XI of the decade - 2010s

Discussion in 'The Beautiful Game' started by Milan05, May 4, 2019.

  1. Sexy Beast

    Sexy Beast Member

    Dinamo Zagreb
    Croatia
    Aug 11, 2016
    Zagreb
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    Croatia
    #101 Sexy Beast, Oct 11, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
    Based on what? I would argue quite opposite:

    Busquets form is completely analogues to the form of Barcelona.

    De Bruyne against Tottenham last season in KO had 3 assists and in overal, imo, 9/10 performance. Big performance in big game, which is something not many can brag with, like Hazard. Not sure Modrić has a single performance of that quality with such timing.
     
    carlito86 repped this.
  2. Edhardy

    Edhardy Member+

    Sep 4, 2013
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Club:
    Juventus FC
    While I wouldn't say Busquets form = / = Barca's form.
    I have a major problem with "completely"
     
    PuckVanHeel repped this.
  3. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    #103 PuckVanHeel, Oct 11, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
    Yeah that is what I mean with a 'forgotten performance'. In part because it is Tottenham (and a regular PL fixture too), in part because KDB was on the wrong side of the scoreline.

    As for Modric, he's obviously not the man of the goals or assists (even next to other central midfielders) but the difference he made for a superstacked and deep Real Madrid was clear to see. They didn't play the CL final when he was out injured in 2015 and also in the league they received a drubbing by Atletico and Valencia during this injured spell. He connects and gels it so well.

    In part it is because he cannot shoot very well, in part it is because he plays deeper (the goals vs Man United in 2013 round of 16 and Argentina 2018 came when playing as attacking midfielder; his first not-so-well received Real Madrid season 2012-13 was as attacking midfielder).


    It's based on (at least you agree there's a correlation, so no need to go over this):


    1) The exposition by knowledgeable persons as Del Bosque, Cruijff and Van Gaal. They don't only claim it, they explain. Saul Niguez also explained it, and how mentally demanding it is.

    2) Watching what he does, as central defender or as midfielder. He screens it all ('your' Rodri doesn't do for Man City, Jorginho also struggled to do it for Chelsea - see MOTD last weekend for exposition on Rodri) and is also a creative impetus, a recycler of the ball. If necessary he even moves up a line during the sequence and starts to make potential pre-assists (as shown recently by him vs Betis or Valencia). He hasn't the final ball or a goal in his boot like a 1994-95 Rijkaard perhaps but nevertheless a two-way player in the sense of both screening (capable of playing as center back while conceding only 20-25 goals over a full season) and playing it forward, playing the pass before the assist if necessary. He can evade the physical duels and is yet very press-resistant.

    3) Again: the difference in win percentage. It is a bigger difference as the Messi case. Now there are claims Messi is rested in easy games and all, and Busquets benched for harder games (whatever) but also GoalImpact gives Busquets the highest value of his team. As of December 2017 Busquets and Pique had the highest values of their team.

    For the Spain national team we see the same pattern, better results with him in the team, let alone when he's healthy and in shape. I've seen 'my' team play against Spain in 2015 (in a friendly, better nevertheless with prestige) and it was just visible since Busquets didn't play while other big name midfielders did.

    By which I don't claim Busquets is the best player of his team (because, indeed, he hasn't a dribble or a goal in him). 'Struggling' Busquets this season has played 6 league games and lost 0 (won 5). Messi this season played 3 and lost 1. So I don't think the number of the metrics immediately changes here. Last season was the same thing (if you really look at it) and Busquets had more yellow cards than usual.


    Of course it is regularly said he's underrated, to the extent he isn't underrated (given his position). More people and journalists have learned to watch at football through this paradigm, as compared to say a Paolo Sousa 25 years ago, let alone further back in time.

    I don't mean to sound arrogant or all-knowing here, so if I see this wrong it's fine, but hope this explanation helps.
     
    poetgooner and Sexy Beast repped this.
  4. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    See above for reasoning.

    Busquets is also among the top paid players of the squad. Behind Messi, Griezmann, Suarez and De Jong but ahead of others like Pique.

    Of course this is also influenced by seniority, marketing (Neymar, Iniesta previously), playing position and age, and the moment of signing/renewing but still.
     
