Xavi/Iniesta better than Zidane?

Discussion in 'The Beautiful Game' started by lessthanjake, Jun 19, 2015.

  1. ko242

    ko242 Member+

    Jul 9, 2015
    anyways, know that we agree that zidane gets the edge over iniesta in terms of who is regarded as a better all time player..., i want to clarify this chance creation thing with you so that i better understand your view.

    in my opinion, as a number 10, zidane`s most effective game was against Italy in WC 98. i am judging this in terms of how many plays resulted directly to chances or that were the initial build up to chances created. this was a very difficult opponent so i give zidane a lot of credit. one could also make the case when you score 2 goals in a match vs Brazil in WC 98, that one does not need to create many chances. i also think that he had a very good overall match against spain in the Euro 2000 quarterfinals. what games would you specifically say are worthy of a top number 10 performance and why????

    you`re probably right. i hope i can remember that
  2. Estel

    Estel Member+

    May 5, 2010
    Real Madrid
    AFAIK, his most productive major international tournament game when looking at only end product i.e. clear chances created and goals scored, was the 98 WC final. In addition to scoring twice, he put his team's strikers clean through on goal twice and had a great delivery from a freekick which one of his team members (who was completely unmarked and right next to the goal mouth) was not able to head at all (bounced off of his back/shoulder). His chance creation in that game is often overlooked due to his goalscoring heroics (from what I've read it was two touches in the box leading to two goals), but I have always thought that it merits a highlight.

    I am curious, which players would you say had a better game in a major international tournament knockout round (group stage games are tough to judge considering the relative lack of pressure and opposition strength differential), when only considering end product (clear chances created + goals scored), while playing as midfield playmakers? Not as playmaking forwards mind you, who would get a lot more touches inside the box and thus a lot more opportunities to get better end product, although later on you can add those as well in case the playmaking midfielders are not making the cut. Anybody whom you can suggest who had more than 5 of 'clear chances created+goal output', is fair game IMO.

    Just to clarify, clear cut chance = only goalkeeper needing to be beaten, from a reasonable enough angle
  3. ko242

    ko242 Member+

    Jul 9, 2015
    #2403 ko242, Aug 8, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017
    i see. i can also review the game against italy in WC 98 in the QF and let you know how many chances he created in that match. it also must be noted that the game went into extra time so 120 minutes were played.

    international tournaments...
    again, playmaking forwards and attacking midfielders? i struggle to see the big difference, as zidane could solely focus on offensive duties as any other playmaking forward (whatever the difference is)

    if we are judging players who played deep roles as well as attacking roles. so obviously i would not count eusebio as an example. not sure if counting pele would suit your liking as well, specifically in 1970. i could also easily put jairzinho as a player who was more efficient than zidane in 1970. i could put cruyff in WC 74, garrincha for sure in WC 1962, maradona 1982. possibly kempes in WC 1978. platini in Euro 1984. i am currently going through WC 66 and evaluating Bobby Charlton`s performance. these are the players that come off the top of my head.

    speaking of roles. the fact is that no 2 players ever played the exact same roles given that every coach is different, every team has different players and different styles. it may very well be that no player in history had the same exact role as zidane played for France given the exact style of play that france had. so whether maradona played one role and zidane played another would be irrelevant. dismissing a player like Eusebio would make sense. a player like bobby charlton did not have the same free role as zidane from the games i have seen, excluding WC 66. although i am now only currently watching his WC 66. of course, i am also aware of the limitation of England matches in WC 1966 and i have only been able to find 2 of them
  4. Estel

    Estel Member+

    May 5, 2010
    Real Madrid
    For the Italy one, I think he had a number of great passes, but ultimately, the positioning of that Italian defence did not allow for too many clear cut opportunities to be created, at least not enough to overshadow the final.

    Btw, I hope you have been able to figure out which chances I was talking about for that game vs Brazil and that you do agree with them being clear cut, since otherwise the whole discussion becomes a bit pointless as we would be making arguments on the basis of different sets of parameters.

    I think we have already gone over this point at length when we discussed Messi's role in the other thread. So ultimately, I don't think I would be able to agree with your assessment, although considering the above is how you see it, I am at least clear on why you have the earlier stated opinion regarding Zidane's clearcut chance creation in major international tournaments that you do.

    Also, I did mention in my response that you are free to choose players by your criteria if those as per my criteria are not meeting the cut, so it is not as if I was unaware that this is the line of thought that you would toe. I did think you would come back with more substantial examples though (i.e. exact instances of clear cut chance creation and numbers related to those), since you seem to have already made up your mind. But that hasn't happened either which makes me again feel that you are going by the "impressions" that these players left in your mind.
  5. ko242

    ko242 Member+

    Jul 9, 2015
    i rate zidane`s game in 98 very highly. so yes, i would agree with your assesment. and he created good chances as well. of course, 2 goals helps.

    this is interesting. i suppose, if we want to judge players based on how many chances that they created for the team in terms of being effective then i could go back and watch EVERY SINGLE match over again of Platini 84, Cruyff 74, Maradona 86, Pele 70, Jairzinho 70, Kempes 78, Garrincha 62, etc. and note down EVERY SINGLE chance creation and come back and tell you my findings. although common sense would tell me that all that work would benefit me very little in justifying my stance on this conversation. i do agree, as you say, that i could merely be going off of the impressions that these players have left on me instead solely based off of facts. but i do assure you this, when i judge players and their performances, i go first off of effectiveness and not how pleasing it was to the eye.
    Zidane did not finish top 3 in the world cup 98 player of the tournament. although votings were held before the final if i am not mistaken. so excluding the final, zidane in 98 was not highly regarded as a top player in the tournament despite winning it and being the main offensive guy for the team.

    HOWEVER, you would not be wrong in dismissing my evaluation that is not purely based off of cold hard statistics. and i don`t think reviewing EVERY SINGLE one of these games in such a short time in order to prove my point would be of any benefit to me (outside of my ego). whether you ask for such evidence knowing that no one would actually do that in order to keep your opinion of zidane as high as possible or that you truly believe that zidane was extremely overall more effective than the majority of player listed in terms of chance creation, only you know. the next best thing to do would be to create a thread on this forum and ask for the opinions of others. and i doubt anyone on this forum would be willing to go through EVERY SINGLE game in a limited time to prove such a point (unless we were receiving a grand prize for a victory on the debate team).
  6. Estel

    Estel Member+

    May 5, 2010
    Real Madrid
    I guess we are good then.

