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Welcome to the OptaPro blog, featuring news and analysis from OptaPro's cutting-edge research team.

GUEST BLOG: Big-5 league scores: half-time and full-time

This paper by Drs Loïc Ravenel and Raffaele Poli of the CIES Football Observatory analyses the score of big-5 league matches since the season 2003/04, both full-time and half-time. The study includes 17,656 matches and highlights the specific profile of French Ligue 1.

Full-time scores

The ten most frequent full-time scores at big-5 league level represent over three quarters of final outcomes. This figure is up to 81.7% in France, while it is only 70.4% in Germany. This is mainly due to the significantly lower number of goals per match scored in French top division. The score 0-0 is the third most common result in France (11.1% of matches) but only the fourth most frequent in Italy (8.7%) and England (8.5%), and the fifth most common in Spain (7.2%) and Germany (6.7%)

Table 1 - Full-time Score distribution (%) (2003-2012)


Table 2 - Most common full-time scores (2003-2012)


Half-time scores

The higher propensity for attacking in the German Bundesliga is confirmed by the statistics on half-time scores. In Germany, only in 27.7% of matches no goals are scored during the first half. At the opposite end of the table, this proportion is 35.3% in France. In the latter country, top division teams score no more than a goal in the first half in 72.4% of matches. This figure is only 63.8% in Germany. The three remaining big-5 leagues find themselves between these two extremes: Serie A (67.9%), Premier League (67.2%) and Liga (66%).

Table 3 - Half-time Score distribution (%) (2003-2012)


Interestingly, despite the differences in their relative proportion, the five most frequent half-time scores are exactly the same in all big-5 leagues.

Table 4 - Most common half-time scores (2003-2012)


Score change between half-time and full-time

In more than three cases out of four (76.6%), the half-time score is not the same as at the end of the game. The highest probability of change between the five most frequent half-time scores is for 0-1 (80.5% at big-5 league level). Conversely, the least changes were measured for the score 0-0 (73%). This holds particularly true for French Ligue 1 (68.4%). The only league where 0-0 is not the half-time score with the least probability to change is the Spanish Liga.

Table 5 - Probability of score change between half-time and full-time (2003-2012)


Outcome change between half-time and full-time

If we look at the probability of change for game outcome (home win, draw, away win) at the end of the match compared to half-time, it is interesting to note that a change happens only in 43.7% of games. The final outcome changes in a majority of cases only when the first half result is a draw. Conversely, only 25.7% of home teams who are winning 1-0 at half-time do not win at the end of the game. This percentage is higher for away teams winning 1-0 at half-time, but remains relatively low (38.2%). This data shows the importance of scoring the first goal of a match.

Table 6 - Probability of match outcome change between half-time and full-time (2003-2012)


The greatest probability of outcome change overall was observed in Italy (45.4%). This is related to the fact that the Italian Serie A is the big-5 league with the highest relative proportion of goals scored in the second half compared to the first one. At the opposite end of the table is France, with only 41.8% of outcome change between half-time and full-time. This indicator reflects and confirms the lower ability of Ligue 1 clubs to score goals and change the dynamic of a match.

You can see more work from The Fooball Observatory by heading to their website.


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