Xavi

matbezlima

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Sorry, but NT football is not the gold standard for me.

And I just said Scholes was better than Iniesta, not miles better.
Iniesta was better than Scholes for clubs too. Iniesta was just clearly better overall in virtually all aspects.
 

amolbhatia50k

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Pirlo and Xavi are remarkably similar actually, only real significant difference is Xavi was quicker and more dynamic, a better presser, and played on teams that emphasized control through possession
Pirlo was a much better dribbler from what I recall.
 

kouroux

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I don't think Whoscored is overly reliable for a CM.

Xavi receives the ball from the centerbacks, is pressed hard, makes a pirouette to evade the pressure, advances the play by playing the ball forward between the lines to Messi, defenders pull out towards Messi, Alves starts a run, Messi passes back to Xavi, Xavi pings it over the top to Alves, Alves plays it sideways, Pedro shoots, goalkeeper saves.

Key Pass: Alves
Xavi: Nothing

That's how Whoscored metrics works. "Key pass" = "pass leading to a shot".

But even then it's unbelievable that an all-controlling central midfielder who starts to playmake from his own half also created as many chances as the best #10s in the world (and also all time) like Messi.

As a comparison, Modric's (arguably best CM post Xavi/Iniesta era) best "key pass" statistic over a whole season is 1.9 per game. Also never got more than 6 assists. You just criticized Xavi for going down from 3.2 key passes in 09/10 to 2.5 key passes in 10/11 which still dwarves Modric's best season by 30 %.

I don't remember any central midfielder in at least 20 years who was controlling the game through every minute but also got world class assists in 2 CL finals and 2 European Championship finals. There is usually the "controllers" like Pirlo or the chance creation machines like De Bruyne. Not both at once.
Very nice explanation that online ratings need to be put int context and not be considered as gospel. All in all, the eye experience give you a better idea of the level of a midfielder and as you said @matbezlima , you still need to go through a lot of his matches ;)
 

giorno

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Pirlo was a much better dribbler from what I recall.
Pirlo was a better dribbler front to goal, a better striker of the ball(long passes, cross, set pieces, long range shots). Xavi was a better dribbler back to goal, better with grounded passes, better at not losing the ball under pressure and moving it along in a way that ensured his team would keep possession.
Xavi was the better attacking player off the ball as well, and he was a better defensive player on the man, whereas Pirlo was perhaps better at interceptions and winning loose balls. Xavi was more kante while pirlo was more busquets, though Xavi was a better and more effective defensive player than Pirlo, but how much of that was their teams is hard to say

In attack, pirlo was a more direct passer while xavi was more about combinations, pass&move at pace
 

SilentStrike

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I don't think Whoscored is overly reliable for a CM.

Xavi receives the ball from the centerbacks, is pressed hard, makes a pirouette to evade the pressure, advances the play by playing the ball forward between the lines to Messi, defenders pull out towards Messi, Alves starts a run, Messi passes back to Xavi, Xavi pings it over the top to Alves, Alves plays it sideways, Pedro shoots, goalkeeper saves.

Key Pass: Alves
Xavi: Nothing

That's how Whoscored metrics works. "Key pass" = "pass leading to a shot".

But even then it's unbelievable that an all-controlling central midfielder who starts to playmake from his own half also created as many chances as the best #10s in the world (and also all time) like Messi.

As a comparison, Modric's (arguably best CM post Xavi/Iniesta era) best "key pass" statistic over a whole season is 1.9 per game. Also never got more than 6 assists. You just criticized Xavi for going down from 3.2 key passes in 09/10 to 2.5 key passes in 10/11 which still dwarves Modric's best season by 30 %.

I don't remember any central midfielder in at least 20 years who was controlling the game through every minute but also got world class assists in 2 CL finals and 2 European Championship finals. There is usually the "controllers" like Pirlo or the chance creation machines like De Bruyne. Not both at once.
Modric never had the role of chance creator, a better comparison would be Kroos. Also, due to Pep's high lines, Central midfielders were playing mostly on the position of Attacking midfielders.

