Tracking one player, aka “The curious case of Adriano”

Eduard Omedes/El Mundo Deportivo

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.

Rock on.

By Kxevin

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Naive defending by Muniesa to get sent off when winning 4-0. Come on dude, you aren’t 16 anymore.

    That said, dude kinda flopped.

  2. Thanks, Kxevin. Interesting article and I agree that Adriano is worth giving more time to in the hope he can improve whereas Maxwell has had lots of chances offensively and still doesn’t seem to want to take it up. I did rewind and watch many of the events you mention and he did have a better overall game than I first thought.

    However, the bottom line remains, in this game only, that Adriano offensively had two crosses which didn’t reach anybody ( maybe their fault but if he had looked up he wouldn’t have attempted one of them as it was quite a bit ahead of anyone). He had one shot on target which had no chance of going in – he hit it from one metre short of the byeline for goodness’ sake – much better cutting that back. I liked the attempted pass to Affellay – that showed potential.

    Defensively, he had 14 plays that turned possession but this was against an Arsenal side that couldn’t keep the ball at all and had almost a third of their passes incomplete. Every one of those was a turnover for someone and the whole team helped each other to steal possession.

    I’m not sure that 85 touches is at all out of the ordinary in a match where we had so much possession. Even the much maligned Maxwell could claim a heap of touches.

    Agreed he has pace which is is biggest advantage if we can get a bit more order into his game.

    Finally, as you correctly state defensively he created two dangerous situations which is his bread and butter.

    He may have owned Rosicky but that doesn’t constitute an great feat – ask any Arsenal fan. We owned them all over the pitch. Rosicky was no attacking threat.

    I think I’m still where I was before. I thought he had a decent game but not a great one. No way was his contribution a 9 imo. That implies someone at the top of his game both offensively and defensively.

    His pace and energy are useful to us and if he can get more control about what he does he will only increase in this. We do need more threat from the left.

    1. His rating was an 8, actually, and you misconstrue this piece for advocacy. It’s a simple statement of what transpired, so you needn’t argue so vehemently against the value of what he did. Euler’s comments re: tactics, abovehere, argue more for the actual contributions of Adriano. I just noted what happened.

      Anyone can say that any player’s action was meaningless. Xavi has XXX hundred passes, so what? They were all easy, 3-meter balls to Iniesta, right? I leave the worth of Adriano to the group. The exercise was to track him for an entire match, and that’s what happened. The rest is up to individual interpretation of a player’s actual worth to the enterprise.

  3. Just out of curiosity, if Muniesa is on a red for the B team, is he still eligible to be called up for the first team? Or do cards count across leagues?

    1. good question. i wouldn’t think cards from the lower leagues would be taken into consideration.

    2. He can play for the first team, but he will still have to serve a suspension for the Barca B team. So the game he skips playing for the first team does not count as his suspension

  4. Sorry, meant to type 8.

    Btw, Arsenal are a pale shadow of where they were a few weeks ago. Sad to see for me as they were my other favourites despite all the whingeing.

    1. That just looks like an awful injury, truly. The worst part is how, even before the injury and Arsenal being down to 10 men, is that for me, they were all the cliches that everybody puts on them–lots of “pretty” football, but no cutting edge.

      Mind you, van der Sar had a great game, and there were a couple of Man United players who deserved a card. But still. Jeez.

    2. Man U started 7 defenders against Arsenal. Does that mean theyll start 10 against us?

    3. They just might, honestly! Although frankly, I don’t think their midfield can stand up to ours at all.

    4. Since our first leg against them, they’ve quickly taken one bad step after another. Now Cesc and Wojo are out, RVP isn’t fully fit, and they’ve lost one of their best defenders.

    5. They invested far too much into beating us. They could have capitalized on Man U dropping points in the past couple league games but didn’t. They are so poorly managed.

  5. 2 minutes into the RM/Hercules game and Dive Maria is down already. They should make a drinking game based on him.

