xavi vs pirlo

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Post by DuringTheWar Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:59 am

Who is better?
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Post by MindGames7 Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:17 am

in all competitions last season:

Pirlo

short passing 89%
long passing 84%
dribbles 55%
shots 35%
through balls 49%
crosses 34%
defensive actions 64%
offensive actions 80%
defence-attack average 72%
total actions 79%

Xavi

short pass 95%
long pass 91%
dribbles 48%
shots 36%
through balls 27%
crosses 26%
defensive actions 82%
offensive action 89%
defence-attack average 85%
total actions 90%

You decide.
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Post by McLewis Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:18 am

I guess it depends on what type of player style you prefer. The busy bee that loves to weave intricate play, flitting around the pitch (Xavi) or the the languid, graceful DLP that prefers to sit back and quarterback play from further down the pitch (Pirlo).

I personally prefer the latter.

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Post by DuringTheWar Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:29 am

I would say xavi. He is simply better in those tight situations, better close control and footwork, better at getting a foothold in the game for his team, and on top of that he is a big game player unquestionably, managing even to outshine messi in the champions league finals
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Post by jibers Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:38 am

Xavi. Pirlo is great, but he has a lot of issues. You see the termdeep lying playmaker, regista if I may, is used for people that sit deep and control games. The whole idea is that the person is able to have a bigger picture of the field. I find comparing these two very strange, because, Pirlo is a deep lying playmaker, while Xavi is...well...pretty much everything.

Carlo Mazzone put Pilro as a regista because he said that Pirlo did not make a good trequartista. His movement wasn't good enough. It's pretty obvious. When Pirlo is man marked, he loses all of his effectiveness. We saw that last year, especially in the AC Milan game where Emanuelson effectively man marked him out of the game. Xavi's movement is just ridiculous. He is almost impossible to man mark. He is far superior in tighter spaces, and his movement is better. His passing is crisper and he gives away the ball far less.

Pirlo is a great player in a sytem that affords you time and space. I feel that compared to Xavi, he is not as flexible. Xavi could operate in the hole and still lose the ball less times than Pirlo would. Xavi covers the most ground in most of the games he plays and distributes the ball better.

Pirlo is still a great player and the best deep lying playmaker there is. Problem is Xavi isn't registar, a media punte, a central midfielder or an attacking mf. He is a a bit of everything which makes this comparison very hard to do in the first place.
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Post by The Franchise Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:04 am

I think Xavi has played at levels Pirlo hasnt, thats the simpliest way I can put it.

I think if we name performances from each player, the better and higher number of those great performances will be in Xavi's favour.

His supporters would start naming Milan in 04, Madrid in (pick a year basically), Arsenal in 10 (I think) and so on and so forth.

I think if we talk about all those performances, Xavi's will stack up favourably.

If we talk about consistency, then again it has to be Xavi because for whatever reasons, Pirlo took 2-3 years off. Not literally, but he stopped being the same Pirlo.

Back before Guardiola, I think they were equals. I think that both were in the discussion for the mythical title of best midfielder of that kind, they had similar achievement and played at similar levels. However, since Guardiola increased Xavi's responsibilty and adjusted his role, he has played at levels beyond that of Pirlo, to me.



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Post by The Sanchez Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:34 am

Definately are two greats. Difference between the two is that Pirlo cannot work through tight gaps or when man marked, Xavi can. From time to time, we have seen Pirlo just look ordinary when man marked and loses the ball more times than what Xavi would if man marked and even still he can work his way out. As Jibers said, Pirlo needs time and space. If he doesn't get that time and space, he is ordinary. Stats also show that Xavi is a midfielder than Pirlo. If you watch both players, Xavi passes are most accurate than Pirlo's.
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Post by Rossoneri Ninja Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:49 am

From my perspective both players need a certain system and types of players under which to perform at their optimum levels.

Although people prefer to point out that Pirlo needs defensive workmen around him, whilst similarly ignore the fact that Xavi requires ball carriers to operate efficiently.

Whilst Xavi and Pirlo will always be great at what they do as individuals much of their success comes down to the combinations and balance of their midfield compatriots. I am a firm believer that you cannot judge a player solely as an individual, since no player is ever complete and no one player can fulfill all the roles that a team requires. With that said it is my opinion that it is best to judge a player in the context with regards to his teammates and team's football style.