That said, Xavi is clearly among the best CM's in the history of the game, and I would place him in the same tier as Lothar Matthaus, who I consider the best CM ever.
 

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Iniesta was better than Scholes for clubs too. Iniesta was just clearly better overall in virtually all aspects.
Scholes was a significantly better goal scorer, but that’s about it. It’s weird that someone rates him higher than Iniesta even if we exclude their international careers.
 

B20

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Pirlo was a much better long passer than Xavi, and more penetrative close to the final third. More elegant, better at set pieces and shooting.

He's a level below though. Where Pirlo had issues with aggressive pressing, off the ball work and had a bit of a mercurial temper, Xavi was basically flawless in his role. It didn't matter what the opposition did, you couldn't force him into making a mistake. Even pressing him into making a less than ideal pass was rare. His composure, decisionmaking, movement and assurance in his passing is just unparalleled

There has never been a player who could link play from defence to the final third in a way that translated to automatic total midfield dominance every damn time he stepped on to a pitch, the way Xavi did for six years straight. Put a prime matthaus on any opposition team against him and Xavi would still play him off the park the way he did every midfield during that period. No one in football history has come close to the kind of midfield dominance Xavi exerted. Not in how overwhelming and comprehensive it was, nor in how consistent or how many years he held that level. That for me makes him the best midfielder of all time.

His only real shortcomings were that there were times against packed defences where you'd want him to step up a bit more in the final third and he didn't have the engine or dribbling for that. If mourinhos inter had done to iniesta what they did to Xavi, just stand off him and get everyone to close off his passing lanes, iniesta would have murdered them with that kind of space to run in and Xavi couldn't do that. Still, it is very very few games over a long peak where he's been out maneuvered.

Baffling that anyone would bring Scholes into such a discussion but that's the caf for you.
 

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Scholes was a significantly better goal scorer, but that’s about it. It’s weird that someone rates him higher than Iniesta even if we exclude their international careers.
I think a lot of people, myself included, struggle to know how to truly rate Iniesta. How good was he himself, and how much did he benefit from playing next to Xavi and Messi?

Don't get me wrong, obviously he's a fantastic player and an amazing big-game player. But if he were in a normal team would people rate him ahead of the likes of Scholes, Pirlo, etc? I'm not sure.
 

B20

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I think a lot of people, myself included, struggle to know how to truly rate Iniesta. How good was he himself, and how much did he benefit from playing next to Xavi and Messi?

Don't get me wrong, obviously he's a fantastic player and an amazing big-game player. But if he were in a normal team would people rate him ahead of the likes of Scholes, Pirlo, etc? I'm not sure.
Don't think it's that much of a struggle.

He's clearly on a very rare technical level and has consistently delivered MotM performances in the biggest games possible, often ahead of the aforementioned players. Probably the most consistent big game player of all time. That places him in a very small echelon clearly ahead of the likes of Scholes, and pirlo too.
 

Casanova85

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As an alternate timeline, it would have been interesting if Xavi had been sold to Utd in 2008, at the peak of Barça's mini-crisis (twilight of the Rijlaard era).

He could have been the "Fabregas of Utd", but better?
 

harms

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I think a lot of people, myself included, struggle to know how to truly rate Iniesta. How good was he himself, and how much did he benefit from playing next to Xavi and Messi?

Don't get me wrong, obviously he's a fantastic player and an amazing big-game player. But if he were in a normal team would people rate him ahead of the likes of Scholes, Pirlo, etc? I'm not sure.
He's quite unique in that his influence on the game was a bit different than that of a usual great player. If you put him in a struggling team, he won't carry them on his own (his team is currently 12th in the J1 League, and he joined them at 34, as a player who was never truly relying on his physique; compare that to Ibra tearing the MLS apart, even though it's easier for a striker). Based on that it's tempting to assume that he is a luxury player who is reliant on his teammates... but he's absolutely not! He's one of the very few truly selfless all-time greats that elevates everyone around him — and it's something that obviously works better when he has better players around him. And, although he was never a prolific goalscorer or an assist machine, when he's really needed, he always steps up — hence his unique MotM collection (World Cup final, Euros final, CL final) and an impressive list of crucial goals (WC final, the screamer against Chelsea).

