In an interview last week, Barça’s Cesc Fabregas stated that it is easier to score goals in England’s Premier League than it is in Spain’s La Liga. I was surprised reading his comments at the time and my doubts on their accuracy have only increased as Madrid, Atleti, Celta Vigo and Real Sociedad have all scored five or more in a game in the past week. Time to look at a few statistics and also see if I can come up with 10 different verbs to describe the act of scoring a goal – see if you can find them all.
In the past 18 seasons, the top scorer in England has notched more than the top scorer in Spain on only five occasions. Tallying up the totals of each league’s deadliest marksmen further highlights the disparity between the two divisions. La Liga’s finest have plundered 544 goals compared to 451 by the cream of the Premier League. Three years ago, Cristiano’s 41 league goals at the Bernabeu were more than double the number Berbatov needed to take the English golden boot to Craven Cottage. A look at some other individual goal-getting performances is even more telling.
Even if we discount CR7’s first 3 seasons at Utd as a settling in period and only consider his final three years in Manchester, his 66 in 101 games for the Red Devils pales into insignificance alongside the 159 in 147 he has snaffled for Real Madrid. Some other Old Trafford alumni display similar stats. Diego Forlorn managed just 10 in 63 for title winning Utd. He packed his bags for Spain and immediately finished top scorer in the country with 25 goals for Villarreal and then again with 32 for Atletico Madrid. In Ruud van Nistelrooy’s first season with Madrid after departing the Theatre of Dreams he banged in 25 league goals. The long-faced Dutchman never managed more than that in five trophy-laden seasons in England.
There is further evidence that Cesc’s claim holds little water when comparing and contrasting the goal-scoring performances of players who have moved the other way. A very young Fernando Torres fired in 75 goals in 174 appearances for a second-rate Atleti side at a ratio of a goal every 2.32 games. In a similar timeframe with more illustrious clubs in England he has hit the back of the onion bag 81 times in 191 games – a slightly worse ratio of requiring an average of 2.36 matches to get his name on the score sheet. Two of his pals that are also currently vying for the Spanish number 9 jersey have just joined Fernando in England. City’s Alvaro Negredo and Tottenham’s Roberto Soldado arrived in the Premier League off the back of 25 and 24 goal La Liga seasons respectively. After 10 outings in their new league they’ve both bagged four goals. At that rate it’ll take an incredible run of form to come close to their previous year’s tally.
I’ll conclude with a quick look at Fabregas himself. In seven seasons as an ever-present in an attacking Arsenal side, the Catalan maestro rattled in 35 goals in 212 appearances at a rate of a goal every 549 minutes. After 71 games as a largely bit part player for Barça he has already struck on 22 occasions. That, in case you were wondering, works out as a goal every 288 minutes.
Cesc, catch yerself on mate.
ANSWER: Score, Notch, Plunder, Snaffle, Bang In, Fire In, Hit (onion bag), Bag, Rattle In, Strike.