With that in mind i can refuse to attribute both Milan and Barca's success down to each man, it wasn't their individual quality that made the biggest difference, it was the combined threat of individuals that was the biggest factor.

For Milan it wasn't just Pirlo, it was seedorf, kaka, Shevcenko and Inzaghi. And in a much wider view one could argue the coup de grace was the defense which by name and reputation alone is probably the greatest that has been seen since Maldini, Nesta, Cafu and Stam.

For Barca it is the same, Xavi by himself is a handful, however add Iniesta and Messi into the mix and it becomes a near nigh impossible task to over them.

When people criticize Pirlo's form past 2008, just remember to judge him within the context of the type of squad and the conditions he found himself in. Everything Pirlo had relied upon to bring the best out of him was either missing or could no longer function the way it used to. If you have doubts you can look at the huge contrast in performance for Milan and Italy.

Xavi has always been a great player before Pep came, however the most significant rise of the team's midfield dominance arouse when Iniesta came of age. The near telepathy between them is incredible to watch and but not so near incredible as to how they both complimented each other.

In that sense i find Dani's method of measuring up the amount of big performances against the other a bit fallacious and too subjective with regard to as what constitutes a big game performance or not.

Also The Sanchez point is moot, one can list various things that the other could not do, neither of which is sufficient to claim one is better than the other. Also your opinion about how Pirlo needs space and time, which implies that Pirlo lacks ball control and retention i cannot agree with. Every player will lose some measure of effectiveness when marked, however during the times when he had ample ball carriers ( who were both mobile and highly technical) pressuring him was pointless and dangerous for three reasons: 1. He could easily beat his man and during his best years he did 2. He had dangerous ball carriers such as Seedorf and Kaka who would use the space given up by the pressing player to tear apart the oppositions centre midfield. 3. He was incredibly sharp of mind and sight, not to mention his feet, i cannot recount the amount of times 2 or even 3 players used to press him only for him to slip away and ping a 40 meter pass straight to Inzaghi or Shevchenko ( both of whom masters of beating the offside trap). With Pirlo there used to be two method of how he could beat you, the quick death ( you press and he picks out the wonder pass within his own half ) or the slow death ( you stay deep to keep him from pinging balls behind the defense, but leave him free to pass as he chooses in limited areas).

Right now, Xavi imo is the higher calibre player with a consistency and discipline in performance that i've never seen. However the Pirlo i have seen during Milan days was an ingenious passer who seemed to do everything sleep-eyed, the greatest attacking force within deep midfield i've ever seen. At the end of the day Xavi's achievements should imo give him the respectful edge over Pirlo.
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Post by MindGames7 Wed Aug 15, 2012 11:52 am

Rossoneri Ninja wrote:Every player will lose some measure of effectiveness when marked

Except one - Paul Scholes.
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Post by Rossoneri Ninja Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:02 pm

MindGames7 wrote:
Rossoneri Ninja wrote:Every player will lose some measure of effectiveness when marked

Except one - Paul Scholes.

Why bother marking a player who will eventually get himself sent off Razz

Sadly this topic is not about Paul Scholes, and nor would i discuss him unless we were going to make fun of his atrocious tackling ability. which i already did in the sentence above

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Post by The Franchise Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:40 pm

MindGames7 wrote:
Rossoneri Ninja wrote:Every player will lose some measure of effectiveness when marked

Except one - Paul Scholes.

This is the type of thing which is a no-no in this section.

We will not have any thread derailing with useless posts like this. Consider this a warning.

Scholes has zero to do with this so kept his name out.
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Post by jibers Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:48 pm

The Franchise wrote:
MindGames7 wrote:
Rossoneri Ninja wrote:Every player will lose some measure of effectiveness when marked

Except one - Paul Scholes.

This is the type of thing which is a no-no in this section.

We will not have any thread derailing with useless posts like this. Consider this a warning.

Scholes has zero to do with this so kept his name out.

Keep* Very Happy
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Post by The Franchise Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:50 pm

Ninja, top quality post. Really.

I agree with nearly everything you said there. Especially when you talk about how other players and their roles and their performances having a hand in individuals success and in turn the entire teams.

Indeed, my way of discussing individual big performances is subjective. But that to me is the only way to get my opinion in a way which statisfied me. My own eyes, my own thoughts, they trump any stat and things of that nature in my head.

One thing, can you touch more on the point where you said "Xavi requires ball carriers to operate efficiently"

I find it intresting, but before I comment I would rather you explain more so I dont have the wrong idea.