  5. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord





    Some never get it:



    "Busquets not better than Eric Dier"
     
    Edhardy repped this.
  6. Perú FC

    Perú FC Member+

    Nov 16, 2007
    Lima, Perú
    #106 Perú FC, Oct 11, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
    It could be. As it is developing a standard XI (without a specific rival in front) does not seem to be a primary option because in this decade few teams have played with a deep-lying playmaker of his characteristics and I think does not fit so ideally in typical 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 systems, the most used in these years.

    According to the midfields that he integrated (especially with Juventus) I would ideally see him between a box-to-box midfielder and another central midfielder:

    Andrea Pirlo (ITA)
    Arturo Vidal (CHI) ------------------------------------- Luka Modric (CRO)?
    Maybe instead of Luka Modric, Andrés Iniesta, who previously I remember he played interesting roles in that regard (that would mean change Xavi for Vidal).
     
    Edhardy repped this.
  7. Perú FC

    Perú FC Member+

    Nov 16, 2007
    Lima, Perú
    That wouldn't mean playing with Messi as false 9 instead of his usual right wing-forward position?, as in much of the era of Guardiola.
     
  8. Edhardy

    Edhardy Member+

    Sep 4, 2013
    Nairobi, Kenya
    Club:
    Juventus FC
    I get you - ish.

    Pirlo needed to be taken care of in his Milan and later Juve years. But in his first Juve years, without the CL distracting, he was as good defensively as Pjanic is now (without looking at stats, but rather just my feel of his performance). Btw Pjanic, according to CIES is the best footballer in the early stages of this season @Afghan-Juventus

    I think Pirlo was just as good, and even better when sandwiched between Vidal and Pogba than Marchisio (our last true bandiera).

    Pep has openly said he had wanted Pirlo at Barca to play along Xavi and Iniesta, and Pirlo has confirmed that. But @PuckVanHeel has brought up the issue of Pep saying many things Haha and I agree with Puck on this one, Lahm isn't the most intelligent player Pep coached (football wise), Xavi, Messi, Busquets, Iniesta and even an underrated Alves in this regard seem to me to match him.


    I had a very heated argument here in Kenya about Xabi Alonso v Pirlo their defensive merits. And I "won" using a Pep quote about Xabi's defensive deficiencies ironically.
    For your idea of peak performance, I couldn't help but include Pirlo in. But any objection is welcome. I think his early Juve serie A years (11-12) and his Euro 12 are in his favour.
     
  9. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    To me, outside of Ronaldo and Messi, Busquets is the other no-brainer pick. Every other position is up for grabs, but not for these three. Their claims are unmatched by their contenders, imho.
     
  10. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    I could get behind this lineup. I don't have an XI that I'm certain of in mind.

    In order, there are 4 names that I would definitely put in my XI of the 2010s
    1. Messi
    2. Ronaldo
    3. Busquets
    4. Alves

    In every other position, I think there's genuine competition. The reason I said that I can get behind this XI is because I can actually see the argument for it. Sure, I think there's an argument for Pique as well, but I wouldn't fight to have him in. Or Iniesta in for Vidal. Nor will I fight for Suarez or Lewandowski over Robben. Any of those 3 names could go in there, and I wouldn't have a problem with it at all.
     
    PuckVanHeel repped this.
  11. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    #111 PuckVanHeel, Oct 12, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
    What is the competition for Modric given Iniesta's petering out after 2014? (with rare notable performances after that)

    In the end I don't see Lewandowski as a real contender as it stands now. He's for sure the most complete striker of them all, and the most regular too, he can play as full-back if he wants, but the lack of performance for Poland in tournaments and also the CL KO stage performances (apart from the famous Real Madrid 2013 game) counts against him. The CL KO stage has been the real test for teams like PSG, Bayern and Juventus. If he has that, combined with his G+A record vs Bayern and vs Dortmund (click link) then there is a real case imho.

    In comparison to other candidates (Suarez, Robben) this counts.

    https://www.bavarianfootballworks.c...borussia-dortmund-bundesliga-champions-league



    Pirlo fits better for 2005-2015 I think but has a case for his peak and footballing ability. I agree that given his physical attributes he was defensively better than Xabi Alonso.

