Set-piece goals rose but it was hard to get anything past Sergio Romero; some choice stats from the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League technical report.
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The 2019/20 UEFA Europa League technical report has been published and is free to read now.Read the 2019/20 Europa League technical report
UEFA's panel of experts examine every aspect of the competition, including how the goals were scored, tactical trends and in-depth analysis of the contenders. We pick out five of the many nuggets contained within the 76 pages.
The number of goals was down on 2018/19, from 565 to 548 (though there were fewer games due to the single-legged knockout tournament). However, the total of set-piece goals rose to 169, including 57 penalties compared with 36 spot kicks the season before. The experts speculate on the influence of VAR, not least as the number of goals from the first touch after a corner also increased, suggesting defenders are being more cautious in their marking of attackers.
Champions Sevilla topped the last 16 in average possession (68%), attempted passes per match (656.1) and completion rate (88.5%). As well as Sevilla, Ajax (66.8%) and Dynamo Kyiv (64.6%) averaged more possession than any team in 2018/19.
Manchester United's Sergio Romero kept more clean sheets (7), conceded fewer goals per game (0.2) and had a higher save percentage (86%) than any other goalkeeper. However, it was Copenhagen's Karl-Johan Johnsson who did best on goal prevention with 6.38 (xG on target conceded compared with average goals conceded across all games), two more than anyone else.
Ending the season at the age of 33, Romero was very much a veteran in Manchester United's squad – on average the youngest of the last 16 teams at 24.1, falling to 22.2 in their 1-0 group win at Astana, the ninth most junior selection in the history of the competition (despite Lee Grant, 36, taking over from Romero in goal). Ole Gunnar Solskjær had form for this; in 2012/13 he fielded a Molde team in the UEFA Europa League with an average age of 21.9.
The technical experts consider the unique circumstances of the season, with the enforced hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then the unprecedented knockout tournament in Germany to conclude the campaign. For Wolves it meant their quarter-final loss to Sevilla came 383 days after they kicked off their season in the second qualifying round.2019/20 Squad of the Season