    Considering that you have made the claim that Zidane was not very effective in terms of clear cut chance creation in major international tournaments, the onus here would be on you to have evidence to back up said claim. Also, I would think that the difficulty that you mention above in terms of actually analysing players on said criteria, was something that you would have considered prior to making your claim.

    Now my suggestion to compare Zidane's best game with regards to clear cut chances created + goals scored in major international tournament knockout rounds with those of other players, was actually a way to reduce the work involved in the analysis. Since in this case you would only need to look at the few games which stood out in your mind with regards to these criteria, for those players who performed better than Zidane, as per your opinion.

    Either way, if you don't think that the analysis is feasible, far be it from me to try and change your mind about it. But considering that this is your stance, I do believe that our discussion has reached its end, since nothing more can be said.
  7. ko242

    ko242 Member+

    Jul 9, 2015
    cutting it down to the most productive games would certainly make the work easier. and i believe that is a reasonable demand although time consuming. however, even after doing that i really wander if you are even open to the idea of changing your stance based on statistics that i provide. i feel that any statistics that i provide, you will then attempt to bring context into the conversation and say things like ´´ohhh. but zidane played a deeper role'' or ``so and so occupied the left side so zidane could not exploit this and that``.

    HOWEVER, if you make a commitment to not make any excuses of what role zidane played and stick to the statistics then i can make a count of these players. as far as roles are concerned, i want to include players like didi 58, 62, cruyff 74, kempes 74, Charlton 66 and platini 84.
    honestly, players like Pele 70, Garrincha 62, Jairzinho 70, and Maradona 86 are clearly above zidane in terms of chance creation and overall performance in a NT tournament. but if you happen to think that somehow zidane had any tournament that rivaled any of the latter players i mentioned then i will include these tournaments as well. even the vast majority of people would put kempes clearly above any tournament of Zidane, but im being generous.

    somethings should not have to be debated and don`t need statistics. in the same way that if i told you that messi created more chances for his team than CR7 did last season, 16-17, or if i told you that CR7 was more critical in finishing his chances than Messi was at the end of last season, simply by awareness and keeping up with the season. one shouldn`t have to provide another with numbers and statistics to prove such obvious things.
  8. Estel

    Estel Member+

    May 5, 2010
    Real Madrid
    #2408 Estel, Aug 10, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
    I'm surprised you don't see the problem in all this posturing from your end. Anyway, let me explain it -

    This discussion started with you responding to a set of facts that I had shared regarding Henry's time with the French NT while playing alongside Zidane and while not playing alongside him. Your response had a statement which talked about Zidane's international career (and by it, I assumed it was more about major international tournaments) like this, 'it was certainly not the pinnacle of a midfielder who was giving his forwards tons of service with his time at France'. I disagreed with this based on the context/circumstances that I have already mentioned, which I stand by due to the factual nature of the same i.e. a) Zidane did indeed miss out due to injury on being able to impact the NT tournament which occurred during his prime and b) Zidane played for an NT which was relatively defensive in nature thus impacting his chance creation.

    The problem though is, that you made your sweepingly blanket statement based not only on 0 empirical evidence across the board or without having full knowledge of Zidane's clear cut chance creation in major international tournaments, but without even having considered a single sample to randomly fact check for the players you were comparing Zidane to. This last is seen in your reluctance now to do the analysis unless I give you assurances of changing my stance, which IMHO is an absolutely ridiculous request from someone who has already made a sweeping generalisation without an ounce of analysis or evidence to back it up, and is being asked to simply prove his own point.

    In fact, I was bemused enough by your reluctance earlier to consider working on the analysis, that I went ahead and did it for Maradona myself (the example I took was his game vs Belgium in WC 86), coming out with similar numbers to Zidane's i.e. 2 goals and 3 clear cut chances created (two from low crosses from the right wing and one for a disallowed goal from a shot that was barely saved by Pfaff and which fell to Valdano who was deemed to have handled the ball while scoring).

    Maybe you can find a more productive knockout major international tournament game in terms of clear cut chances created and goals scored by Maradona, or some other player. But, I highly doubt it would be by a large enough volume to make Zidane's output of 5 seem as far away from the "pinnacle" as you seemed to suggest in your comment. After all, if Zidane was not creating "tons of chances" and others were, their best game should have an output which would be a mutiple of Zidane's best output, and would not be only a fraction above Zidane's (if at all).

    I do not agree with this way of thinking. I prefer to fully consider opinions only when they are backed up with empirical evidence. Since, if the opinions are really as self evident as one believes them to be, then they should have overwhelming and easily identifiable evidence going for them.

    As an example of the above, let me talk of this below quoted opinion of yours, which as far as I can tell, has come from reading multiple other posters repeat the same thing ad nauseam i.e. Zidane was poor in the final against Italy in Euro 00 and Henry was exceptional.
    Well, I disagree with this opinion, specifically the degrees associated with the performances in terms of being labelled 'one of Zidane's worst games' and 'Henry's most influential'. I feel like this because of the following reasons -

    1) Henry was playing as a forward/striker and showed some excellent dribbling skills throughout. However, if this was his most influential game for France, he did poorly in terms of final output, since he was not part of any goals and only created a couple of chances. The first of these occurred on what was probably a shot he had tried to take after a quick dribble and was thus not intentional though a clear cut chance, while the second was a low cross after a great dribble on the left, which was just a shade too far ahead for his teammate to be able to get the touch to finish it. [Seen at 39:13 and 52:14 in the video]

    2) Zidane as a midfield playmaker started out slowly and did lose possession more often in this game than he typically used to, but he grew in stature as the game progressed, especially in the 2nd half and ET, showcasing his dribbling skills on multiple occasions in keeping possession and moving the ball forward. He also managed to provide 3 decent chances (not clear cut) for scoring, 2 of which were for Henry and another was for Wiltord, who couldn't finish that one but did finish another one later on (not from Zidane) from a very similar angle to level the tie. [Seen at 49:39, 1:05:03 and 1:11:15 in the video]

    3) Zidane was also the one whose work on the left side and pass to Henry (which was miscontrolled) resulted in possession being given back to Italy deep in their half on the left wing, post which the resultant press allowed Pires to win it back immediately in that advanced position, and go on to assist Trezeguet for the golden goal winner. [Seen at 1:49:51 in the video]

    4) Lastly, I had actually done an analysis of the entire game with regards to Zidane, Totti and Henry's performances with respect to some basic stats. This happened because I didn't remember the performances to be the way that they were being portrayed by some people, and was asked to do the analysis myself when I had raised this concern.
  9. leadleader

    leadleader Member+

    Aug 19, 2009
    Arsenal FC
    The above quote is the quintessential problem with cult-followers like Estel, a petulant and a dishonest ideologue who never actually offers much of anything in the form of "factual nature" with regards to his laughable claims about Zidane. And speaking about petulant cult-followers who can't tolerate empirical analysis when they disagree with it...