  6. That looks like an AWFUL injury on Djourou for Arsenal. What a way to dislocate your shoulder, wow. I’ve lost a lot of respect for Arsene Wenger, and I don’t like Arsenal as much as I used to, but to see them go out of the FA cup this way sucks. (There’s still 1 minute of regular time, plus injury time, but there’s no way they can come back now.)

  7. Wow. Arsenal is dead. When is the funeral?

    ManUtd tried to encourage them by playing a B line-up, but still they cannot win…

    To be honest, comparing them to us is a shame! Arsenal cannot win against tight defenses, and they only play attractive football against lesser opponents -_-

  8. I wonder if we’re actually seeing the last few weeks/months of Wenger’s time at the Emirates. I’m not thinking that he will be sacked but it must be taking a lot out of him year after year to come so close and end up with nothing. A shame if it was because he has the right ideas about how to play the game – just a thrawn streak when it comes to paying out money for the necessary class in certain positions.

    1. Close? They guy gets kicked out whenever a big team crosses arsenal during an important step of each competition…or not a big team at all sometimes.

  9. In the span of this game, making fun of Arsenal has gone from good fun to just cruel… That was such a flaccid performance against the second choice lineup of their biggest rivals for the league.


    1. was my emirates cup joke too much? i made a tsunami joke yesterday & i still feel bad about that one, too.

    2. I don’t think it got too bad. I’m one of the Arsenal fans on board and I didn’t take offense.

    3. I don’t think it’s cruel.

      I wonder how Wenger and the Arsenal fans are going to hide behind this one? Never mind, I have a good idea. Fabregas was injured or some shiznit like that.

      I do have a heart though, Djourou’s been their best defender, but I just don’t have a conscience. I blame being a football fan; no other sport can make your feel such intense emotions IMO…

    4. The thing is, while it sucks to have your best defender out for the season, I still can’t feel too bad, because Arsenal HAVE the option of buying quality players at the back. They have the money and the league standing to attract better players, but Wenger refuses to bring out the checkbook.

      The fact of the matter is, right now, Arsenal’s squad is almost as thin as Liverpool’s–and considering the state of Liverpool, that is REALLY saying something. (And believe me, I’m a Liverpool fan!) But at least Liverpool’s making no bones about admitting that we’re a rebuilding project that’s been mismanaged for the last two seasons. What’s Wenger’s excuse?

    5. I had practically zero hope for Arsenal going into this match, and when I saw United’s lineup, even I thought…okay, they have to have SOME kind of shot now, right?

      Nope. Watching them this year has been astonishing (all that promise pay out for nothing) I can’t imagine watching it for 6 seasons.

  10. ahem.

    with abidal playing as a CB,whom do u guys prefers more?max or adi?
    its worth noting that we have more than 70% possession in almost every who will be your choice?

    1. Definitely Mr Correira, I can see us using 3 defenders instead of 4 more and more and quiet frankly, except for that extraordinaire run and assist to Pedro first leg Inter last year.. Maxwell contributes nothing to attack. I can see him work as an impact sub for more stable back line, it’d be nice to see him play in second half with fresh pair of legs as he seems to get tired really fast

  11. Hercules not playing too badly, but they are lucky to have held RM to a single goal lead so far. It would be nice if they can equalize in the second half and force a draw, but not very likely.

    1. Oh he caught a break alright, a broken collarbone to be precise 😛

      On the other hand reports coming in say that his injury is not as bad as expected..

  12. I take it back, Hercules is now playing atrociously. They seem to have completely given up defending.

    Benzema is much better when CRonaldo isn’t on the field, eh?

  13. wow. zaragoza’s scored in the mestalla? i was only rooting for valencia because they were in the champions league. :/

  14. About Van Persie. It’s out of the question that he didn’t hear the whistle, or didn’t see the linesman. What everyone seems to overlook is his shot. He never would’ve hit it with such nonchalance with all the space and time he had. Please watch it again.

    1. Yeah, it’s true, other media outlets have reported it. He’s got a knee injury that’ll keep him off the pitch for a while, but he’s going off to Brazil.

