With roughly one third of the Serie A campaign now played, I’m taking the opportunity to look at who has been excelling in front of goal so far.
I have chosen to focus on a fairly simple concept; the “strike rate” of a player is calculated by dividing the number of goals scored by the total number of attempts on goal. Out of necessity, I’ve restricted the analysis to those players with at least 3 Serie A goals – otherwise Alessio Romagnoli would win hands down!
As with any statistics, the “strike rate” is just one way of looking at a complex issue. For example; it may be argued that the most effective forwards get in the positions to create more chances for themselves, or are simply more willing to take a punt at goal, potentially depressing their “strike rate”. On the other hand, this measure neatly controls for the dominance of the bigger sides who would naturally be expected to create more chances – allowing us to focus on the “efficiency” of forwards regardless of which team they play in. With that fairly sizeable caveat in mind, let’s take look at the data…
So, the answer is Gregoire Defrel; he doesn’t get many chances but he’s been putting them away for Sampdoria since signing during the summer. Honourable mentions must also go to Mario Mandzukic (only 13 shots at goal), Dries Mertens (who still considers himself a winger at heart…) and Mauro Icardi (Inter’s fox in the box).
Krzysztof Piatek has been turning heads at Genoa in the opening rounds of the season – his position at the top of the capocannoniere chart is in part a testament to his finishing, but also the volume of chances Genoa create for him. On current form he’s in the same bracket as Ciro Immobile – and outperforming other out-and-out centre forwards such as Andrea Belotti, Gonzalo Higuain and Arek Milik.
At the bottom end of the Serie A table, a clinical finisher like Francesco Caputo is exactly what Empoli will need if they’re to have a fighting chance of survival. Rodrigo De Paul has made superb start to the season at Udinese (already having eclipsed his goal tally for the previous two seasons) – but the wide man has some distance to go before “doing a Dries”. Leonardo Pavoletti is an interesting proposition; his finishing is clearly an asset to a “smaller” team such as Cagliari (and previously Genoa), but he’s tended to struggle on a bigger stage with Napoli and Gli Azzurri. The presence of Marco Benassi and Kevin-Prince Boateng in the list feel like a bit of an early-season aberration, but they could prove me wrong, of course.
Finally, the elephant in the room is the man in 20th and final position; Cristiano Ronaldo. He sits in third place in the scoring charts, but he’s had 35 more shots at goal than anyone else in this table – perfectly illustrating the caveat set out above. He’s clearly a man who backs himself with the goal in his sights – and, of course, one of the reasons that he’s worth £90m is that he engineers a lot of those chances for himself.
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