Active vs passive centre-backs: What the data tells us about different roles


“For those coming to this article to discover who is the ‘best’ Premier League centre-back statistically, you are going to be disappointed. The truth is, evaluating any defender based on the data will rarely show one is better than another, but will instead give you an indication of a player’s — or team’s — style. We could compare players in high-pressing sides with those in low-pressing ones; we could contrast ball-playing defenders with those who have a more no-nonsense approach; we could even identify centre-back partnerships by cat or dog-like behaviours. On this occasion, we ask: What does the data tell us about active and passive centre-backs in the league? …”
The Athletic (Video)

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Against all odds, Lionel Messi has one last shot at World Cup glory with Argentina

“Argentina went to Russia in 2018 with a sense it was now or never. They had lost in the final of the previous World Cup. A great generation of attacking talent was ageing. Lionel Messi was 31 and two years earlier had flirted with international retirement after a second successive Copa América final defeat to Chile. And at last the Argentinian Football Association had managed to appoint, in Jorge Sampaoli, a dynamic and progressive coach who promised to restore the days of Bielsista optimism. Messi scored one brilliant goal, against Nigeria and there was a spirited exit against France in the last 16, but the last World Cup was a huge disappointment. …”
Guardian – Jonathan Wilson

Neymar Is Still a Singular Star, but He Has More Help on Brazil

“LE HAVRE, France — As the announcer at the Stade Océane cycled through Brazil’s team on Friday, before the squad dismantled Ghana, 3-0, a murmur of appreciation greeted each familiar, stellar name. Alisson was granted gentle applause. Thiago Silva earned a respectful, admiring cheer. Raphinha drew a sizzle of anticipation. And then, leaving just a hint of a dramatic pause, the announcer came to Neymar. There were, perhaps, mitigating circumstances. …”
NY Times

Germany still confident about World Cup hopes despite lean run of form

“A proud footballing nation on a lean run of just one win in six games. A humiliating defeat at home against Hungary. And above all, a sense of stasis and frustration, a lack of creativity, the suspicion that for all the talent and trophies in this team, it remains considerably less than the sum of its parts. Germany and England may share a common predicament, but as they prepare to meet on Monday night only one of these nations is currently racked by existential crisis. …”
Guardian