With the Champions League draw for the Round of 16 having taken place now is as good a time as any to review some statistics from the group stages of this season’s Champions League.
http://thefreekick.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/iniesta-xavi-300x198.jpgIt’s no surprise to see the passing statistics dominated by midfielders and heavily featuring players from Barcelona. Busquets, Xavi, Piqué, Dani Alves, Mascherano and Iniesta are all in the top 10 successful passers in the competition so far with Busquets leading the way with 516 successful passes.
The growing influence of creative, or at least ball-retaining, defensive midfielders means that Schweinsteiger, Xabi Alonso and FC Basel’s less celebrated Yapi Yapo join the list. Philipp Lahm bucks the trend somewhat with the second most successful passes of the season so far, though his statistics are inflated above those of Xavi and Busquets who only featured in 5 games each. Lahm also has the highest total of backwards passes in the six games so far with Dani Alves being the only other player appearing on both lists.
It is no surprise that Barcelona dominate all facets of the passing statistics given their continued investment in a quick tempo passing game that they employ regardless of the opposition. The Catalans average over 771 passes per game, with Bayern Munich next best on 597. That’s a phenomenal gap and illustrates both the gulf in class between Barcelona and their European rivals and their commitment to a particular style of football. Curiously Manchester United top the list of most unsuccessful passes with an average of 123 per game.
The pass completion statistics by player are reflected in the amount of passes they are receiving also. It’s no surprise to see a similar list of players at the top of the passes received list with Busquets again leading from Lahm and 7 of the remaining 8 players appearing on both lists – the one change being Wesley Sneijder in 10th place on passes received but he doesn’t make the top ten for passes completed.
You can throw any positive filter at the passing statistic and Barcelona dominate nearly everywhere. In the attacking third of the pitch the top 4 successful passers are Iniesta (223), Messi (219), Xavi (217) and Dani Alves (205). It’s remarkable that a defensive midfielder and a full back feature on this list. Unsurprisingly the breakdown by team reflects this dominance with Barcelona completing 1,647 passes in the attacking third of the pitch with Bayern Munich again in second place with 1,013. Once again there’s a gulf in class there that explains just why this Barcelona side are so enjoyable to watch at the moment.
Statistics courtesy of CL Total Football