Is Luka Modric the greatest midfielder of the 21st century?

Discussion in 'The Beautiful Game' started by SayWhatIWant, Feb 4, 2023.

  1. Isaías Silva Serafim

    Real Madrid
    Brazil
    Dec 2, 2021
    Nat'l Team:
    Brazil
    @lessthanjake I just found this on web archive from the original thread by Michael Clay on Twitter

    E0VROKrXsAAgejr.png

    That's the same ranking on a p90 basis

    That said, I found this very strange cause on fbref, from 17/18 till now on league + UCL Kroos has 11.39 progressive passes p90 (2547 on total. That's almost the same as from 10/11 to 20/21 according to the OP). One possibility is that he had a different role on Bayern where he played further and had far less progressive passes than playing deeper on Real Madrid
     
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  2. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Kroos’s role did change a good bit over time, though his numbers are so much lower there that IMO that seems quite unlikely to fully explain the difference (especially given your point about the total number of progressive passes). He’s not the only one like that either—for instance, Verratti’s FBref numbers are a lot higher than the numbers for him in that chart too. Same with Thiago Alcantara and Modric, just to name a couple others I checked. I think it’s almost certainly the case that the definition of “progressive pass” being used there is different than the one FBref uses. It’s not like there’s a really uniform definition of that term, so that’s not surprising. So it’s probably the case that we can’t just directly compare the numbers there to the numbers on FBref because they’re defining progressive passes differently (seems to be that FBref has a more permissive definition, such that the numbers are higher there). But it’s still very useful to look at this and get a sense of how players stacked up against each other in relative terms in the relevant time period. And obviously the chart shows Xavi in a league of his own relative to a boatload of incredible players. (Of course, another possibility is that the chart is just false information. I suppose that’s possible too, but it’s not my first conclusion, given that we are talking about a stat that genuinely doesn’t have a uniform definition).
     
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  3. Isaías Silva Serafim

    Real Madrid
    Brazil
    Dec 2, 2021
    Nat'l Team:
    Brazil
    If this is the case, it makes Xavi's numbers even more impressive because he would have even higher numbers under a more "permissive" criteria like fbref
     
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  4. Milan05

    Milan05 Member

    Dec 2, 2015
    Club:
    AC Milan
    Pirlo 2006 is the best and most impressive campaign from this quartet, in my opinion.
     
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  5. Isaías Silva Serafim

    Real Madrid
    Brazil
    Dec 2, 2021
    Nat'l Team:
    Brazil
    Kroos was the best player of 2014 wc imo. Apart from controlling the midfield, he also ended the tournament with most ko g/a
     
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  6. Isaías Silva Serafim

    Real Madrid
    Brazil
    Dec 2, 2021
    Nat'l Team:
    Brazil
    I'm most impressed with Dunga. Though he is very underrated. Especially at passing. He has pirloesque numbers of long balls with the same accuracy and contributed far more defensively
     
  7. Tom Stevens

    Tom Stevens Member+

    Dec 12, 2012
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Found this very interesting. I am not surprised Xavi and Modric are less progressive than Pirlo and Kross as they are the teams metronomes who dictate rhythm. Kross and Pirlo are the teams playmakers, their job is to play the most progressive pass basically at all times. Xavi and Modric must decide when a progressive pass is needed and only play it at the right time. In different set ups they have had different roles. For Barca in 2009 Xavi is the playmaker, his job is to play the most progressive pass, he racked up De Bruyne level numbers of through balls and assists. It’s not that he could not do this at the World Cup, it’s that he had a a different role.

    Things that surprised me in this metric are Dunga and Kasperczak. I would not have predicted Dunga as such a progressive passer. I viewed him as a metronome. Also did not view Kasperczak as a dribbler. He is an interesting player I am reconsidering for the pantheon.
     
