The Impact of the opening Goal by the Home Team in La Liga in the 40-HT Time Band and 1-0 Half Time Game State

Posted on: September 22nd, 2017 by Jonny Grossmark

One of those things—one which I really thought to be true, too—involves the benefits scoring a goal just before half-time. The idea, which seems plausible indeed, is that this gives the scoring team a confidence boost during the break, and helps them psychologically when they come back for the second half. The other team might be more stressed during the break, and know they need to really score now in order to just have a tie. This pressure might hinder their break and recovery, and make them less confident for the second half.

But is it true? Professor Stijn Baert from the University of Ghent here in Belgium came out with a well-timed study (published in Dutch), where he analyzed all goals made in Champions and UEFA Europa League matches between 2011 and 2014 (1,179 in total), together with his assistant, Masters student Simon Amez. They even made the distinction between teams having home advantage and playing in another stadium.

For those playing elsewhere, there is no significant difference. And for the home team, the effect is even negative! A goal scored between the 45th minute and the end of the first half (a couple of minutes later depending on the number of interruptions in that half) has the net effect of decreasing the total number of goals in that match for that team, and it doesn’t improve their chances of winning. It seems scoring before the break may decrease concentration, and could make that team less eager to score some more goals.

The result is similar to some studies of the “hot-hand fallacy,” which derives from the assumption that athletes score more when they’ve just scored, like being on a winning streak. Studies of that phenomenon have produced mostly negative, but mixed, results.

Baert and Amez’s research speculates on some explanations, but the main point is clear: football experts (and yes, also me) are wrong in thinking that scoring just before the break is a good thing. It is actually quite the opposite! So, once more: science 1, common sense 0.

Scoring a Goal Just Before the Break: A Myth That Doesn’t Score

LA LIGA in games where the home team opened the scoring 40-HT AND 1-0 HT

LAST 20

16-4-0

with the home team scoring 24 2nd half goal and the away team only 11

SCIENCE 0 GAMESTATE 6

Levante
3 – 0
Real Sociedad View events More info
Chema 45′
1 – 0
José Luis Morales (PG) 75′
2 – 0
E. Bardhi 89′
3 – 0

Deportivo La C…
1 – 0
Deportivo Alavés View events More info
Luisinho 45′
1 – 0

Sevilla
1 – 1
Real Sociedad View events More info
Pablo Sarabia 41′
1 – 0
1 – 1
61′ C. Vela

Real Sociedad
2 – 1
Granada View events More info
C. Vela 45′
1 – 0
1 – 1
65′ A. Ramos
Juanmi 84′
2 – 1

Las Palmas
1 – 1
Deportivo Alavés View events More info
K. Boateng 44′
1 – 0
1 – 1
61′ Ibai Gómez

Las Palmas
4 – 1
Real Betis View events More info
Vicente Gómez 44′
1 – 0
K. Boateng 49′
2 – 0
Jonathan Viera 62′
3 – 0
Jesé (PG) 83′
4 – 0
4 – 1
88′ Rafa Navarro

Deportivo Alavés
1 – 0
Real Sociedad View events More info
Deyverson 44′
1 – 0

Deportivo La C…
2 – 1
Barcelona View events More info
Joselu 40′
1 – 0
1 – 1
46′ L. Suárez
Álex Bergantiños 74′
2 – 1

Villarreal
2 – 0
Espanyol View events More info
R. Soriano 45′
1 – 0
C. Bakambu 80′
2 – 0

Eibar
3 – 0
Málaga View events More info
Adrián 43′
1 – 0
Adrián (PG) 50′
2 – 0
Sergi Enrich 52′
3 – 0

Villarreal
2 – 0
Granada View events More info
Bruno 42′
1 – 0
Álvaro González 73′
2 – 0

Sporting Gijón
3 – 1
Osasuna View events More info
Carlos Carmona 43′
1 – 0
Douglas Pereira 56′
2 – 0
Carlos Carmona 78′
3 – 0
3 – 1
86′ Miguel Flaño

Athletic Club
3 – 1
Eibar View events More info
Beñat 42′
1 – 0
Iñaki Williams 55′
2 – 0
2 – 1
70′ Sergi Enrich
Muniain 90′
3 – 1

Las Palmas
3 – 1
Athletic Club View events More info
K. Boateng 40′
1 – 0
Momo 50′
2 – 0
2 – 1
79′ Raúl García (PG)
Jonathan Viera 90′
3 – 1

Deportivo La C…
1 – 1
Valencia View events More info
E. Çolak 45′
1 – 0
1 – 1
56′ Rodrigo

Barcelona
1 – 1
Atlético Madrid View events More info
I. Rakitić 41′
1 – 0
1 – 1
61′ Á. Correa

Sporting Gijón
2 – 0
Eibar View events More info
Carlos Carmona 43′
1 – 0
Jony 82′
2 – 0

Las Palmas
4 – 0
Espanyol View events More info
N. El Zhar 45′
1 – 0
Jonathan Viera 49′
2 – 0
Bigas 56′
3 – 0
M. Wakaso 75′
4 – 0

Real Madrid
3 – 0
Villarreal View events More info
K. Benzema 41′
1 – 0
Lucas Vázquez 69′
2 – 0
L. Modrić 76′
3 – 0

Valencia
2 – 1
Sevilla View events More info
Dani Parejo 41′
1 – 0
1 – 1
86′ K. Gameiro
Álvaro Negredo 90′
2 – 1