Swansea forward Michu has been drafted into the Spanish squad as a replacement for the injured David Villa, but he faces competition from Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo. We take a statistical look at who deserves to start for Spain against Belarus.
At the age 27, Michu has finally received his first international call-up. The Swansea striker was preferred over Tottenham’s new signing Roberto Soldado, after David Villa was ruled out with an injury. With one place in the side up for grab, Michu will have to compete with Negredo. While reports suggest that the Manchester City forward will be preferred, we take a statistical look at these two players and how they match up against one another.
Goals and assists
28-year-old Negredo has been proven goal scorer in Spain over the years and his record speaks for himself. The former Sevilla striker has scored 144 goals in 339 matches in his club career so far, compared to 83 goals scored by Michu in 336 matches. But it must be considered that Michu haven’t been playing in the role of a forward throughout his career. Michu’s goal scoring abilities wasn’t utilised till the 2011/12 season, when he was moved to a more forward role at Rayo Vallecano. Since then Michu has rediscovered himself as a footballer and has carried that goal scoring threat to Swansea as well.
At Swansea Michu’s transformation to a striker was complete under Michael Laudrup. The tall striker scored 22 goals in 43 matches last season and was the fifth highest goal scorer in the league. That was an impressive return for a player who was signed for a meagre £2 million transfer fee.
Negredo had better record in the front of the goal though. The former Sevilla striker scored 32 goals in all competitions and was the 4th highest goal scorer in the La Liga, behind Messi, Ronaldo and Falcao.
Negredo has started his career in the Premier League in similar fashion and has already scored six goals this season, despite making only four starts in all competition. But slowly he is winning over manager Manuel Pellegrini and recent performance suggest that he has overtaken Edin Dzeko in the pecking order. Michu on the other hand have started slowly in the league, but is slowly returning to his best. The Swansea forward has also managed to score five goals in all competitions.
Overall record shows that Negredo is more of a goal threat than Michu, which is expected since he is more of a natural striker while Michu has grown into this role. Negredo is more direct than Michu and isn’t afraid to shoot on sight, even from long range. Negredo had a total of 150 shots in the league games last season (4.2 shots per goal), while Michu had a total of 110 shots (3.1 shots per goal).
Support play and passing
Although Negredo has the upper hand in terms of goals, while playing for a side like Spain that is not the only yard stick a striker will be judged upon. The type of football which Spain plays needs the forward man to have good passing ability and someone who can drop deep and help in build-up play when required.
Looking at last season’s statistics Michu outshines Negredo in passing ability. The Swansea forward made 881 successful passes at a success rate of 78.7% compared to 536 at a success rate of 64.1% for Negredo; but it must be considered that Swansea’s playing style was different to that of Sevilla. Michael Laudrup’s side are more of a possession based team and out passed most of the teams in the Premier League, while Sevilla were more direct in attack. Swansea’s style of play demanded Michu to drop deep and participate in build-up play. Moreover Michu has played as a midfielder early on in his career, hence he is expected to be a more accomplished passer. It is fairly even in the battle for aerial supremacy, although Negredo is slightly better in the air. While Michu won 118 aerial dual out of 273 attempts (43.22%) since last season, Negredo won 142 dual out of 282 attempts (50.35%).
But at Manchester City Negredo’s stats have increased dramatically. While Michu has the more number of passes, he has also started in more games than Negredo, but the Manchester City striker has matched Michu in the pass success rate, which again might come down to the fact that he has had to attempt less number of passes than Michu.
In modern day football the defensive abilities of a player cannot be overlooked even if he plays upfront. Moreover, Spain play a highline in defence, hence they need to press hard when they lose possession and looks to win back the ball high up the pitch. Which means the striker will have to do his share of defensive duties in a game.
The above statistics once again shows how defensively Michu is better than Negredo as he has the experience of playing as a midfielder, hence is more accustomed to carry out these jobs. Michu made 30 interceptions in the league last season, which highlights his ability to anticipate a move. This ability of his can come in handy for Spain and help in launching quick counter attacks.
Michu or Negredo?
- Goal Scoring: Negredo
- Aerial supremacy: Negredo
- Passing: Michu
- Defensive abilities: Michu
Negredo is a natural striker and someone with impressive finishing abilities. He also has a very direct approach and doesn’t hesitate to take a shot when the opportunity arises. Michu on the other hand is better in build-up play and has better passing abilities. He is also much more accomplished defensively as a player and is perhaps a more complete player than Negredo. The Swansea striker will adapt to Spain’s style of football with ease and can even play in the false no.9 role that Vicente Del Bosque uses often.
Negredo has already made 17 appearances for the national side, but now having received his first national team call-up at the age of 27, Michu must be provided the chance to prove himself on the international stage and should start against Belarus.