PBP: Xavi Vs Pirlo

Discussion in 'Players & Legends' started by the one and only, Jul 13, 2012.

?

So who's better???

  1. Xavi

    18 vote(s)
    34.0%
  2. Pirlo

    31 vote(s)
    58.5%
  3. Both overrated

    1 vote(s)
    1.9%
  4. Iniesta will always steal the spotlight from them

    3 vote(s)
    5.7%
  1. ko242

    ko242 Member+

    Jul 9, 2015
    i understand your post. i am actually a la liga fan myself. i am not a huge fan of the EPL but i understand why people regard the EPL as higher quality for your money, and that is because they are attack minded.
    I dont like the way EPL in many ways because of this mindset, as many teams too many times give away easy balls and no rhythm and combination plays can be established.

    its really just a preference. there was a time when EPL teams were on top but for the last few years la liga teams have performed considerably better than EPL teams in europe
     
  2. monere

    monere Guest

    You're point is invalid. Also, I am too tired of explaining things to you. If you really wish to witness the awesomeness of my analysis just go through the entire thread and read the amazing things I said. I am too awesome for any of you anyway :D
     
  3. myohmy

    myohmy Member

    Jan 10, 2015
    Zidane's performance against Brazil is the most overrated thing in football. lmao That Brazil team was pure marketing ("3Rs"). Nike always does a great job hyping up Brazilian 1 or 2 season wonders. On paper big names, in reality a bunch of completely past it and lazy primadonnas. The international version of Real Madrid's Galacticos. Ronaldo trotting around the pitch with a fat belly and Roberto Carlos tying his shoe laces during France's freekick goal sums up that team. Even then Zidane actually didn't do anything of note except showing some fancy footwork around the half way line.

    Can Zidane dominate back to back European Cup finals or grab 4 assists in a single game in a stadium like the Bernabeu though?

    Re Pirlo vs. Alonso: Not much of a difference between the two. 2 players who played the quarterback role, sprayed Hollywood long passes for most of their career and weren't particularly great under pressure (what separates men from boys). Easily 2 levels below Xavi.
     
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  4. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    I'll be honest and say I didn't actually watch that tie beyond highlights (so admittedly, perhaps I shouldn't have commented about it). Wasn't available to watch the matches when they were actually on, and I sure wasn't gonna go watch the full thing after I knew how terrible it was haha! I've seen highlights enough to know that Xavi wasn't at fault for the goals Barcelona let up, and I know they were criticized for having no sense of urgency after they gave up goals, but I don't actually know how many chances they created while playing their normal game (because the highlights basically just showed Bayern's endless goals haha). So perhaps you're right.

    With that said, WhoScored says that Xavi made 3 accurate through balls in that tie. Accurate through balls are defined by WhoScored as "An accurate pass between opposition players in their defensive line to find an onrushing teammate (running through on goal)." So they pretty much are, by definition, at least a decent chance. And having 3 of them in 2 matches is a lot (players often lead the league with like 0.5 a match). The rest of the Barca team only had 2 the entire tie. Meanwhile, Xavi had 3 accurate crosses. Perhaps from set pieces, I'd imagine, but the rest of the Barca team only had 1 accurate cross the entire time. So maybe Barca wasn't creating many chances as a whole, but the stats do indicate to me that Xavi himself was actually creating a fair bit. Stats can of course be wrong, and if you watched it and tell me that those are misleading, then fair enough.

    And yeah, in general, Barca was just not in good form at that point. Messi was not at all fit and Pedro, Alexis Sanchez, and David Villa were ALL very much out of goalscoring form. So, without Messi being fit, they had a very ineffectual forward line. Meanwhile, their CBs were off-form Pique (he can be good, but when he's bad, he's bad) and Marc Bartra, who had appeared in something like only 20 Barca matches total by that point and was totally not ready to face a team like Bayern.
     