But again, great post.
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Post by The Franchise Wed Aug 15, 2012 1:50 pm

Thank you Jibbers. KEEP.
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Post by MindGames7 Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:34 pm

The Franchise wrote:
MindGames7 wrote:
Rossoneri Ninja wrote:Every player will lose some measure of effectiveness when marked

Except one - Paul Scholes.

This is the type of thing which is a no-no in this section.

We will not have any thread derailing with useless posts like this. Consider this a warning.

Scholes has zero to do with this so kept his name out.

Good idea. Thanks for correcting me.
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Post by Valkyrja Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:41 pm

I'd take Pirlo anyday. Xavi needed a system to become the player he is now. Pirlo is the system.
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Post by jibers Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:44 pm

Kizu wrote:I'd take Pirlo anyday. Xavi needed a system to become the player he is now. Pirlo is the system.

What does that mean? Pilro IS the sytem. You realise that sytems, are tactics. So you are saying Pirlo is a tactic? Pirlo can't play in packed areas, for me that seperates him and Xavi massiveley. The coach that turned him into a regista even acknowledged this. This systems arguement is old. and has been debunked many atimes. I suppose Maldini, Giggs, Scholes and Del Piero benefitted from systems as well.
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Post by BarrileteCosmico Wed Aug 15, 2012 2:50 pm

Kizu wrote:I'd take Pirlo anyday. Xavi needed a system to become the player he is now. Pirlo is the system.
Pirlo is the system because they build the team around him, not exactly a better point...

Mindgames what's the definition of these:

defensive actions
offensive actions
defence-attack average
total actions
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Post by MindGames7 Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:34 pm

BarrileteCosmico wrote:
Kizu wrote:I'd take Pirlo anyday. Xavi needed a system to become the player he is now. Pirlo is the system.
Pirlo is the system because they build the team around him, not exactly a better point...

Mindgames what's the definition of these:

defensive actions
offensive actions
defence-attack average
total actions

Defensive actions % = (number of headers + number of interceptions + number of tackles + a few other things like that) divided by (those things plus the fouls and the amount of times they were dribbled past)

Offensive actions % = (number of passes, crosses, dribbles, fouls won, shots on target, etc) divided by (those things plus the number of misplaced passes, misplaced shots, dispossessions... you get the idea)

Defence-attack average is the average of the above two stats - how good they would be in a game in which they would be forced to do an equal amount of defending and attacking. This stat is useful for identifying big game players.

Total action % is (all the successful defensive things plus all the successful offensive things) divided by (the total number of defensive things plus the total number of offensive things). This stat is useful for showing how smart a player is, ie. how much they understand the game and play to their strengths.
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Post by Arquitecto Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:52 pm

jibers wrote:Xavi. Pirlo is great, but he has a lot of issues. You see the termdeep lying playmaker, regista if I may, is used for people that sit deep and control games. The whole idea is that the person is able to have a bigger picture of the field. I find comparing these two very strange, because, Pirlo is a deep lying playmaker, while Xavi is...well...pretty much everything.

Carlo Mazzone put Pilro as a regista because he said that Pirlo did not make a good trequartista. His movement wasn't good enough. It's pretty obvious. When Pirlo is man marked, he loses all of his effectiveness. We saw that last year, especially in the AC Milan game where Emanuelson effectively man marked him out of the game. Xavi's movement is just ridiculous. He is almost impossible to man mark. He is far superior in tighter spaces, and his movement is better. His passing is crisper and he gives away the ball far less.

Pirlo is a great player in a sytem that affords you time and space. I feel that compared to Xavi, he is not as flexible. Xavi could operate in the hole and still lose the ball less times than Pirlo would. Xavi covers the most ground in most of the games he plays and distributes the ball better.

Pirlo is still a great player and the best deep lying playmaker there is. Problem is Xavi isn't registar, a media punte, a central midfielder or an attacking mf. He is a a bit of everything which makes this comparison very hard to do in the first place.

You have a great post Jibers but your post also is riddled with many misconceptions.

Mazzone who is a superb tactical legend sadly put Pirlo in a modified 4-4-1-1 in which Pirlo played the TQ there. I'll let you figure out the rest on how a TQ simply could not function in such a formation. This also is further backed up by how Mazzone felt Pirlo didn't possess the necessary "off-the-ball" movement to receive and distribute along with the fact that he played him conservatively being the youngster he was.

