Here Adriano is, No. 21, celebrating with his teammates during the victorious Champions League outing against Arsenal.
But does he deserve to?
There has been a debate raging about just what the hell Adriano did, anyhow. One astute and respected commenter, Jim, demanded evidence of something that Adriano did that affected the match, besides his heart-stopping giveaway in the 87th minute, a gift that was, thankfully, rejected by Bendtner.
So, with Jim’s challenge in mind, and to give people an idea of what went into Adriano’s match rating, I decided to track Adriano and only Adriano for the entire match, to see what was what. The results were interesting, to say the least.
First of all, here’s his match rating:
Adriano: 8. I find it rather difficult to imagine how Maxwell must have felt watching this display. He was a left-sided Alves, something we haven’t had in some time, charging up the pitch on slashing runs into their box, intercepting balls in our end and stealing passes in midfield. Except for a couple of positional errors and that silly, silly pass that could have changed everything, an utterly convincing match.
I discovered that to chronicle every touch and move of Adriano, I needed 5 sheets of notepaper. I will spare everyone the blow-by-blow chronicle, just because it just ain’t worth typing it all out. But here are the relevant highlights:
–Adriano touched the ball, counting throw-ins, 85 times in this match.
–He had 14 defensive plays that turned possession, either interceptions, outright steals or plays that facilitated another defender stealing the ball.
–He had two crosses that deserved a better fate.
–He had one “What the hell was that?” shot.
–He also hit the post, on a shot that had more of a chance than people gave it credit for.
–He fed Afellay with a brilliant diagonal pass over distance, that only excellent defensive work kept from becoming a goal.
–In a 10-second stretch, he outran Rosicky, then Sagna to stray balls.
–He owned Rosicky on that side of the pitch.
–He had two giveaways, both in dangerous positions. The first led directly to the Van Persie red card incident, the second to the Bendtner chance.
In effect, he earned his 8 with an extraordinary match at left back, a match that found him going forward on the attack repeatedly, yet still being able to get back on defense. He outran Arsenal attackers to balls, and battled them for possession, also winning balls. I’d be happy to note the exact times if people feel that’s necessary, even though it’s a lotta, lotta typing.
Bottom line is that it’s very interesting to track a single player for the entirety of the match, and note everything that he does. What I usually do during my viewings, is that the first viewing will be the “What the hell happened,” and general impressions viewing, with some notes on player performance being taken, in preparation for the second, more analytical viewing. It is here that match ratings are solidified, and real impressions of a player’s performance become concrete.
This now the 5th time I have watched this match, and I wouldn’t change a thing about Adriano’s rating. He isn’t a full-time, starting left back for us, because we already have one and even if we didn’t, he isn’t quite there. He’s still a Swiss Army knife, who can fill in where needed. I will say that his pace and physicality, the ability to get up and back, make him a very interesting option, and one that I rather imagine will be around for a while.
And there we have it.
P.S. I paid special attention to the Van Persie incident this time, and it’s important to note three things: 1) In the 29th minute, Sagna was booked for picking up the ball and walking away with it, establishing a precedent that Busacca wasn’t going to allow time-wasting; 2) Nasri is off on a break with the stadium going nuts, and he stops as soon as he hears the whistle; 3) when Van Persie is breaking for our goal, the Camp Nou is quiet. You can hear the whistle loud and clear on TV, from a vantage point (for the TV coverage microphones) that is vastly inferior to that of a player.
Given that Busacca’s view on time-wasting had already been established, and if Van Persie really didn’t hear the whistle I don’t see a reason why he wouldn’t have kept on going toward Valdes and put the ball in the back of net, all lead me to believe that while the card was still harsh and stupid, it was within the context of how the match was being called.