Breaking the myth of Fixture Congestion

It’s about resting up and getting ready to go. I don’t know about the Premier League but other countries seem to look after their teams representing them in the Champions League. I’m not sure we do so much here.”

complained Frank Lampard. But is it the reality? How far do the other countries accommodate their fixtures in accordance with that of Champions League (CL)? Findings on analysis seem to paint a different picture! For this analysis, the scope will be restricted to England, Germany and Spain clubs’ (each representing 4 teams in CL) schedules this season (2013-14).

Analyzing the average time between kick-off of CL and other games (League and Cup competitions), the following points are found out:

Avg. time between games' kick-off (CL and others)
Avg. time between games’ kick-off (CL and others)

FIXTURE CONGESTED CLUBS: Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid, Arsenal and Bayern Munich are the clubs with least average time between games. Real Madrid have a deep squad enough to rotate players and play their usual game. Arsenal is already struggling to cope up with the fixtures. Bayern Munich with their strong position in the league can afford to rotate players according to their need.

LEAST AFFECTED CLUBS: Manchester United (Even without the recent fixture adjustment, their numbers are pretty high), Barcelona, Athletico Madrid and Chelsea are the clubs with the highest average resting time between games. The perception of Barcelona and United getting a preference in the fixture scheduling seems true. Frank Lampard’s complaint of English clubs not getting the support from The Football Association doesn’t seem to be substantiated with facts.

Analysis on averages could be skewed. Hence, it’s good to have an eye on the distribution of the time gaps between the games as well.

No. of times with less than three days between games
No. of times with less than three days between games

Real Madrid are the most affected team since they have to play six times with the gap between two games less than 3 days. This is really grueling for the players. Chelsea, though experiences a higher average time gap, is forced four times to play within a span of 3 days. In contrast, Arsenal which had a lower time gap has been forced to play within a span of 3 days only twice. 

Time gap analysis between games
Time gap analysis between games

Although, Chelsea is stressed out with games within 3 days the overall picture suggests it’s not very much stressed compared to its peers. If you consider the gap of 4 days, Chelsea enjoys the second best fixture schedule only next to Real Sociedad who are already out of the competition. Even Manchester City schedule is stressed out: for 11 times, 2 games are being scheduled withing a gap of 4 days. The same is the situation of Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal and Bayern Munich. This pattern also hints out that Spain clubs have a better accommodating fixture schedule than England and Germany ones.

If you see the overall picture,

Country wise Resting time analysis between games
Country wise Resting time analysis between games

1. German clubs have a tight fixture schedule followed by Spanish clubs and English clubs in terms of average resting time between games.

2. Only 59% of times, Spanish clubs are forced to play 2 games within a time span of 4 days. This is markedly higher for German clubs (73%) and English clubs (66%).

Hence the verdict is,

If at all, there needs to be support from the Football Association in terms of scheduling games in accordance to UEFA Champions League fixtures schedule, it’s the German clubs who need more support than English and Spanish clubs from its Football Association.

Football Associations' ranking in terms of scheduling support
Football Associations’ ranking in terms of scheduling support

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