Ancelotti further used this role due to his specialized christmas tree formation (4-3-2-1) in which Pirlo was the only man who could play this role.

Yet sadly there is the on going myth that Pirlo has played DLP ever since. Majority of his career with La Nazionale has been as a free range TQ. Watch Pirlo vs Germany 2006. Pirlo vs Ajax 2003. Pirlo vs Man UTD 2004-05 along with Pirlo v Inter and the 5-0 in the same. All examples of him playing in his original TQ position and completely dispelling the myth that "he needs space" to operate.

I also hope you won't bring up how he needs "two DMs" to protect him at all times because this is frankly the most laughable myth out there.

Pirlo vs Emanuelsson happened simply out of the sheer fatigue and lack of form Juve were undergoing within that time period as Pirlo as Juve fans will tell you needed rest and was less effective within a space of 2-4 games in that period where they played Milan. As for Xavi not being marked out this is another myth. Micheal Bradley in the Confed cup. Esteban Cambiasso considerably reduced his effectiveness as well in the first leg of Inter. Many many times pre Luis Aragones for the NT where he just could not operate.

Same with Paul Scholes or any other legend as all three have had their moments where they have been rendered less effective by a marker.

Haven't you noticed how Nazionale fans always call for Pirlo to be played as TQ? Its simply because he is better in that role as same went for Milanisti when Carlo left. And the few games Pirlo played as TQ for Milan with Allegri he was wonderful. Sadly this decision wasn't carried out.

Cruyff once said sometimes its harder to operate in open space than tight space since the multiple options and room for creation can have a near devastating effect of consequence.

Not saying anything about Xavi, but this misconception on Pirlo not being able to operate without space and time needs to be put to rest. Not blaming you since myths like these catch on sadly.
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Post by MindGames7 Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:00 pm

You have already been warned.

-50% for unnecessary meme(only) post.


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Post by Rossoneri Ninja Wed Aug 15, 2012 4:35 pm

The Franchise wrote:Ninja, top quality post. Really.

I agree with nearly everything you said there. Especially when you talk about how other players and their roles and their performances having a hand in individuals success and in turn the entire teams.

Indeed, my way of discussing individual big performances is subjective. But that to me is the only way to get my opinion in a way which statisfied me. My own eyes, my own thoughts, they trump any stat and things of that nature in my head.

One thing, can you touch more on the point where you said "Xavi requires ball carriers to operate efficiently"

I find it intresting, but before I comment I would rather you explain more so I dont have the wrong idea.

But again, great post.

Thank you Dani,

Indeed, my way of discussing individual big performances is subjective. But that to me is the only way to get my opinion in a way which statisfied me. My own eyes, my own thoughts, they trump any stat and things of that nature in my head.

I feel the same way about stats and facts, i only wanted to highlight the fact that the lvl of a players performance mostly comes down to the players around him and the situation their in. For instance take the Milan 2 - 2 Barca game, many people will claim Nesta had a big performance, which is a bit illogical since we conceded 2, the calibre of performance was not that high. I have seen Nesta play far more flawlessly in other big games. There is a difference between a massive effort and a massive performance at least for me. The thing that plagues me most about this is it is entirely subjective, even my own opinion holds no more weight than the next man when discussing a " big performance". Most of the times i do agree with your evaluation of a players performance but i don't see how it can be objectively used as a measuring tool.

One thing, can you touch more on the point where you said "Xavi requires ball carriers to operate efficiently"

The ability that makes Xavi great is his footballing brain and generalship. I won't explain how he plays as you of all people know quite well. The problem i always felt Xavi had was he couldn't "beat" his man, by this i mean dribble through him or past him, after watching him for some time i concluded that he does not possess the speed for it and due to the risk factor of losing possession and benefit of beating the man didn't weigh up for him to do so ever. He is very reluctant to release possession cheaply, this has become his modus operandi.

Barca have 2 of the best ball carriers in the game Messi and Iniesta. Both of them are great at taking and controlling the ball under pressure, getting past players but most importantly get defenders to move backwards which gives Xavi the vital seconds to move into spaces, reassess the situation and remedy it. Xavi on his own would dominate possession easy however that doesn't necessarily mean his team would be an offensive threat. Xavi creates a platform from which attacking players can do great damage, some might say every good midfielder can do this and should be able too, however none can do it so far up the pitch effectively , consistently and at an incredible level of technical ability.

