The Champions League resumes in a couple of days. The Round of 16 enters its final leg with a big pool of world-class goalscorers, but who are the best finishers – by the numbers?
The other morning I was pouring cereal into my son’s bowl for breakfast. I was distracted by all the numbers I put out in my most recent column about the best attackers in the Champions League. The rankings filled me with more questions than the last season of Game of Thrones.
I was left with the question I could not get past.
Why were some stars on that list who had such gaudy numbers of goals, assists, and Instagram followers (maybe not that last one) had advanced numbers that were so below expectations? Shouldn’t some of these players score better? There were some curious examples. I will explain some later. I don’t want to spoil the ending.
My son laughed as the little cereal ‘O’s were flying out of the bowl because it was overflowing like my love of orange Tic Tacs and flying squirrels because of my analytical distractions. His laugh led me to open the laptop and find some answers. It came down to one thing…
I spoke about finishing before in a column about the best clinical finishers in the Premier League. That post looked at the top goalscorers’ ability to convert their goal-scoring opportunities. The premise was that just because a player may have a huge goal number does not automatically mean they are the best at putting that clinical touch on the ball to get it to bulge the back of the net on a consistent basis.
These top finishers are great not at just getting those “easy” tap-ins, but can score from anywhere on the pitch regardless of how dire the circumstances. They strike the ball with improbable curves from impossible angles. They jump at the right time to head the ball in the net. They consistently make magic. Good magic and not the magic that makes you want to listen to Don Johnson sing.