If you’ve watched Barcelona this season, you’ve likely thought to yourself, “Damn, Messi looks gooood.” Not that Messi doesn’t always look good, but he looks good in a John Wick sorta “Oh you think I deserve 5th in the Ballon d’Or, watch this” kind of spiteful way.
It’s nice when stats back up the eyeball test.
Ryan O’Hanlon‘s consistently great No Grass in the Clouds does a fantastic job providing the data to match the eyes.
Here’s Messi’s expected non-penalty goals and assists per 90 chart this season (via The Dummy Run). Messi is 31. Typically players peak around 27. Messi (and to a lesser degree, Ronaldo) are not your typical players, obv.
Here’s a better version of the chart. pic.twitter.com/EkpYCRulbN
— Dummy Run (@thedummyrun) January 14, 2019
O’Hanlon uncovered more data galore to back up what you’re seeing. And what are you seeing? A historically great season from history’s greatest player.
Messi didn’t start vs. Leganes, but he subbed in an obv notched another goal, making it 401 in La Liga (a number no player has ever accomplished in any domestic league, though if Kylian Mbappe stays in Ligue Un for a decade, he should break that mark by next year, because, you know, Ligue Un).
It may take the dualfecta of a La Liga crown (Barcelona is currently 85% to win there) and Champions League title (14% there) for Messi to get his just justification as perhaps having the greatest season ever in club soccer’s history.
Even if those titles don’t happen, he’s at least a lock to improve upon his 5th place Ballon d’Or this go around.
With 23 games in the books this 2018-19 Premier League season, the Golden Boot award is once again Mohamed Salah‘s to lose.
Notching a brace in Saturday’s 4-3 win over Crystal Palace, Salah sits with 16 goals, two clear of Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Tottenham’s injured Harry Kane.
Many expected Salah to take a step back this season, but this is proving to be a second-verse, same as the first campaign. At this point last year, Salah had 18 goals and 7 assists. He sits with 16 goals and 7 assists in the Premier League so far, and is just hitting his stride.
If you booked Salah at his pre-season +450 to win the Golden Boot, you’re in excellent shape. Harry Kane will be stalled out at 14 until late March. Only Aubameyang is within shouting distance of Salah with 14 goals. A full six behind Salah are a quartet including Eden Hazard (10), Callum Wilson (10), Sergio Agüero (10), and Raheem Sterling (10).
Salah leads the Premier League in goals per minute as well, finding the net once every 121 minutes only trailing fellow teammate Divock Origi who scores once every 71 minutes. Aubameyang scores one every 131 minutes. Of the viable contenders, only Agüero’s clip is close at every 136 minutes.
Given Liverpool’s reliance on Salah and their potential tight title race, along with his elite goals-per-minutes-played statistics, the Egyptian King’s reign will likely continue.
Golden Boot Leaders After Week 23
- Mohamed Salah (16 goals, 7 assists)
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (14 goals, 3 assists)
- Harry Kane (14 goals, 4 assists)
- Eden Hazard (10 goals, 10 assists)
- Callum Wilson (10 goals, 5 assists)
- Raheem Sterling (10 goals, 7 assists)
- Sergio Agüero (10 goals, 6 assists)
- Roberto Firmino (9 goals, 3 assists)
- Sadio Mane (9 goals, 1 assist)
- Gylfi Sigurdsson (9 goals, 3 assists)
- Richarlison (9 goals, 1 assist)
It’s not often the USWNT loses.
It’s less often they get shellacked 3-0 for 90 minutes.
Saturday in France, the USWNT lost 1-3 (a stoppage time goal by Mallory Pugh kept it from being a shut-out) to the French national team.
The US never looked to be in control for any significant stretch of time. With the exception of occasional bursts from Christen Press and Mallory Pugh, the French team looked faster, stronger, and hungrier.
Maybe the team missed the creativity and attacking mindset created by recent standouts Rose Lavelle, Megan Rapinoe, and Julie Ertz. Maybe the combination of cold weather and a really engaged 23,000 French crowd caused them to under-perform. Or maybe France is just a better team right now.
Whatever the reasons for today’s lopsided loss, it should serve as a swift wake-up call for a team whose standard is nothing short of a title.
The good news is this is just the first of a 10-game pre-World Cup warm-up schedule for the squad. They have plenty of time to adjust and improve.
The bad news is they seldom look so completely overwhelmed.
The USWNT plays Spain for the first time on January 22nd in the next World Cup warm-up. While Spain is nowhere near the same quality as France, a dominant performance will go a long way to righting the course for their title defense in June. While maybe Saturday’s game wasn’t the result the USWNT wanted, it may prove to be the one they ultimately needed.