How often do scoreless draws occur in football?
How often does a football match end without a goal from either club? Does it happen more often is some leagues than others? Can the odds for a match tell us something about the likelihood of a particular match ending nil-all? Andrew turns to his charts to breakdown the numbers on scoreless draws.
The opening weekend of the Premier League saw three matches that went the full duration without a goal being scored. At first glance, it seemed like an irregular number of scoreless matches for one weekend.
So I decided to open up the spreadsheets, flip them around and see what the occurence of 0-0 results have been across seven of the major leagues of Europe in recent seasons.
Do they occur at a similar rate across most major leagues, or do particular leagues see a significantly higher or lower rate of scoreless draws?
In this piece we will be firstly looking at the occurence of 0-0 results since 2002 in 7 of the major leagues across Europe:
- English Premier League.
- Spanish Primera.
- German Bundesliga.
- Italian Serie A.
- Scottish Premier League.
- Dutch Eredivisie.
- French Ligue 1.
Further, we will be taking a look at how often such results happen when the Over 2.5 goal market is favoured and when the Under is favoured. And lastly we will look over a more detailed breakdown of nil-all results cross-referencing Over/Under odds with starting head to head match odds.
Across 7 leagues
Firstly, let's take a simple look at the occurence of 0-0 results across seven of the major leagues of European football.
We see here, as many of you may have expected, that the French Ligue 1 has had the highest occurence of scoreless matches since 2002.
Over that span, 12% of Ligue 1 matches have ended without a goal. This number was 3.6% greater than the league in second place, the Italian Serie A with 8.4% of its matches ending without a score, just ahead of the English Premier League with 8.3%.
We see the Spanish Primera in the middle of the pack with 7.3% of matches ending without a goal, with the Scottish Premier League and German Bundesliga behind with 6.7% and 6.6% respectively, while the high-scoring Dutch Eredivisie holds down the final place on our list with 6% of its matches ending nil-all since 2002.
When the Over was favoured
Now let's turn to take a look at the occurence of scoreless draws when the Over 2.5 goals line was favoured.
Once again Ligue 1 gives us the greatest number of goalless matches. However, as you might expect, when the odds-makers consider a greater chance than average that the goal total will be above 2.5 goals, the occurence of nil-all results drops from the league overall of 12%, to 9.4%.
The Premier League holds second position when the Over is favoured, with a solid 7% of matches ending in a scoreless draw, while the Scottish Premier League finds itself with the fewest share of 0-0 results when the Over is favoured, at 4.6% of its matches in this situation.
When the Under was favoured
Let's then turn to the occurence of 0-0 results when the Under is favoured. As you might expect, the occurence of scoreless matches increases across all leagues when the odds-makers assess a greater than average chance that the goal total will be under 2.5 goals.
Again Ligue 1 holds down the position of league with the highest occurence of nil-all results. Since 2002 just over 12% of Ligue 1 matches have ended without a goal when the Under 2.5 goals is favoured.
We can see that the occurence of 0-0 results increased in the Serie A from 6.1% when the Over is favoured to 9.6% when the Under is favoured.
This however wasn't the greatest increase across the seven leagues. That claim went to the Scottish Premier League, whose occurence of scoreless draws increased from a comparative lowest 4.6% when the Over was favoured, to 9.4% when the Under was favoured since 2002.
The Bundesliga had the slightest change, just 1.9%, rising from 6.3% when the Over was favoured to a comparative lowest 8.4% when the Under was expected.
When Home clubs were favoured
Now let's break the numbers down a little further.
Firstly, let's look at the occurence of scoreless draws when the Over was favoured coupled with the home club starting at odds of less than 2.00 as well as odds of 2.00 or above.
We can see that the occurence of 0-0 results increased as the starting match odds for home clubs drifted above the 2.00 mark in all but two leagues - those being the EPL and Ligue 1 in which the occurence of scoreless matches increased as starting home odds shortened below 2.00. When home clubs started favourites below 2.00 in the English Premier League since 2002, 7.6% of matches ended without a goal, while in the same situation, matches in Ligue 1 ended with no score just under 10% of the time.
The greatest gulf occured in Serie A where 0-0 results accounted for 9.5% of all matches with the Over favoured and the starting price of the home club at 2.00 or above, while just 4.1% of results ended in a scoreless draw when the home club started at below 2.00.
Now let's take a look at the same situation when the Under is favoured.
Here we can see the only league that saw a higher occurence of 0-0 results when the starting odds for the home clubs were below 2.00 than when above, was the Eredivisie.
It was also the league which had both the highest occurence when home starting odds were below 2.00 and the lowest occurence when the home price started above 2.00, with 14.8% and 6.7% respectively.
So what did we learn?
Let's conclude by breaking down the best and worst leagues in each category.
- When the Over is favoured and the Home club starting odds are below 2.00, Ligue 1 had the highest occurence of 0-0 results at 9.9% while both the SPL and Serie A had the lowest at 4.1%.
- When the Over is favoured and the Home club starting odds are 2.00 or above, Serie A had the highest occurence of 0-0 results at 9.5%. while the SPL had the lowest at 5%.
- When the Under is favoured and the Home club starting odds are below 2.00, the Eredivisie had the the highest occurnce of 0-0 results at 14.8%, while the Bundesliga had the lowest at 4.3%.
- When the Under is favoured and the Home club starting odds are 2.00 or above, Ligue 1 had the highest occurence of 0-0 results at 13.1%, while the Eredivisie had the lowest at 6.7%.