Defence wins Championships. A phrase commonly associated with the National Football League. Defences have also been a big part of a number of successful teams in the history of the Champions League.
AC Milan had a notoriously good defence during the first few seasons of the rebranded European Cup. José Mourinho’s successful FC Porto and Internazionale sides had solid defences too. Bayern Munich weren’t too shabby last campaign either.
With that in mind let’s have a look how the 32 defences in this season’s group stage performned:
A few stats drawn from the above table:
0 – Italian Serie A giants Juventus failed to keep a single clean sheet in their 6 group stage matches despite starting their domestic league season with 9 clean sheets in 15 games.
1 – Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray and Manchester City kept the fewest clean sheets of teams who reached the round of 16.
3 – Atlético Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United conceded the fewest goals in the group stage. The 3 goals conceded by Chelsea were all to Swiss side Basel. Manchester United’s 3 goals were all conceded in their opening two matches.
4 – Chelsea, Manchester United and Schalke 04 kept the most clean sheets in the group stage, each shutting out the opposition in 4 of their 6 matches.
7.3 – Chelsea goalkeepers averaged the most saves between goals conceded on average.
12 – Manchester United allowed just 12 shots on target in 6 matches combined – the fewest amongst all teams. David Moyes’ side faced Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad and Shakhtar Donetsk.
12 – English Premier League sides combined for 12 clean sheets in their 24 matches – shutting the opposition out every other game on average.
14 – Only three sides conceded more goals than Galatasaray, yet the Turkish side managed to progress past the group stage, finishing above both Juventus and FC Copenhagen.
17 – Anderlecht, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzeň conceded the most goals in the group stage. The latter two sides were in the same group.
54 – Czech Republic side Viktoria Plzeň allowed the most shots on their goal – a massive 54. Goalkeeper Matús Kozácik faced an average of 9 shots on target per game, conceding an average of 2.8 goals per game against Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow and Manchester City were Viktoria Plzeň’s opponents.