Hack the weekend: Trouble brewing for Stoke, Antwerp and Slovan Bratislava

Hack the weekend: Trouble brewing for Stoke, Antwerp and Slovan Bratislava
One of our choices is a possible Slovak league title decider
One of our choices is a possible Slovak league title decider
Who will win the big game? Well, that is the key question that sports fans and pundits around the world ask themselves daily. Most of the time, however, they are guided more by feelings and impressions than by raw data. The right answer to this question can often be extremely valuable especially if the numbers suggest that the favourites might just slip up.

That's why Flashscore, in cooperation with a team of analysts from Czech data company 11Hacks, is bringing you a data-driven overview every Friday about where those (un)expected results might occur in the wide world of football to help you ultimately hack the weekend.

Slovan Bratislava - Dunajska Streda

Two extremely evenly matched teams (although the bookmakers see it differently) will clash in a match that may well decide the future Slovak league champion.

In terms of the quality of scoring chances created, Slovan is the best team this season with 1.59 expected goals per game. However, DAC, who lead the league, are a close second with 1.54 and there is a similar balance at the other end of the pitch.

While Slovan allows their opponents an average of 0.85 xG, DAC is at 0.87. However, a look at goals conceded (excluding penalties) offers a different picture. Slovan has conceded 24 goals this season, DAC only 17, and that's quite a significant difference. One of the reasons for this is the performance of the Blue and Yellow's first-choice goalkeeper Samuel Petras (23).

The young Slovak is the clear league leader in most models assessing the quality of goalkeeping, especially in the area inside the penalty box, where he currently has no competition. If the average Fortuna Liga goalkeeper had faced the same shots, they would have conceded eight more goals than Pertas. No one has prevented as many accurate shots as him.

Goalkeeper performance in the Slovak league

A solid defence and the quality of the goalkeeper are often decisive factors in a title fight, and in Petras, the team from the Danube Plain has a key asset.

Martin Trnovsky (22), who is likely to stand in goal on the other side, has not been very successful this season, on the other hand. Only Matus Hruska (28) of Banska Bystrica and Dominik Svacek (26) of Liptovsky Mikulas are worse in the metric of goals saved per game.

Slovan needs to win but, at the same time, they cannot afford to let their defence be too open because Dunajska Streda are very dangerous on counterattacks. Only Trnava have created more valuable chances from counters this season.

DAC create their greatest volume of shooting opportunities by means of crosses, they are also one of the most effective teams at those on average per pass. Right behind those are passes to onrushing players in the cutback zones and the data shows that these types of passes are also the ones Slovan has the most difficulty defending.

Stoke - Bristol

In this clash of neighbouring sides in the Championship table, the bookmakers believe the home side has a much better chance of winning but it won't be so clear-cut.

In terms of the quality of chances created this season, both teams are very similar while, defensively, the visitors seem to be the better team. Largely, that's because Bristol's 'keeper Max O'Leary (26) is well above league average and has managed to prevent an impressive number of goals while Stoke's Jack Bonham (29) is one of the Championship's worst goalkeepers statistically.

A number of dangerous weapons are wielded by Bristol in attack as well. Nigel Pearson's players have some of the best-managed counterattacks in the league - the 17 xGs created and 14 goals scored are both the fifth-best of the current season. Stoke, meanwhile, are below average at defending counterattacks and have already conceded 17 goals from such situations.

Counterattacking goals and xG in the Championship

Bristol is a team that relies heavily on crosses in the offensive phase. They mainly threaten from the wings but they also create a lot of chances with passes from deep inside the box. At the same time, they can create good shooting opportunities with short passes from wide areas. All these situations are the ones that Stoke defend the worst and thus Bristol's style should pose plenty of issues.

FC Antwerp - Cercle Bruges

Although these two teams are separated by 19 points in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League table, there is not that much difference between them in terms of the underlying data.

Despite what their league position suggests, Cercle (10th in the standings) have created slightly better goal-scoring opportunities so far this season than Antwerp. While the hosts' defence is better, both teams are pretty evenly matched at the back given the excellent performance of the visitors' goalkeeper Radoslaw Majecki (23) and his substitute Warleson (26).

Cercle are also very interesting in attack. So far, they have created the highest number of expected goals from dead-ball situations as well as from counterattacks, which is not very common. Antwerp defends dead-ball situations well but they are only ninth in the league in terms of xG allowed from counterattacks. Cercle have already scored 19 goals from counters, the third-highest behind Westerlo and St. Gillois.

An analysis of passes shows that Antwerp are worst at defending balls into cutback zones, short crosses into the penalty area and diagonal passes. All of these happen to be Cercle's most effective passes. Together, they have created three times the volume of chances through these passes than from crosses from wide areas.

Expect Cercle's players to be dangerous from these situations at the weekend just like in the teams' first encounter of the season which Cercle lost (2-0) despite being slightly better on the pitch.


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