Xavi Hernández and Andrea Pirlo are renowned for their near-faultless ball distribution – but who has been more accurate this season?
Indispensable to their respective teams, both these men are blessed with elite vision, superior to virtually every other footballer on the planet.
With the help of in-depth statistics provided by WhoScored, let's compares the performances of the two elite passers this season.
Who do you think is better? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.
The statistics used are taken from Xavi and Pirlo's appearances in La Liga and Serie A, respectively.
Xavi: 19 (4)
Pass success rate:
Xavi: 2162/2274 (95.1%)
Pirlo: 1812/2090 (86.7%)
It will not surprise many that Xavi trumps Pirlo in overall successful passes. It is wired into the DNA of every Barça youth academy graduate to play short, patient football and very rarely hit the ball long. The 33-year-old is a veteran of the Catalan giants’ tiki-taka philosophy, thus only attempting risky killer balls when the opponent’s defence has been pulled to pieces.
In contrast, Pirlo orchestrates the Juventus midfield through a different method. The Italian combines his incredible passing range and vision to spray balls all over the pitch and, as a result, his adaptable passing skills can be an effective weapon in multiple strategies.
Long ball accuracy:
Xavi: 181/187 (96.8%)
Pirlo: 271/338 (81.2%)
As mentioned, Barcelona play a far more possession-oriented brand of football compared to Juventus. Xavi is an essential component in Blaugrana's game-plan, and he embodies their short-passing philosophy like no other. Although he attempts far fewer long-range passes than the Juventus man due to their differences in style, it is astounding that Xavi has only misplaced six long balls this season.
On the other hand, Pirlo is less restricted in his distribution range, bossing the midfield with both intricate short passes and raking long balls. His success rate is lower, but Juventus' game-plan allows for more high-risk passing from their key man.
Xavi: 7/31 (22.6%)
Pirlo: 26/58 (44.8%)
In comparison to Pirlo, Xavi has a much harder time slipping through balls behind the defence of the opposition simply because virtually every team drops 11 men behind the ball when they face Barcelona.
However, the Italian still clearly bests the Barça genius in playing the killer pass this season, doubling the through-ball success rate of the Spaniard.
There is a relatively simply explanation for Pirlo boasting a much higher number of key passes. Juventus heavily rely on the creative talent of their inventive Italian, whereas Barcelona are jam-packed with intelligent passers through the entire squad.
With the likes of Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fábregas and Lionel Messi also hunting for the perfect final ball, is it really a surprise that Xavi can’t compete with Pirlo in the key pass department?
It seems Pirlo and Xavi are on equal terms after cancelling each other out in multiple areas of ball distribution this season.
Who would you rather have in your side? Leave a comment below!
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