Round-Up & Link-List: Fact-checking Ancelotti

Dennis Separator January 6, 2017

It’s acceptable to make mistakes in the first half of the season, but not in the second.

According to the German newspaper “SZ”, these were the opening lines by Carlo Ancelotti to his players in Doha and the newspaper used this quote to strengthen the narrative of Ancelotti as being the coach that gets the best results out of his teams when it really matters. In April and May. In the Big Games.

How much truth lies in this narrative? Time for some statistical fact-checking.

Disclaimer: The target of this analysis is not to discredit Ancelotti and his work, but to challenge the simple narratives that are used to explain it.

Big game coach, eh? What is a big game anyway and how many big games has FC Bayern played under Ancelotti? One way of looking at this is taking into account the ELO rating of FC Bayern’s opponents. Considering only the top 10 teams in Europe, Bayern had three big games this season, twice against Atletico and one game against Borussia Dortmund. Bayern lost two and only won the dead rubber against Atletico at home. All in all, FC Bayern lost 11.4 ELO points in these games. Small sample size, but that’s a given when looking at “big games”, isn’t it?

No mistakes in the second part of the season and getting the team in the best shape when the trophies are handed out.

Sounds like a plan, but do the numbers match that narrative of Ancelotti being better in the second part of the season than in the first?

In 8 of 17 seasons Ancelotti’s teams collected more points in the second part of the season.
(Analytics: Lukas)

It’s basically been a 50:50 situation throughout Ancelotti’s career, looking at the number of points his teams have collected in the league games of the second half of the season compared to the first half. His last two seasons at Real Madrid featured rather underwhelming performances in the second halves. The picture doesn’t look any different when looking at goals instead of points, either.

Overall, Ancelotti’s teams collected 4 more points, scored 5 more goals, and conceded 19 goals fewer in their 326 games during the second parts of the seasons. That doesn’t look like a strong trend, but rather like the regular level of noise in the numbers.

And now? Well, umm, I don’t know. Maybe Carlo Ancelotti isn’t “Mr. Big Games” or “Mr. Rückrunde” after all. Does that mean FC Bayern are doomed in the second half of the season? Probably not, but keeping the numbers in mind could help in not putting too much faith in simple narratives and looking at the team’s actual performance instead. provides a 2-for-1 information combo meal. It contains a link list to (hopefully) worthwhile texts about the red giant and a feature text about former players, upcoming opponents or the Miasanrot player of the month.

Busy attack, quiet defence

Ben Mayhew updated his scatter graphics looking at the shot dominance and the attacking & defensive effectivenes of football clubs. Surprise, surprise, Bayern are in the “green areas” in the Bundesliga and also in the consolidated view of the top four European leagues.

Tactical Analysis

Another way of getting ready for the Rückrunde is reading “Tactical Issues of Bayern Munich Under Carlo Ancelotti” on boxtoboxcentreback.

“Thiago oder nix”

A Round-Up without Thiago wouldn’t be the same, so we give to you the alliteration headline of the week; “The Tale of Thiago: Transmutation, tragedy, and triumph” on Outside Of The Boot.

Big game analysis

For some, the final game of 2016 against RB Leipzig also qualified as a big game for FC Bayern this season, even though ELO only ranks Leipzig as number 43 in Europe. Spielverlagerung and Outside Of The Boot each emphasized Bayern’s approach in breaking Leipzig’s pressing game.

It’s that time of the year

Some love ’em, some hate ’em. Individual rankings in team sports, always a welcome cause for debate (and clicks). The Guardian compiled a list of “The 100 best footballers in the world 2016“.

Miasanrot’s team

We used the holiday season to update our team page. The Miasanrot team has expanded to 13 people and this is as good a time as any to say “thank you” for taking an interest in what we are doing here.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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