    Empirical evidence: Patrick Vieira has better assists in the KO stage of the Euro and the World Cup, than Zidane does. Patrick Vieira - the defensive midfielder of the team - produced better assists than Zidane. This is in fact a unique distinction. Xavi Hernandez is not outclassed by Busquets, in terms of assists. Pirlo was not outclassed by any Italian defensive midfielder, in terms of assists. And furthermore: Patrick Vieira wasn't even a top tier passer like Italy's Demetrio Albertini, Spain's Xabi Alonso, etc. Zidane's passing ability was ordinary enough that the defensive midfielder of France outclassed him in terms of assists in the KO stage - the KO stage being particularly important in the context of Zidane, because he never was impressive in the Group Stage of the World Cup.

    Argument based on said empirical evidence: If Zidane was so great at providing service for the strikers in front of him, would a defensive midfielder like Patrick Vieira be able to outclass him in terms of said service production?? Of course not.... Vieira would never produce better assists than Platini, Ronaldinho, Pirlo, Xavi, Riquelme, etc., due to the simple fact that those players - unlike Zidane - are actually great in terms of providing service for the strikers in front of them.

    Is this not empirical evidence of the self-evident fact that Zidane does not create high quality service for the strikers in front of him?? Patrick Vieira has better assists than Zidane... Playing a much more defensive role than Zidane... That would never happen - not in a million years - to a player like Michel Platini. Zidane was a great short passer who could add coherence to a midfield, but Zidane never was uniquely talented in terms of producing the actual final service that strikers depend on.

    And to add: it does not help that defender Lilian Thuram was the MOTM in the World Cup Semi Final 1998 and again in the World Cup Semi Final 2006... Zidane's playmaking created less assists than Vieira's playmaking, and Lilian Thuram was the MOTM in the two World Cup Semi Finals that Zidane played.

    Evidence to back it up?? Patrick Vieira played in the same team as Zidane, Vieira played a much more defensive role than Zidane, and Vieira has better assists than Zidane. This would be impossible, if Zidane was anywhere near as great as you claim he was at creating service for the strikers.

    Moreover: I have analyzed Zidane as much as anybody. As a matter of fact, I probably have one of the most comprehensive collections of Zidane's 1999-2004 in the world. And I agree with many of the observations made by @ ko242. Zidane was most definitely an unimpressive passer of the ball when compared to the top passers of Zidane's generation, which is a fact that is substantiated quite plainly by the fact that Patrick Vieira has better assists than Zidane at the Euro and also at the World Cup. Playing as the defensive midfielder in a defensive team, did not stopped Vieira from delivering better assists than Zidane... On the other hand, what was it that stopped Zidane - the luxury stylish playmaker - from delivering better assists than Vieira??

    You can rest assured: that would've never happened, had Zidane been as good a passer as Rui Costa, Ronaldinho, Figo, Veron, Riquelme, Xavi, etc. Furthermore, it is absolutely ridiculous - in fact, pathetic - that you are asking for extremely time-consuming evidence, when the only evidence you have offered so far is readily available YouTube videos (not produced by you) that actually further demonstrate that Zidane was not a great provider of chances.

    You do realize how thoroughly irrational your so-called analysis is, right?? One game by Maradona, compared to one game by Zidane, proves next to nothing about the fact that Patrick Vieira has better assists than Zidane. One game does not refute 20 games. Maradona at WC 86 was great at creating chances in 7 out of 7 games - something Zidane could only dream of. On the other hand, Zidane at any tournament that he played was great at creating chances in 1-2 games out of 7 games, or 0 out of 7 games, as was the case at World Cup 2006 - if you only look at chances created from open play, which is the primary aim of a playmaker.
  10. leadleader

    leadleader Member+

    Aug 19, 2009
    Arsenal FC
    #2410 leadleader, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
    That is a ludicrous demand, due to the simple reason that cutting it down to the most productive games ignores consistency. If Maradona is consistently good at passes, and Zidane is very inconsistent at passes - this fact will be thoroughly ignored if you only look at the good, without looking at the bad.

    Hahaha... The excuses never stop in Zidane's cult-following. Vieira has better assists than Zidane in the KO stage of the World Cup AND the Euro. "Oh but Vieira actually was playing a little bit center left, which overlapped with Zidane, and therefore Zidane did some of the donkey work for Vieira - therefore allowing Vieira the freedom that he needed to deliver those decisive assists." You can have this discussion for another 3 months, and Estel will only be more convinced about how wrong you are to not recognize Zidane's greatness. No evidence will ever change Estel's opinion - this entire thread is evidence of that fact.

    I actually came into this thread thinking that Zidane was exactly just as great as Xavi and Iniesta, but Estel's laughable arguments about Zidane - instead of further convincing me that Zidane was as good and/or better - have made me reconsider whether or not I was overrating Zidane in the first place. I mean, people who sound that dumb as non-eloquently as Estel naturally does, tend to be very wrong about what they know to be right.


