One of the cool things that happens when you start looking at player data is you occasionally stumble across statistically similar players, most of whom you might be aware of, but sometimes a name pops out that you have never heard of.
I was messing around with the LongBall category at WhoScored a couple of weeks ago, curious what would turn up. In England and Germany, this stat is dominated by Goalkeepers and to a lesser extent central defenders. Not in Spain and Italy though!
In Spain the first four slots are occupied by midfielders, after which you have two GK, and then a bunch of defenders and defensive mids. In Italy, the first GK doesn’t show up until 18 spots down the list. 18! I’ve been noting recently how much older Italy’s Key Pass leaders seem to be than the rest of Europe, but to me this indicates they just play football differently. I’ll try to make time later this summer to dig deeper into the statistical differences.
Anyway, check out this list of midfielders who sit at the top of their league for successful long balls per game. Montolivo and Schweini are the only ones under age 30, and look at those passing percentages! All of those guys are household names, except… Roberto Trashorras.
Who the hell is Roberto Trashorras?
A Barcelona youth product, he also spent time on the Real Madrid B team before bouncing around the Spanish second division for six more seasons with Numancia, Las Palmas, and Celta Vigo. Finally in 2011 – at age 30 - he signed on with Rayo after they won promotion to La Liga. And since then, he’s producing numbers like you see above.
Numbers that are similar to Andrea Pirlo, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Steven Gerrard. How cool is that?
I don’t know about you, but I find it really hard not to root for this guy.
[Special thanks to David Jaca for giving me some background on his time in La Liga. He's one of the most knowledgeable and interesting journalists covering Spanish football.]
Article by Ted Knutson