Stathursday: Belgium's Defensive Powerhouses


Every Thursday, we zoom in on some interesting statistics provided by our data partner StatsPerform in the 'Stathursday' section. Typically, forwards are in the spotlight. This week we will look at some defensive feats. Who wins most headers? Which team wins back the ball most? And who has the most interceptions?

Goals or assists are easily quantifiable (attacking) concepts, but are no guarantee for success. Dante Vanzeir and Deniz Undav's share in Royale Union Saint-Gilloise's top spot in the table is of course considerable, but the team from Brussels also scored least goals in the Jupiler Pro League (24). Data from StatsPerform prove that this is no coincidence.

In the past thirty league matches, l'USG recorded most tackles (19.6 per match). No team does better. Royale Union Saint-Gilloise is also top of the league in terms of lost tackles (7.1 per match), but the statistic still says a lot about the high pressure the leader puts on opponents. KAA Gent on the other hand won back most balls (2,011). That's not surprising, as after Union, the Buffaloes concede the fewest goals (28).

Cercle Brugge comes first in many defensive rankings: most duels (3,486), most duels won (1,768), most headers (1,269), most headers won (616), most tackles won (385) and highest percentage of successful tackles (67.19%). Cercle Brugge, who win many battles across the pitch, conceded 16 goals in their first 10 games, compared to 22 in their last 20 games. These defensive improvements have translated into an upward climb in the table since December.

If we consider individual defensive performances, we again find many Royale Union Saint-Gilloise players. In terms of winning the ball back (when a player wins back the ball by picking up a loose ball or receiving a pass to his feet), Emmanuel Agbadou leads the list. The KAS Eupen central defender wins back the ball 9 times a game. 

Brazilian dominance

Steven Fortes (KV Oostende/8.25), Loïc Lapoussin (RUSG/8.21), Ryota Morioka (Sporting Charleroi/8.07) and Vinicius Souza (KV Mechelen/8.04) complete the list. The defensive midfielder has made an impression at Malinwa all season, not least because of his combative spirit. Per game, the Brazilian has an average of 9.17 duels won. Issa Soumaré of K. Beerschot V.A. (7.55), who is second in this list, does not come close to that stat.

In fifth spot of the list of duels won, we find Loïc Lapoussin again which is remarkable. In the Jupiler Pro League, no one attempts more dribbles than the Royale Union Saint-Gilloise winger (4.9 per match), but Lapoussin also performs his defensive duties.

An interception is awarded to a player who intentionally intercepts a pass. Yayha Nadrani (77) and Ibrahima Cissé (62) of RFC Seraing had most interceptions. Brandon Mechele (Club Brugge/61), Julien De Sart (KAA Gent/58) and Stipe Radic (K. Beerschot V.A./55) are also in the top 5 of StatsPerform. The sometimes fickle Stanley N'Soki of Club Brugge is sixth with 51 interceptions.

Finally, Aleksandar Radovanovic is dominant in the air. The centre back of KV Kortrijk clears an average of 2.9 balls with this head every match and is ahead of Christian Burgess (Royale Union Saint-Gilloise/2.6) and again Stipe Radic (K. Beerschot V.A./2.4).

This article was created with the insights delivered by StatsPerform. Our exclusive partner collects the most diverse performance data from all the matches in the Jupiler Pro League and 1B Pro League. The agreement with StatsPerform has three goals: technical support for our clubs, better quality reporting on Eleven Sports and stronger communication.

Among other things, our clubs will be able to rely on live tracking data, so trainers can make adjustments based on data during the matches. As for the television and communications part of the partnership, the Pro League and Eleven focus on creating added value for fans. The official data from StatsPerform offers fans a unique insight into the performance of their favorite club or player.

Earlier in the 'Stathursday' column: 

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