A good way to explain how football has evolved is to see how the figure of the specialist has disappeared and how players who play in defensive positions have a great offensive relevance and vice versa, players who play in offensive positions have to apply themselves defensively in the recovery of the ball and be part of a collective idea where everyone achieves game and competition objectives by doing everything at all times.
To try to extract a situation from the game and visualise it statistically, we are going to use the example of the defensive commitment of a winger defending close to his wing partner, the full-back, and how many defensive actions he attempts or completes as a parameter that quantifies this commitment. In other words, which wingers go down to defend by tackling or recovering. First let’s find out which wingers perform more defensive actions per 90 minutes, where we find one who stands out above the rest.
Yeremi Pino adds up to 12 defensive actions per 90 minutes, being the winger of the big five leagues in commitment, concentration and effort to disrupt or recover the ball. In this type of statistics the defensive style of the team has to be taken into account, as we are going to see in the following table, where we are going to visualise defensive actions, recoveries and tackles, only in their own half, where some players give us clues of how their team usually defends most of the time.
Lucas Paqueta is one of the players with the best defensive records in terms of volume, thanks to his commitment as well as the defensive demand that West Ham require from all their players, especially defending deeper and longer than the rest of the teams. Largie Ramazzani is another of the other wingers who returns more towards his own goal, along with Solly March, particularly deserving of his route and influence in attack.
Although it has become much more common to be able to press the opposition off the ball and stay in the opposition half even when the ball is lost, it is interesting to be able to measure which wide players are active defensively in their own half to close down spaces where the opposition can do damage, helping the full-back in defensive duties.
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