Having yesterday established our concept of “a talisman” and picked out the top ten for last season’s Premier League, we move our attention to sunnier climes and focus on La Liga. With a combined goals and assists tally of 100 between them , Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo would surely be expected to feature in our top two for Spain’s top division but the pair are, surprisingly, firmly in the shadows of a couple of players from further down the league.


Top Ten Talismen for La Liga, 2010/11


Espanyol’s star striker Pablo Osvaldo missed 14 games last term due to a thigh injury but his team still managed an eighth-place finish. Similar to our top talismen for England’s Premier League, Robin Van Persie, Osvaldo’s presence on the pitch did not necessarily give his side a better chance of winning- Espanyol won 39% of all their games last term but taking the games Osvaldo featured in, the percentage slightly dropped to 37%.

When on the pitch, however, his contribution was immense; Espanyol found the net 23 times when Osvaldo played and with 13 goals and 4 assists, he therefore  played a part in an incredible 73% of those goals. Fans of the club must be ruing the time Osvaldo spent on the sidelines, as he sat out the vast majority of January through to March.

We recently highlighted how clinical a finisher Felipe Caicedo was last season (he scored a goal with every 2.7 shots) and his value to Levante is once again illustrated here; when Caicedo is on the pitch, Levante were a more dangerous opponent in every aspect of our analysis.

He missed 11 games last season, with the team winning just twice in his absence; when Caicedo played, his side won 37% of their games and 31% without him. Their goals per minute were slightly boosted by his presence, too, with an average of 1 goal every 83 minutes all season compared to 1 goal per 81 minutes with him on the pitch. More significantly, though, it was his goal contribution that really stood out- with Caicedo on the pitch, Levante found the net 21 times and with 13 goals and 2 assists, he played a part in 15 of those goals, an outstanding 71%.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s 40 goals and 11 assists was the highest total goal contribution in La Liga, as the Madrid maestro played a part in 51 of his side’s goals. Ronaldo’s presence made little difference to the frequency of goals at Madrid, though- they averaged 1 goal per 33 minutes for the season, and the same tally when we analysed the minutes he was on the park.

His phenomenal goal scoring, combined with the assists, meant Ronaldo played a part in 58% of the 87 goals Madrid scored when he was on the pitch, third highest percentage for the division.

Lionel Messi’s presence in the Barcelona XI didn’t boost their chances of winning a game, though their goals per minute did slightly improve with him on the pitch; Barca averaged 1 goal every 36 minutes for the season but 1 goal every 33 minutes when only the time Messi played was analysed. His 31 goals and 18 assists meant Messi had a part in 49 of the La Liga 85 goals Pep Guardiola’s side scored with him on the pitch, a ratio of 57%.

Mallorca escaped relegation by a single point last term and much can be credited to the performances of Pierre Webo. The forward missed just four games and his presence in the side proved essential; Mallorca were more likely to score with him playing, averaging 1 goal per 83 minutes for the season and 1 goal per 77 minutes for the time Webo was on the pitch. Mallorca found the net 34 times when Webo as on the pitch and with 11 goals and 6 assists, he played a part in 17, or 50%, of them.

Alvaro Negredo played a part in every one of Sevilla’s matches as the club battled their way to a seventh-place finish. Negredo had a sensational end to the season, netting 10 times in his last 9 games and with 20 goals overall, he finished joint-third top scorer for the campaign with Sergio Aguero- only Ronaldo and Messi found the net more often. Sevilla found the net 55 times when Negredo was on the pitch and with 20 goals and 5 assists, he contributed to 25 of them, or 45%.

The performances of Sergio Aguero for Atletico Madrid last term have seen the Argentine linked with the like of Real Madrid and Juventus so far this close season. His 20 goals were essential in helping his side to a fifth-place finish, particularly with the poor form of Diego Forlan alongside him. Aguero missed 6 games for Atletico but his on-pitch presence didn’t necessarily boost Atletico’s chances of winning- they won 44% of all their league games last season and 43% of all the games Aguero took part in. He also grabbed 2 assists, which, added to his goals, meant Aguero contributed to 22 of the 48 goals his side scored with him on the pitch- 45%.

Giuseppe Rossi missed only two of Villarreal’s games as the club ended last season in fourth place. Rossi’s presence was vital, as the team scored more goals per minute during his game time (1 goal per 56 mins) compared to the overall 1 goal per 63 mins for the season. With 18 goals and 5 assists, he contributed to 42% of Villarreal’s goals when on the pitch, as the side scored 54 goals with him in the XI. Indeed, Villarreal failed to score a single goal without Rossi on the pitch, an indication of how crucial he is to the club.

Roberto Soldado grabbed 18 goals and 3 assists for Valencia, therefore contributing to 21 of the 49 goals his side netted with him on the pitch, which equates to 42%. Soldado missed just four games last season and his presence in the side clearly boosted Valencia’s chances of finding the net- they averaged 1 goal every 49 minutes when he played, but 1 goal every 53 minutes overall for the season.

Our final place goes to Xabi Prieto of Real Sociedad. Prieto missed just one game all season, scoring 7 goals and making 13 assists as the club escaped relegation by just two points. Prieto was on the pitch for all but one of his side’s goals last term, meaning he contributed to 20 of 48 goals, which equates to a on-pitch contribution of 41% of all team goals.