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How Much of a Difference Does Home-Field Advantage Make in Champions League?

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How Much of a Difference Does Home-Field Advantage Make in Champions League?
Lars Baron/Getty Images

When discussing how to be successful in the Champions League, pundits and experts often emphasize the importance of winning home matches. 

The reasoning, of course, is that playing at home is a massive advantage.  Thereby, gathering all three points every home match and drawing a few matches on the road is enough to qualify for the next stage of the competition. 

To test this theory—that winning is indeed a critical advantage—this analysis looks at every single match from this season's group stage of the Champions League. 

The goal here is to empirically determine just how successful home teams were in terms of wins and losses as well goals scored.

This sample includes 96 total matches played by 32 different clubs: eight groups, four teams in each group, each team plays each other twice (both on the road and at home). 

Of the 96 matches, just a shade under half of the matches were won by the home team (47 percent), just about one out of every five ended in a draw (21 percent) and just about one out of every three were won by the away side (32 percent).

Only four teams won every single group stage match at home: Paris St. Germain, Porto, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.

Seven teams did not win a single match at home including Manchester City and AC Milan. 

Nine teams did not win a single game away from home. 

No team won three games away from home.  Eight teams were able manage two road wins. 

During the group stage of this season's Champions League, 284 goals were scored.

There were 158 total home goals scored and 126 away goals scored, a difference of 32 goals.  Home teams averaged 4.93 goals in their total three matches.  Away teams averaged just about a goal less: 3.93 goals per three matches.  

Three teams scored more than 10 home goals: Bayern Munich (12), Chelsea (11) and Paris St. Germain (10).

Borussia Dortmund scored the most away goals (seven). The next closest teams were BATE Barcelona, Real Madrid and Malaga.  They all scored six away goals. 

Dinamo Zagreb was the only team to not score any goals in all of its away games.

Every team scored at least one goal at home.  Three teams only managed one: Dinamo Zagreb, LOSC Lille Metropole and AC Milan. 

With only eight teams left in the competition, it will be intriguing to see if the home-field advantage continues to ring true in the same manner it did during the group stage. 

It is a smaller sample, yes, but with the weaker teams out of the competition, the data might be more balanced. 

Regardless, it will be fascinating to watch.

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