Early season data analysis

Xg, xga, xpts...

October 11, 2021

Early season data analysis

While Christophe Galtier’s side set a new club record for ‘Expected Goals’ in the last Ligue 1 outing, OGCNICE.Com decided to take a closer look at the ‘new numbers’ that are delighting coaches, scouts and fans alike. But what is actually hiding behind these new-fangled terms? And where do Le Gym sit in terms of Expected Goals, Expected Goals conceded and even the Expected standings? What does it all mean? Here are some answers...


What is an xG? It is often confused with the probability of scoring, but is in fact a value to measure the quality of a scoring opportunity. It’s important to know, because we can never say for certain if a shot will end up in the back of the net. However, certain algorithms have been created to reflect the situation. They are based on analysing thousands and thousands of shots, taking into account the angle, the distance, the type of pass, the type of shot (right foot, left foot, header). The higher the figure, out of one, the better the scoring opportunity. The clearest example of an xG, is a penalty. Each penalty is worth 0.79 xG, whether a goal is scored or not.

The highest xG goal scored by Les Rouge et Noir?

Jean-Clair Todibo’s goal versus Brest, with an xG value of 0.90. To fully understand how high this figure is, you must also know that the perfect 1 xG does not exist. Why? Because of all the shot data analysed, there have always been misses, even when it seemed easier to score…

The goal with the lowest xG?

Amine Gouiri’s goal versus Saint-Etienne. The xG value of the goal was only 0.04. That means it is extremely rare to score from that situation, from that distance with a free-kick. It was quite the achievement from the Nice No.11, albeit with the unwitting help of Mahdi Camara.

Which match do Les Aiglons dominate the most?

Le Gym recorded 4 xG (Expected Goals) against Brest, a Ligue 1 record this season, and a record for Les Aiglons since Opta began recording this data in 2010/11. This domination was also reflected in the ‘classic’ statistics: it was the match in which Nice had the most shots, the most shots on target, the most touches in the opposition penalty box, the most possession, made the most passes and Dante set a new record with 157 possessions…

The ration xG x shots

The ratio ‘xG / number of shots’ is an important figure, because shooting a lot, doesn’t necessarily mean shooting dangerously. The higher the figure, the betting the shooting opportunities. Since the start of the season, Nice leads the league in xG and is also first in this ranking (xG/shots), ahead of PSG and Lens. In other words: when Nice attacks, it is clinical. Promising numbers after three months of the season… it all bodes well! 


Why xGA?

xGA data is also interesting from a defensive point of view and goes further than just the number of shots conceded or the number of shots saved.

Where do Nice sit in terms of xGA?

When we look exclusively at xGA, Le Gym currently sits third in the standings(behind Paris and Monaco). Yet Nice boast the best defence in the division with only four goals against. How do we explain this discrepancy? By a superb Walter Benitez… and a slice of good fortune.

What about ‘Expected Goals on target’?

Another defensive parameter is ‘Expected Goals on target’: should the ‘keeper have saved it or not? Just the same as xG, this data can measure the performance of a goalkeeper. Suffice to say that Walter Benitez excels in this department… 

The best defensive performance for Nice this season? 

Reims (MD1, 0-0), because Oscar Garcia’s side only had five shots at goal, all with very low xG, and didn’t get a single shot on target. Their famous xG / Shots was just 0.04. Like Amine’s goal at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard…

What was the toughest game for Le Gym at the back? 

The two matches that saw Le Gym suffer the most in defence were against Nantes (2.6 xGA) and Monaco (2.59 xGA). While Nantes didn’t take their chances (2-0 win for Les Aiglons), Monaco are the only side to have put two goals past Benitez this term.


Proof that the data reflects the reality: the top three in the ‘Expected’ standings, is very similar to the actual standings, except that Le Gym overtakes Lens. 

‘Expected’ standings:

‘Expected Points’ standings after 9 rounds of Ligue 1 Uber Eats:

Actual standings:

* According to the calculations used on
Constantin Djivas & Fabien Hill, with Kevin Jeffries