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FC Bayern — land of the great finishers?

“Finishing is the act of putting the ball in the back of the opponent’s net.” – Debra LaPrath

One of the more important attributes of a striker is his finishing skill, i.e. given a presentable chance and assuming that the player does get a chance to shoot it before an opponent gets to it, how likely is that player of scoring?

On BayernForum.com, just as other places where Bayern fans converse, when things go bad we are often quick to point the finger at the striker who missed some chances. More often than not, we tend to remember the shots that went wide or straight at the opposing goalkeeper, but obviously there are other ways in which one can miss chances, such as mishitting the ball completely, straying offside and getting dispossessed by an opponent.

In this article, I will be focusing purely on shots taken vs goals scored. It’s not meant as an article to prove who’s the better player, but it can certainly indicate who may be the better finisher. I used the word ‘may’ because it is not so clear as one player might regularly try his luck from far while another may only be shooting from inside the box.

I have taken statistics, provided by ESPN on each Bayern striker of the last three seasons and also up to this point in the current season. These statistics are taken on all matches for both club and country. I then compare these statistics to incoming striker Robert Lewandowski and to the three strikers chosen yesterday in the FIFPro World XI, i.e. Ronaldo, Messi and Ibrahimovic.

The percentages in the table below indicate the amount of goals scored per 100 shots taken.





Miroslav Klose 31.25%
Ivica Olic 7.14% 14.29%
Mario Gomez 31.11% 27.12% 34.85%
Nils Petersen 16.67%
Mario Mandzukic 23.42% 22.54%
Claudio Pizarro 25.49% 16.67%
Robert Lewandowski 9.35% 21.71% 20.42% 15.74%
Lionel Messi 20% 25.33% 29.53% 22.22%
Cristiano Ronaldo 15.64% 17.75% 14.25% 17.65%
Zlatan Ibrahimovic 17.14% 20.10% 19.34% 21.60%
Gomez, consistent finisher

Gomez, consistent finisher

This table shows us, that when it comes to amount of missed chances, perhaps us Bayern fans don’t have all that much to complain about. Interestingly, it was Bayern’s first choice striker Mario Mandzukic who missed most chances, but then again, Mandzukic has been finishing a higher percentage of shots than Bayern’s latest signing Robert Lewandowski.

Another interesting statistic is that the two highest rates where by Gomez last season and by Klose in 2010/11. In both cases, the players were ironically not deemed as first choice players and played the following season at another club. It goes to show that finishing isn’t everything in football, but Bayern have been really spoiled in this aspect. Perhaps, when we complain about a shot that went wide, we may want to stop and think: “it could have been worse, the ball could have been shot by Ronaldo.” because really and truly, the shot-to-goal ratio of the Ballon d’Or winner is abysmal.

Ronaldo's shot-to-goal ratio is abysmal

Ronaldo’s shot-to-goal ratio is abysmal

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  • MoFattal says:

    You just had to cement that after all the forum discussions, haven’t you?! 😀

    • MUTU says:

      As I explained in the article, it doesn’t prove who the better player is but it can give an indication to the better finisher.

  • FCBayernMunchen says:

    This is an interesting find, but in a way it does reflect bad on certain aspects of our game in recent years. Except for perhaps Gomez, we have often been criticized (prior to showing its advantages in 2013) for not having our star player, our Messi or Ronaldo, who makes things happen. And it’s true – if I wanted a goal, I would rather pick the non-Bayern players in that list. So our strikers are, seemingly, very efficient finishers, but considering how little they score compared to the others, perhaps in recent years they have not been getting a lot of chances after all.

    • MUTU says:

      Good points. Perhaps it could also point to teamwork and the lack of selfishness as well. With perhaps the exception of Gomez, a lot of recent Bayern players tend to pass the ball quite a lot.

  • Dalv says:

    Hmm, unexpected results. Gomez seemed to miss a lot when he played.

    • MUTU says:

      Because every time he made a miss, all the haters used to emphasize it and point it out. But statistically he very rarely misses when he shoots. Having said that, he’s been a bit guilty of being unable to get a shot in due to poor ball control.

      • MUTU says:

        PS: when I said “very rarely” I obviously meant in relation to other strikers, because he obviously missed more than he scored, just like every other striker out there.

  • MUTU says:

    I found another article which is a bit old (May 2012) but provides some food for thought: http://www.whoscored.com/Articles/yrzitvt1mkmouruqwvvciq/Show/Player-Focus-European-Hotshot-Mario-Gomez