Passing and carrying: who makes the most progress with the ball?

Category: Player Analysis

Through two metrics of ball progression, we discover the midfielders who most often progress possession with a pass or a carry.


To know how a midfielder behaves, there are two main actions to measure in terms of frequency and success: passing and dribbling, with dribbling being an action that is usually reserved for more offensive players. For this we have metrics that, when crossed, manage to situate that player within the context of the position.

We understand by ball progression when the player advances 10 metres or more, either by passing or by carrying the ball, or by a combination of both, making it possible to know if a player is able to carry the ball forward successfully a large number of times per game. Using a scatter plot we find all the midfielders in the top leagues, filtered by a minimum of 300 minutes played and we find that Frenkie de Jong is far above all others in managing to get 10 metres or more forward through passing.

The influence of Rodri at Manchester City or Granit Xhaka at Bayer Leverkusen and Aurelien Tchouameni and Toni Kroos at Real Madrid is seen by their position on the chart, being the midfielders who advance the ball the most from passing and carrying. Of the 243 times the Swiss has attempted to advance the ball only six times he did not complete them successfully.

With the ‘lollipop‘ graph we can see the position of this player with respect to the rest of the midfielders in the five big leagues, where we can see that Xhaka is the third midfielder in ball progression per 90 minutes of play, becoming an important player in the current Bundesliga leaders despite being a newcomer.

To further deepen the analysis and to be able to complement it in order to have the maximum rigour when analysing the game and its players we can check how among the midfielders there are those who drive successfully in situations of higher value. The metric ‘Progressive runs’ registers driving that brings you closer to the opponent’s box. It is considered progressive if the player advances 30 metres when starting and finishing in his own half; if he advances 15 metres starting in his own half and finishing in the opponent’s half, or if he advances 10 metres starting and finishing in the opponent’s half. And here, once again, Frenkie de Jong figures as the great reference in Europe among midfielders.

Founded in 2017 as a consultancy, Driblab has driven innovation through data in all aspects of professional football. Thanks to a transversal model, its database collects and models statistics in all directions. From converting matches and videos into bespoke data for training academies to developing cutting-edge technology, helping clubs, federations and representative agencies in talent scouting and transfer markets. Driblab’s smart data is used by clubs all over the world, with success stories such as Dinamo Zagreb, Real Betis and Girondins Bordeaux among others. Here you can find out more about how we work and what we offer.

Autor: Alejandro Arroyo
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Información corporativa

Somos una empresa con sede en Madrid fundada en 2017 por Salvador Carmona y Cristian Coré Ramiro. Desde nuestros inicios nuestro trabajo se ha centrado en el análisis estadístico de datos para ayudar a los clubes en la planificación deportiva. Somos una consultora big data que ofrece servicios personalizados para cada cliente y defiende un modelo de gestión mixto y una comunicación constante para acompañar el día a día de las instituciones. Nuestro punto fuerte es la más amplia cobertura disponible en número de torneos profesionales y juveniles. Para más detalles, póngase en contacto con nosotros.

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