Statistics That Defined Real Madrid's 2016/17 Liga Season
Real Madrid were crowned 2016/17 champions of La Liga, finishing three points clear of archrivals Barcelona after an incredibly consistent season.
Los Blancos lost just three times in league play and ended the campaign on a six-game winning streak, giving Zinedine Zidane his first league title as a manager and third trophy of the season—still with the UEFA Champions League final ahead.
Here we look back on Real's 2016/17 season, focusing on La Liga but with a nod toward their European exertions too, and bring you the numbers behind a memorable year.
The Basics: Games Tell Their Own Stories
First up, while the league season measures a team's capacity to compete over a 38-game stretch, it has been far more than that for Real Madrid.
Incredibly, the Champions League final will be their 60th match of the season: two in the Club World Cup, two in the UEFA Super Cup, six in the Copa del Rey and the remainder in Europe.
It speaks volumes, not only of the squad depth but also of Zidane's ability to keep players either involved enough to be in form when needed or else give them the challenge to prove him wrong when they were handed chances.
The longest stretch of Liga-only games Real have had this term was five, from mid-February to early March before the Champions League round-of-16 second leg and again between March and April before the quarter-finals.
Barcelona, Valencia and Sevilla were the only sides to beat Real in La Liga this season, with Celta Vigo knocking Los Blancos out of the Copa.
Goals and Golazos
Always an offensive side, Zidane has enforced incredible attacking consistency in his side this season; they scored in every Liga match for the first time in their history.
Their total of 106 goals wasn't the highest—Barca notched 116 this season—but being able to find a route to the back of the net in every game highlights the magnificent, trophy-bearing consistency they've found.
And it isn't just in La Liga.
Real have scored in every game they've played in every competition this season—with the Champions League final ahead for a perfect 60—and the last time they failed to notch was against Manchester City in April 2016.
The last time they didn't score domestically was in the derby against Atletico Madrid back in February 2016.
As for the quality, rather than quantity, of goals, Real Madrid fans had a lot to enjoy this season. Isco's turn and top-corner finish, Marco Asensio's demonstration of his ability to smash goals in from range and Nacho's incredible acrobatic effort were all memorable strikes, even without the plethora of hammer blows from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Goals come from anywhere and everywhere for Real Madrid, but more than any other club this season, they've been a menace from set pieces.
A whopping 22 of their goals in La Liga—that's more than one in five—were netted as a result of dead-ball deliveries, not including penalties, of which they scored a further six.
That was comfortably the most in Spain's top flight, with Barca (19) and Malaga (16) lagging behind in that regard.
In Europe, it was a similar story, with only Barca (six) netting more off set pieces than Real (five), and there's still one more game for Zidane's team to add to that tally.
Ronaldo against Sporting CP, Raphael Varane against Sevilla and Sergio Ramos against seemingly everybody—the set-piece goals flowed freely for Real in 2016/17.
Consistency in front of goal is all well and good, but what happens when your striker is out injured, Ronaldo is off form or the creativity isn't there from the usual supply lines?
For Real Madrid, the solution has been to share the goals around, to enormous effect.
An impressive six players managed double figures in goals this season, with four—Ronaldo, Alvaro Morata, Karim Benzema and Isco—doing so in La Liga alone. James Rodriguez and Sergio Ramos also notched 10 including all competitions, while Asensio hit nine and Gareth Bale, also on nine, surely would have made it seven on double figures had he not been injured for so much of the campaign.
Creativity counts too, so it's worth noting that seven players managed double figures in assists through all competitions, per Transfermarkt: Toni Kroos, Lucas Vazquez, Marcelo, Rodriguez, Ronaldo, Dani Carvajal and Isco.
The last name in that group, Isco, deserves particular mention.
There was a stunning contrast in his campaign from early season to late, with the Spanish playmaker being one of the driving forces behind Real's run to the Champions League final and their domestic success after winning a regular place in the XI at long last.
Per Spanish football statistician Mr. Numbers via Twitter, Isco didn't appear for Real in a defeat at all this term and his last league loss came 40 matches back, against Villarreal in December 2015.
Isco's game time in 2016 and 2017 highlights how important he became: 666 minutes in La Liga between August and the end of December and under half an hour shy of 1,000 minutes between the start of January and the end of May.
