What is XG in Football? An Inside Look at Expected Goals

What is XG in Football? An Inside Look at Expected Goals

Some football terminology might be strange to football fans, especially for newbies. 

So, this could be the case with the revolutionary football metric XG. 

It was introduced in 2012 and has become one of the most valuable metrics in football analytics.

So, what is XG in football? 

Keep reading to find out!

What Are Expected Goals (xG)?

The abbreviation xG stands for expected goals. It is a predictive model used to evaluate the quality of goal-scoring chances. Moreover, it’s a metric for calculating the chances of a goal being scored on a particular shot. 

Expected goals (xG) are usually expressed as a number between 0 and 1. 

  • 0 denotes a risk of being unable to score 
  • 1 reflects the probability that a player may score every time

So, let’s see what is the term expected goals in practice!

For instance, we’ll take Team A and Team B. Team A has an xG of 2,3, and Team B has an xG of 1,68. From what we see here, Team A has a bigger chance of scoring. But it does not necessarily mean that Team A should have won the match. It is because xG is a measuring tool of the quality of the chances and the goalscoring likeliness. 

Related: What does a clean sheet mean in football?

How is xG Calculated?

Now that we know what xG means in football, let’s see how it can be calculated. So, there is a range of factors considered when calculating xG, such as:

  • Distance to the goal
  • Type and speed of pass
  • Shot angels
  • Position of defenders
  • Chance creation 
  • The pattern of play.

So, these are the standard variables for the analysis of xG meaning. But there are also some more complex models, such as the defensive play of opponents. It has a significant role in determining if an attacking player will score. 

So simply by watching a football game, you can determine the xG of a player’s shot. For example, suppose a player is trying to score from a long distance in his half. And then, another player is shooting from a short distance by standing in the opponent’s penalty area. 

You can guess which situation is more anticipated to result in a goal. It is one of the factors used for calculating the xG. So, if the shot is very close to the goal, it has a higher xG.

Furthermore, the player’s body part also plays a role. Thus, a few factors are considered when it comes to the shot. So, it can be:

  • a right-footed or left-footed shot 
  • a header
  • a shot that is sent from an angle

If the shot comes from an acute angle, the xG will have a lower value. 

The calculations are explained in simple words. For example, if a chance is described with an xG rating of 0.45, the player might end up scoring from that specific chance 45% of the time. On the other hand, if it’s 0.5 xG, the chances are 50% of the time. 

Besides xG, analysts also use other variations for calculating the expected goals, such as:

  • xA (Expected Assists)
  • npxG (Non-penalty Expected Goals)
  • xG/90 (Expected Goals Per 90)
  • xGf (Expected Goals For)
  • xPts (Expected Points)
  • xGa (Expected Goals Against)

So before choosing any possible variations for calculating, keep in mind the factors mentioned above.

Related: What is ACCA betting?

How Can We Use Expected Goals?

In sports betting, the metric “Expected Goals” can bring so many advantages to a bettor. Although goals are rare in football compared to other sports, the punter who correctly predicts one may be highly successful. Thus, xG statistics can help them make better predictions.  

Since now you know the answer to “What does xG mean in football” let’s see the benefits this feature has for the analysts.

Firstly, It enables an accurate evaluation of a particular player, in which segment he lacks in his technique and whether there’s a space for improvement to score goals.

Secondly, it helps evaluate players on a higher level besides detailed statistics such as goals and assists.

Although a single match xG cannot tell about a team’s long-term performance, it can help estimate the strengths and weaknesses of individuals by providing data on their flaws and keeping track of their mistakes and positive points.

Bottom Line

People like to put their bets on football games as the most popular and most widespread sport in the world. So, this metric goes beyond the common goals and assists statistics. But it’s more about evaluating the underlying performances of the players and teams. 

So, this guide should help you understand “What is xG in football?” since it is one of the most valuable metrics for punters, teams, and club management.


Is higher xG better?

The higher the xG – the higher the possibility of scoring. But it does not mean a team with a higher xG in a match should win the game. This metric is not measuring the expected outcome but the quality of the chances created by the players. 

What is the highest xG?

A team with the highest xG was Liverpool in February 2022, when they defeated Leeds. Meanwhile, the highest combined xG in one match was on Boxing Day at Etihad, when Manchester City beat Leicester with a score of 6-3, with an xG of 6.58 (City 4.17 and Leicester 2.41).

How do you bet on xG?

You can figure out the xG of a shot just by watching a football game. As we explained in this what is xG in football guide, the closer the shot to the goal, the bigger the chance to go in. Since bookmakers have access to xG, their odds will likely reflect recent xG measurements in future games.

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