The Premier League is often hailed as the best league in the world, an example across Europe of how to put on a show.
By sheer number of eyeballs focused on matches in England’s top-flight each weekend it is difficult to produce an efficient counter-argument.
But in terms of entertainment, do the numbers really stack up? Just how does the Premier League really compare to La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1? Sportsmail decided to crunch the numbers, find an average per game to find out who comes out on top…
The Premier League is often viewed as the most exciting and entertaining league in Europe
But others, such as Bundesliga, statistically rival its English rival when it comes to this season
GOALS PER GAME
AVERAGE NUMBER OF GOALS PER GAME
Serie A: 2.84
Premier League: 2.83
La Liga: 2.54
Ligue 1: 2.36
Nobody likes a 0-0.
No matter how many chances, scrambles, or chaos that ensues, fans want to see moments of brilliance and ultimately, goals.
Spain can fawn over Lionel Messi, France have Kylian Mbappe to wax lyrical about, Italy have a case of Cristiano Ronaldo fever and Germany is effectively being run by Robert Lewandowski these days.
And so if it is goals that determines the level of entertainment, Ligue 1 is something of a snooze fest with an average of 2.36 goals per game.
The gap between Paris Saint-Germain and the rest is well documented but the capital club cannot be solely to blame for the lack of quality in front of goal elsewhere.
Robert Lewandowski is playing a key role as the Bundesliga boasts the most goals per game
Ligue 1 is statistically seeing the lowest number of goals a game despite PSG’s array of stars
One of the big surprises in this category is that Serie A, typically considered a league with a greater focus on tactics and defending, ranks higher than La Liga and the Premier League.
That famous art of defending could well be something of a myth in the modern Serie A with an average of 2.84 goals a game enough to take second spot.
Take the last round of games before the international break when calcio fans were treated to a seven goal thriller in Sardinia, a six goal epic between Lazio and Lecce and the Emilia-Romagna derby was met with four goals.
But while the margins were fine between England and Italy, those in Germany can barely see their rivals, so far in the distance are they for it is raining goals in the Bundesliga. Lewandowski can take a lot of the credit but defence is not on the menu in 2019-20 with nets rippling at more than three times a game on average.
Only one place to go if goals are what you are after…
TOTAL SHOTS PER GAME
AVERAGE NUMBER OF SHOTS PER GAME
Serie A: 28.8
Premier League: 25.9
Ligue 1: 24.6
La Liga: 22.9
A law of averages suggests that, in this case, the more you shoot, the more goals you are likely to go on to score.
It is not an exact science but shots and rebounds can bring drama, have fans on the edge of their seat one moment, and pulling their hair out the next.
Take a recent performance by Wolves. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side took four shots all game with only one on target. They drew 1-1 to Southampton after Raul Jimenez used the club’s ‘Get out of Jail free’ card.
But those kind of games are often anomalies and outliers with football having transitioned into an attackers’ paradise.
The stark difference from the goals per game category is that this time La Liga finishes bottom, with a league-wide average of 22.9 shots per game, some way off Ligue 1’s 24.6 shots a game.
And so for all the glitz and glamour of Messi and Co at the Camp Nou and the embarrassment of riches at Real Madrid, a shoot-on-site policy is seemingly not the mantra being followed in Spain.
Cristiano Ronaldo takes aim and it is in Serie A that fans witness the most shots taken in a game
Eden Hazard (right) and Co need to up their game with La Liga finishing bottom on shot count
The Premier League is again falling into middle ground, another third place finish, which is surprising given the unpredictability and the ‘anyone can beat anyone’ belief often attached to the English top flight.
For every 9-0 win by Leicester City there is a forgettable 0-0 involving struggling Watford. Moving on.
And so again the battle for supremacy comes between Italy and Germany and this time it is Serie A who reigns supreme, coming in at 28.8 shots per game, two shots more than those in the Bundesliga.
Goalkeepers in Serie A are certainly being made to work for their money this season.
WINNER: Serie A
Bayern Munich, Juventus, Manchester City, PSG and Barcelona all hoisted their respective league titles aloft six months ago with only Pep Guardiola’s side having been made to sweat. The others took a stroll and ultimately, that is not exciting for fans of other teams.
Competition becomes diluted with the Bundesliga and Serie A both suffering from a lack of a genuine title race. Defeats have become rarer and rarer – as they often do for championship-winning teams – and so whenever they fall flat it becomes headline news.
Take Barcelona, they lost just three games last season as they raced to win La Liga with 87 points. But in 2019-20, Ernesto Valverde’s side have already been beaten the same number of games: defeats to Athletic Bilbao, newly-promoted Granada and Levante.
Lionel Messi and Co have been stunned three times already this season to keep La Liga open
Man City have been dominant in the last two seasons but have lost three times this season
A homesickness away from the Nou Camp has crept in and seeing them go the rest of the season unbeaten seems fanciful, there is a real sense that this Barcelona side can be got at and that the title race, for the first time in recent years, is a genuine race to win.
