Read First Part of The Article Here

.

Sami Khedira adds a certain invisible dimension to Real Madridai??i??s play. MakAi??lelAi?? was a legend who was ignored by Perez and Real Madrid paid a very heavy price for that one mistake. This article will make use of certain stats and taken in conjunction with the previous article will try to show how much closer Khedira is to MakAi??lelAi?? than Lassana Diarra.

We also saw that, counter intuitively, Real Madrid plays deeper against defensive teams than against attacking teams. Even so, an argument can be made out for Diarra or for that matter any other player for being given a similar role.

So why is Diarra not given the same freedom as Khedira is? The following numbers might help us make some sense of these decisions. Why does Diarra feel unvalued in Real Madrid despite being one of the players racking up the highest minutes?

 

Apart from the last 2 columns, the table immediately below has been used from http://www.soccernet.com .These are last year (2010-2011) statistics of La Liga games.

NAMEGSSBSHSGAFCFSYCRCFS/(GS+SB/5) (Column 1)FC/(GS+SB/5) (Column 2)
Lassana Diarra197184274211001.033.63
Sergio Ramos301319256311011.031.85
Xabi Alonso295197651211201.031.7
Sami Khedira20524812825701.191.33

Legend: GS=Games Started; SB=Substitute appearance; SH=Total shots; SG=Shots on Goal; A=Assists; FC=Fouls Conceded; FS=Fouls suffered; YC=yellow Card; RC=Red Card;
Here the substitute game counts as just 1/5 of the game as Mourinho usually starts bringing in subs around the 70 mins mark i.e. the player gets to play around just 1/5 of a match (around 20 mins)

Also, since Sergio Ramos seemed to be one of the most likely players to get booked or give away a foul, he has also been included for comparison with the other 3.

 

Points To Be noted

  1. Lassana Diarra suffers roughly the same number of fouls as the other players under consideration. (Column 1)
  2. However, his fouls conceded per game are roughly 3 times that of Khedira and 2 times that of Ramos and Alonso (Column 2).
  3. Khedira has picked 3 bookings less, despite having much more game time. Also, he has taken more shots on goal.
  4. Also, Khedira has the lowest fouls conceded per game for all the defensive players under consideration.

 

All the other tables have sourced from http://www.whoscored.com. Thanks to them, this article was able to do much more comprehensive analysis.

These are current year statistics of UCL and La Liga games as of 15th November, 2011.

Defensive Stats

UCL

Name

Apps

Tackle

I

F

OW

Clr

Drb

BS

OG

Lass Diarra

1(1)

3

1

2.5

1.5

1

Xabi Alonso

4

1.5

1

1.8

0.3

0.5

1.8

0.3

Sergio Ramos

4

1.5

2.3

1.8

0.8

2.8

0.5

0.5

Sami Khedira

3

1.3

2

0.7

0.3

0.7

0.7

 

Defensive Stats

La Liga

Name

Apps

Tackle

I

F

OW

Clr

Drb

BS

OG

Lass Diarra

5

3.2

1.4

1.6

1.2

Xabi Alonso

11

2.8

1.8

1.3

0.2

1.1

1.8

0.1

Sergio Ramos

10

1.9

2.7

2.3

0.7

4.4

0.2

0.1

Sami Khedira

4(3)

1

1

0.1

0.7

Apps=Appearances; tackle=Tackles per game; I=Interceptions per game; F=Fouls per game; OW=Offsides won per game; Clr=Clearances per game; Drb=Dribbles per game; BS=Blocked shots per game

 

Salient Points For The Above Stats

  1. Lassana Diarra makes almost thrice as much tackles as Khedira, but his interceptions per game are very poor in UCL. Also, his interceptions are only marginally better than Khediraai??i??s in La Liga which maybe because the other teams lose ball more often in La Liga than in UCL.
  2. Khedira has more number of blocked shots and yet conversely, he has conceded only 1 foul for each of 4 by Lassana Diarra.
  3. Also, Khedira has lesser number of clearances, which in a way means that he passes more than hoofing the ball. This will be accurately reflected in the following statistics.

 

Passing Stats: UCL

Name

Apps

A

KP

Avg P

PS%

C

LB

TB

Ai??

Xabi Alonso

4

2.3

93.8

90

0.8

9.8

0.5

Ai??

Sami Khedira

3

1.3

41.3

90

0.3

1.7

Ai??