    If you really care about this discussion, you could watch one-or-two of Zidane's France games, per day, for the next 14 days or so, and then come back to this discussion with some comprehensive analysis. On the other hand, @Estel has not offered any actual evidence nor any actual data (other than misleading YouTube videos that fail to prove or demonstrate Estel's opinion), which means that Estel has not actually proven you wrong on any count as a matter of fact.
    ko242 repped this.
  11. ko242

    ko242 Member+

    Jul 9, 2015
    alright fair point. you made a good point. i will watch the games of the so said players that i mentioned (garrincha 62, didi 58, 62, charlton 66, jairzinho 70, pele 70, maradona 86) and give you cold hard facts of each players performance. unfortunately, for the other players as Platini`s performance in Euro 1984 for example, all the matches are not readily available on youtube. I hope to find these matches from collectors. as far as cold hard facts are concerened, Platini`s Euro 1984 tournament is clearly better than any tournament that zidane played!
    in the group matches alone platini scored the winning goal against denamark, 1-0. scored 3 goals in a 5-0 win against belgium, and 3 goals in a 3-2 win against yugoslavia. in the knockout stage he scored the winning goal against portugal in a 3-2 win (semifinal) and the winning goal against spain in the final.
    of course, we cannot judge players performance based off of cold hard facts and we must also see the performances of the game. but i only point this out because of a lack of readily available evidence for such players. but i will make do with what i have.

    i must say, you are the 1st person i have ever seen bring zidane`s world cup performance in the same sentence as maradona`s in 86. and when you say that i must look for for more ``clear cut cahnces created and goals scored by maradona`` in comparing them to zidane`s performances it makes me really question your judgement and your delusions of zidane (with all due respect).

    the fact that you can even make henry`s game seem ok or not that efficient and make zidane`s second half and ET performance seem somehow on the same level or better than henry`s performance tells me how delusional you can be (with all due respect).

    despite henry`s muliple dribblings throughout the game you somehow declare them as poor in terms of final output and then state, referring to zidane ``especially in the 2nd half and ET, showcasing his dribbling skills on multiple occasions``. WHATTT???!!! how delusional can you be???? are you trying to say that zidane`s so called `showcasing of multiple dribblings` had some final output yet you are discrediting henry`s far more dangerous and better dribblings as ``poor in terms of final output``.

    when you say that zidane grew in stature as the game progressed that`s not saying much. especially the fact that he had 0 effect at all in the 1st half. it was still a poor game by any measure and he did not create any action in the whole game that was impressive as far as danger or end product is concerned. i guarantee you that on that day, no italian defender feared any french player as much as they did henry, and probably in the tournament. and it`s ok that zidane had a bad game. it happens to everyone. but don`t try to equal a poor game of zidane with an excellent game by henry when you includde yet another statement that includes, zidane did some type of work and gave the ball to henry and henry lost it, which was in a non threatening position, as if trying to downplay henry`s performance and play up zidane`s performance.

    there is a reason why everyone acknowledges that zidane had a poor performance and henry had a great performance!!! stop trying to rationalize zidane`s performance as good and henry`s as not that good in terms of final output. what you fail to see is how a performance like henry keeps defenders back pedaling. it keeps the defense from applying to much pressure and creates an extra focus on henry that can leave other players with more space.
    leadleader repped this.
  12. Estel

    Estel Member+

    May 5, 2010
    Real Madrid
    #2412 Estel, Aug 11, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
    I don't appreciate the use of that patronizing tone, when it is you who has seemingly forgotten what the discussion was originally about. We were never talking about judging or comparing these players' overall performances across tournaments or just their goal scoring across these tournament's games either.

    Originally, we were only comparing clear cut chance creation volume. You were reluctant to do any analysis on the broader subject and so I suggested a narrower approach i.e. comparing the best game viz-a-viz clear cut chance creation, for these players. Since you had also mentioned #10 play, I added goal scoring to it as well. That was it.

    And yet, here you are, trying to use an overall performance comparison across a tournament or simply goalscoring in the said tournament's games, to try and make some kind of point which has no relation to the original discussion. Since it doesn't address clear cut chance creation in any way, shape or form.

    I did not compare Maradona's WC 86 with Zidane's WC 98. What I did was to compare, what as per my knowledge are these players' single best games in terms of statistical output across knockout rounds of major international tournaments, on the basis of 'goals scored + clear cut chances created'. You are, of course, welcome to go through the chance creation of these players across these two games that I analysed, to prove my conclusions wrong.

    What I don't welcome is your use of a strawman argument which suggests that I am somehow comparing these players' overall performances across these tournaments or even across the two games I mentioned, and then going on to label me "delusional" on the basis of said strawman.

    This is all very odd. In your own words which I had quoted earlier, the Euro final vs Italy was "Zidane's worst game" and "Henry's most influential". So these performances of Zidane and Henry in that game, were to be compared with their own performances in other NT games. That is exactly what I was doing with my comments like,
    - For Henry : "if this was his most influential game for France, he did poorly in terms of final output, since he was not part of any goals and only created a couple of chances",
    - For Zidane: "showcasing his dribbling skills on multiple occasions in keeping possession and moving the ball forward"

    And I made the above comments since, Henry not being on the goal sheet or assist sheet yet being said to have his most influential game was quite an oxymoron, considering the man scored 51 goals and had a large number of assists as well, over his NT career. While Zidane essentially playing his regular game for most of the match and definitely for all of the 2nd half and ET, and still being said to be having his worst game, was also a bit strange. This was considering that it was standard Zidane NT tournament fare, with the exception of the odd goal being scored by him.

    Yet, you suddenly now accuse me of somehow comparing Zidane and Henry's performances in that game with each other's, and start labeling me delusional for my supposed flawed conclusions on this comparison i.e. a comparison which I never undertook. Have to ask, what are you smoking man? Cause I can certainly use some of whatever it is, after this "discussion" with you.

    Anyway, I don't have the patience to continue this any more. So I'll leave you with the short summary of my argument against your generalisation about Zidane's clear cut chance creation in major international tournaments, that I had mentioned in my earlier post. An argument backing which, I have provided more than enough evidence at this point in time.

    laudrup_10 and Sam10 repped this.
  13. Afghan-Juventus

    Afghan-Juventus Member+

    Oct 14, 2012
    Juventus FC
    Nat'l Team:
    @ko242 You can find Platini's Euro matches on a website called footballia.net
    leadleader, carlito86 and ko242 repped this.
  14. ko242

    ko242 Member+

    Jul 9, 2015
    i suppose that`s fine. we could end it here. i would like to see how many people you can convince that zidane was more productive for his team than maradona 86, kempes 78, cruyff 74, pele 70, jairzinho 70, garrincha 62, and platini Euro 84 in any of zidane`s NT tournaments.
  15. Estel

    Estel Member+

    May 5, 2010
    Real Madrid
    My aim is certainly not to convince anyone of anything like what you mention above. I disagreed with your comment, which suggested that other players were creating tons of chances while Zidane was not. I believe that the difference between Zidane's chance creation and those of other players that you prefer, is much less than you keep suggesting and impacted by factors which you consistently keep ignoring. This is especially true, when one considers only clear cut chances, which are the only kind worth considering anyway.

