Statistical Analysis: How TP Mazembe can defeat Raja Casablanca in the CAFCL

Congolese giants TP Mazembe suffered a disappointing 2-0 loss to Raja Casablanca in the first leg of their CAF Champions League Quarter-Final tie in Morocco. The stats show that Mazembe can come back and reverse their first leg defeat to advance to the Semi-Finals.

Attack:

The biggest piece to a Mazembe comeback is Jackson Muleka. The 22-year-old striker is the leading goal scorer in the Champions League this season, with seven goals in seven matches.

He averages a goal every 88 minutes, a staggering return for any player. This means that he is expected to score every match, which makes his failure to score in the first leg a statistical anomaly.

The Lubumbashi club failed to get a single shot on target in the first leg, which is a huge credit to Raja considering that Mazembe had 11 goals in six group stage matches.

16-year-old winger Isaac Tshibangu will need to improve his performance from the first leg. While he completed 85% of his passes, he needs to win the ball more often to get more touches. He only won 5/14 ground duels, which pales in comparison to his left wing counterpart on Raja, Soufiane Rahimi, who won 4/4 ground duels.

Jackson Muleka vs Ben Malango

Passing:

Mazembe need to play more accurate and safer passes into space, as they only completed 270/373 (72%) of their passes. What is arguably most damning though, was their inability to cross. Mazembe failed to complete a single cross in 11 attempts, which is terrible for a team that relies on wing play.

TP Mazembe’s poor crossing can be highlighted by the fact that Raja intercepted 20 of their passes, while Mazembe only made five interceptions.

In order to win, Mazembe will need an improved performance from 21-year-old midfielder Glody Likonza. He was shut down by Raja in the first leg, only completing 27/42 (64%) passes. Additionally, he lost 7/10 (70%) of his ground duels and 2/3 (67%) of his aerial duels. His performance was rated a 6.1.

Glody Likonza’s Overall Duel Stats in the 2019/20 CAFCL

Ground duels won

3.6 (60%)

Aerial duels won

1.9 (65%)

Ben Malango’s goal in the 6th minute shocked Mazembe, and likely forced them to change their game plan as the match went on. In the first half, Mazembe had 48% possession, which is not bad at all for an away team playing in front of the formidable Moroccan fans. In the second half however, Raja really controlled the ball, holding the ball for 61% of the time (meaning Mazemebe only had the ball for 39% of the second half).

It wouldn’t hurt Mazembe if their club and African football legend Tresor Mputu played. He is the all time leading scorer in CAF interclub history, with 55 goals. He was suspended by the club for arriving late to the airport for a trip to Lubumbashi Sport in the Linafoot. While he is 34-years-old, his experience will be crucial to a young team that had an average age of 25.6 years in the first leg.

Do you think TP Mazembe can come back? Comment below.

This piece is part of AFHQ’s collaboration with KiniScore to provide statistical analysis of the CAF Champions League.