Lass Diarra

1(1)

1.5

28

88

0.5

2

Ai??

Raphael Varane

1

76

96

7

Ai??

Passing Stats: La Liga

Name

Apps

A

KP

Avg P

PS%

C

LB

TB

Ai??

Xabi Alonso

11

1

1.1

89.8

89

0.5

9.8

0.3

Ai??

Sergio Ramos

10

3

0.9

64.9

89

0.2

5.5

0.1

Ai??

Lass Diarra

5

0.2

52.4

88

4.4

Ai??

Sami Khedira

4(3)

30.7

89

1

Ai??

Apps=Appearances; A=Assists; KP= Key Passes per game; Avg P=Average Passes per game;Ai?? PS%=Average Passing %tage per game C=Accurate Crosses per game;Ai?? LB= Accurate Long Balls per game; TB=Accurate Through balls per game

 

Diarra And Khedira In Perspective

Lassana Diarra is a ball winner for Real Madrid; a player who hassles and harries and tries to fetch the ball in congested midfield. However, in doing so, he concedes an astonishingly huge number of fouls. Also his passing leaves a lot to be desired.

Khedira, is on the other hand, a player with tremendous footballing intelligence. His biggest strength is his invisibilty. When he is on the field the team as a whole concedes much less fouls than when Lassana Diarra is on the field.

Another aspect that several Madrid fans might remember is that Diarra suffers a lot of lapses in concentration. In the 6-2 and 5-0 defeats he was guilty of gifting the ball away near the penalty area which resulted in goals both the times. Even recently against Dinamo, Diarra was lucky not toAi?? be sent off when he was playing at RB.

Khedira, on the other hand, is much calmer and till date one hasnai??i??t seen him make any glaring mistakes.

But there is one thing that Khedira sorely lacks and that is versatility. Diarra can play in a variety of positions: RM, RB and CDM. This makes him very useful as is evident currently with the injuries to Arbeloa and Carvalho.

How And Why Real Madrid Lost La Liga 2010-11?

Contrary to the popular perception, the league was not lost against Barca, but against lesser teams like Sporting Gijon and Racing. Here, when faced with the congested midfield, Mourinho opted for Diarra instead of Khedira.

As mentioned before, although Real had a lot possession, it was more or less useless. With a misfiring Benzema, injured Kaka and Higuain and relatively deeper playing Alonso, Real Madrid were bereft of any threat in the final third. Now one might argue that Mourinho couldnai??i??t have done more in terms of experimentation. (Maybe he could have called upon Castilla strikers, but again we arenai??i??t in his position and can, in no way, know for sure what could have happened.)

But we are forgetting one very important individual: Sergio Canales.

Granted that Real did not have Kaka and thus there was very less vertical play. But Mou had Canales whom he never used. This is because, Mourinho was more scared of losing than trying to win. Also Barcelonaai??i??s remarkable form made it impossible for Mourinho to take risks.

What the case maybe, it is for sure that Real lacked a cutting edge in the midfield despite seemingly having a lot of riches in that particular department.

Summarizing

We, the Los Blancos fan, know about a certain player who as Perez had so famously said ai???We will not miss MakAi??lelAi??. His technique is average, he lacks the speed and skill to take the ball past opponents, and ninety percent of his distribution either goes backwards or sideways. He wasn’t a header of the ball and he rarely passed the ball more than three metres.ai???

Ironically, on the evidence of the facts it seems that despite the visual similarities, it seems that Khedira is much more of a avatar of MakAi??lelAi?? than Lassana Diarra is. If we carefully examine these words then most unnervingly Khedira does all this and more. Khedira is average in the air whereas Diarra is relatively better. Diarra runs around making tackles and Khedira primarily just keeps the midfield ticking.

While Diarraai??i??s all action play makes it look like he is doing much more than Khedira, in reality his fouls break up Madridai??i??s play more often than the opposition itself. Also, if one may see this video below around the 1:10 and 2:20 mark one can have a glimpse of Khediraai??i??s tackling abilities. Notice how cleanly he dispossesses the player and makes a short, simple and sweet pass.

Diarra too does all this, but his extreme tendency to give away fouls makes him a liability in big games. With the smaller teams these mistakes will go unpunished more often than not. But against big teams a single mistake is all that separates the two teams. Precisely that is why, Mourinho doesnai??i??t trust him in big games and uses him only as a last resort. This is why Diarra feels unhappy and angry. He doesnai??i??t feel valued enough.