    I would like to end this too, but the fact that you insist on corrupting what I was debating about in the first place, leaves me with little choice but to keep responding.
  16. leadleader

    leadleader Member+

    Aug 19, 2009
    Arsenal FC
    It's the signature delusion that typifies Zidane's cult-following. Fans like Estel will rationalize a clearly bad performance, into a good performance. Zidane was great vs. Portugal 2000, despite the fact that Zidane created only one real chance in that game... Henry was not great vs. Italy 2000, despite the fact that Henry was arguably the only player that looked good - in that entire tournament - against Italy's defense.

    Fans like Estel will continue doing that for months at a time, until the more reasonable person eventually loses interest in a conversation that no longer stimulates any form of credible nor respectful debate.
    ko242 repped this.
  17. carlito86

    carlito86 Member+

    Jan 11, 2016
    Real Madrid
    A defence of Zidane's historical position against common misconceptions propogated by stat obsessed revisionists

    Zidane never showed anything near the display of tactical intelligence possessed by M. Laudrup, and Iniesta. He was never the best at making key passes, organizing the midfield and was a bit of a ballhog. In 98 France, this was compensated by Deschamps who organized the midfield, and in Juve and RM, he had several other world-class players to tactically organize the game when needed, like Conte, Davids, Figo, Hierro, even compatriot Makelele. Nedved himself, brought to Juve to replace Zidane, played better for them between 2003 and 2005 than Zizou ever did. People who never watched him week after week forget that.

    The fact that Zidane played with DMs isn't exactly a concrete example of any tactical ineptness on his part, since he was a classic 10. The role is kind of lost on the current generation who is used to watching teams play 4-3-3s, but to surmise, a player playing such a role in those days was actually given the task of controlling the tempo of the game and moving the ball vertically/horizontally as required, from a tactical perspective. The DMs were generally used to stop the opposition from playing by recovering balls and cycling them back to their own number 10, to start a new chain of playmaking. Hence the term 'water carrier' as used by Cantona for Deschamps.

    Furthermore, if Zidane was indeed so tactically limited, then I really doubt that he would be consistently asked to play such a tactically crucial role (without being dropped mind you for big games, unlike for instance Laudrup who was famously dropped for the 94CL final by a coach like Cruyff) for teams being coached by managers who are themselves considered to be very adept tacticians i.e. guys like Lippi, Ancellotti, etc. One would think, they would notice these fallacies in Zidane's game. Oh, and it isn't as if Zidane never featured in such a role in a big game, since he played as a deep lying playmaker/dm for Juventus in their demolition of Milan at the San Siro in the 96/97 season. It's just that Lippi soon figured out that Zidane was even better as a classic 10.

    As for the anecdote regarding Nedved, well, when Zidane left for Real Madrid, Juventus used that money to not only buy Nedved, but Buffon and Thuram as well (so it wasn't just Nedved's effect which helped them achieve success). And even after that, they still reached only one CL final vs the two reached during Zidane's time. Domestically as well, in both their tenures Juventus have 2 Serie A titles (since the other 2 for Nedved were revoked due to Calciopoli, but then Zidane's Juventus ended up losing 2 Serie A titles i.e. in 99/00 and 00/01, in controversial circumstances on the last day of each of those two seasons as well, so it evens out).

    After his 2006 sendoff his popularity with casual and new football fans exploded, alongside thousands of youtube highlight reels showcasing his godly first touch and ball control. And this retroactively built a Zidane vs Brazilian Ronaldo manufactured rivalry, when everyone that actively watched football in the 90s knows that Ronaldo was miles above Zidane at the time, and the comparisons between them are actually between Zidane and post-injury Ronaldo.

    Zidane v Ronaldo started in 97/98, wherein they competed for the Serie A and World Cup titles. Guess who won both of them, and no R9 was not injured in the Serie A that season but the next, though he did suffer from that seizure during the World Cup final. And yes, obviously the 2006 World Cup helped Zidane's popularity and his performance against Brazil was a major influence on fans watching at that time, but that was simply a result of the improbability of it, considering that a 34 year old bossed a game involving a 2 time former Ballon d'Or winner, the reigning Ballon d'Or winner and the soon to be anointed Ballon d'Or winner. So the rivalry wasn't manufactured post retirement, but was a product of the two best players of that generation being pitted against one another in two separate world cups and a league campaign.

    Lastly, there was a time before Ronaldo got injured when he was absolutely unplayable and definitely and rightly considered the best player in the world, above even Zidane. But it is also true that at that time Zidane was not at his peak yet, which he reached during the 2000-2002 period. Sadly, Ronaldo was injured by then and thus a direct comparison of the players at their peaks was never made possible.

    He's often credited for the 98 WC even though he played average, was sent off in the group stage and only hit 2 headers from set pieces in the final. People are fooled by his elegant game, but older fans know that he did absolutely nothing up to the Final, and Djorkaeff was widely regarded as France's most dangerous player. In club football, he's often remembered for the volley against Leverkusen and RM highlight compilations, but what they don't show is that Zidane never, ever had a single truly proficient season where he shined throughout. On this regard, Iniesta is a much more consistent player the team can always rely on.

    For a player who didn't do much in world cup 98, it surely is surprising that he was the highest rated offensive player (2nd highest overall behind Thuram) with minimum 5 games played, by kicker magazine (a relatively dependable source for NT tournament player ratings) for the 98 World Cup. Source - http://www.kicker.de/news/fussball/w...er-saison.html or that the Argentinean EL Grafico magazine considered him to be their player of the tournament. Source - https://www.bigsoccer.com/threads/how...#post-28566702

    As for entire seasons where Zidane shined throughout, you can have your pick of 95/96 (33 goals+assists out of 88 goals scored by the team) , 00/01 (20 goals+assists out of 72 goals scored by the team) and 02/03 (29 goals+assists out of 141 goals scored by his team). His teams might have ended up short on trophies in those seasons, except in case of 02/03 when they won La Liga, but statistically, his impact on his team's goalscoring in those seasons is easily comparable to the consistent best that Iniesta can offer. And in case of seasons wherein Zidane played for offensively weaker teams, it actually makes his contributions more valuable to his team's fortunes.