  8. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member+

    Jan 10, 2015
    Xavi also played quite forward at the WC. Mostly as the 2nd most advanced player until usually the 70th minute or 1-0 Spain lead
     
  9. Isaías Silva Serafim

    Real Madrid
    Brazil
    Dec 2, 2021
    Nat'l Team:
    Brazil
    I just found it on Kroos' stories on Instagram:

    20240219_080334.jpg

    On a p90 basis:

    Xavi: 15,75
    Xabi: 12,64
    Kroos: 11,31
     
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  10. Timmy21

    Timmy21 New Member

    Barcelona
    France
    Nov 27, 2023
    This match is a great demonstration.
    Xavi vs Celtic 2012/13


    177 passes and few ones into dangerous zones, he tries couple over the top balls to no success, most is playing safe. Then you compare to this performance vs Arsenal and you can see Xavi is simply more daring and more successful at them too
     
  11. ffff15

    ffff15 Member

    Argentina
    Sep 29, 2021
    What a genius, definitely top 30 of all time whether some Zidane dick riders like it or not.
     
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  12. Sexy Beast

    Sexy Beast Member+

    Dinamo Zagreb
    Croatia
    Aug 11, 2016
    Zagreb
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    Croatia
    Excellent performance vs Celtic. Every top team today would kill to have Xavi in their team. Real maybe less with Kroos but any other team.

    The fallacy is in thinking that most of player's actions must be risky, daring plays.. against Celtic he created a bunch of dangerous situations and even gotten the assist.

    There are other players on the pitch. Xavi's job is primarily to put them in advantegous positions so they can do their thing and he has done that superbly against Celtic.
     
  13. Timmy21

    Timmy21 New Member

    Barcelona
    France
    Nov 27, 2023
    I wouldn't really call tho excellent, almost every daring passes he tried he failed, the assist is something most midfielders could've made the pass. Against Arsenal he controlled the midfield and was daring and successful more often, you can be both. I don't have every touch against Bayern in 2013 but will see if I can find.
     
  14. Sexy Beast

    Sexy Beast Member+

    Dinamo Zagreb
    Croatia
    Aug 11, 2016
    Zagreb
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    Croatia
    #139 Sexy Beast, May 31, 2024
    Last edited: May 31, 2024
    Although now I think the word excellent my not perfectly describe the performance, I've used that word in a sense that Xavi, in this game, did everything expected of him very well (8/10 performance at least). Xavi completing few of those daring passes and perhaps some dribbles would make his performance exceed requirements and expectations and would be rated higher. Excellent might not be the right word for it.

    But I strongly disagree for that pass. Don't get fooled by the length of the pass. This is the pass that only few midfielders are capable of consistently producing. There is so much skill involved in it.

    Firstly, the advanced positioning and slight movement into the right space to recieve the pass by Iniesta in this sequence is excellent and right of the bat, the most midifielders would never even get in position to make the final pass. This is an unoverlookable aspect of the assist.

    Secondly, the composure, patience and the way he immediately opens up his body for one-two is world class. Most players would panic and overreact in this situation.

    Thirdly, the pass itself had a low margin of error in terms of timing, angle and power.

    Notice how quickly Xavi had to react after the initial touch. If he made the one-touch pass, Iniesta wouldnt get it. If he waited for a half of second more, Iniesta's run would pass and/or he would get blocked by a defender near by. Timing of the pass had to be impeccable.

    Then the pass itself was not obvious. Iniesta's run goes seemingly nowhere. He is surrended by several defenders in tight space. To see this passing line is a great vision itself combined with timing.

    Furthermore, angle of the passing line is tight despite the short nature of it. If it was a bit to the right, defender next to him blocks it. If it was a bit to the left, Iniesta wouldnt reach it or defender next to him would reach it first. Also it is difficult to put the right amount of power behind it so that Iniesta can be able to control the ball without being it too slow to miss the run or be easily intercepted.

    There are many small apsects like these that add up to this being a pretty high quality assist that most midfielders wouldnt do.

    This is usually the story with Xavi. He makes these fundamental, basic aspects of football seem so simple-looking that people confuse it with being easy. What he is doing in general, and did in this game, are not some easy, non-daring sidepasses that add no value, it takes an actual mastery of football to "effortlessly" put a passing performance like this.
     