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  5. Estel

    Estel Member+

    May 5, 2010
    Club:
    Real Madrid
    Since I am in a particularly tit-for-tat mood today, the below pieces are for those posters who seem to enjoy denigrating players like Zidane, by focusing on or repeatedly posting his nitpicked instances of sloppy play -

    1) Sloppy play of Iniesta vs Real Madrid, leading to 3rd goal in a 3-1 league loss
    [​IMG]

    2) Sloppy play of Xavi vs Real Madrid, leading to the goal in a 1-1 draw (resulting in an aggregate 3-1 loss in a CL SF)
    [​IMG]

    3) Sloppy play of Messi vs Chelsea, leading to the goal in a 1-0 loss (resulting in an aggregate 3-2 loss in a CL SF)
    [​IMG]

    It should be noted that these above are simply off of the top of my head, since they were all in games which were quite high profile and have thus remained in my memory. Hence basically, I doubt these are the only such instances wherein these players have not been immaculate.


    P.S. Personally, I don't believe that such isolated instances do anything to reduce these above players' standings in a historical sense in any way, shape or form. I feel that they are simply proof that all players can err.

    I suppose others who like to use nitpicked instances of sloppy plays to make generalisations about a player, would prefer to disagree.


    P.P.S.
    As an example, the negative in-game impact that the 'sloppy with his passing' Zidane had, was to get only 84.9% (2006) and 80.4% (1998) pass completion in WCs, both of which were better numbers than Maradona's 79.8% (1986) pass completion rate in what is universally acclaimed to be the greatest WC performance of all time from a playmaker. Now I wonder, how sloppy would Maradona (1986) be termed as being and who's gonna start nitpicking his performances to find instances that can be used to demean him?

    Meanwhile, Pirlo 85.7% (2006) and Iniesta 85.6% (2010) had figures which were slightly better than the GB winning version of Zidane (2006), while Sneijder 83.0% (2010), Charlton 82.9% (1966), Rivaldo 82.6% (2002) and Cruyff 81.3% (1974) had figures which were worse than that version of Zidane. The sloppiness impact as seen through passing success percentage seems to have been quite widespread. Commencing the historical ranking review of these players on the basis of nitpicked instances of sloppiness in 3, 2, 1, ...
     
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  6. Edhardy

    Edhardy Member+

    Sep 4, 2013
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Club:
    Juventus FC
    You buy your teammates time and space by attracting opposition players. I remember Verratti doing that quite a few times in PSG's 3-2 win over Barca. "Press resistance" is valuable.

    I wasn't talking about those two matches specifically, but just how his game progressed to super safety mode. Rakitic was a necessary signing rather than a luxury and probably a season or two late.

    Xavi definitely has supreme awareness, but I don't know if he's superior in technique to Pirlo or Verratti/Thiago at a similar age.
     
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  7. LegendarySunrise

    Jan 26, 2016
    New York
    Club:
    FC Bayern München
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    #257 LegendarySunrise, Feb 14, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
    Pirlo and Alonso are similar in position but totally different in style and role. Alonso is no where near the technical ability of Pirlo and Xavi. Pirlo and Xavi are different in styles but very similar in roles. Guess you really don't understand the basics of football since you don't understand that Pirlo was a classic No.10 by nature but was put in the DM position because his body weakness. If his body were strong and he had more speed, Pirlo would have been Zidane and would have played a much more advanced role higher up the pitch. Pirlo is a much more attacking player than Alonso in his movement, positioning and passes. The way Pirlo dictate play and distribute ball at his prime in 2003-07, Alonso wasn't even close to that level.

    Now back on to play under pressure, fearing pressure is a relative term NOT AN ABSOLUTE TERM! any playmaker will suffer under high pressing. Xavi was pressed out of the game by Schweinsteiger during the 12-13 against Bayern,09-10 by Cambiasso and Zanetti, and 08-09 by Ballack and Essien even when he was surrounded by the likes of Busquets, Messi and Iniesta.

