Often, journalists and commentators suggest that a partial 2-0 in favor is a dangerous result. The argument is that the team that is leading is going to inadvertently slow down and the other team can produce a comeback. Is this ‘soccer myth’ true?
I collected data on 14,518 matches from all the seasons from 2009/2010 to 2016/2017 from the following leagues: Bundesliga (Germany), English Premier League (England), La Liga (Spain), Ligue 1 (France), and Serie A (Italy). The data say that the ‘myth’ that a partial 2-0 is a dangerous result is actually not accurate.
From all the matches, 5,720 were matches in which a team was leading by 2-0 at any given point during the match. However, in only 407 matches the leading team did not win (the team either lost or tied). That is, in 92.9% of the 5,720 matches the ‘2-0 partial result is a dangerous result’ statement was not true. And what if the team is leading 2-0 at half time? In that case, the leading team wins the match in 89.3% of the cases.
It could be possible that in some leagues it is easier or more difficult to maintain a 2-0 lead. Let’s breakdown the 92.9% by league.
Although there is some variation, the minimum is still very high. In the Bundesliga, a team that is leading by a partial 2-0 is going to won the match in 91.7% of the matches. On the other hand, in La Liga, a team that is leading by 2-0 wins in 94.2% of the matches.
Therefore, it is hard to say that a partial 2-0 is a dangerous result in soccer.
What about a partial 4-0? Out of the 782 matches in which a team was leading by 4-0, there is only one match where that leading team did not win. Who gets the honors? Of course, it had to be Arsenal (Sorry Arsene!). In a very entertaining match, Arsenal FC wasted their 4-0 lead against Newcastle United FC during the 2010/2011 season.