    If I want to be the devil's advocate I'd say this:

    1) Until he joined Juventus he had never more than 4 assists in a league season. Then he had suddenly 13 (followed by 7, 6 and 5). 7 of those 13 were a cross, 3 a corner and 3 a free kick per WhoScored. Although he was more of a scorer than Modric, aided by free kicks and penalties (~2003), it was still not a lot for a central midfielder. Also not against the primary rivals.

    2) Some people have turned him in a metronome like Xavi, but he just wasn't, even though he ran a lot (at the 2014WC more meters than the England midfielders). As is not unusual in Italy, he picked his moments to chip in while at Milan.

    3) His starring performances at euro 2012 were massively helped by the opposition. Roy Hodgson's England didn't think much about tactics and were easily outnumbered in midfield. Joachim Low also got it horribly wrong, and this is not up for debate. At the 2014WC the trick was repeated against England, but in the end it became a woeful exit for Italy and the other two opponents (Uruguay, Costa Rica) understood what they had to do, how to defend, close down and combine past Pirlo.

    4) In the 2012-13 and 2013-14 Champions League opponents (of roughly equal wealth) knew how to deal with him and the Juventus midfield. Suddenly Juventus played with two midfielders when going up against Javi Martinez and Schweinsteiger (with Ribery, Kroos, Robben or the undroppable local boy Muller helping out - not my claim he was/is undroppable but the one of Honigstein recently). Same applies to the 2012 Coppa Italia final for instance. Then in 2014-15 his role and form was marginalized and Juventus reached the final, this time not losing against e.g. Bayern or Real Madrid.

    This was of course nothing new. In 2005 PSV played four times against Milan and the same happened (a certain 17-years old Aissatti outplaying him in 2005-06), forcing a re-positioning by the versatile Seedorf (who has a strong G+A record vs Juventus btw, 8 goals and 5 assists in 22 games). Also when the national team played against Italy a friendly the same happened (Italy won, but because of a young and very inexperienced Vlaar not able to cope with Luca Toni, not because head coach Van Basten had the game plan wrong and we went up 1-0 in the game; in euro 2008 it worked and Pirlo played too).

    Eventually it would lead to Pirlo being marginalized near the end of his Milan spell, including the season they won the league (with his old pals still locked starters).



    For sure I rate Modric as an equally influential, if not more influential, player. I don't dispute Pirlo is a good choice in the end; he's behind Xavi and Seedorf the central midfielder with the most ESM selections, ahead of Modric, Kroos etc. But he is on the radar for 2005-2015, not the 2010s as a whole.

     
  12. Sexy Beast

    Sexy Beast Member

    Dinamo Zagreb
    Croatia
    Aug 11, 2016
    Zagreb
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    Croatia
    Why exactly is 2014/15 lesser version of Iniesta? And i think in 2016 he quite often had great performance including Euros 16.

    Given the standards, i woud also argue Modrić is petering out after 2017, which makes his peak what, 2014-2017? (Maybe not even including 2015)
     
  13. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord

    Without wanting to discuss Iniesta in detail with you again;

    Yes, that is pretty much the zenith of his career but Modric was also very good for Tottenham in his last two seasons or so and a few tournaments (2008 - which is outside this window, 2012, 2016, 2018).

    For some perspective though: last season was one of the weakest of his career (next to his first Tottenham season, first Real Madrid season) but he still had a WhoScored rating of 7+.

    This is higher than Iniesta in three of his four last Barcelona seasons, while he plays in a more attacking position, more favorable to those high grades. Iniesta his lowest WS scores all came in the last four seasons, with the attacking and defensive stats going down.

    SofaScore shows Modric with a higher score as well at the age of 33-34 as Iniesta at the same age.

    Modric also still finished 3rd with his team in a top league, and had - this can be proven - demonstrable additional effect on those results. More so than Iniesta in the indian summer of his career for Barcelona.

    You could see it recently vs Atletico Madrid (when he came on, at the age of 34) and the raw numbers back it up. From a deeper position he had 3 non-penalty goals and 6 assists in 2018-19 'La Liga' and that's markedly higher as any Iniesta season post-2014.

