Jan Oblak, the last great goalkeeper to improve his ball-playing

We look at how Atlético de Madrid and Jan Oblak have changed the way they play, getting the Slovenian more involved and more accurate with his feet.


In the prime of Jan Oblak‘s career, when he became Atlético de Madrid‘s most decisive player between 2018 and 2021, when the red-and-white defence began to falter, the Slovenian’s performance was measured by saves, one-handed saves and clean sheets. Along the way, the former Benfica keeper had already improved the second most pronounced weakness, penalty taking, but not the main one: his ball-playing. The aspect of the game that distanced him from the other goalkeepers competing to be the best and that Atlético de Madrid didn’t need him. But things have changed a lot.

Three seasons ago, Atlético changed their tactical design to play with three centre-backs and, since last season, they have been constructing their possessions very differently, with very short distances between players, shorter and shorter passes and much more elaborate passing, with hardly any long balls.

Since 2014, with a passing distance of 19.4 metres, Simeone’s side have moved on to passes of 15.5 metres on average in the 23/24 season, with the goalkeeper becoming a more important player, an evolution that has been reflected in the numbers, season after season. Furthermore, from the 28.5 metres that Atlético advanced per possession in 2014/15, showing great verticality, they now only advance 21 metres per possession, which shows much more elaboration and horizontality.

These two graphs reflect how Oblak’s role in passing has evolved. In 2015/16, the Slovenian made 3.43 passes into the opposition half, compared to 0.90 or 0.53 per 90′ over the last two seasons. Although only a few games have been played this season, the passing success rate, the percentage of successful passes in his own half and the passes made in the opposition half reflect the latest step in a clear evolution from the collective to the individual.

Ball-playing has become much more important than it was three years ago. In a very short time the game has changed a lot and more and more teams are using the goalkeeper as the figure that unbalances the opposition when pressing high up the pitch, which has led to more passes than ever, from a much shorter distance and with hardly any long balls.

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
For Team Analysis | Player Analysis we also recommend you:

Accurate and progressive: the kings of passing

The three best midfielders in Europe are vastly superior to the rest. There is no data that eludes them.

Sharjah FC and Driblab sign partnership agreement

Sharjah FC and Driblab sign partnership agreement.

Generating and conceding: the clearest chances in the Top-5 leagues

Which teams generate and concede the clearest chances? We could look at shots on goal for and against, but we would be missing out on the quality of these chances.

Real Betis and Driblab renew their collaboration agreement

Real Betis and Driblab renew their collaboration agreement

Young center-backs in Argentina: an opportunity to keep a close eye on

“Argentina is producing young center-backs with significant presence and performance. We highlight five that we consider interesting for personalized scouting.”

driblabPRO Release Notes: First Quarter 2024

We have deployed new functionalities and resources that streamline all the work of football professionals. driblabPRO updates and launches the following improvements for its clients and users in the football scouting world:

Málaga CF and Driblab sign a strategic collaboration agreement

Málaga CF and Driblab sign a strategic collaboration agreement

Who are the Best Pressing Players in the Most Intense League?

Who presses more effectively in the Bundesliga 23/24?

Balkan U-20 talent not to be missed

Balkan U-20 talent not to be missed

No one misses more clear chances than… Erling Haaland.

It's no coincidence that the players who miss the clearest chances are often the ones who score the most goals. It makes sense because their teams allow them to face higher-value chances more frequently, and therefore easier to convert. But this 2023-24 season is...


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.

Colaboramos con:


Hemos aparecido en: