What is creation efficiency?
Creation efficiency is an attempt to work out which players are best at creating opportunities, without giving possession away to opponents too often.
Four types of ‘creations’; key passes, shots on target, dribbles completed and fouls for, have been added together, and divided by the number of times a player has lost the ball. This gives a creation efficiency figure, with a higher figure indicating a better rate of creations per losing possession.
There are obviously limitations with treating each attacking action as having the same value, but adding together all creations provides an excellent starting point to judge how effective individuals and teams are at creating whilst not wasting too many opportunities.
Please note that accurate crosses haven’t been included in the creations stat as there isn’t currently the ability to work out the crossover between accurate crosses and key passes.
Liga MX Top 25- 2017 Apertura (not including liguilla)
Minimum 25 creations. Raw data taken from www.sofascore.com.
Averages per position: ST (31.69%), W (33.72%), AM (34.35%), CM (27.55%)
At the top of the list are plenty of Liga MX players that weren’t able to earn enough minutes to make truly significant contributions to the 2017 Apertura, due to injuries or late arrivals. This lack of game time may have artificially inflated their position on the table, as performance may dip across a full season. However, it’s fair to say that a close eye should be kept on Ravel Morrison and Miller Bolanos next season in their first full campaigns in Mexico. The table also suggests that; Chivas will greatly benefit from Alan Pulido’s return to fitness, Pablo Barrientos is still capable of performing at a high level at 32, and that Diego Alonso was wrong to not show full faith in Franco Jara and Edson Puch.
The highest player on the table with over 1000 minutes in the 2017 Apertura is Guido Rodríguez, who is also the only defensive midfielder ranked inside the top 80 for creative efficiency. Guido does suffer from ill-discipline, but his ability to greatly impact a match, both with and without the ball, at a remarkable efficiency, is extraordinary. The other players with over 1000 minutes to make the top 25 are; Raúl Ruidíaz, Djaniny, Diego Valdés and Javier Aquino, whilst Javier “Chofis” López and Andrés “Rifle” Andrade both have over 950 minutes.
A range of make-ups
An interesting aspect of this data is that there are many different methods of having a high creation efficiency. Key passes per 100 possessions range from 1.05 (Edson Puch) to 7.67 (Christian “Chaco” Giménez), dribbles per 100 possessions vary from 1.1 (Miller Bolanos) to 7.23 (Rifle Andrade), whilst shots on target per 100 possession span 0.61 (Guido Rodríguez) through to 7.14 (Alan Pulido).
The table also incorporates a range of risk taking. Nicolás Castillo sits just a few places below Guido Rodríguez despite losing possession 42.78 times per 100 possession, compared to Guido’s 18.71, as he creates significantly more per 100 possessions (24.6 v 12.27). This is potentially evidence that creation efficiency can be a useful tool to compare players with vastly different styles, although more in-depth analysis needs to be done to fully understand player performance, e.g. looking at actions per 100 possessions.
Champions Tigres lead the way for creation efficiency, displaying their ability to conjure up opportunities without losing possession on a regular basis. Tigres’ position at the top of this list could indicate a bias towards teams that are safe in possession and prioritise ball retention, and Puebla’s average ranking may back this thought up. Puebla were very good at keeping the ball, particularly under Rafael García, but their attacking output was very low this Apertura.
However, more direct sides, Santos, Lobos BUAP, Chivas and León, that normally attempt to attack opponents and dominate matches, also rank well on this graph. Therefore, it appears, similarly to player rankings, that it is possible to create a good creation efficiency via different playing styles.
Interestingly, Monterrey, runners-up and superlíder, have the second lowest creation efficiency. This is more evidence for their efficiency in front of goal being the defining factor behind their 29 goal tally in the regular season, Los Rayados had the best goals per possessions stat in the 2017 Apertura. It also displays the importance of analysing various pieces of data when judging teams.
Creation efficiency is a new method of thinking about stats in football. Like all other methods, there is much to be improved, much debate to be had, and much to be learnt. The main idea is to use this as a base from which more in-depth analysis of certain players and teams can be done. To keep up with the #Performance100 developments or to get more involved, be sure to follow @tomh_36 and @soccernurds on twitter.