When Daniel Levy stood firm and said in no uncertain terms that Luka Modric would not be sold to Chelsea, a lot was made of how he would perform for Tottenham. Would a want away player give his all for a club that he seemed so desperately to want to leave? Thankfully, the mercurial Modric knuckled down and let his football do the talking. He has been central to the attacking flair that Tottenham have demonstrated this season and he has also weighed in with a couple of goals – including an absolute screamer against Liverpool. The game against Manchester City at the Etihad last week gave us a chance to look at how he performed in comparison to another midfield maestro – David Silva.
The stats demonstrate the similarities between the two players and how they are able to retain possession for their team in midfield while also adding creativity in the final 3rd.
The first table looks at the passing stats of the two players – taking into consideration the number of passes and also the direction of these passes. It is interesting to see that both players had very similar passing statistics both in terms of the number of passes as well as the direction that these passes were made in; highlighting the similarity of positions they get into on the pitch. Silva attempted 4 more passes than Modric and had a slightly better passing accuracy – 92% vs. 90%. It would be expected that Silva would have more passes as City were the home team and were likely to dominate possession with Spurs operating largely on the counter attack.
Silva was also able to drift into positions where he was able to get crosses into the box. He attempted 7 crosses compared to the 2 from Modric and had a crossing accuracy of 14% while neither of Modric’s proved to be successful.
The chalkboards below taken from The Guardian also demonstrate where each player was picking up the ball and their range of passing. Combined with the table above it is evident that the majority of passes were played forward and to the right – with both players operating mainly towards the left hand side of the pitch – Silva however does pick up the ball in more advanced positions to be creative higher up the pitch. Modric tends to be involved in starting attacks and playing the ball to those in more advanced positions such as Van Der Vaart, Bale and Lennon.
The stats from EPL Index also indicate that Modric has possession in deeper positions than Silva. The table below shows the number of passes within each half.
23 of Modric’s successful passes were made in his own half with a passing accuracy of 88%. Only 9 of Silva’s were made within his own half and all 9 were completed successfully. If we look at the opposition half, Silva made 64 compared to 38 from Modric. Modric had a higher accuracy with 87% vs. 83% but he attempted a great deal fewer in the opposition half. In the final 3rd both players played a similar number of passes. Modric had 90% accuracy whereas Silva was only at 83%. If we refer back to the chalkboards though, Modric made the majority of his final 3rd passes in the left hand corner. Silva was more direct in his play with tricky balls being played into the area – the most significant of all being the exquisite pass that set Nasri free to fire City into the lead.
The following table looks at the creative aspect of their games:
Silva created 3 goal scoring opportunities compare to 2 from Modric. Silva also assisted the goal that got the scoring underway. If we also look at attempted dribbles, Silva attempted 5 with a success rate of 60% while Modric did not attempt any dribbles, preferring to play the ball to others to carry this out.
It is also possible to analyse how good both Modric and Silva were in possession and winning it back for their teams. Silva had 89 touches with no unsuccessful touches while Modric had slightly fewer at 75, but again, not one of those touches was unsuccessful. This highlights just how at ease both of these graceful players are on the ball.
Both players lost possession an equal amount of times with 13 losses of possession each. When it came to winning the ball back, Modric won the ball 5 times in defence vs. Silva’s 3 while Silva won more possession a little further forward (3 times to 1 from Modric). Modric also intercepted the ball twice.
Finally it is possible to look at their shooting stats. Both had just the 1 shot which was off target.
The stats for the game showed that both players were very similar. The main difference being that Silva operates a little further forward, getting into pockets of space to influence the game from an attacking perspective. A lot of Modric’s possession is in slightly deeper positions. Silva’s assist for Nasri was testament to this. It is interesting to look at a comparison to both players across the season so far. The table below looks at all elements of the game, from defence through to attack.
To summarise some of the key stats, their pass completion is identical at 88% from open play. The main difference lies in the stats most prevalent to the final 3rd of play. Silva creates a chance every 27 mins compared to 39 for Modric. Silva also has 12 assists and 5 goals which is better than the 3 assists and 2 goals from Modric. As I have mentioned in this article though, the two operate in slightly different positions. Silva plays a more advanced role, being the link to the strikers hence his more impressive attacking stats. Modric plays slightly deeper and influences the game in the buildup, often linking superbly with a more advanced player such as Van Der Vaart, Bale or Adebayor who ultimately gets the assists.
Spurs are very lucky to have kept Modric, and the Premier League was lucky to have two masterful midfielders at the top of their game on show at the Etihad last week.