    A little background on Xavi's midfield dominance: Do you understand how much hard work Messi, Busquets and Iniesta had done behind the scene in helping Xavi securing the midfield by playing the ball away for him under opponent's pressure, in pressing the opponents and making off-the-ball movements in opening up
    gaps and receiving the balls for Xavi?

    During Pep's era, Messi(so was Iniesta who played an AMF position)even played the number 10 role of constantly dropping back to midfield to help Xavi dictate the play, likewise, Iniesta and Busquets were working their ass off making all the off-the-ball movements of receiving and passing the ball to ease Xavi's pressure. Who would do the same for Pirlo? Back in Pirlo's prime in 2003-07, he had Seedorf, Gattuso, Kaka, Totti, Camoranesi next to him, but for the last 10 years, what players surrounded Pirlo? Montolivo?Marchiso? De Rossi? These are good players but are they on the same level as Iniesta, Messi, Henry, Eto'o, villa, Alonso, Fabregas, Busquests that surrounded Xavi?
     
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  8. LegendarySunrise

    Jan 26, 2016
    New York
    Club:
    FC Bayern München
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    Keep emphasizing the weakness of a 33-year old Pirlo while neglecting the 2003-07 version of Pirlo is your IGNORANCE.

    Every player has ups and downs, Pirlo at 2003-07 was a significantly better player than at Juventus.I don't have to recall how miserable Xavi had performed in some matches
     
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  9. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    #259 lessthanjake, Feb 14, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
    Fair enough. But, to be fair, Xavi often IS pressed. He just very easily pirouettes away from it, or passes to someone immediately. Eventually teams get tired and realize they can't get the ball off of him, so they stop pressing.

    Anyways, you are, of course, correct that evading pressure can open up spaces for others. And I've talked about that exact thing with regards to Iniesta's work on the wings, so I certainly agree. But I don't really see the added advantage of doing what a lot of players do over doing what Xavi does. Xavi pirouettes away from the pressure right away. The defender has still run towards him, though, so the space for others is still open. Other players get the ball and take a second to figure out what to do with it. The result is that it's harder to keep possession. And I'm not sure they've really dragged the opposing player any closer to them. After all, Xavi's move is done when a defender is already right there anyways.

    I suppose, at the margins, perhaps he one-touch passes the ball away sometimes when a defender is running towards him, while another player might get the ball, wait for that defender to get closer, and then pass to someone who now has more space. It's a decent point, because there's a bit more space opened up if you wait. But, on balance, do you really want your deep-lying CM inviting pressure like that? Even outside of a tiki-taka system, I'm not sure you do, unless that player can get away with it virtually every time. And I've never seen someone who can get away with it virtually every time over a significant time horizon (i.e. not just in one great match). That includes great players like Zidane and Pirlo.

    Moreover, if a guy does get away with it virtually every time, teams will just stop pressing him. After all, why would you press a guy who literally wants you to press him because he will always successfully open up space for others when you do? And, as I mentioned above, I think that has gone on with Xavi. That "risky" approach requires the defense to actually comply and pressure you hard, and many defenses decided not to against Xavi, because they knew it would just hurt them. At that point, you kind of can't play "risky" in the way you describe.

    You have lots of time on the ball in that case, so I suppose you could play "risky" by picking out more long passes. But I think Xavi actually did do that in the later years when teams were just sitting back. People seem to forget this. For instance, in that 2012-2013 season in question, Xavi played 230 successful long balls in La Liga according to Squawka. He played 2202 minutes. So we're talking 9.4 long balls per 90 minutes. And those long balls averaged 38 meters. Notably, he only had 14 inaccurate long balls, so we're talking a 94% success rate on these very long passes (38 meters on average is quite far). In 2012-2013, Pirlo made 308 successful long balls in Serie A according to Squawka. He played 2858 minutes. So that's 9.7 long balls per 90 minutes. And those balls averaged 39 meters. However, he had 69 inaccurate long balls, so his success rate on these passes was only an 82% success rate. Basically, Xavi made just as many long balls as Pirlo and his long balls were just as far on average. Xavi was just more successful at them.