    Iniesta is a fantastic choice for 2005 - 2015 (with tournaments factored in) but even then his 'GoalImpact' is the sixth highest of his team or so. Behind Busquets, Pique, Messi, Xavi and Alves definitely and depending on the version of the algorithm also some more.

    It's clear Iniesta gets the 'local boy bonus' in the same way a Jesus Navas, Lahm, Baresi or Maldini got it but really don't think he is a good choice for the 2010s as a whole.
     
  14. PrimoCalcio

    PrimoCalcio Member

    Milan/Napoli
    Italy
    Oct 14, 2019
    Hi, Puck. Where did you get those stats from?
    According to TransferMarkt, Pirlo made more than 4 Serie A assists on 3 occasions playing for Milan.

    Pirlo, Serie A, AC Milan
    05/06 - 5 assists
    06/07 - 8 assists
    07/08 - 6 assists
    https://www.transfermarkt.us/andrea-pirlo/leistungsdatendetails/spieler/5817

    I don't necessarily agree with your other points about Pirlo either but I know you're just playing devil's advocate so there's no need to go into detail.
     
  15. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    #115 PuckVanHeel, Oct 14, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
    I have them from Gazzetta dello Sport and also @Krokko had them from Gazzetta too.


    "These are the stats from la Gazzetta (I got them from the paper version, but I suppose they can be found online as well):

    2000-01: Brescia - 14 matches - 0 goals +2 assists
    2001-02: Milan - 18 - 2+1
    2002-03: Milan - 27 - 9+3
    2003-04: Milan - 32 6+4
    2004-05: Milan - 30 4+3
    2005-06: Milan - 33 4+1
    2006-07: Milan - 34 2+4

    He got in average one assist every 10/11 matches roughly. Surely, if you were impressed with Pirlo, it wasn't for the stats."



    Transfermarkt is not always fully reliable and they use wide assists. That means penalties won and rebounds also count as assists, and heavy deflections and pinball scenes count too.

    If I look at the 8 assists of the 2006-07 season I see transfermarkt says one was from a corner and three from a free kick.

    The first assist I checked from the other four assists was a low cross.

    For clarity: I don't think the sport is only about goals and assists, or about stat padding your way against inferior opposition. There has been the perception though Pirlo was a controller like Xavi and regularly pierced defenses with his lobbed passes or through balls. I don't think that holds up.
     
  16. PrimoCalcio

    PrimoCalcio Member

    Milan/Napoli
    Italy
    Oct 14, 2019
    We definitely agree there.
    But I think it sells Pirlo short to claim he never had more than 4 assists (citing Gazzetta) a season for Milan when there are other sources claiming contrary. Here's another claiming he had at least 6 assists for 6 straight seasons between 02/03 and 07/08.
    https://fbref.com/en/players/71c5f16f/Andrea-Pirlo
    I don't really agree with devaluing assists because they come from a set-piece or a cross; those are important skills.
    When measuring assists ideally we should use the same source with the same metrics for all players but assists weren't documented as rigorously prior to the internet era so it can be difficult.

    If Xavi is the standard for who is or isn't a metronome, then sure, Pirlo wasn't. However,he was nicknamed "Il Metronome" by his teammates at AC Milan. From 2006 on-wards to 2014 he was definitely the heartbeat and probably the player with the most touches for the Azzurri, and while at Juventus his role changed slightly, making more touches.

    Looking at Whoscored stats, Pirlo between 2009 and 2014 was regularly averaging over 70 passes/game in both domestic leagues and international tournaments. Only a handful of players, probably all of them Spanish, averaged more per game, no doubt aided by their style of play.
    That's at least somewhat metronomic, isn't it?

    Is Modric considered a metronome? Only once since 2009 has he averaged 70 passes/game over the course of a season. His assists/season, key passes, and through-balls are all significantly lower than Pirlo's as well, despite playing higher up the pitch and for a more attack-minded and dominant club.

