Finding the best strikers in the Bundesliga - data analysis tactical analysis tactics
Bundesliga's Best Dribblers

Strikers are considered the primary goalscorers in football teams but have had an evolution in terms of the qualities required of them. Some strikers are expected to take a ‘fox in the box’ role, like Olivier Giroud of Chelsea, while others, like Roberto Firmino of Liverpool, are expected to link up with the wingers and midfielders by creating space and providing goalscoring opportunities for their team-mates. 

In this data analysis piece, we will look at the best strikers in German football’s elite competition: The Bundesliga. This will be done solely through data and statistics of the players in the league by looking at all-around attributes like their goalscoring ability, defensive ability and more. 

Criteria

We will only take pure strikers and not those who play as strikers in a secondary role. Since the season has not progressed very far yet, we will only consider strikers that have played more than 100 minutes in this analysis

Data Analysis

First and foremost, we will look at the goalscoring ability of the strikers as it is the most important responsibility of the player. This will be done by comparing the non-penalty goals per 90 (which gives us a better indication of a player’s talents to score from open play) and the non-penalty xG (The expected non-penalty goals that a player is expected to score). This gives us two fundamental ideas about the player: How good they are at finishing their chances, and how good they are at getting into chances. 

Finding the best strikers in the Bundesliga - data analysis tactical analysis tactics
Bundesliga’s Most Lethal Finishers

The size of each dot indicates the goal conversion rate and the players with larger dots have a better conversion rate than others. Right out of the bat, there are three players that catch our eyes: Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund, Robert Lewandowski of Bayern Munich and Cedric Teuchert of Union Berlin. Teuchert has his data skewed as he has only played 100 minutes in the Bundesliga so far, but has scored two goals in his six substitute appearances, something which is a great achievement. He has an xG per 90 of 1.33 and has scored 1.80 non-penalty goals in his time. 

Haaland has been phenomenal in his entire Dortmund career, and this season is no different. He has an xG of 0.82 per 90 and has scored 1.19 non-penalty goals per 90. He is the second-highest goalscorer in the league so far and has shown no signs of stopping. The other striker is Robert Lewandowski, the veteran striker whose presence here is not a surprise. He has 1.18 non-penalty goals per 90 from an expected goals value of 0.89. While these numbers are not as phenomenal as Haaland, it is still great for any striker and puts him as the top scorer of the Bundesliga by virtue of having played more games. 

Other honourable mentions are Lucas Alario, Wout Weghorst and Jean-Philippe Mateta, the latter of whom is only 23 years of age, and seems to be a striker to watch out for. 

Next, we will compare the shots taken by the strikers and the touches taken inside the box. This gives us a better idea about their instincts inside the box and how good they are at getting at the end of chances. 

Finding the best strikers in the Bundesliga - data analysis tactical analysis tactics
Touches in the box per 90 vs Shots per 90

In terms of volume of shots taken, nobody is higher than Nicolas Gonzalez from VfB Stuttgart, with 5.2 shots per 90. Other players with a great volume of shots are Cedric Teuchert, Robert Lewandowski, Andrej Kramaric and Niclas Fullkrug.

Meanwhile, in terms of touches in the box per 90, Yussuf Poulsen of RB Leipzig has taken the most touches in the box with 6.7 touches. Strikers that join him with a lot of touches are Erling Haaland, Joshua Zirkzee and Jhon Cordoba. 

The four strikers that are balanced in this regard are Andrej Kramaric, Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland (next to Poulsen) and Cedric Teuchert. Erling Haaland has 3.42 shots taken with 6.45 touches taken inside the box. Generally, having over three to four shots per game is a sign of a good striker, so Haaland comes well in the average. 

Robert Lewandowski takes a higher volume of shots per 90 at 4.1 but with lesser touches in the box at 5.04. Kramaric has numbers similar to Lewandowski, while Teuchert seems to be a lot more efficient, taking 4.5 shots with 4.5 touches in the box per 90. 

The next comparison will be to find the best dribblers in the Bundesliga. The better the dribbler, the better the ability of the player to create chances for themselves and for their teammates. The chart below indicates the strikers that are best at dribbling 

Finding the best strikers in the Bundesliga - data analysis tactical analysis tactics
Bundesliga’s Best Dribblers

The closer the player’s dot is to dark green, the more successful they are at dribbling. So, Bas Dost of Wolfsburg and Jhon Cordoba of Stuttgart are the players with the most success in dribbling with 100% dribble success and 82% respectively. Bas Dost’s very high success rate might be due to the fact that he attempts very little dribbles per game (0.24 per 90). 

Other players with similarly high success rates are Patrik Schick of RB Leipzig with 80% and Ishak Belfodil of Hoffenheim with a success rate of 69%. 

The players that are farther out from the vertical axis are the players that attempt the most volume of dribbles. The two standout players in this regard are Nicolas Gonzalez of Stuttgart and Karim Onisiwo of Mainz 05. Onisiwo makes the most dribbles for any striker in the league at 7.96 per 90, which is an impressively high number. He has a relatively decent success rate of 52%. The player next to him is Gonzalez, who attempts 7.41 dribbles per game. Something to note here is that Gonzalez has a better success rate at 65%, which is the fifth-highest in our data-set. 

Other players with a similarly high volume of dribbles are Andrej Kramaric of Hoffenheim with 6.1 dribbles, Breel Embolo of Borussia Monchengladbach with 5.7 dribbles and Davie Selke of Werder Bremen with 5.8 dribbles. 

The next and final metric that we will look at is the passing ability of the strikers. Strikers need to be able to create opportunities for their wingers either by creating space or by making passes to them so that they can score. For teams that play with a two-man striker system, it is more important for at least one of the strikers to be good at playmaking and creating goalscoring opportunities for the target man. Below, we will compare the assists per 90 of the strikers with their key passes per 90:

Finding the best strikers in the Bundesliga - data analysis tactical analysis tactics
Bundesliga’s Best Passers

Immediately after looking at the graph, we can see one stand out player: Dani Olmo of RB Leipzig. He has made 1.4 key passes per 90, the highest in our data. He also has 0.62 assists per 90, which is also the highest in our data set. He is clearly the best striker at playmaking in the Bundesliga. 

In terms of key passes, there are other strikers that are favourable in our data. Iceland international Alfred Finnbogason, who plays for FC Augsburg makes the second-most key passes at 1.27. Nicolas Gonzalez makes another appearance in our data set, having made 1.11 key passes. Some other players that rank well include Ihlas Bebou, Sasa Kalajdzic and Joshua Zirkzee

In terms of assists, the next best player is Max Kruse of Union Berlin. He has made 0.47 assists per 90. Another player is Sasa Kalajdzic, with 0.46 assists per 90. Other players that rank well in terms of assists are Jan Thielmann and Alfred Finnbogason. 

Shortlist

After this data analysis, we will go through the players that show the best potential and are currently the best strikers in the Bundesliga. We will not be considering players like Erling Haaland and Robert Lewandowski because they are already seen as one of the best in the world already.

  1. Nicolas Gonzalez: VfB Stuttgart
  2. Andrej Kramaric: 1899 Hoffenheim
  3. Cedric Teuchert: Union Berlin