    So I think Xavi gets too much criticism for the supposedly too safe way he played in 2012-2013. Teams were sitting back against Barcelona. When a team does that, the most effective way to respond is to use your time to pick out long passes. He responded by spraying tons of long balls very successfully. I think it's perhaps true that he could've picked out more killer through balls from deep that season (that's something that Pirlo did do more). But going for the hollywood pass wasn't really his tactical role in a tiki-taka system (especially when your team has Messi, Fabregas, and Iniesta further forward to give the final ball if you can just get the ball up there to them).

    I didn't mean for this post to be so long, so I apologize for that.
     
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  10. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    This is a very ironic statement. I don't disagree that Barca players did do this. But you are ignoring the fact that the player who made the most off-the ball movements to make himself open for a pass was Xavi. He consistently ran more than every other Barca player almost every match. Why is that? It's because he was constantly running around to make himself open for a pass from his teammates. So you really don't know what you are talking about when you act like other players were "making all the off-the-ball movements." It's Xavi's off the ball movements that eased the pressure on his teammates more than vice versa. Moreover, you neglect the fact that Xavi also plays passes that allow his teammates to evade pressure more easily.

    I agree that Xavi had better midfield teammates than Pirlo, but everything that you describe Xavi's teammates doing is actually something Xavi did more/better than anyone else on the team.
     
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  11. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    As I mentioned in that unintentionally monstrous post above, Xavi actually started making tons of long passes. The "safety" in his game is perhaps seen by him not quite having tons of through balls anymore. But a good bit of that has to do with the fact that Messi had progressed as a playmaker, so the tactics no longer dictated Xavi to be the main guy providing the final ball anymore. The addition of final-ball-extraordinaire Cesc Fabregas added to that as well. So I kind of see Xavi's supposed super safety mode being a lot a function of the tactics ceding a good portion of his final-ball duties to others. He certainly was spraying lots of long passes, even if they weren't final-ball-long-passes.

    I don't know. I think Xavi's first touch is absolutely breathtaking. And his pirouettes demonstrate incredible close control.



    I know that's just a YouTube highlights video, but I post it as a bit of evidence for the idea that Xavi's technique is not just consistently error-free but also can be quite spectacular. Those first touches where he stretches his leg behind him to catch an airborne ball are just ridiculous.

    I agree that a lot of his advantage over these guys comes down to awareness though.
     
  12. LegendarySunrise

    Jan 26, 2016
    New York
    Club:
    FC Bayern München
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    #262 LegendarySunrise, Feb 14, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
    Back when Xavi's prime, his main job was to dictate the tempo of the game while linking the midfield with Iniesta and Messi. At the same time, Busquets, who was in charge of maintaining the tempo at the back also served as a ball recycle point for Xavi, Iniesta's major role was to serve as the bridge between Messi and Xavi while at the same time also served as a ball recycle point for Xavi. At that time, Barca played a high pressing possession-based game, so for every match, unsurprisingly, Barca was always the side with more possession.

    But, dictating the possession of the ball doesn't often translate into dictating the game.

    When faced with Cheslea that had a midfield of Lampard, Ballack, and Essien, Inter with Cambiasso and Zanetti, Bayern with Schweinsteiger and Martinez. Barca, as always had the upper hand in possession, which was quite understandable, but with the tireless running and toughness of the opponents' midfield in compressing the spaces in the midfield, the linkage and interplay between Iniesta, Xavi and Busquets were often disrupted. Now Xavi, instead making those effective forward penetrating passes to Iniesta or Messi, was often forced to pass sideways or back to Busquets. True, you still have the possession of the ball, but your passes are rather just useless and meaningless since you can't even penetrate opponents midfield. And at the same time, you Barca, while risking a high defensive line for dominance in possession, now exposing your high defensive line to opponents counters.

    So, the opponent in essence is the one who actually dictates the game, will most likely be able to change the result to their favor even though they have less possession of the ball.
     