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  15. Timmy21

    Timmy21 New Member

    Barcelona
    France
    Nov 27, 2023
    Maybe I did undersell the assist a bit but I'll give the performance a 6.5/10, no way 8/10. I think the amount of touches and passes to dangerous chance creation is super low.
     
  16. Sexy Beast

    Sexy Beast Member+

    Dinamo Zagreb
    Croatia
    Aug 11, 2016
    Zagreb
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    Croatia
    I mean it depends on how you scale ratings. By some newspapers standards, 6.5 would be fair. I dont look at it that way.

    Mine scale is something like this:

    4/10 - bad
    5/10 - lacking
    6/10 - okay
    7/10 - good
    8/10 - very good
    9/10 - great
    10/10 - phenomenal

    This is just a video about passing and it is difficult to evaluate performance without watching the full context of the game, but 6.5 would be way too harsh based on demonstrated passing alone.

    I think you are giving him negative points just for the sheer volume of passes which doesnt make sense. If player makes lets say 20 very good progressive passes out of 60 passes overall, his compilation would look more stacked than a player who makes the same amount of very good progressive passes but out of 150 passes overall.

    The fact that Xavi had a lot of passes that had little to no impact in this game, really doesnt change the fact that he had some very good passes and retained high passing accuracy, including the good assist as well.

    Also then having an expectation of Xavi to play like an attacking midfielder or compared to himself in other games where he had more advanced role is ify expectation. By this logic, all player excluding attackers perform bad every game because they are not "daring" enough.
     
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  17. Timmy21

    Timmy21 New Member

    Barcelona
    France
    Nov 27, 2023
    #142 Timmy21, May 31, 2024
    Last edited: May 31, 2024
    I agree because it says he created 8 chances which isn't really shown here if those 8 chances were indeed true but I think 8/10 will be pushing it, a performance like the one against Arsenal or some of his other best games are ones I'll rate minimum 8/10 all the to 10/10.

    I'm moreso comparing it to his other game, particularly the Arsenal one, he has a high number of touches but he still make very good use of, it's not just about how many daring passes you make, like just because Xavi had 180+ touches against Celtic, it doesn't mean I expect him to make 30 or so daring passes but I'm rating his performance on the overall success of those dared passes, which is was very low hence why I put 6.5, which I can increase to 7.0, a typical average good game.

    I'll post this performance of Zizou vs Brazil in 98 final, certainly the Brazilian team was distracted by R9 situation but it's still his best WC perf in my opinion, goals, good chance creation and overall play. This is something I can rate 8/10 or above, not that Celtic perf.
     
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  18. Sexy Beast

    Sexy Beast Member+

    Dinamo Zagreb
    Croatia
    Aug 11, 2016
    Zagreb
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    Croatia
    The first half of Xavi vs Arsenal is imo worse than both halfs against Celtic. He was a bit shaky with some passing against Arsenal in the first half. In the second half, there are like 4 or 5 notable passes that he "didnt do" vs Celtic, that is it.

    I disagree with the logic because it is obvious why Xavi attempted more "daring" passes vs Arsenal. It has nothing to do with his mentality, but with how Arsenal played. They left more spaces open and Xavi exploited spaces in behind. This is what Xavi in general does. He plays as much as you allow him and will exploit spaces that are there.

    Celtic parked the bus so his role was a bit different than against Arsenal.

    Video does show few (8?) chances created vs Celtic.

    Zidane's performance would be for me in 9/10 range.
     
  19. PrimoCalcio

    PrimoCalcio Member

    Milan/Napoli
    Italy
    Oct 14, 2019
    Your general point is well-taken, but don't forget a 33-year old Pirlo reinvigorated his career in a workman-like Conte side. He didn't liked to run but was capable of gritting his teeth when needed, especially in his earlier days when he still had the legs. He adapted to many different systems and managers. But agree with Modric as easily the most well-rounded of the great 21st midfielders.
     