The same can be said for Manchester City. Four defeats over the entire 2018-19 campaign and yet 12 games in, slumped fourth in the table, there is chatter that three defeats so far may be too many in the title race with Liverpool.
A side that accrued 198 points over two seasons was expected to go on and create a dynasty, dominate for a decade but that script has torn up by a German in a cap over in Liverpool.
Juventus are the only current champion in the top five leagues to remain unbeaten, two draws the only black mark against what could have been a 100 per cent record after 12 games.
Having beaten toughest challengers Inter Milan on the road, there is little to suggest this Juventus team cannot improve on the four defeats they suffered last season. At the top end at least, a lack of drama emanating from Turin.
PSG fell to five defeats last year and still won the title which makes their losses less significant
Bayern Munich were left speechless after they were thumped 5-1 by Eintracht Frankfurt
All calm and quiet at Juventus but it has been a season of drama at Bayern Munich with Niko Kovac sacked following two defeats in 11 games. A 5-1 loss away to Eintracht Frankfurt – his old side – was the final straw for the Bavarian club’s board.
The Bundesliga title race has perhaps been the most thrilling to date, changing hands with every round of matches, and Bayern would blink first, handing control to Hansi Flick for the remainder of the season.
WINNER: La Liga
GOALS IN THE LAST 10 MINUTES
GOALS SCORED IN THE LAST 10 MINUTES
Premier League: 56
La Liga: 54
Ligue 1: 49
Serie A: 46
Get to the final 10 minutes within touching distance and there is always a chance a late flurry could seal the win.
Lots of managers would agree that the tension and atmosphere naturally heightens when the clock ticks past 80 minutes.
Take Hoffenheim’s recent win over FC Koln before the international break. There was a matter of seconds left on the clock when, in the eighth minute of stoppage time, up stepped Jurgen Locadia to win it.
And so what do the numbers say? Serie A is NOT the place to go if last minute drama is what you are after.
There have been 46 goals scored in the final 10 minutes across the league this season, the lowest of the top five European leagues.
Ligue 1 has been largely overwhelming right across this study and it doesn’t fare much better here, pulling in fourth with 49 goals. Neymar’s overhead kick winner against Strasbourg aside, little to see here.
While La Liga has provided some late winners such as Real Betis’ Nabil Fekir striking in added time to down Celta Vigo or Getafe’s Nemanja Maksimovic firing home in the 89th minute to stun early pace-setters Real Sociedad, the Spanish top flight falls behind England and Germany in late drama.
Nabil Fekir runs over to celebrate with the Real Betis coaching staff after scoring a late winner
Few goals have been more dramatic than Sadio Mane’s stoppage time header at Aston Villa
Fifty-four goals so far this season is narrowly edged out by the Premier League, who have seen 56 (none more dramatic than Mane’s header to win it for Liverpool away against Aston Villa).
It is worth noting that while not topping this particular metric, the Premier League has seen some game-changing goals in the final minutes: Liverpool against both Leicester and Aston Villa, Brighton getting a winner via an own-goal against Everton and Villa scoring in the 94th minute to beat the Seagulls at Villa Park.
But all leagues have – once again – been blown out of the water by the Bundesliga who takes the crown by a landslide.
Boasting 67 goals in the last 10 minutes, fans would be advised that leaving early could be a costly mistake in the Bundesliga with games in the balance right until the end. As they say in German, dramatisch!
RED CARDS PER GAME
AVERAGE NUMBER OF RED CARDS PER GAME
Serie A: 0.33
Ligue 1: 0.23
La Liga: 0.21
Premier League: 0.15
There is something about an opposition player being sent off that really adds to the entertainment value of a match.
Whether it is for ill-discipline, petulant behaviour or simply a rash challenge, the waves that see them off, the chants, and the jokes really add to the contest.
But the Premier League is not the place to go if dismissals are what you are after with an average of 0.15 red cards a game, the worst of the top five leagues.
While the pace and power of the Premier League is largely undisputed across the continent, it appears that it is the best for keeping 11 v 11.
The same cannot be said for Italy where an average twice the size of that in England sees Serie A take top spot with relative ease.
Its average of 0.33 comfortably beats Ligue 1 (0.23) and La Liga (0.21) with Italian football fans used to card-happy referees making their presence known by issuing red cards.
Take AC Milan’s 2-1 win away at Genoa earlier this season. The game saw four red cards – and only two of those players were on the pitch! Bonkers.
WINNER: Serie A
Serie A has been the place to be for red cards with ill-discipline on and off the pitch for teams
In contrast, the Premier League can boast the fewest number of red cards given out per game
And so, in conclusion, the Premier League is surprisingly not top of the tree on all fronts, not by any stretch of the imagination.
The Bundesliga is the place to go for the most goals per game and goals scored in the last 10 minutes, but Italy is for you if red cards have you entertained.
And as for Spain being the glitziest of them all, they need to start shooting if they are to take eyeballs off the drama elsewhere!