Bologna, 29/07/2020 (5)
Kylian Mbappé (PSG) v Dijon, 29/02/2020 (5).

Winner: Timo Werner’s six right-footed shots on target against Hoffenheim last December was the highest total across Europe’s Top Five Leagues this season. In addition, the 10 total attempts he had in that game was the highest in a single match in the Bundesliga this season.

Special mention to: But what about the all-time record for the number of right-footed shots on target in a single game? Well, that would be a joint effort from Francesco Totti for Roma against Cagliari way back in October 2004, and Lorenzo Insigne for Napoli v Roma in March 2018 (nine each).

The Pot-Shot Award For Most Shots on Target From Outside The Box

Manolo Gabbiadini (Sampdoria) v Udinese, 24/11/2019 (5)
Lionel Messi (Barcelona) v Celta de Vigo, 9/11/2020 (4)
Chimy Ávila (Osasuna) v Real Valladolid, 18/1/2020 (4)

Winner: James Ward-Prowse, who recorded the most shots on target from outside the box in the Premier League this season (19) must have been giving away lessons at St. Mary’s. Former Southampton striker Manolo Gabbiadini rained down five shots on target for Sampdoria against Udinese in November 2019, the highest number in a single match across Europe’s top five leagues.

Special mention to: It wouldn’t be a records ceremony with Lionel Messi winning something. His 31 attempts on target from outside the box this season was the most across Europe’s top five leagues.

Messi's Shots From Outside the Box

The Enforcer Award For The Most Tackles

Lamine Fomba (Nîmes) v Angers, 15/02/2020 (12)
Jonny (Wolves) v Crystal Palace, 22/09/2019 (11)
Marten de Roon (Atalanta) v Internazionale, 01/08/2020 (10)
Saúl Ñíguez (Atlético Madrid) v Barcelona, 30/6/2020 (9)
Filip Kostic (Eintracht Frankfurt) v Leipzig, 25/01/2020 (9)

Winner: Meet tough-tackling central midfielder, Lamine Fomba. His 12 attempted tackles in Nîmes’ 1-0 victory over Angers in February 2020 is the highest figure we’ve collected since Cesar Azpilicueta racked up 13 against Manchester City in December 2018.

In that match between Nimes and Angers, Fomba’s efforts helped limit Angers to a successful take-on rate of 33.3%, their second lowest in a game in 2019/20.

Special mention to: Manager-turned-lead-singer-of-The-Streets, Scott Parker, holds the record for the highest number of tackles in a single match in the Premier League for Newcastle vs. Spurs in December 2006 (16). That’s not enough to beat Eugenio Corini’s effort of 19 vs. Robur Siena while playing for Palermo in Jan 2005, the highest number of tackles in a single match in Stats Perform’s entire Opta database.

The Pass Master Award

Rodri (Manchester City) v West Ham, 19/02/2020 (188)
Mário Rui (Napoli) v Brescia, 21/02/2020 (149)
Presnel Kimpembe (PSG) v Dijon, 29/02/2020 (135)
Axel Witsel (Dortmund) v Augsburg, 17/08/2019 (126)
Sven Bender (Bayern Leverkusen) v Schalke, 14/06/2020 (126)
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) v Valencia, 15/12/2020 (109)

Winner: Manchester City’s Rodri, who against West Ham in February 2020 attempted 188 passes, the highest figure in Premier League history.

Rodri Pass Map vs. West Ham 2020

Rodri’s 188 attempted passes vs. West Ham, Feb 2020

Special mention to: Virgil Van Dijk not only attempted the most passes of anyone in the top five leagues this season, but his 3,255 attempted passes is the most ever in the history of the Premier League.

The Born Offside Award For, Yeah…

Miguel Almiron (Newcastle) v Watford, 31/08/2019 (5)
Stefano Okaka (Udinese) v Lecce, 06/01/2020 (5)
Anthony Ujah (Union Berlin) v Bayern, 17/05/2020 (5)

Winner: Anthony Ujah who registered his five offsides all within the first 20 minutes of the match, being caught offside twice in the first two minutes of the game.

Special mention to Steve Savidan was caught offside a whopping 108 times for Valenciennes in 2006/07, the highest single-season record in Stats Perform’s Opta database. He was offside before he was born.

The “REF!” Award For The Most Fouled Players

Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) v Chelsea, 21/06/2020 (9)
Dani Rodríguez (Mallorca) v Granada, 16/7/2020 (9)
Neymar (PSG) v Montpellier, 01/02/2020 (9)
Leonardo Bittencourt (Werder Bremen) v Borussia Mönchengladbach 10/11/2019

Winner: It was difficult to pick a winner here, but Jack Grealish was fouled more times in total than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues (167), and his tally of fouls suffered in a single season is a Premier League record.

Special mention to: The biggest villain of the season, who must surely be Yangel Herrera of Grenada. Herrera committed 90 fouls this season (an average of three a game), more than anyone else in Europe’s top five leagues.

The definitions for all the event-types included in this piece and against which all our data analysts collect the world’s most trusted sports data, Opta, can be viewed here.

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