Statistical Analysis

Current Liverpool side is better than their past European Cup winners

Tue, 24 April 2018, 8:51

Bob Paisley did it three times, in 1977, 1978 and 1981.

Joe Fagan managed it in 1984.

Rafa Benitez lifted the famous trophy aloft in 2005.

Can Jurgen Klopp add 2018 to the list of Liverpool European Cup winning triumphs?

The Reds’ progression through the Champions League so far has seen fans at Anfield daring to dream of adding a sixth title this term, with Roma their next opponents.

Some of the football Liverpool have played this term has been scintillating – they are the top scorers in this season’s competition, and blew Manchester City away in the quarter-final.

But how does Klopp’s current squad stack up when looking at Liverpool’s five previous Europe-conquering outfits?

Well, the good news for Reds fans is that the class of 2018 may be even better than what’s come before.

When looking at the domestic league performances in the five seasons where Liverpool have gone on to win the European Cup (or the rebranded Champions League) Klopp’s men are scoring more goals, winning more games, and picking up more points.

Their Premier League win percentage this season of 57.16% is higher than any season when they’ve won the famous trophy – narrowly pipping Paisley’s 57.14% in 1977/78.

That win percentage has helped Klopp’s men to 2.03 points per game in the league this season – higher than any of those European Cup winning campaigns.

That 1977/78 campaign also held the previous high of 1.93 (when adjusting to give three points for a win – something only introduced in 1981 in England), with Benitez’s 2005 triumph yielding the lowest domestic points per match, of 1.53.

Thanks to the likes of PFA Player of the Year Mo Salah, Liverpool have been scoring goals for fun – more so than any of those famous seasons either.

The front-three of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have helped the Reds to 2.29 goals per game in the league this term – which is also more than any of those victorious European campaigns.

That eye for goal has been seen vividly in the Champions League, where they have netted 33 times in the Champions League proper, at a goals per game record of 3.3.

That stat is not just more than anyone in the competition this season, but also more than those historic Liverpool European campaigns.

In fact, Liverpool could not score again in either the two semi-final legs and the final – and still end up with a better goals per game record than four of their five previous triumphs.

With their attacking talent in such red-hot form, there isn’t much danger of Klopp’s men drawing three blanks, however.

Perhaps the only category where the current Liverpool squad are outperformed by the past is in the goals they concede.

While goalkeeper Loris Karius and his defence have improved markedly since the arrival of Virgil van Dijk, they still aren’t quite in the class of Ray Clemence and Alan Hansen, who started in three European Cup wins each.

While the class of 2017/18’s tallies of 1.06 and 0.45 goals conceded in the league and Champions League respectively isn’t too shabby, it doesn’t quite compare to Fagan’s charges in the 1983/84 season, who hold the best records in both competitions.

Still, Klopp’s men go into any game knowing they can outscore any opponent – and they’ll be buoyed by the knowledge that, statistically at least, they are better than those five legendary Reds teams.

Another piece of history that may work in their favour is that they will play the first leg of the semi-final against Roma at home on Tuesday.

In the past 10 seasons of the Champions League, 70% of teams that play at home first have progressed through to the final – 14 out of the 20 ties.

Semi-final first leg Progression
At home 70%
Away 30%
  First leg Second leg Total
Home first 1.33 1.20 2.53
Away first 0.67 1.63 2.3

On average, teams that play the first leg in front of their own fans have scored 1.33 times, compared to 0.67 for those who play away first – showing the importance that getting off to a good start can cause.

Liverpool were 3-0 up by half-time against Man City in the last round, and a similarly good start would see the Reds have one foot in the final.

With the atmosphere at Anfield sure to be electric, supporting a team as good as any in Liverpool history, Jurgen Klopp will hope his men can move one step closer to European Cup number six.

Statistical Analysis discovers hidden trends and values in major gambling events by deciphering both contemporary stats and historical data. We derive our probabilities from history, not just betting odds, so you don't have to.

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