Xavi works himself into positions where he can do the most damage, due to his methodical approach he needs everything around him to work like clockwork. Also when you watch him play for Spain he struggles to play the natural game of an attacking midfielder, he tends to work backwards then try to work foward, whereas his natural game is to work from the back to the front as this allows him more time to figure where he actually wants to be. Im not undermining him at the am role , im just highlighting that it is not his best position and a position that hinders his generalship.

The the only times i saw Barca struggle to get a death grip in games is where either Cesc or Keita was played in midfield with Iniesta on the wing. With regards to Cesc he was just too random and he barely played as an AM but rather a hybrid advanced role, tbh i don't even think he knew himself what position he was playing. Cesc can't hold the ball up under pressure as good as Iniesta, nor can he dribble his way out like him, he either gave up possession or tried a rushed through-ball. Keita only adds to physical balance of the team, he could do neither of what was required to excel Barca's possession game ( when they had the ball ) i.e carrying the ball into pressure and draw/pull/push-back defenders/midfielders.


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Post by The Franchise Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:13 pm

"There is a difference between a massive effort and a massive performance at least for me."

Good point and Nesta's Barca performance to me is a prime example of that. Fully agree.

On the more important point about Xavi, now I understand and I more or less agree with that. Well put, you clearly watch Barca a fair bit Thumbs up

I do think Xavi can beat his man, but that happens when the threat of his pass is high as it would lead to a 1 V 1 elsewhere. For example, I recall some occassions when perhaps Villa was on the left with a defender not in good position to cover him. If Villa recieved the ball, he has a clear shot at goal. Xavi turning and facing the goal, fakes the pass and takes the defender out of the game.

But yes, generally speaking he isnt the kind to go at the marker and go past him. Indeed, in that sense he would require someone to do that around him.

On this subject, I think in possession there are 2 different phases, for the lack of a better term, to assess what players can do.

I think there is one, where the player is standing in a stationary position and what the player is capable in this position. That skillset is different than the one needed for the "2nd phase" which would be moving forward with the ball.

Xavi is excellent from a stationary position. He has great composure under pressure, he has great fundementals and above all an awareness of space. I think those things are important in the stationary position. That is where you see him "dribble" the most, which really is him turning out of trouble with a single touch, clearing him of his man and giving him time and space. He is masterful at that, one of, if not the very best.

Its the 2nd phase which isnt his strength, because it tends to require more physical attributes and a different mentality.
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Post by Rossoneri Ninja Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:18 pm

Thanks for the explanation on how Xavi measures risk, it was exactly what i was trying to explain.

I was going to mention on how Xavi's first touch and turns makes his need to dribble quite irrelevant, since he only requires enough space to make passes. The games against Milan really opened my eyes further as i have never seen Xavi dart in behind the defense with such regularity, altering my perception that he was more than just a "pass robot", but in reality he possess a cunning that's riveting to watch if you are a Barca fan and terrifying to witness if you are the opposition.

You have an interesting idea of possession phases and i think Barca emulates this quite clearly, Xavi is nearly the perfect example of how the stationary position possession operates, whereas Messi and Iniesta are an example of the 2nd phase. What makes it exceptional is the compatibility between them.

Xavi dominating a game is similar to how you throw a tennis ball against the wall only for it to come back at you, but the wall is moving ever closer giving you less and less time to react to catch it.

What i think attracts most people to choose Xavi over Pirlo is that Xavi looks the more polished player. In that he rarely makes mistakes or looks out of place, whereas Pirlo has a more lay back style. The draw back with Pirlo was that he couldn't be ingenious all the time, a victim of his own talent. In terms of overall talent i think Pirlo is more gifted, however Xavi i believed has developed his game to a better level and the results show: a game that doesn't shackle him to be ingenious ( in terms of pulling off million dollar passes) or eccentric all the time.






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Post by The Franchise Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:48 pm

Great wall anaolgy, never heard it before lol

Yes, Xavi last season more than ever got in behind the defence and made runs off the ball. Most goals he ever scored in a season.

I think it helps having Busquets, Iniesta and Messi who is dropping deeper and deeper as the years go by. They often take care of possession to a level high enough for Xavi to make those runs. Perhaps a few years ago, if he made those sames runs it would cause us trouble because we didnt have the players with that same comfort level on the ball.

Intresting final point. I do think Pirlo's style is something not everyone likes. But I do indeed recognise the brillince of him, I would be a fool not to.

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