  15. Barcastuff reporting that we’re looking at including a player in any move for Fabregas in the summer. However, I’m more interested in the reception he got at the Camp Nou. When he left the field it seemed to me he got a pretty hostile reception from the fans. Didn’t sound like they expected to be welcoming him back any time soon – or was it just that he was an opponent? Can anyone that was there confirm or otherwise? How is he regarded by Catalans?

    1. I noticed that too but my commentator said that weren’t booing Cesc, they were booing the (time wasting) sub. I agree with them…
      He got off the field pretty quickly.

    2. He was substituted by Bendtner, meaning it was already 2-1 or 3-1, It wasn’t time wasting.

  16. Wenger 2012 : “Our Players have grown and they’re ready to compete and prove themselves, They’re not kids anymore, All The Referees in all the championships were bad and Other Coaches should congratulate them”

  17. So EE finds a new way to irritate me, Their first goal could have been offside, and I was waiting for them to show us the horizontal camera, but they didn’t.

    They replayed the goal with 27 different camera angles but not the horizontal one, which turned me from doubting to certainty, That was so unprofessional.

    1. Yeah, I got that the other day and posted a warning too. You don’t even have to click on anything for it to be triggered.

      Be careful out there!

  18. It’s been a rough two weeks for Arsenal, and the fans are beginning to turn on Wenger and his system, which is unfortunate, just like his club’s luck. Who knows what the source of their persistently bad injury luck is. Physios? Perhaps.

    Just brutal. I can’t imagine how they must feel. It’s interesting that Rijkaard got the sack after just two trophyless seasons. But I think that Rijkaard isn’t the icon for the club that Wenger is for Arsenal. The job is his for as long as he wants it, but if I were him, I would ring up Guardiola on the phone to ask where we got our physios. They are clearly making a difference.

    Notice how we aren’t seeing the same or as many muscular injuries. The injuries we have seen this year have mostly been aging player and/or overuse injuries. People attribute this to luck, but I’m starting to not believe that. Even Abidal hasn’t had his annual 8-weeker, thanks to quality backup at LB.

    I also think that it is the playing style. We aren’t a dynamic team, in that we rely on pitch-streching, full-lung runs, players running around and diving, or doing stuff that stretches muscles to the breaking point. It’s a series of short, intricate passes that move toward the opponent’s goal. Yes, Messi makes his runs, but that’s pretty much it.

    I’ve been thinking about this a little bit after watching the Arsenal/United match, so soon after watching our CL match, and wondering if playing style also contributes to a side remaining relatively injury free.

    1. Agreed, Kxevin. I think it also helps that we move the ball so quickly that it’s often hard to actually get a tackle in on us for some teams. That must help. There seem to be very few 50-50 balls and Xavi and Iniesta have the good sense to concede these knowing that we’ll have other chances.

    2. I just can’t believe how Arsenal fans are calling for Wenger’s head. He had them in the running in 4 competitions this season, while balancing the checkbook (sort of). Crazy. Looks to me that they are 1 or 2 purchases away from making things happen, and fixing that injury bug.

      Of course, that might all change when Fabregas leaves this summer.

    3. Kxevin, they are, but the impression I get is that none of the fans believe that Wenger will MAKE those purchases come summer, and instead will stick to his “developing young players from within” strategy. And I don’t think the fans have the patience for it anymore.

    4. I absolutely agree with this. Cesc was rushed, or rushed himself, back for the CL game and now he is injured again. Arsenal always seem to have one or two key players out with injuries that could have been avoided if the player was allowed to heal properly the first time around.

      Look at Puyol. I am sure that if it had been up to him he would have played in the CL game. Reports are that he is almost completely healed. But he wasn’t given the green light because he wasn’t 100% and we just don’t take chances like that. Not anymore, anyway. I would hope the club learned its lesson with Iniesta after letting him play against Chelsea and losing him to injury for so long after.

      And yes, I think the style of play makes a difference. Not only do passes tend to be short, so do runs. Pass, move, offer. With the kind of possession football this team plays, there is rarely the need for long dashes up the field. I suspect Xavi’s tendinitis is more a result of the short turns he makes than any running.