    Pirlo wasn't a controller ala Xavi, but the part about regularly piercing defenses with lobbed and through balls, in my opinion, holds up. His key pass, assists and through balls stats are high for such a deep-lying player.
    In fact his through ball stats since 2009/10 (Whoscored) 0.5/game are nearly identical to Xavi's 0.6/game despite Pirlo playing deeper and his stats being deflated by his 3 seasons at NYCFC which leads me to believe there is really no difference at all in that department (stats wise).
    Key passes is the same story, where Xavi averaged 2.2 and Pirlo 2.3 per game (again deflated by 3 NYCFC seasons).
    Assists is where Xavi has the clear upper hand, where by my countt (not including Qatar or NYFC) the Spaniard finished with 212 career assists and the Italian 107, though to at least some extent, this has to do with position on the field, role in the team, and the attacking style and dominance of the team being played for.
    All in all, I think Pirlo's reputation for incisive passing is well earned, and when we watch him, it's clear his passes are extremely effective at organizing his team and disorganizing the other team through the accuracy, range, and imagination of his forward passing.
    I would also say he was metronomic, but if compared to Xavi he is not the same level or style of controller in the midfield.

    This line of argument is just a slippery slope...

    This is part of the story but the analysis omits crucial details. It's unfair to imply the teams were roughly on par with each other by claiming "roughly equal wealth". Juve vs Bayern in 2012-13 was Juve's first foray back into the UCL with a squad paling in comparison to Bayern's in terms of quality and experience. Bayern were the heavy favourites and pressed the life out of Juve. Poor Pirlo performance but the Germans were superior in every way.
     
    PuckVanHeel repped this.
  17. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    #117 PuckVanHeel, Oct 15, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019

    Personally I placed Pirlo as the 4th central midfielder since 1994 and a magazine from my country placed him in the top 15 overall. Obviously his style, his technique, is part of this equation, just as the four Champions League finals he played and two national team finals.

    However, the odd goal and assist can help teams, also in comparison to potential replacement players for an organization.

    If you take the two seasons he won the Champions League (2003, 2007) then he has 1 goal and 1 assist (from a deflected free kick) in both campaigns combined.

    In the 2005 campaign (final reached) he had one goal (direct free kick vs Celtic) and four assists, three of them from a corner or free kick (the other was this one to speedy Shevchenko). These are the numbers taken from transfermarkt.


    Now, what happens if you'd replace him with someone else? You'd miss a few things but not the odd goal or assist, not an interception or tackle, not prowess in the air, not great dynamism in midfield or even a dribble from time to time.

    I had always this feeling (often his passes looked elegant but lacked pace to be really dangerous) and it's no surprise for me his replacement value doesn't go through the roof.


    (for clarity: this 150-160 value is 'below par' when put next to his team mates or others in the league)

    But of course, he had his decisive moments too, in particular for the national team (open play assist vs Germany in 2006, free kick assist vs France in 2006, free kick goal vs Croatia 2012, open play assist vs Spain 2012) and if I try to weigh those things I'd have him as the 3rd to 6th best central midfielder since 1994.


    It's a skill but not the hardest skill and any team worth their salt has multiple players who can take a corner at an adequate level. Therefore 'open play assists' regularly pop in statistical overviews.

    See also the Sally and Anderson book of a few years ago, chapter 5. The part and citations on "Why players, teams are undifferentiated on 'passing skill'". That's a hyperbole but applies the more so on set piece delivery.

    Of course there are always outliers like David Beckham (for real!) but Pirlo isn't one of those, and also for Beckham the additional goals it gives is not too drastic in the end (but still a bonus). 'Drastic' as in 5-10 additional goals.


    Pirlo was more of a metronome than 95% of the professional footballers, that is true, but the comparison with Xavi shows the relativity of this.

    - While Pirlo is on 70 passes per game (~85% accuracy) in the league, Xavi at Champions League level was regularly on 110+ passes per game with ~95% accuracy.

    - Moreover, Xavi was miles ahead of his 'next best' team mate. Consistently. Pirlo on the other hand had his campaigns where a midfield team mate had more passes, like the 2006 World Cup or the 2007 Champions League, or the 2011 Serie A title.

    Basically you say the same above but think Pirlo is regularly (erroneously) placed in the same breath as Xavi, with then that 'metronome' nickname indeed attached to him.


    Modric can play like that but has been primarily a link man. He mixes it up (dribbles, passes) and Real Madrid (and Croatia) doesn't aim to have 70-80% possession. What Modric at his best did very well was linking and connecting it all together, thus a link man is the apt description and not a relentless and monotonous metronome.




