With domestic seasons drawing to a close across Europe, football is experiencing the period of calm before the World Cup storm. Manchester City, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain all emerged victorious from their domestic seasons, with the Champions League final the only club football to come before attention turns to Brazil.
The season has provided intriguing title races, shock winners and a few runaway leaders over Europe’s top-five leagues. Squawka take a look at the stats behind five key players from across the continent this season.
La Liga: Cristiano Ronaldo
Where else to start but with a man who is undoubtedly the best player in Europe at the moment? Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals may not have propelled Real Madrid to the La Liga title, but the Portuguese forward has a chance to rectify that with Saturday evening’s Champions League final against city rivals Atletico.
A record-breaker in the Champions League this season, with a staggering 16 goals, Ronaldo has netted every 54 minutes in Europe and every 82 minutes in La Liga. Thirty-eight percent of Real Madrid’s domestic games were either scored or assisted by Ronaldo, who netted 31 times and set up a further nine for his teammates.
Despite featuring largely from the left of a forward three that also includes Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, Ronaldo took more shots on goal than any other player in La Liga this season. No less than 216 shots left his boots, with 54 percent hitting the target and 18 percent finding the back of the net.
Serie A: Arturo Vidal
Juventus midfielder Vidal —a man whose name cannot be written without the words “reported Manchester United target” alongside it —has drawn plaudits alongside fellow midfielder Paul Pogba at the heart of a midfield that has helped the Turin side secure a record points tally of 102 in their third successive title-winning season.
Vidal scored 11 times in Serie A, while also assisting another five. A key influence in both boxes, his impact can be shown with a comparison with other title-winning midfielders across Europe. Vidal has made more tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes than any of Yaya Toure, Toni Kroos, Raul Garcia and teammate Paul Pogba, while his attacking play also stands up to scrutiny.
The box-to-box Chilean is behind only Toure in goals per 90 minutes, while he trails Kroos on chance creation by the smallest of margins.
A tackle was made by Vidal every 25 minutes last season, with only one man in Serie A—Udinese midfielder Allan—bettering his 96 successful tackles. Behind only Andrea Pirlo in passes per 90 minutes at Juventus, with an average of 53, Vidal’s bustling play across the field has been key to Juventus’ recent Serie A dominance.
European disappointment came in the form of an early exit from the Champions League, but the World Cup gives Vidal the chance to shine at the highest level in a Chile side tipped to be the tournament’s dark horses.
Premier League – Luis Suarez
The only man to match Ronaldo’s domestic goalscoring form, Luis Suarez experienced the season of his life this year. Putting his various on-field indiscretions and a summer of transfer turmoil behind him, the Uruguayan’s 31 goals almost handed Liverpool a first league title in the Premier League era.
His 31 goals came in just 33 games, albeit with none coming against the top-four sides.
The focal point of Liverpool’s vibrant attack, Suarez also made the second-highest number of assists in the Premier League last season. His 12 assists mean that he scored or assisted every 69 minutes, while no Liverpool player created more chances than Suarez’s 87.
No player in Europe’s top-five leagues was involved in more goals than Suarez, who faces a race against time to be fit for Uruguay’s World Cup campaign. The Liverpool forward ended the season with a combined goals-and-assists total of 43, which incidentally made up 43 percent of Liverpool’s goal tally.
Bundesliga: Ricardo Rodriguez
Wolfsburg left-back Rodriguez is perhaps the left field option out of our picks, but scored a higher Squawka Performance Score than any other Bundesliga player this season.
Fifth in the Bundesliga assist list in spite of his defensive position, Rodriguez’s nine assists put him second in Europe’s top-five leagues for goals created by defenders while no defender created more chances than the Swiss international. Rodriguez’s attacking instincts are also shown by his 88 completed take ons, while he also fared well defensively with a 56 percent tackle success rate.
Rodriguez was also the most frequent provider of chances in the entire Wolfsburg squad, setting up 77. The set-piece specialist’s five goals mean that he managed a clean sweep of most goals, assists and chances created from a Bundesliga defender, all at the age of just 21.
Ligue 1: Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The only man on the list not to be displaying his talents on a global stage this summer, Ibrahimovic fired Paris Saint Germain to the Ligue 1 title and the Champions League quarter-finals. Twenty-six league goals were accompanied by 11 assists, while Ibrahimovic also scored 10 European goals in just eight Champions League games.
The enigmatic Swede won 67 aerial duels, 2.18 per 90 minutes played, and he finished the season with a shot conversion rate of 20.6 percent—higher than both Ronaldo and Suarez. He also averaged higher numbers of passes per game, getting more involved in PSG’s build-up play with 38 passes per 90 minutes to Suarez’s 29 and Ronaldo’s 27.