It is not always the best players in a team who are the most important. And Manchester City are realising that. Perhaps Erling Haaland is the franchise player of the current Premier League and Champions League champions but an eventual absence through injury or suspension could be covered by Julián Álvarez or other profiles, and the way of playing, progressing and opening up spaces would not change too much.
What is happening with Rodri is a perfect example of his importance and transcendence in the Manchester City game. And for cases like his, Driblab developed the ON/OFF tool, with which you can check how a team performs with or without a player on the pitch. And the data reflects not only three defeats in four games, but much more. Picking different attacking, defensive and partnership metrics, Rodri’s absence has proved worrying for Manchester City, not just for these games but for a possible future drop-off as the titles approach their decisive phase.
When you consider that only two metrics improve without Rodri, and that one – goals without penalties conceded – only does so by six-tenths and the second, Verticality, is more a matter of style and not performance, Rodri’s impact is extraordinary. It is not only interesting to compare team statistics and metrics between Rodri’s minutes and minutes without Rodri but also between minutes with Rodri and total team minutes, where the performance of Guardiola’s team is also superior with the Spaniard on the pitch.
Rodri is not a standard midfielder, not only because of his level, as he is probably the best in the world in his position, but also because of the degree of influence and determination he has on the pitch. In his evolution as a player he has gone from being a very secure passer to being defensively extraordinary and gaining a lot of creativity and daring in his passing. Of the more than 3500 passes he has made between this season and last, 579 were made to and from the final third.
On his Key Passes and Expected Assists map, Rodri already provided six assists last season. Increasingly, Rodri has been getting closer to the box, taking advantage of Manchester City’s territorial dominance, to find the strikers and draw in high quality passes. His heat map faithfully reflects his impact on the game, his importance in the opposition half and his ability to always be close to the ball to build up play or put pressure on the opposition.
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.