    He's somehow credited as a "big game player" even though he only showed up for 2 finals in his whole career, and went invisible in most of the others:

    1996 UEFA cup final - invisible, gets destroyed at home, team loses
    1997 CL final - invisible, his team loss (the same team that had won it in 1996 without him)
    1998 CL final - invisible, his team loses
    1998 WC final - clutch, scores 2 headers from set pieces after being average the entire tournament, team wins
    2000 Euro final - invisible, team wins because he's bailed out by Wiltord and Trezeguet (Zidane not involved in their goals)
    2002 CL final - clutch, team wins
    2002 CdR final - invisible, team loses
    2004 CdR final - invisible, team loses against a lower mid table side
    2006 WC final - chokes and gets sent off, team loses

    All that the above list shows is that if Zidane didn't absolutely take control and win the final for his team by scoring goals, they generally lost it (apart from the Euro 00 final and even there he had better overall stats than both Henry and Totti, both of whom are considered to have had a better game than him by his detractors and were the respective motms for their teams). Which shows how the "he always played with superior teammates" argument is also a bit of a fallacy (at least for cup finals).

    In any case, if you hold say Xavi to that same scale, for instance, and give him the same handicap with regards to his teammates, he would have a lot lesser volume of major trophies to show for all his brilliant play, considering that he never scored in any major final. Point is, that you have to understand that Zidane was a midfielder, and so scoring was not always possible for him. And if his teammates also did not score from the chances he provided for them, it was hardly his fault. He was definitely not "invisible" in all those games you listed, as for instance I pointed out in case of Euro 00, or as is the case for the 97 CL final wherein he hit the post and also had a pre-assist. Thus there are some clear hyperboles in that above mentioned list almost like saying Xavi was invisible for the WC 2010 final.

    For your reference, below is a list of big game goals by Zidane -

    Stage Tournament Year Goals
    Final European Cup 2002 1
    Semi Final European Cup 2003 1
    Semi Final European Cup 2002 1
    Semi Final European Cup 1998 1
    Semi Final European Cup 1997 1
    Semi Final Euro 2000 1
    Final World Cup 2006 1
    Final World Cup 1998 2
    Semi Final World Cup 2006 1

    Source - http://www.averageopposition.com/201...-findings.html , which is a blog that has a compilation of players' goals scored in major international tournament finals and semi finals and awards points accordingly to said players (Zidane is 5th in that list btw).

    In addition to the above, below is a list of his indirect goal involvements in big games drawn as per the same criteria as above,
    So, if you consider direct assists as per the big games that the blog is counting, he has,
    1 vs Slavia Prague in the SF in E3 1996
    2 vs Ajax in E1 in the SF in E1 1997
    1 vs Manchester United in the SF in E1 1999
    1 vs Barcelona in the SF in E1 2002

    And, if you also consider pks won, pre-assists and setups, all leading to goals, he has,
    1 setup vs Ajax in the SF in E1 1997
    1 pre-assist vs Borussia Dortmund in the F in E1 1997
    1 pk won vs Monaco in the SF in E1 1998
    1 setup vs Croatia in the SF in WC 1998
    1 pre-assist vs Manchester United in E1 1999

    The above are from my own memory, so if you want to cross check, best to try and find the video highlights of the respective games.

    In any case, the above together come to 20 goals he was a contributor to in 23 games in the Semis and Finals of the major international tournaments that he featured in. That's more than either Xavi or Iniesta and approximately close to what Messi's numbers look like, from what I recollect as having counted (cannot find the post right now), when looking at their goal involvement across a similar criteria of games.

    Another little known fact: Zidane only ever gave 1 assist to Henry in their entire tenure with the France NT. And it was from a set piece. This is supposed to be the playmaker that defined a generation? No, I don't think so. He played his whole career as a bona fide #10, but he has a pitiable goal+assist/game ratio that doesn't even compare to modern #10s like James Rodríguez (ironically), De Bruyne, Fabregas and Ozil, let alone the true greats of yesteryear, like his contemporaries Nedved, Rivaldo, Del Piero, Ronaldo or Figo, who all put up far superior contributions to their teams in all of goals, assists, actual playmaking, be it from the center or from the wing. To put numbers to a single example, which I selected because of the similar amount of games:

    played 231 times in 5 seasons for Real Madrid, always as an AM
    scored 49 goals, including 9 in the CL/Supercup
    made 51 assists, including 10 in the CL/Supercup
    played 108 times for France though his career, with 31 goals (including penalties) and 29 assists
    played 235 times in 5 seasons for Barcelona, as an LW (which he disliked) and as an AM
    scored 130 goals, including 31 (THIRTY ONE) in the CL/Supercup
    made 50 assists, including 6 in the CL/Supercup
    played 79 times for Brazil, with 37 goals and 18 assists, not a penalty-taker

    First of all, Zidane did not always play as an AM for RM. Especially during 03/04 and 04/05, he was mostly forced out wide (to the left), to accomodate Beckham in the center of midfield, since Figo would not relinquish his right midfield spot, even though he could play on the left side almost just as well. Rivaldo on the other hand played as a forward as well as an AM and sometimes a LW.

    Secondly, he did not take all PKs and FKs for Real Madrid, or even most of them, unlike Rivaldo did for Barcelona. Figo took almost all of them, leaving a tiny amount for Zidane, thus drastically impacting his goal numbers as well as assist numbers. Also, Rivaldo did take pks for Brazil e.g., he took the regular time pks against Russia, Uruguay, Turkey and Peru (off the top of my head), so saying he was not a penalty taker for his country is quite the lie. In fact, I find it worrying that the pk point is mentioned for Zidane when he had all of 19 career PKs while it is not mentioned for Rivaldo who had 65 (both including PSOs).

    Thirdly, the French NT unlike the Brazilian was not setup to score goals, but was primarily a defensive side. This hindered Zidane's goal and assist output at an NT level.

    Considering the above handicaps, Zidane actually did quite well for himself in terms of the numbers he put up, especially at NT level.