    How does this compare to his team mates though?

    In 2009-10 Ronaldinho and Seedorf ranked ahead of him (admittedly Ronaldinho in a more advanced role).

    In 2010-11 Ibra and Seedorf are ahead of him, with Ambrosini just behind (if we convert Pirlo to a per 90 minutes base).

    In 2011-12 he is on top of his team yes (0.9 per game), but Vucinic just behind and Vidal at that 0.5 number.

    This scenario repeats for 2012-13 with all the three players in the top 7 (Pirlo #3), showing Juve's dominance.

    In 2013-14 we see 'work horses' Pogba and Vidal just marginally behind in through-balls.

    Then in 2014-15 he is down to 0.2 with Vidal again just behind.


    With the exception of 2012-13 (the bonus of free kicks) he was never #1 of the league, with his dominant midfield built in the way to make use of it.

    That's what I mean with that his reputation is inflated, while the ability of a Vidal to play a one touch through ball himself (while also doing other things) is underrated and at risk of being forgotten. Or the other central midfield colleague of him (telling examples in those two videos, @Peru FC should take notes).

    Furthermore, this are mostly through-balls to the sides, not the pacy and dangerous ones leading to an assist or pre-assist from open play. As we have seen he wasn't the man for open play assists.


    It wasn't only Bayern but also Real Madrid and other teams (resulting in a group stage exit). Then with Pirlo less central and things made dependent on him, him as focal point, they reached the final in 2015.

    Like I said I was to an extent playing the devil's advocate but to have him in a XI for this decade overinflates him (imho), based on some wrong perceptions and equivalences.

    He's a solid or strong choice for previous times.
     
  18. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    @Sexy Beast

    Rodri plays instead of Busquets now for Spain.

    I'm watching the switch channel but it is popcorn material so far. One big blunder after the other within the first 30 minutes.
     
  19. Sexy Beast

    Sexy Beast Member

    Dinamo Zagreb
    Croatia
    Aug 11, 2016
    Zagreb
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    Croatia
    Can you say more? Ive seen like 10 minutes (around the time De Gea made the great save)
    He is 6.9 on sofascore (7th best in Spain) and 6.94 on whoscored (6th best)
     
  20. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    I'd like to show highlights but what I saw on the switch channel:


    - Losing the ball at very dangerous positions, without looking around his shoulders

    - Clearances across the face of his own goal in areas crowded by yellow (Swedish) shirts. Panicky scenes were the results

    - Consistently wrong positions


    You might check highlights yourself. Danny Blind was pundit in the studio and said "you don't have to invite me to notice these things".

    To be fair, Sweden is a relatively difficult team and also e.g. France, Italy and Netherlands have failed to win against them in recent competitive matches. It is not the easiest team to play against, even for a physically superior team as Spain.
     
  21. PrimoCalcio

    PrimoCalcio Member

    Milan/Napoli
    Italy
    Oct 14, 2019
    #121 PrimoCalcio, Oct 16, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2019
    This is a fair point. I'll just say that one of the corner-kick assists must have been Pirlo's assist to Maldini in the UCL Final which actually from a freekick which was cleverly worked and not just your typical 'swing in a cross and pray'.

    I couldn't find statistics for 2006 WC. Which Italian had more passes than Pirlo in that tournament? Going off of memory it seemed like Pirlo had the most touches.

    This is fair, but it should be remembered both Ronaldinho and Seedorf are wonderful skilled players who both played further up the pitch, regularly finding themselves in the final third. Also, these were Pirlo's 2 worst seasons for AC Milan where he struggled with fitness.

    I didn't check the stats but I'm guessing Messi and (maybe) Iniesta had equal of more throughballs compared to Xavi in most seasons?

    I'm also not sure througball is the best or only stat that be used for measuring the incisivness of a player's passing. Key Passes also need to be considered and maybe even the amount and accuracy of long balls.

    Maybe, but there's countless examples from Youtube and memory of Pirlo playing dangerous balls in behind the defense. If not leading to a direct shot, often a "hockey assist" where his pass is headed down or crossed for the third player to shoot.

    Anyhow, I agree he is not a pick for 2010-2019. His time period is more 2000-2009 or 2005-2015.

    Just curious, Puck. Who is your top 3?
     