That increased trust in him from the coach, the consequent boost in confidence and the prominent role he played in the final third was met with a huge surge in productivity. He put up two goals and two assists in his first 11 club appearances in 2016/17 but five goals and three assists in his last 11—which have been of greater importance and in higher-profile matches.
There's one game left, and he's a sure starter in the final.
Goals, types of goals, late-season surges—but what about consistency? It's hard to look beyond Toni Kroos for Real Madrid's most reliable player throughout the campaign.
The German started and finished the season well, contributing a lot in the attacking half of the pitch but also with tactical importance defensively, freed from being the holder of previous campaigns and putting in the work rate to be a link from back to front, with and without the ball.
Most importantly, though, his levels of creativity were incredible.
His 12 assists in La Liga left him second only to Barca's Luis Suarez, a forward, and his rate of 2.8 key passes per match was similarly second, only to Neymar. While plenty of those assists came from dead-ball deliveries—and we've already noted their importance—Kroos was also on hand to get shots away regularly and slide open-play passes around to his team-mates in key areas.
Isco spent a lot of time on the bench before becoming a key player, but others have alternated between starters and subs or just remained impact options for Zidane.
Both Morata and Asensio made 12 Liga appearances off the bench, the same as Isco, while Lucas Vazquez came on as sub on a massive 21 occasions, yielding under 1,400 minutes all season in league play despite making the most appearances.
In the opposite direction, Benzema was the most subbed-off player, being hauled off 17 times by Zidane, with Isco (13) and Mateo Kovacic (10) next in line.
Across all competitions, the players with the highest totals were Lucas on as sub 30 times, Benzema subbed off 28 times and for either coming on or off, Benzema (38), Lucas (37) and Isco and Morata (both 36).
When the 2016/17 season is looked back on in years to come, the volume of occasions when Real Madrid were able to rescue matches late on should be considered a key factor in the outcome of the title.
On the opening day, Gareth Bale scored in the 90th minute to seal a 3-0 win at Real Sociedad, and that simply set the tone for the season ahead—though often in much more dramatic circumstances.
The following is a list of goals scored in the last 10 minutes of La Liga games in 2016/17 that earned Madrid points they'd have otherwise missed out on—considering how close the title race finished up, it's easy to see why fighting until the last was critical for Zidane and Co:
- Kroos, 81st minute, 2-1 win against Celta Vigo.
- Morata, 83rd minute, 2-1 win against Athletic Bilbao.
- Ramos, 90th minute, 1-1 draw against Barcelona.
- Mariano Diaz, 84th minute, equaliser in 3-2 win against Deportivo La Coruna.
- Ramos, 90th minute, winner in 3-2 win against Depor.
- Morata, 83rd minute, 3-2 win against Villarreal.
- Ronaldo, 86th minute, second in 3-3 draw against Las Palmas.
- Ronaldo, 89th minute, equaliser in 3-3 draw against Las Palmas.
- Ramos, 81st minute, 2-1 win against Real Betis.
- Isco, 90th minute, 3-2 win against Sporting Gijon.
- Marcelo, 86th minute, 2-1 win against Valencia.
Europewide on the Attack
Real Madrid's attacking prominence isn't just impressive when matched up to the likes of Atletico, Villarreal and Real Sociedad but also across the continent.
Their 17.4 shots per game average in league play was the highest in La Liga and fifth-highest compared to every team in Europe's top five leagues, ahead of the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain and Champions League final opponents Juventus.
By shots on target, their 7.0 average pushes them to second-best, with only Barcelona (7.1) ahead.
Given the single target remaining for the season, it's worth noting that in the Champions League this season, no team has had more than Real's 19.6 shots per game average (Juve are sixth, having averaged 14.3), no team has scored more than Real's 23 open-play goals and no team has benefitted from more than Real's count of two own goals, either.
On an individual level, Ronaldo hammered in 5.6 shots per game in league play—more than anyone in Europe's top five leagues yet again—and the same number in the Champions League, again good enough for top spot.
One game left, the biggest trophy remaining, but the numbers from 2016/17 are already outstanding for Los Blancos.
All stats via WhoScored.com unless stated.