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  13. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    First of all, you're trying to define the difficult matches as only those that Barcelona and/or Xavi did not do well in. Chelsea and Inter aren't the only tough midfields Xavi faced. For Spain and Barcelona, Xavi faced tons of very tough midfields, and, more often than not, he was extremely successful.

    In any case, Xavi put his teammates through on goal 3 times in the tie against Inter. He had 6 key passes. He had an assist. You can't act like he didn't create anything against Inter. That's just false. He didn't have a great match in the first leg, but he was the best player on the pitch in the second leg.

    He didn't create a ton in the first leg against Chelsea in 2011-2012. Some attempts to make stuff happen were snuffed out by the defense. But you can't act like he didn't make forward passes. In the 2nd leg alone, Xavi completed 13 passes of 25 meters or longer! That's a lot, and certainly goes against your narrative that he was just passing sideways or to Busquets. He also had like 4 key passes in that match (i.e. passes that lead to a shot). It's easy for these passes to get lost in the shuffle because he was indeed make a ton of short passes as well. He averaged 152 passes a match against Chelsea. Yes, many of those were short passes. But you can't really act like a guy who sprayed tons of long balls and had tons of key passes was only making meaningless passes.
     
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  14. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    1. You still don't get it. The criticism of Zidane isn't based on cherry-picking errors. It's based on the fact that he consistently made such errors. Virtually any match of Zidane's has a handful downright sloppy plays. Just because every player has some sloppy plays doesn't mean that a guy who has more of them shouldn't get criticism for that.

    2. No one is judging a player solely on pass completion rate. I have said this so many times to you that it is flabbergasting that you still act like that's a crux of the argument against Zidane. You absolutely insist on creating this straw man. As I have told you so many times that it's embarrassing for you, the issue isn't pass completion rate. The issue is messing up easy passes. If a guy like Maradona is going for lots of difficult stuff in the attacking third, then we'd expect him to have a relatively low pass completion rate, and it wouldn't be much of a negative. On the other hand, when a player misses easy passes in midfield, then that is a problem. Zidane played a riskier style than Xavi, so we'd expect him to have a lower pass completion rate due to playing more difficult passes on average. I'm not saying Zidane is worse on that basis. I'm saying that Zidane made more errors on the easy passes than Xavi did. Basically, if you hold the pass difficulty constant, Zidane makes more errors. The same isn't necessarily true for guys like Maradona and Cruyff.

    3. Are you really showing a video of Xavi messing up when he was barely 22 years old? At that point in Zidane's career, he had literally never even faced a team as good as 2002 Real Madrid. There are examples of prime Xavi actually messing up, but that's just a silly example taken from nowhere near his prime.

    4. Iniesta actually does get dispossessed a fair bit. That's why my argument on this issue has typically focused on Xavi's lack of mistakes compared to Zidane's, not Iniesta's mistakes. I think Zidane has more sloppy play than Iniesta, but it's not as incredibly patently obvious as it is with regards to Xavi and Zidane.
     
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  15. LegendarySunrise

    Jan 26, 2016
    New York
    Club:
    FC Bayern München
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    When can we end this discussiono_O:)?I have said all I need to say. Anything more will be meaningless repetitions. You prefer the 2008-11 version of Xavi and We prefer the 2003-07 version of Pirlo. You like the awareness and intelligence of Xavi. We like the vision and talent of Pirlo. In the end, nobody will agree with what the other party have to say.

    There is friendship between Pirlo and Xavi(they swapped the shirts and hugged with each other after the matches and have chosen each other in each of their dream teams) but there seems to be no friendship between Us Pirlo fans and your Xavi fans.
     
  16. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Haha, well, the title of this thread IS "Xavi vs. Pirlo," so it seems unlikely to veer off of that haha. Anyways, understand that I'm not attacking Pirlo. I think he's a great player and I really enjoy watching him. I just happen to think Xavi is better. I also put Xavi in my top 20 of all time, though, so being behind Xavi for me is no insult to Pirlo.
     
