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Home/away results: pre-lockdown vs current season

SoccerSTATS.com - updated on: 16 Feb 2021

The current pandemic still requires most of today's football matches to be surrounded with that emptiness that feels impossible to get used to: no fans in the stadiums.


One of the hard lessons of these last few months that keeps pushing down on us has long made us realize that gathering, even with good intentions, is no longer safe. We adapt and carry on, as football adapts and carries on. Hopefully not to the point of getting used to it though.



Home advantage as we (used to) know it

While as fans we can't wait for football to get back to fully being football again, is there at least something we can learn from such conditions? It sure feels that the football we're watching now does not taste the same, but is football itself played in the same way as before anyway?

As professionals, most football players are used to play under a wide variety of conditions, from friendly matches with a handful of casual spectators to big hostile crowds during key away games. Still, unlike with many other sports such as individual sports, we know that playing at home or away is one of the major factors influencing the way a lot of football teams are playing.

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By "playing at home" we mean playing on home ground with the obvious assumption that home is where our fans are. Players fortunate enough to play for teams used to carry large crowds of fans also on away days might feel at home most anywhere. But of course, most of the time the home stadium remains the place where the players feel the most confident in their ability to win a match.

Looking at the numbers, that seems to check out: given a minimum number of matches played, at the end of a season when all teams have played each other at everyone's stadium, almost every time we find more home wins than away wins.



Home advantage these days

Is there still some kind of 'empty-home' advantage to be observed in these covid times, or does 'home advantage' strictly rely on fan support only? While it would be difficult to provide a precise answer to that question, we can look at the numbers and differences in match results between seasons.

With a few months worth of games played in empty stadiums in most European leagues, let's take a look at what "home ground" currently represents in terms of results, compared to the same period last season.

We'll be looking at results observed in what is referred to as the "Top Five" leagues, in other words, the top leagues in England, Italy, Spain, France and Germany.
The time periods of reference will be last season's results up until 31 January 2020, compared with current season's results until 31 January 2021.


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The numbers we are looking at

The numbers below refer to match results observed in those five national leagues during each of the two time segments.

What this study is:
- An overview of the type of results and scoring levels recorded this season, compared to most of the pre-lockdown portion of last season, with one major difference being matches played in empty stadiums.

What this study is not:
- A measurement of how much of an influence attendance alone represents in a match result. That would require a different type of analysis, with the exact same matches being played with and without crowd, under comparable circumstances. For example if Team A is playing against Team B as the last chance to avoid relegation, such circumstances will be different than the same match in a situation where both teams have little to fear or to hope for.

Getting a feel of what the crowd influence alone might be would require comparing matches where the crowd represents the only real difference, considering all impactful circumstances.


Segment 1: 2019-2020 season up until 31 January 2020

LeaguePlayed Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home goals
per match
Away goals
per match
Goals
per match
Premier League24043.4%24.6%32.0%1.47911.29582.78
Serie A20940.2%23.5%36.3%1.51671.34442.86
La Liga21045.7%28.6%25.7%1.51421.02382.54
Ligue 121149.3%23.7%27.0%1.49761.01422.51
Bundesliga17245.3%19.8%34.9%1.75581.47673.23



Segment 2: 2020-2021 season up until 31 January 2021

LeaguePlayed Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home goals
per match
Away goals
per match
Goals
per match
Premier League20537.0%23.4%39.6%1.33171.37072.70
Serie A19938.7%26.1%35.2%1.60801.46733.08
La Liga20438.7%30.9%30.4%1.33331.14702.48
Ligue 121739.6%23.0%37.4%1.41471.34102.76
Bundesliga17138.0%28.7%33.3%1.64321.45023.09



Segment 1 (partial 2019-2020) vs Segment 2 (partial 2020-2021)

SegmentPlayed Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home
goals
Away
goals
Goals
Segment 1 totals1042466252324160812752883
Segment 2 totals996383262351145313462799
Segment 1 (% or per match)104244.7%24.2%31.1%1.54311.22362.767
Segment 2 (% or per match)99638.5%26.3%35.2%1.45881.35142.810





Insights

In terms of total number of goals per match, the difference between both segments is quite small (2.76 for Segment 1, versus 2.81 for Segment 2). The segments differ more in terms of results structure though. Basically Segment 2 has recorded a lower proportion of home wins (38.5%, compared to 44.7% for the pre-lockdown segment) and more draws and away wins. The balance between home wins and away wins has been quite visibly affected (from 44.7% vs 31.1% to 38.5% vs 35.2%).