    5. “and wondering if playing style also contributes to a side remaining relatively injury free”

      I have identified 5 key factors:

      1. How well players take care of their bodies

      2. ‘Wear and tear’ (age, games played and medical history)

      3. Advice and care they receive from the medical staff (in order to prevent the issue)

      4. Style of play (distance and intensity of running, depends on the position)

      5. Tackling by the opponents (ex. Ujfalusi on Messi). The style of play ties into this one too since our players are not static and holding on to the ball for too long making themselves hard to tackle in process. If one is out to get them, it will be painfully obvious.

    6. this was definitely in guardiola’s manifesto when he took over the club. he even has the team eating together before training. remember messi saying how hard it was for him to give up eating pasta being an argentinian?

    7. Yep, plus the red meat and the staying up late he used to do.

      Plus, Juanjo Brau never leaves his side when Leo goes off with the Argentinian NT.

    8. I think that Barca must do a lot of cross-training. They do have water-polo and hand-ball experts/trainers/players on the coaching team who contribute to technique and skills.

    9. Don’t let Arsenal/Chelsea/Madrid/Inter fans hear that! Or they’ll accuse us of practicing diving and handballs hahaha.

  19. And of course the worst part is that if Arsenal continues its slide and doesn’t win the league either, what are the odds that we won’t be shipping a suitcase full of cash (and probably a player to ease the fiscal strain) to the Emirates for an out-wanting Fabregas?

    1. Honestly, and this might be premature, but if Arsenal don’t win the league this year, after all the high-hopes, I don’t think Fabregas will be the only player exiting the Emirates come summer. Just a feeling I have.

  20. Interesting comments (via Sport/ESPN Soccernet):

    Barcelona defender Dani Alves says he wants parity with the club’s highest earners and wants to feel valued at the Spanish champions before he signs a new contract.

    Alves, 27, has struggled to agree a new deal and says he is frustrated by Barca’s stance during recent negotiations even though he remains committed to the side while he is still at the Nou Camp.

    “I don’t feel the club have bent over backwards to renew my contract – it’s a feeling I have,” he told Sport. “I just want an agreement to be reached now, or within a few days. I don’t like the fact there have been so many rumours – I’m as committed to this project as anyone in the squad.

    “I won’t be a hypocrite – if the club want to replace me it could cost them dear. What Dani wants is for the club to value him depending on his importance and influence within the squad. If they do that, I’ll be delighted and if not, thanks for these years (at the club).”

    The right-back, however, stressed he would still give 100% while still a Barcelona player.

    “I will break my back for this team, even if I don’t renew,” he said. “It’s a dream to form part of this dressing room and whatever is said, written or protested, my name is already written in the history of this club.”

    1. I just don’t believe the part about wanting “parity” with the highest earners. All the recent news tidbits are that he and the club are close to a deal.


    2. From Sport:

      Se ha comentado mucho sobre si usted quiere cobrar más y estar en un segundo nivel salarial…

      Se han dicho muchas cosas que no son ciertas, cifras que jamás se han barajado. Dani no quiere ser más importante que nadie ni ser inferior a otros compañeros. Dani quiere ser uno más y que el club le valore en función de su importancia y peso en la plantilla. Si es así, estaré encantado. En caso contrario, gracias por estos años.

      Nothing there about parity, he just wants to be valued for what he contributes.

    3. dani’s all kinds of awesome. & a sweetheart. i just don’t see rosell appraising defenders & midfielders/attackers with the same standards.

    4. Many thanks, blitzen. Kxevin should have gone straight to Sport, but Kxevin finds the way that site loads annoying in the extreme.

      Hey, if Dani can do it …. 😀

    1. Damn it man.
      WHy did you give a link?
      I forgot about it and clicked on it.
      They gave a warning already

  21. Wenger:

    “I cannot fault our effort but things do not go our way at present,” Wenger said. “We have lost three big challenges in a strange way.

    “One in the last minute with a goal from nowhere, one under very strange circumstances in Barcelona and today in a match where we were not outplayed but were punished by a team that was more clinical than us.”

    Wonder if he means a moment of staggering genius by the current best offensive player in the game right now?

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