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  17. LegendarySunrise

    Jan 26, 2016
    New York
    Club:
    FC Bayern München
    Nat'l Team:
    Germany
    #267 LegendarySunrise, Feb 14, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
    Same to you. Xavi is brilliant, he is undoubtedly one of the best CM's of this generation. I enjoy watching Xavi's movement, awareness and his intelligence in making the game simple. He has been the center for Barcelona and Spain for so long. But I think Pirlo is brilliant enough to be compared to any player of his position in his generation and there is no one he needs to look up to. True, he may not have the media spotlight and trophies as Xavi has received and he may not have played a football as dominant in possession as Xavi has had, but considering his particular environment and surroundings, what he has accomplished in these years is impressive enough and he himself has always been the best definition of a deep-lying playmaker.

    To be honest, I have never seen any midfielder who could dictate the game distribute ball with the ease, vision and talent "INDIVIDUALLY" in a way Pirlo has done at his prime 2003-07. When Pirlo is exhibiting his full talent, Nobody can touch him! Not even Xavi. For someone with Pirlo's talent and ability, he should have played with much more talented individuals at both the club and national levels. Even though I'm an Bundesliga fan, Pirlo and Vieira will always be my two favourite DM combo of all the time.

    When Totti, Del PIERO, Gattuso, Cameranesi retired, Italy fans can say We still have Pirlo......
    When Serie A is no longer the league it was before, Serie A fans can say We Still have Pirlo......
    In the future, there will be no more Pirlo.......
     
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  18. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member

    Jan 10, 2015
    Too much deliberate historical revisionism by the same posters. You'd think fans of football would not be so predisposed to advance their agendas to the detriment of their own appreciation of the game. Discussion on a forum is only healthy and positive when posters are coming in with the humility to learn from their peers and have the capacity to revisit their opinions as they broaden their knowledge, rather than use this place as a platform to vociferously project their agenda ad nauseam. Just circular discussion.
     
  19. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    That's the pot calling the kettle black, don't you think?
     
  20. SayWhatIWant

    SayWhatIWant Member

    Jan 10, 2015
    No, not at all. My motive for participating in this forum is to principally learn and appreciate good content. At times, I post in the Real Madrid forums about a team/player's performance. Furthermore, I have explicitly revised some of my positions/opinions - which some posters could probably remember and attest to.
     
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  21. Pipiolo

    Pipiolo Member+

    Jul 19, 2008
    Nat'l Team:
    Argentina
    That's the spirit. I've also learned and changed my stance on many teams/players based on discussions here when it was warranted.
     
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  22. Edhardy

    Edhardy Member+

    Sep 4, 2013
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Club:
    Juventus FC
    My response to this is purely on memory of how they played (over the last 5-10 years I've watched Juventus & Barcelona more than any other side and watched most of their CL & League games). Xavi's bread and butter long pass is the one out wide to Dani Alves. Pirlo varies it more, but he favoured the one over the top to Lichtsteiner. I'd say Pirlo's long passes were still riskier though you touched on that in the next quote...

    This is a fair point, pre-Tevez, Pirlo was the sole creator whereas Xavi shared (and took a backseat) to Messi, Iniesta, Cesc.

    No problem. Lol I was going to apologise for being brief and not responding to all points. Been very busy and in a part of Kenya where the internet reception is poor. Still enjoying following the discussions and joining in when I can.
     
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  23. ko242

    ko242 Member+

    Jul 9, 2015
    You're kidding right?
     
  24. ko242

    ko242 Member+

    Jul 9, 2015
    I agree with @Edhardy that xavi's technique is probably not better than Thiago's, Veratti's, or Pirlo's.

    I think it has to do more with the fact, as you said @lessthanjake, that xavi's awareness and decision making was extremely good in comparison to a player like Thiago, or anyone else for that matter
     
  25. ko242

    ko242 Member+

    Jul 9, 2015
    If im not mistaken, i believe Barcelona wanted to make a bid for Pirlo but Busquets had come at around that exact moment.
     

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