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Lewandowski has mastered both shot quality and shot quantity, which is why he's so sought-after in the transfer market. Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images

Here is a list of the numbers for you: 0.29, 0.16, 0.16, 0.15, 0.13, 0.12, 0.1, 0.09, 0.07, 0.06, 0.05, 0.05, 0.04, 0.04 That's the xG value of each of the shots that the Reds took in the final. The numbers are presented in descending order from the moment Jordan Henderson's 28-yard Y.O was parried away by Thibaut Courtois in the 16th minute to the moment Mohamed Salah's near post effort in the 16th minute was parried away by Thibaut Court

There are a lot of warnings about using xG in discussing a specific shot or match, and xG is more effective as a tool when used on aggregate over a longer period of time. You can still learn if you use good numbers. You can use it in a simulation to find out if the team could have scored 2.2 goals based on those shots. They had a higher chance of scoring at least three goals than they did of scoring none.

This tells you that the final was not very good for the Reds. They took 24 shots to Real Madrid's four and only one of them was particularly good.

Of course, that one shot was the match and tournament winner from Vinicius Jr. Real Madrid won by a single point.

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Real Madrid could have expected to win this match a lot of the time, but there's no way to make that happen. This was a good experiment in the importance of high quality opportunities.

Here is the xG value of Real Madrid's four official shot attempts. They could have expected to score at least one goal 75% of the time because of the high chance of their best shot. It's not as dramatic as " 24 shots to four" would suggest. 75% can fall if we create the same per-shot average from different numbers.

Their odds of scoring have gone down because their four shots were worth less than the best shot of the team.

In a knockout game in which talent levels are even and stakes are high, a single high value scoring chance can make a big difference. The small xG figures begin to add up and tell a story, but on a short-term basis, the big chances matter the most.


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Quality over quantity

Take a look at the game from earlier this season.

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The total shots were 45 (3.03 xG) by the three teams.

- Total shots worth 0.3 xG or more: Bayern 2 (0.64 xG), Villarreal 2 (1.04)

- Actual goals: Villarreal 2, Bayern 1

Getting outshot by a nearly 3-to-1 ratio is not a good way of going about your business and would lead to defeats more often than not. Unai Emery's Villarreal focused all of its efforts on maintaining its defensive block, preventing good looks and hoping that it didn't connect on a low-percentage attempt. From an xG perspective, the two best chances of the two-game set were created by the two teams.

This is a tactic that has been used many times for an underestimation in a knockout round. In an era of possession and ball dominance, it's refreshing to see that an old-school "defend and hit your marks in counter- attack" approach can still prosper.

In six knockout-round matches in the Europe's premier club competition, Villarreal attempted less shots than their opponents. For now, let's call them "big shots" because they attempted eight and allowed seven. They blew past Juventus in the round of 16 and then tied the Reds after 150 minutes of play in the semifinals.

It's possible that Emery should have leaned more heavily on these principles during a disappointing LaLiga campaign, as 18.6% of their shots were "big shots", the best in the league. They thrived and created chaos in the league and finished seventh.


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In the knockout rounds, Real Madrid attempted 63 fewer shots than their opponents, but they broke even on big shots and converted their opportunities better than their opponents. It's easy to think that Real Madrid was a lucky champion, but they bridged any gaps with structure and big shots.

Real Madrid were a different team in league play, attempting far more shots than anyone else, but only 8.7% of them qualified as big shots. The shot quantity game was more important than the shot quality game.

What works in a long league season is different from what works in a knockout round. The squad won two big trophies.

The game's best volume shooters

The players who can most frequently generate high-quality chances are going to be worth a lot. Here are the players who generated at least 15 big shots in league play this season.

  • Robert Lewandowski has shot 36 shots and scored 18 goals.

  • Kylian Mbappe scored eight goals.

  • There were 21 shots and 10 goals by Sadio.

  • The man with the most shots and goals is Patrik Schick.

  • Christopher Nkunku shot 19 times and scored 11 times.

  • Wissam Ben Yedder shot 19 times in Monaco.

  • Son Heung-Min had 18 shots and 8 goals for Spurs.

  • Tammy Abraham had 18 shots and 7 goals.

  • Diogo Jota scored eight goals.

  • The Lyon player has 17 shots, five goals.

  • The man is from Manchester City and he has a shot at 10 goals.

  • The player with the most shots and goals is the player with the most goals.

  • Anthony Modeste had 16 shots and 8 goals.

  • Marco Reus has shots and goals.

  • Inter Milan had fifteen shots, eight goals.

  • There are 15 shots, four goals by the man.

For decent volume and high-quality finishing, there are a few more people who should be mentioned.

  • Juanmi had a dozen shots and 10 goals.

  • Karl Toko-Ekambi shot 13 times.

  • Pierre-Emerick had 14 shots and 9 goals.

  • Dusan Vlahovic had 11 shots and 9 goals.

First, Real Madrid's Karim Benzema created 12 such shots and scored seven goals from them, but you might not have expected that. His league scoring total was plumped by seven penalty goals and 13 goals from shots that were worth less than 0.2 xG.

His late winner against Valencia was worth 0.24 xG, but other strikes were worth much less.

Beautiful curled finish by Benzema 😍🔥 pic.twitter.com/ukL7wY9Z12

— ESPN (@espn) December 22, 2021

There was an xG on that one.

There was another name that did not show up. That one is probably more difficult to explain. He scored on eight of the 13 "big shots" he generated this season, one of the best in the game at putting away high-quality chances in the box. He would have been on the list if he hadn't missed 10 league matches.

13 players created at least seven big shots in the competition.

  • Sebastian Haller has shots and goals.

  • Abraham has shots and goals.

  • Guus Til shot four goals.

  • Arthur Cabral scored six goals.

  • The man had nine shots and seven goals.

  • Nkunku had 9 shots and 6 goals.

  • Cyriel Dessers shot nine times and scored six times.

  • There were nine shots and four goals by the Egyptian.

  • Eran had eight shots and four goals.

  • Erling Haaland had seven shots and 3 goals.

  • There were seven shots by Mbappe.

  • There were seven shots and zero goals.

  • Arkadiusz Milik shot seven times.

Due to the fact that they played two matches against one of the most generous defenses in major soccer, they all disappeared in the round of 16.

They tried 27 shots but only two big shots. The tie was won thanks in part to an own goal from Haller. He continued to score.