  22. Sexy Beast

    Sexy Beast Member

    Dinamo Zagreb
    Croatia
    Aug 11, 2016
    Zagreb
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    Croatia
    Based on this i can not tell much. First of all, it is hard for me to identify him in every clip, but he had few good plays like 2:32 and few not so like the way he reacted when Sweden scored or the big chance he missed (the header).

    Secondly, i would love to see his weaknesses in plays, but i am not seeing them. And you are not giving me much to work with and yet you critcize him quite hard.

    I couldnt find Danny's punditry..

    But let me tell you what is wrong with this kind of analysis:

    You can not look at a player in isolation, especially not defensive midfielder. Whether he is positionated right or wrong doesnt depend only on whether he made a mistake or not, but also on the functionality of his team. They need to work as a unit.
    You have zero information on what his manager told him before the game. He might as well obeyed his instructions perfectly, yet someone else didnt, which would make him look like the one in wrong position while not.

    This directly connects to my hypothesis that Busquets depends on the functionality of his team. I've claimed that Busquets is a strong cnadidate for the top 20 player in the world and few members laughed at that thought because he seemingly is not performing as well as he used to.

    I believe that Busquets, in isolation as a player, is roughly as good as he ever was. There is no reason to assume he physically declined at the age of 30. What i am seeing last few years, is Busquets making mistakes in the moments when he is isolated in possesion which just did not happen back in Guardiola era.

    I find 95% of punditry abysmal. No sense of relativity at all. When Spain or any team wins easy 4-0, everybody is great, when result is negative, everybody is questioned and did not deliver. Things are never black and white

    6.9 by sofascore while making an error that lead to shot and missing a big chance, is an excellent rating. he would be around 7.5 without those two instances, which for defensive mid is top rating. In that context, claiming "consistently out of the position" argument is ridiculous or that he played bad.
     
  23. Tropeiro

    Tropeiro Member

    Jun 1, 2018


    Thiago Alcantara as starter = 7.86 whoscored ratings (189 matches rated).
     
    Edhardy repped this.
  24. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    #124 PuckVanHeel, Oct 17, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
    Yes it was a free kick. I said three of the four assists were from a corner or free kick.

    It's right it was well thought but technically it is not the hardest one to execute. Others of his team (not all players) can play that ball in as well. Actually, Kaka with his height is of some use in the penalty area.

    There's a logic behind listing open play assists separately. Even then, Pirlo had only one assist (and one goal, a free kick) in the two Champions Leagues he won.

    Yes clearly Ronaldinho was an attacking player (positioned more advanced than Rui Costa/Kaka previously) but as we both know Pirlo was dropped deeper exactly to make use of his creativity, not to limit his creativity. It was meant to increase his through-balls, not to thwart this.

    This are the average positions of the 2007 CL final with this time Ambrosini inserted in the midfield, which pushed up Seedorf very slightly. I can't find one for a match without Ambrosini but normally Pirlo's position wasn't much deeper (if at all) than Gattuso or Seedorf. Even in this 2007 final they are all crammed very close together.


    In Xavi his record season in the league (110+ passes) he was indeed behind Messi but ahead of his other team-mates. In the 2009-10 Champions League though he was miles ahead of his team-mates in through balls, more than twice as many as the next team mate (Iniesta, Messi).

    Xavi was either way much more of a metronome (with low similarity to Pirlo) so he is kind of 'excused' from not standing out in through balls all the time.


    I agree through ball is not the only stat to indicate it but you cited it to show his incisiveness hence my response? (or did I overlook another fact you cited)

    Let's try some other angles for incisiveness.


    Passing map

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    Does this show incisiveness? For comparison, here is Ozil on a good day (not nearly as good a player).

    [​IMG]




    Statsbomb radar chart (goal contribution)


    [​IMG]

    What we can see is his (indirect) contribution to producing a goal in particular. While this was slightly higher in 2011-12 and not poor by any means, it is also clearly behind the top group of an Aaron Ramsey, Gerrard or his own team mates Vidal and Pogba who had all a high contribution (for a midfielder) to creating goals.

    This also applies to Xavi, both in goal contribution as well as so called XgBuildup.