    Lastly, for the case with Henry, there are a few things that need to be considered,
    1) Zidane did assist Henry during the Euro 00 as well, in addition to doing it in WC 06, though the first one was a goal more made by Henry dribbling than the pass from Zidane, which was routine
    2) Apart from those assists though, there were a number of opportunities that Zidane provided to Henry which he couldn't capitalise on when playing for the French NT. Ten of these are listed here (although there are definitely more) - https://www.bigsoccer.com/threads/cri...#post-31340027
    3) Zidane's playmaking had a pronounced indirect effect on Henry's scoring, in that it enabled the same. This can be seen if we look at the matches played by Henry from his debut till his 85th cap (vs Italy in WC 06, when Zidane retired), and look at his gpg while playing with Zidane and without Zidane,

    Games featuring both Henry & Zidane - Games 56* / Henry Goals 25 / Henry GPG 0.45
    Games featuring Henry but not Zidane - Games 29 / Henry Goals 11 / Henry GPG 0.38

    Considering the same numbers as above only for NT tournaments,

    Games featuring both Henry & Zidane - Games 18/ Henry Goals 10/ Henry GPG 0.55
    Games featuring Henry but not Zidane - Games 6 / Henry Goals 1 / Henry GPG 0.17

    Sources -

    So during the time that Zidane was active i.e. till Henry's 85th cap, Henry had a significantly better gpg with him in the team than without him there and this was even more pronounced when playing in NT tournaments.

    Thus ultimately, in case of the Zidane-Henry partnership, Zidane definitely did do enough to get more assists for Henry and was also definitely a positive influence on Henry's goalscoring, especially in major NT tournaments.

    Yet somehow, all this highlights-based revisionism twists Zidane into somehow a better, more productive, more efficient, more legendary player than Rivaldo - a player with EIGHTY goals more than Zidane in a similar time-frame, playing in the same position. The exact same evaluation can be made for Totti (a MUCH better playmaker than Zidane ever was, whose passing, goals/assists tally and capacity to run a game at his prime were like three whole levels above Zizou's), Figo (also a much better playmaker, whose record of La Liga assists wasn't broken until Messi), Del Piero and Nedved (both better for Juve than Zidane ever was), Rui Costa (who was better in Serie A than Zidane, particularly for Fiorentina) and many, many other great, even better players who were simply marginalized by Zidane's two WC goals in the 98 Final, which FIFA and UEFA saw as an opportunity to market and big-up Zidane as some sort of Europe's answer to Ronaldo - his post-WC poster-boyism, his natural skill and elegance in ball control and his later move to the original Galacticos Madrid lending credibility to this marketing campaign. His 1998 FIFA WPOTY and Ballon D'or were based simply on that one game, completely disregarding how he was invisible during the CL Final against Real Madrid in the same year or in all the other games of that very same World Cup. Of course, statistics are not the be-all end-all, but Zidane's lack of tactical nous, famous inconsistence (as great managers have said, "inconsistence" is just a lack of tactical knowledge and application. the best tacticians are always the most consistent players) and lack of awareness for the final pass put him just way too far behind other top #10s to disregard the gap between them.

    The above, as far as I can tell, is a bit of a rant with,
    1) Some really odd opinions, for instance, Totti's playmaking at his prime being 3 whole levels above Zidane, is something that I am not even sure is supposed to have any meaning, since it is impossible to calculate or measure in any way; or Del Piero and Nedved both being better for Juve than Zidane, though both together couldn't achieve as much at a continental level as Zidane did with just one of them, while having a similar domestic impact.
    2) Or inane stat bashing, for instance Rivaldo/Figo are mentioned to have better goal tallies and assist tallies respectively. Well that's like saying that Iniesta is a poor player because during that same era, Ozil had a better assist tally and Rooney had a better goal tally. What I'm trying to point out is that Ozil takes almost all set-pieces for his teams, and does less playmaking and more final ball passing while Rooney plays as a forward just as often as he plays as a playmaker, unlike Iniesta, which helps these players improve their stats compared to Iniesta. Just like Figo and Rivaldo could do, when compared to Zidane. In big international games wherein their teams met though, like in the WC 98 or Euro 00, it was Zidane who came out on top with some top-drawer performances. And that makes the difference between era defining players and the rest.
    3) And ultimately ending with the same inconsistency related Zidane bashing that I have addressed elsewhere in this post

    Last but not least, the folks at Big Soccer have put together a very interesting compilation on Zidane's performances, trying to list all of his matches based on the ratings the press assigned to that week's game, with corresponding videos when available:
    https://www.bigsoccer.com/threads/zinedine-zidane-review-1996-2006.2006080 (highly recommended read)
    Those who, unlike the older folks like me (30+), didn't see him week in, week out, this is a place as good as any to see how damned inconsistent, erratic and unspectacular he could be.

    I was part of this rating exercise and first of all it was only done for 2 seasons i.e. 96/97 and 97/98. Furthermore, the "ratings" used are from a couple of Italian magazines which are unduly harsh on Zidane, especially when compared to how they rated homegrown talent like Del Piero.

    For more non-partisan ratings, democratically compiled by getting voted upon, ESM is a good source. ESM stands for European Sports Media and it is a forum of media outlets wherein they vote for and come out with monthy teams for club football performances. This started from 95/96 onwards. Messi and CRonaldo who are generally considered to have been very consistent, lead the pack with the most appearances for the current era, as well as overall. Guess who leads for the era during the time that Zidane played? Well overall it is Carlos who is way ahead of the pack at 34, and behind him on 2nd it is indeed Zidane with 24 appearances, who is also the offensive player (more difficult to get on the list than defensive players, for whom consistency is more easy to display) with the highest number of appearances for that era. Here is the list of teams between 95/96 and 07/08 - http://www.rsssf.com/miscellaneous/esm-xi.html. The player totals should be at this link (2011) - https://www.bigsoccer.com/threads/esm...month.1693535/

    Furthermore, if we look at Zidane's teammates when he was playing for his strongest club teams, and compare their performances with his by looking at ESM appearances, it becomes obvious who was the most consistent out of the lot,

    ESM Season XI, Zidane and Club Teammates' Comparison -

    96-97: Del Piero(3), Deschamps(3), Fererra(3), Zidane(2), Peruzzi(2), Boksic(1), Vieri(1), Di Livio(1)
    97-98: Zidane(5), Peruzzi(3), Del Piero(2), Inzaghi(1)
    98-99: None
    99-00: Zidane(2), Montero(2), Davids(1), Van Der Sar(1)
    00-01: Zidane(2), Inzaghi(1)