Not surprisingly we can observe the same trend regarding the balance between home and away goals. The pre-lockdown segment was featuring an average of 1.54 home goals vs 1.22 away goals. In Segment 2, we find fewer home goals per match (1.46) and more away goals per match (1.35).

However not all leagues have seen their results structure affected in the same way. The Premier League is the one where the major differences in results have been recorded. This is the only league of the selection where the proportion of away wins is actually higher than that of the home wins (39.6% vs 37% ) for Segment 2.



League-level views

Premier League: Segment 1 (S1) vs Segment 2 (S2)

Played Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home goals
per match
Away goals
per match
Goals
per match
Premier League (S1)24043.4%24.6%32.0%1.481.302.78
Premier League (S2)20537.0%23.4%39.6%1.331.372.70

The level of draws remains relatively stable but we can observe a sharp shift from home wins towards away wins, which quite logically translates into fewer home goals and more away goals.




Serie A: Segment 1 (S1) vs Segment 2 (S2)

Played Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home goals
per match
Away goals
per match
Goals
per match
Serie A (S1)20940.2%23.5%36.3%1.521.342.86
Serie A (S2)19938.7%26.1%35.2%1.611.473.08

Perhaps the league with the least differences between both segments. A slight decrease in home wins, much smaller than in the other competitions, that has translated into more draws, as opposed to more away wins. In terms of goals, we still find more home goals than away goals, but both numbers have increased, so overall a significant increase in the number of total goals per match.




La Liga: Segment 1 (S1) vs Segment 2 (S2)

Played Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home goals
per match
Away goals
per match
Goals
per match
La Liga (S1)21045.7%28.6%25.7%1.521.022.54
La Liga (S2)20438.7%30.9%30.4%1.331.152.48

Clear drop in home wins, more draws and away wins. Fewer home goals, more away goals, yet not a very significant change in total goals per match.




Ligue 1: Segment 1 (S1) vs Segment 2 (S2)

Played Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home goals
per match
Away goals
per match
Goals
per match
Ligue 1 (S1)21149.3%23.7%27.0%1.501.012.51
Ligue 1 (S2)21739.6%23.0%37.4%1.421.342.76

Of all 5 leagues, this is where the fall of home wins has been the most significant, and the level of draws the most stable. Consequently, the increase in the proportion of away wins has been very strong (from 27% to over 37%), translating into a sharp increase in away goals per match.




Bundesliga: Segment 1 (S1) vs Segment 2 (S2)

Played Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home goals
per match
Away goals
per match
Goals
per match
Bundesliga (S1)17245.3%19.8%34.9%1.751.483.23
Bundesliga (S2)17138.0%28.7%33.3%1.641.453.09

The main difference between both segments is that big increase in the proportion of draws and, as with the other leagues, the decrease in home wins. Regarding goals, the total goals per match has decreased, and yet the Bundesliga remains the top scoring league of the top 5, although not by far, as the Serie A has seen their total goals per match increase to an average of 3.08.





Globally in the 5 leagues

One global trend that can also be observed in each of the 5 leagues is the decrease in the level of home wins. The areas where the global trends carry a few exceptions relate to the number of goals. For example, the number of home goals per match has been lower in Segment 2 for each league except for the Serie A. Similarly, the number of away goals per match has increased in each league except in the Bundesliga.

All leagues combined, the main observations we can make regarding this comparison between last season's pre-lockdown segment and this season's segment is:
- fewer home wins, more draws and away wins
- fewer home goals, more away goals, small increase in total goals

As for the level of away wins, there has been no increase both in the Serie A and the Bundesliga. In those leagues, the proportion of draws has increased instead.



