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Finding the best central midfielders from Primeira Liga – data analysis statistics

Finding the best central midfielders from Primeira Liga – data analysis

In this data analysis piece, we will be looking out for the best central midfielders currently playing in the Primeira Liga using statistics.

The best central midfielders are the most complete ones as modern managers are hugely dependent on their central midfielders for the team’s successful tactics.

In our analysis, we will be considering both the attacking as well as defensive attributes. Passing is definitely the most important trait for a midfielder so that won’t be missed for sure. We will be looking at players who have registered at least 800 minutes of football in the current league season. Also, only proper central midfielders are taken into consideration i.e. no makeshift options included.

We will shortlist the best options according to the statistics and data analysis. In this piece, we look into the players who might make the jump to the 1st tier soon. Let’s dive deep into the analysis.

Profiling the players

The most important thing for any player or position in football is probably to identify their best-suited abilities. Different players playing in the same position will have different abilities both offensively and defensively. Likewise, a central midfielder will show both defensive as well as offensive capabilities. In order to account for the profile of the CMs that we are looking into, we compare them with respect to how well they perform their attacking and defensive actions. We can see the plot in the image below that compares the CMs in the top division in this regard.

Finding the best central midfielders from Primeira Liga – data analysis statistics

Samu Silva – The 26-year old central midfielder from Vizela. He recorded 3.34 successful attacking actions per game and 9.96 successful defensive actions per game in the league. He has also won his duels at the rate of 49.13%.

Manuel Ugarte – The 21-year old central midfielder from Sporting. He averaged 2.5 successful attacking actions per game and 10.9 successful defensive actions per game in the league. He has also won his duels at a below-average rate of 47.18%.

Joao Palhina – The 26-year old central midfielder from Sporting, who has been linked with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. He recorded 1.77 successful attacking actions per game and 12.67 successful defensive actions per game in the league, which is among the highest in the league. He has also won his duels at a league-high rate of 59%.

Pedro Augusto – The 25-year old central midfielder from Tondela. He averaged 2 successful attacking actions per game and 9.53 successful defensive actions per game in the league. He has also won his duels at an average rate of 50%.

Andre Almeida – The 21-year old central midfielder from Vitoria. He averaged 3.28 successful attacking actions per game and 7.66 successful defensive actions per game in the league. He has also won his duels at a below-average rate of 50.1%.

Defensive Abilities

The next thing we look at is how the players perform in the defensive aspect of the game. We compare the players with respect to their defensive duels and interception stats that they have recorded per game over the course of this season.

Finding the best central midfielders from Primeira Liga – data analysis statistics

Joao Palhina – The Sporting central midfielder recorded 11.16 defensive duels per 90 with a success rate of 59.5% both of which are league-high values. He also recorded 7.16 PAdj interceptions per game in the league last season.

Fabio Pacheco – The 34-year old veteran central midfielder from Moreirense. He recorded 8 defensive duels per 90 with a success rate of 53.62%. He also recorded 7.36 PAdj interceptions per game in the league last season.

Stephen Eustáquio – The 25-year old veteran central midfielder from Porto. He recorded 9.1 defensive duels per 90 with a success rate of 51.9%. He also recorded 6.36 PAdj interceptions per game in the league last season.

Mateus Uribe – The 31-year old veteran central midfielder from Porto. He recorded 7.76 defensive duels per 90 with a success rate of 52.1%. He also recorded 7.84 PAdj interceptions per game in the league last season, which is amongst the highest in the league.

Vitor Carvalho – The 24-year old central midfielder from Gil Vicente. He recorded 7.45 defensive duels per 90 with a success rate of 52.36%. He also recorded 8.9 PAdj interceptions per game in the league last season, which is amongst the highest in the league.

Progressive passing

Midfielders these days are expected to be very expansive on the ball and also help the team to progress the ball over the different thirds of the pitch. CMs these days are also tasked with this and are expected to be very direct and technically sound on the ball like Toni Kroos, Thiago, etc.

Finding the best central midfielders from Primeira Liga – data analysis statistics

Leandro Silva – The 28-year old central midfielder from Arouca. He recorded 8.19 progressive passes per 90, completing it at a rate of 78.6%. While making 2 progressive passes for every 10 passes he attempted.

Nicolas Janvier – The 23-year old central midfielder from Vitoria. He recorded 8.29 progressive passes per 90, completing it at a rate of 82.9%. While making 1.86 progressive passes for every 10 passes he attempted.

Pepe – The 24-year old central midfielder from Famalicao. He recorded 8.26 progressive passes per 90, completing it at a rate of 82.25%. While making 1.8 progressive passes for every 10 passes he attempted.

Samu Silva – The Vizela central midfielder has averaged  7.46 progressive passes per 90, completing it at a rate of 79.43%. While making 1.7 progressive passes for every 10 passes he attempted.