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  20. carlito86

    carlito86 Member+

    Jan 11, 2016
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    #145 carlito86, Jul 3, 2024
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2024
    IMG_3172.jpeg


    IMG_3173.jpeg

    Xavi was ranked as a top 5 player in La liga all the way back in 2000/01
    IMG_3174.jpeg
    First 3 positions occupied by Dutch players
    The “agenda” is an illusion


    Guardiola was his teammate then and not manager

    Barcelona was barely a top 4 team then and were it not for this maybe the setback would’ve been even longer

    https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/04/04/the-great-rivaldo-hat-trick-of-2001/

    I think it is wrong attribute the rise,accomplishments and dominance of Xavi to Aragones/Pep/del bosque

    he was a consistent world class player a long time before that.

    he emerged as a world class player arguably before Ronaldinho and when you look at it like that Modric definitely doesn’t have longevity on him.

    Peak is completely out of the question for me
    Xavi 2008/09 is a top 20 ATG peak and a worthy ballon dor candidate in any era
     
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  21. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Minor point Carlito mate, but for some seasons in La Liga I think DBS Calcio is showing ratings data for only some clubs at the moment after recent updates. IIRC 2000/01 might be one of them, with only Barcelona and Real Madrid ratings showing (maybe it's from one source too: keep in mind that for example Figo was Don Balon's Foreign Player of the Season).

    So in effect it shows Xavi as top-5 rated Barcelona player for 2000/01 according to whichever source the ratings are derived from (which has Overmars rated over Figo for example too).

    I don't really see it the same as you on the last point, but that's a whole other debate lol anyway, and it seems like quite a few people did begin to see it like that at least anyway (not necessarily only modern fans who don't know a lot about older players, or outright Barcelona fanatics, although there would be some of that for sure of course).
     
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  22. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member+

    Jan 10, 2015
    There is absolutely no way Xavi was a top 5 player in la liga 2000-01. This is some heavy revisionism
     
  23. carlito86

    carlito86 Member+

    Jan 11, 2016
    Club:
    Real Madrid

    Make of it what you will but some Barcelona fans were calling Xavi their best player as early as 2002
    https://www.xtratime.org/threads/xavi-our-big-player.75876/

    I think it’s too easy to dismiss this as a bunch of unqualified opinions but they are about as qualified as most(not all) of the guys who post here with their ’opinions’.
     
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  24. PrimoCalcio

    PrimoCalcio Member

    Milan/Napoli
    Italy
    Oct 14, 2019
    Xavi only started 15 out of 38 La Liga games that year for Barca. I don't think that data is saying Xavi was a top 5 player in La Liga in 00/01, but rather something closer to what @PDG1978 says about it.

    I agree Xavi was a great player before Pep/Aragones but saying he was consistent world class player for long time before, and even before Ronaldinho, I'm not so sure about. As far as I can tell, Xavi gradually played more minutes, got more goals and assists, and played better each season from 99/00 to 2004/2005. Admittedly I did not watch Xavi at this time in his career, but from my research it appears Xavi had a very good 2003/04 season (but unfortunately did not come off the bench even once at Euro 2004), and a world class 2004/05 season where he was named Best Spanish Player in La Liga. Until 07/08, or even possibly 08/09, those were is best two seasons. From a calendar year perspective, and aided by your ESM chart, it might be plausible that Xavi was at a world class level from Sept. 2004 until his injury in Dec. 2005. That is about 16 months perhaps of Xavi is world class, but I wouldn't say he was consistently world class before Aragones/Pep.

    If anyone has an in-depth knowledge about Xavi's earlier career, I would love to learn some more. I am playing with an idea of tracking Xavi's and Pirlo's development over time as they are essentially the same age and will make a neat comparison.
     
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  25. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member+

    Jan 10, 2015
    Xavi was a class player. You don't break out of the academy and pkay for Varcelona unless you are extremely talented.
    That said, Xavi was a fan favorite ad positive opinions don't mean he was a world beater in 2000.
    It would be like plcalling vini a top player in his first real seasons
     

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