Historical perspective

The following tables provide an overview of the same metrics for each league, but this time including the three full seasons preceding the time segments we have been focusing on.

Premier League: Historical overview

Played Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home goals
per match
Away goals
per match
Goals
per match
2016-1738049.2%22.1%28.7%1.601.202.80
2017-1838045.5%26.1%28.4%1.531.152.68
2018-1938047.6%18.7%33.7%1.571.252.82
2019-20 until 31 Jan 202024043.4%24.6%32.0%1.481.302.78
2020-21 until 31 Jan 202120537.0%23.4%39.6%1.331.372.70



Serie A: Historical overview

Played Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home goals
per match
Away goals
per match
Goals
per match
2016-1738048.4%21.1%30.5%1.661.292.96
2017-1838043.2%21.8%35.0%1.461.222.68
2018-1938043.7%28.4%27.9%1.481.202.68
2019-20 until 31 Jan 202020940.2%23.5%36.3%1.521.342.86
2020-21 until 31 Jan 202119938.7%26.1%35.2%1.611.473.08



La Liga: Historical overview

Played Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home goals
per match
Away goals
per match
Goals
per match
2016-1738047.6%23.4%28.9%1.661.282.94
2017-1838041.7%22.6%30.3%1.551.152.69
2018-1938044.2%28.9%26.8%1.451.132.59
2019-20 until 31 Jan 202021045.7%28.6%25.7%1.521.022.54
2020-21 until 31 Jan 202120438.7%30.9%30.4%1.331.152.48



Ligue 1: Historical overview

Played Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home goals
per match
Away goals
per match
Goals
per match
2016-1738048.9%25.0%26.1%1.551.062.61
2017-1838045.5%25.3%29.2%1.531.192.72
2018-1938043.2%28.9%27.9%1.471.092.56
2019-20 until 31 Jan 202021149.3%23.7%27.0%1.501.012.51
2020-21 until 31 Jan 202121739.6%23.0%37.4%1.421.342.76



Bundesliga: Historical overview

Played Home 
wins
Draws Away 
wins
Home goals
per match
Away goals
per match
Goals
per match
2016-201730649.0%24.2%26.8%1.661.212.87
2017-201830645.4%27.1%27.5%1.601.192.79
2018-201930645.1%23.9%31.0%1.791.393.18
2019-20 until 31 Jan 202017245.3%19.8%34.9%1.751.483.23
2020-21 until 31 Jan 202117138.0%28.7%33.3%1.641.453.09




Notes
- S1 and S2 time segments do not include the same number of matches as the 2020/2021 season has started later than usual in most European leagues. Consequently the total number of matches included in the analysis for Segment 1 (all leagues combined) is 1042, vs 996 for Segment 2.
- Not every single match in the 2020/2021 season has been played with zero attendance, as a few matches with a limited number of fans allowed have been played.



 ENGLAND  Premier League
 Manchester City 38 86
 Manchester Utd 38 74
 Liverpool 38 69
 Chelsea 38 67
 Leicester City 38 66
Premier League stats

 ITALY  Serie A
 Inter Milan 38 91
 AC Milan 38 79
 Atalanta 38 78
 Juventus 38 78
 Napoli 38 77
Serie A stats

 SPAIN  Primera Division
 Atletico Madrid 38 86
 Real Madrid 38 84
 FC Barcelona 38 79
 FC Sevilla 38 77
 Real Sociedad 38 62
Primera Division stats

 FRANCE  Ligue 1
 Angers 0 0
 Bordeaux 0 0
 Brest 0 0
 Clermont 0 0
 Lens 0 0
Ligue 1 stats

 GERMANY  Bundesliga
 Bayern Munich 0 0
 Bielefeld 0 0
 Bochum 0 0
 Dortmund 0 0
 E. Frankfurt 0 0
Bundesliga stats

 NETHERLANDS  Eredivisie
 Ajax Amsterdam 0 0
 AZ Alkmaar 0 0
 Cambuur 0 0
 FC Groningen 0 0
 FC Twente 0 0
Eredivisie stats









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