    Real Madrid
    01-02: Zidane(5), Carlos(4), Raul(2), Morientes(1), Hierro(1), Helguera(1), Casillas(1)
    02-03: Carlos(4), Zidane(3), Ronaldo(2), Raul(2), Helguera(1)
    03-04: Zidane(4), Ronaldo(3), Beckham(2), Carlos(2), Casillas(2), Salgado(1)
    04-05: Ronaldo(1)
    05-06: Robinho(1)

    The above voted on monthly ratings thus seem to paint a different picture regarding Zidane's consistency, to the one painted by the ratings provided by a few individual publications that you have linked to above. IIRC, if you consider Xavi (a midfielder who was considered to be very consistent while also being considered to be quite brilliant) for this same metric, then at the time that he left for Qatar he had a similar number of ESM monthly appearances to Zidane's. Iniesta though has slightly lesser appearances till date, again IIRC.

    Zidane was a great player, for sure, but to put him in top 5s or top 10s in the history of football just reeks of revisionism based on idolized yet sparse highlights. Implying a player as inconsistent, ineffective, with relatively low end product and devoid of tactical finesse as Zidane is anywhere close to being a Top 10 player of all time is a crime to the history of football. In reality, he's barely top 50, if that. Platini was legitimately better, he just didn't deliver a WC - just ask older France or Juventus fans.

    Where one puts Zidane is as per their own preference IMO. One can always hold certain qualities above others when forming a list, and the list thus created would reflect that preference.

    Zidane being barely top 50 is lol-worthy though, and simply shows how the opinion behind the entire post is probably not something to be taken seriously. After all, it takes a special kind of preference to alternative facts, to suggest that a player who was man of the match in both World Cup and Champions League finals, has won best player of the season awards in three separate leagues, player of the tournament awards for 2 separate international NT tournaments and 1 international club tournament, won the overall player of the year awards on 4 separate years from 3 separate publications, made all time Euro and World Cup teams, won player of the decade from two separate publications and made the all time best XIs for two other publications, is barely top-50. I would dearly like to see a list of 50 players who are more widely decorated, individually. I understand individual awards are out of fashion since Messi and CRonaldo started winning all of them, but the sheer breadth of awards that Zidane has won (even if he might not have the volume), shows peers and observers acknowledging him across a very wide range of tournaments, seasons. and eras. Quite the feat for a barely top-50 player.

    If you think Zidane is overrated by millennials who only watched youtube highlights, love how "classy" he looked and remember the header on Materazzi. People who actively followed football before and during the 90s know better
    Gregoire1, laudrup_10 and SayWhatIWant repped this.
  18. carlito86

    carlito86 Member+

    Jan 11, 2016
    Real Madrid
  19. carlito86

    carlito86 Member+

    Jan 11, 2016
    Real Madrid
  20. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Not to reignite the thread/debate after 97 pages necessarily, but I did notice this video today...
    Zinedine Zidane 1998 Ballon d'Or Level: Goals, Skills, Assists - YouTube

    I know basing things off Youtube videos can be a bit unsatisfactory, but in this case it does look to be a particularly good one to help put the case that it's difficult for Xavi or Iniesta individually to match his all-round ability, and influence even, when he was really on it, and also the case that the volume of great play in a single year (assuming this is 1998 calendar year only on the video) indicates he was on it a bit more consistently than sometimes thought...perhaps.

    I haven't even watched in full yet, but it does look to be complete, varied and impressive so maybe worth a watch for anyone interested.

    I don't want to say it categorically answers the question and the thread should be closed or something definitive like that though obviously! But maybe it helps illustrate the case for those coming down more on his side (maybe more than was previously possible via Youtube?).
    leadleader, Edhardy, Estel and 1 other person repped this.
  21. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Arsenal FC
    I'm not that interested in igniting the debate either, but I will say that since I saw Zidane peak when I was still much more impressionable, it really stuck with me. I really did genuinely believe that Zidane was the closest thing to Maradona/Pele, and Ronaldo (fat one) still had some way to prove himself to be on the Frenchman's level.

    Having said that, Xavi was one of the very few players in my lifetime who gave me the feeling of "I've never seen anything like this. Has there ever been anything like this?"

    And I've done a lot of research to look for players who might have done what Xavi did, and I haven't found any. I suspect the footballing context simply didn't allow for it, but it shouldn't take away that what we saw from Xavi, was not only great, but uniquely great, and that deserves appreciation, I think.
    PDG1978 repped this.
  22. Estel

    Estel Member+

    May 5, 2010
    Real Madrid
    That’s a relatively comprehensive video. 97/98 was definitely a great season for Zidane from all perspectives but maybe the quality of goal scoring, wherein I believe he had stronger seasons although there were definitely a couple of standout ones in that season as well. 02/03 is another similarly great season IMHO, which deserves its own video (considering that there is no dearth of match footage from that season, unlike 95/96 for instance).

    Here’s another good video btw, this time on his first touch, which I happened upon recently -
    leadleader and PDG1978 repped this.
  23. gasipo

    gasipo New Member

    Jun 8, 2021
    Hey ! I don’t know if you will reply 6 years later but could you tell me more about how you found those stats ?
  24. SF19

    SF19 Member+

    Jun 8, 2013
    Nat'l Team:
    Xavi for me just edges Zidane, but only just.

    To play 100 odd passes in a game and to dictate tempo like Xavi did... no one compares. He embodies Cruyff's adage, "football is a simple, but the hardest thing to do is play it simple."

    Zidane played the game in a way that was anything but simple and yet he did it in a way that was an ordinary part of his game, almost simple to him. Cristiano and Messi may get many more goals, Xavi may get many more passes, but Zidane showed you can be an artist and win everything still. That for me is what makes him so enduring as one of the game's very greatest players.

    Iniesta is one of the most influential players in the modern era. Many today try to be like him, yet almost no one can reach his level. Think Coutinho. But in past eras, anyone who would try to hold the ball like he did, at his size, would have to have been extremely tough physically to withstand hard challenges. Think Maradona or Jairzinho. I rate Iniesta very highly, but not quite as highly as Zidane and Xavi. He's a great player mostly in the sense of the modern game.
  25. carlito86

    carlito86 Member+

    Jan 11, 2016
    Real Madrid

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