While his attitude definitely makes one want him out of Casa Blanca, Mourinho knows his use all too well. It is only Diarraai??i??s versatility that has seen him survive in Real Madrid.

Making Sense Of Real Madridai??i??s Signings

So if we have a Makelele, then all is well; isnai??i??t it?

The good news: We now know how valuable Khediraai??i??s contribution is.

The bad news:Ai??We know that against lesser teams, we will struggle.

This is why despite having a glorious collection of midfielders Mourinho went in to get even more and not too surprisingly did not hunt for a striker. No wonder Mourinho went in for Altintop and Sahin, so that he could use them precisely for these situations.

Khedira is good for open games, but in closed games a different set of skills is required. Diarra on the face of it does not seem to fulfil them.

This is why Sahin is required. It might be overreaching a bit, but it seems likely that Sahin will be initiated in the fold by being used in combo with Alonso, rather than being just an understudy. He is more mobile than Khedira, is equally good with positional play as Khedira is.Ai??And from a purely footballing point of view, anticipation and superb reading of game is much more valuable than tackling. Tackling is a weapon of lesser folks and lesser teams. Not Real Madrid!

Hopefully, Real Madrid will have a much better plan in case they face oppositions like that of Gijon again this year and hopefully Kaka will be back soon.

Conclusion

The engine of a car is never seen. Yet when it goes missing nothing works. We all are too familiar with the Makelele saga. On the face of it, Khedira does nothing remarkable. But precisely that is what Real Madrid need. Another showman will not make things any better. Makelele did nothing that would make a spectator jump out of their seats. Yet he allowed others to do what they were hired for: To entertain and to win. In a team where everyone is capable of showboating, including the defenders, one needs a player to stabilize things at the back.

As one can remember, one can think of Diarra trying to be a Zidane and repeatedly trying through balls and losing possession or see Khedira attempting rare but effective through balls as well make short simple passes and let the team ai???Real Madridai??? thrive. All hail this new Makelele.

P.S. : Khedira is also capable of good shooting and through balls as one can see from his time in Stuttgart.

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8 Responses to “Real Madridai??i??s Sami Khedira Is The New MakAi??lelAi??; Why Is Diarra Unhappy?”

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  1. Aditya Sharma says:

    Brilliant article.. makes for a fantastic read. I suddenly have new-found respect for Khedira !

    • Thanks a lot for the appreciation. I felt that we already had made the mistake once with Makelele. Why repeat the mistake again. Even if I managed to change 1 viewpoint, it would have been mission accomplished. Gracias

  2. fran says:

    Great article as always. Looking forward to your future analysis.

  3. Shivam says:

    Brilliant article! \m/adrid!!

  4. Arun says:

    Man, and I thought he was a good for nothing fellow that Mou is persisting with… Superb article, made a lot of sense and changed the perspective…

  5. Kimi Cilmi says:

    Good article. However, I disagree with you. I actually think that Diarra is closer to Makalele than Khedira. Diarra like Makalele, does not score goals or give assists, he has scored twice in the last 8 years compared to Khedira’s 23. Makalele was a ball winner who hassled, tussled, tackled and fouled just to get the ball and give to the nearest player, sort of like Diarra.
    The defensive midfield role has evolved and the likes of Diarra, Makalele, Keita, Mascherano and Mahamadou Diarra are now a dying breed who are mostly used as squad players, substitutes and defenders. The modern game is faster and more attack focused. Teams would rather have an attacking midfielder who can tackle, rather than having an out right defensive midfielder. The new breed of midfilders given defensive duties are Essien, Yaya Toure, Gerrard, Pirlo, and Khedira. I think Dunga started the trend, he was a defensive midfielder with good technical ability. He was equally comfortable tackling as he was giving Romario that incisive through ball. Since them teams and coaches have seen that you can get the best of both worlds, let call him a tackling attacking midfielder.

    • Maybe u r right. I can’t say for sure though. I remember that Makelele was very clean tackler and was rarely seen. So, I felt that he was more similar to Khedira than Diarra. That said, Khedira has a licence to push forward and have a certian degree of vertical play. Yet only just recently he scored his first ever goal for Real Madrid.
      But ur comparison of Khedira to Essien couldn;t be be more correct