    Big chances created (also called 'clear-cut chances')

    We don't have this for his prime, but in the MLS (at a lower level as well and a more open league) he is on 1 big chance created in 2017 and on 7 the season before.

    For euro 2012 I know the Italy team as a whole created 10 big chances until the semi final.

    It's guesswork how many came from Pirlo's feet but the stats show in key passes Cassano, Pirlo, Balzaretti, Marchisio, Diamanti are all close together (a 'big chance' is a key pass as well).


    Assists

    Despite the bonus of taking set pieces, the assists he produced in the Champions League come not close to several of his midfield team mates. From Rui Costa to Pogba (fun fact: the record holder for assists in the CL for an Italian team is still Seedorf).


    I don't say he was bad at it :p just that his reputation is overinflated here, even next to his midfield team mates like Rui Costa or Vidal. As you say yourself, some of his midfield team mates were "wonderfully skilled" themselves.

    All in all, his replacement value isn't super fantastic and that it was relatively easy to dribble past him is one of those reasons. At the same time, he himself showed in the tournaments (vs Spain, Croatia etc.) it can be helpful to sometimes have the odd goal or assist!


    :thumbsup: That was indeed my main point to @Edhardy and @Perú FC

    His number of years in this decade, and his peak in an Italian league that was at a low point (while not really showing it in the CL, that's important here) is not good enough but he fits well for previous epochs.

    What you might say is Pirlo his prominence started before Xavi and lasted past Xavi too.


    Well, I limited myself to the names FourFourtTwo listed and I had Xavi and Modric as the top two. Then in the group behind I'd have Keane, Pirlo and Seedorf. Pirlo can be #3 here but also #6 (depending on who is or isn't a central midfielder and which other players FFT overlooked).

    Central midfielders (original FFT rank behind the name):

    Xavi 1
    Modric 2
    Seedorf 7 (+ 4)
    Pirlo 4
    Keane 6 (+ 1)
    Xabi Alonso 10 (+ 4)
    Schweinsteiger 8 (+ 1)
    Vieira 5 (- 3)
    Scholes 3 (- 6)
    Veron 9 (- 1)


    Certainly I think/thought it is wrong to place Scholes so far ahead of Keane for instance. As always I'm open to reconsider if I see new info.

    Despite his legendary status, Pirlo his DBScalcio grades are somehow very variable. Sometimes top, sometimes below the 20 best in his position (which feels as too low; he was rated 24th in his position in 2006-07 - really?).

    The above on 'chance creation' etc. might appear as absolutes but it are nuances.
     
  25. PrimoCalcio

    PrimoCalcio Member

    Milan/Napoli
    Italy
    Oct 14, 2019
    Thanks for the exchange, Puck. You bring up some good points and provide some insightful statistics.
    Midfielders can be skittish creatures, hard to to pin down and compare to one another. I suspect there is yet depth in which we could dig deeper but I doubt it's necessary as there isn't too much day-light between our perspectives

    Pretty agreeable list.

    Personally I'd make a case for Pirlo above Modric though Modric obviously has a strong one between the UCL dominance with RM, his 2018 WC performance, and his 2019 Ballon D'Or (though I am fully not convinced he it deserved that year).

    I'd even consider Seedorf above Modric but for the same reasons I can fathom why Modric is considered higher. Seedorf is too often overlooked, perhaps being held back by his (relatively) underwhelming international career.

    An omission from FFT's list that I think deserves a mention is Daniele De Rossi. He's as talented, consistent, commanding as most on the list. Staying at Roma held back his career in terms of trophies but he's got a WC to his name.

    Just to slap together a list for fun:

    1. Xavi
    2. Pirlo
    3. Modric
    4. Seedorf
    5. Scholes
    6. Gerrard
    7. Xabi Alonso
    8. Vieira
    9. Schweinsteiger
    10. Keane

    I'm sure it'd be different if I was putting in the effort to do the necessary research, but just for funsies this is what I came up with.

    Perhaps doing disservice to the likes of Ballack, De Rossi, Veron, Lampard, Yaya Toure, and Makelele. And like you said, much depends on your definition of central midfielder which is excluding the like of Iniesta, Busquets, Zidane, Sneijder, etc...
     
    PuckVanHeel repped this.

Share This Page