Tiago Silva – The 28-year old central midfielder from Vitoria. He recorded 8.29 progressive passes per 90, completing it at a rate of 82.9%. While making 1.86 progressive passes for every 10 passes he attempted.

Iker Undabarrena – The 26-year old central midfielder from Tondela. He recorded 7.97 progressive passes per 90, completing it at a rate of 76.97%. While making 1.6 progressive passes for every 10 passes he attempted.

Ball carrying abilities

The ability to carry the ball has always been very crucial to every player and has been seen as an important trait for a very long time. So CMs having a very good ability to carry the ball is very valuable and plays a similar impact to those who play progressive passes.

Finding the best central midfielders from Primeira Liga – data analysis statistics

Matheus Nunes – The 23-year old central midfielder from Sporting. He averaged a league-high 3.11 progressive runs per 90 in the league last season. He also made 5.37 dribbles per 90, the highest among the CMs in the league last season, with a success rate of 53.6%.

Andre Almeida – The 21-year old central midfielder from Vitoria. He recorded 2.46 progressive runs per 90 in the league last season. He also made 4.65 dribbles per 90 with a success rate of 58.8%.

Andre Horta – The 21-year old central midfielder from Sporting Braga. He recorded 2.9 progressive runs per 90 in the league last season. He also made 2.1 dribbles per 90 with a success rate of 70%.

Joao Mario – The 29-year old midfielder from Benfica. He averaged 2.11 progressive runs per 90 in the league last season. He also made 2.97 dribbles per 90 with a success rate of 67.8%.

Adel Taarabt – The 32-year old midfielder from Benfica. He recorded 2 progressive runs per 90 in the league last season. He also made 3.62 dribbles per 90 with a success rate of 59.46%.

Playmaking

CMs are also tasked with moving the ball to the final third and helping the team to ensure that they can go to the final phase of the play.

Finding the best central midfielders from Primeira Liga – data analysis statistics

Adel Taarabt – The Benfica central midfielder recorded 10.38 passes into the final third and 2.35 smart passes per 90 in the league last season, which was best among the central midfielders in the league. He also completed his smart passes at a rate of 72%.

Pedrinho – The 29-year old midfielder from Gil Vicente. He recorded 8.9 passes into the final third and 1.5 smart passes per game with an accuracy of 75.16%.

Leandro Silva – The Arouca central midfielder averaged 9.35 passes into the final third and 1 smart pass per game with an accuracy of 64.1%.

Joao Mario – The Benfica central midfielder averaged 7.35 passes into the final third and 1.16 smart passes per game with an accuracy of 85.6%.

Chance creation

The final phase of play and potentially the most crucial aspect from an attacking sense is the creation of chances for their team’s forwards. This is where a lot of central midfielders, especially the attacking ones are judged based on their ability to consistently create chances for their respective sides.

Finding the best central midfielders from Primeira Liga – data analysis statistics

Adel Taarabt – The Benfica central midfielder recorded a league-high 0.78 key passes per 90 and 0.15 xA per game. He also made 1.66 shot-assists per game in the league last season.

Nicolas Janvier – The Vitoria central midfielder averaged 0.57 key passes per 90 and 0.14 xA per game. He also made 1.35 shot-assists per game in the league last season.

Pedrinho – The Gil Vicente midfielder averaged 0.4 key passes per 90 and 0.17 xA per game. He also made 1.35 shot-assists per game in the league last season.

Joao Mario – The Benfica central midfielder recorded 0.45 key passes per 90 and 0.15 xA per game. He also made 1.31 shot-assists per game in the league last season.

Players to watch out for

Finding the best central midfielders from Primeira Liga – data analysis statistics

Andre Almeida

The 21-year old is a natural talent who played brilliantly for his club last season. His strengths include creating chances in the final third for his side and making progressive runs with and without the ball as well. He does pretty well in almost all the attacking stats as seen in the image above. Defensively, he does well in terms of contesting duels and also successfully completing that but can be better in terms of showing better awareness of the game and positioning himself in the right place to intercept the ball on more occasions.

Manuel Ugarte

The young Sporting midfielder has been a key player for them in their qualification to the Champions League next season.  He has pretty much done consistently well across multiple metrics and seems to be constantly showing improvement every season. His particular strength lies in contesting defensive duels and making challenges without the ball. His next target would be to steadily continue this improvement and extend this with his attacking abilities as well to become a well-rounded midfielder.

Vitor Carvalho

The Gil Vicente midfielder has been consistently good for his side and has been one of their brightest performers this season. Statistically, he is very good in defensive phases and also does play a key role in his side’s buildup by being a capable playmaker. He could further improve his game by being more active in the final third where he can create more chances and make more runs into the box to take shots and score goals.

Conclusion

In this piece, in the form of data analysis, we saw some of the best performing CMs going to play in the 2021/22 Primeira Liga based on their performances last season. We also saw some important talents to watch out for in the league who could very well impress and soon be scouted by top clubs in Europe.