His performances in 2012 Euros shows that he is also capable of being the main man though, even with Xavi still around. It would've been very interesting to see how he would've performed without Xavi and Messi — he probably would've turned into a different player, more decisive in the final third.
 

harms

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Pirlo was a much better long passer than Xavi, and more penetrative close to the final third.
I wouldn't call anyone a much better passer that Xavi in any possible category to be honest. He definitely choose the long option more often than the Spaniard, but I don't think that he was capable of something that Xavi wasn't.

I've always found it hard to say with confidence that A was a better passer than B when we're talking about the very best of all-time, since they are basically at the level when they can execute every pass that they can think of (Xavi, Pirlo, Platini, Laudrup etc.).
 

B20

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I wouldn't call anyone a much better passer that Xavi in any possible category to be honest. He definitely choose the long option more often than the Spaniard, but I don't think that he was capable of something that Xavi wasn't.

I've always found it hard to say with confidence that A was a better passer than B when we're talking about the very best of all-time, since they are basically at the level when they can execute every pass that they can think of (Xavi, Pirlo, Platini, Laudrup etc.).
I do. It's odd really that despite being probably the best playmaker of all time, he didn't have the same variety in his passing as other greats, such as Pirlo or Laudrup.
Laudrup had more subtlety, weight, creativity and vision in his passing.
Pirlo could curl it over defenders and into feet of runners over 35 yards with stunning consistency. His combination of top and side spin was a thing to behold.
Xavi's passing in comparison was just a tad more basic, less aesthetically pleasing, despite still being clearly world class.

I think it's fair to say he more than made up it in other departments of playmaking though. What Xavi could do as a metronomic playmaker, none of the others could get near.
 

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I wouldn't call anyone a much better passer that Xavi in any possible category to be honest. He definitely choose the long option more often than the Spaniard, but I don't think that he was capable of something that Xavi wasn't.

I've always found it hard to say with confidence that A was a better passer than B when we're talking about the very best of all-time, since they are basically at the level when they can execute every pass that they can think of (Xavi, Pirlo, Platini, Laudrup etc.).
Agree that the long pass was in Xavi's toolkit, but he didn't use it as frequently because of the different style of play between his and the sides of other great passers. Statistically I remember him being the most accurate long passer in Europe one year, and his switch of play onto Alves was always a deadly weapon. Same principle applies in the final third. He played deeper than the likes of Messi or Laudrup so didn't execute those defence-splitters as frequently, but showed the ability to do it when he moved into more advanced positions. That said, Laudrup remains the greatest final third passer for me given his overwhelming body of work.

Agree with B20 on Pirlo's ability to go over or up and round a defence was a cut above. Quite similar to the Beckham/Scholes debate, Pirlo's vision and execution could bypass a compact defense and midfield unit by going over the top into a small and shrinking space between the last defender and keeper.
 

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he didn't use it as frequently because of the different style of play between his and the sides of other great passers.
This.

Pirlo was often the main playmaker in the team or even when played with other playmakers (Kaka, Rui Costa) he tended to be markedly deeper than them. Not the case with Xavi who had Iniesta and Messi drifting about in same areas of the pitch with him. So Pirlo's long passing ability was seen more than Xavi's.
 

VanKenny

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I think a lot of people, myself included, struggle to know how to truly rate Iniesta. How good was he himself, and how much did he benefit from playing next to Xavi and Messi?

Don't get me wrong, obviously he's a fantastic player and an amazing big-game player. But if he were in a normal team would people rate him ahead of the likes of Scholes, Pirlo, etc? I'm not sure.
Well let me put it this way, if Xavi is a 10/10 version of himself, and Messi is a 10/10 version of himself, Iniesta is a 9.5/10 version of both of them combined. Almost as good at dribbling than Messi, almost as good as Xavi at passing, almost as good football IQ as them, etc.

And honestly it hardly gets better than that when complimenting a player.


IMO Xavi and Iniesta are on the same level, aka GOAT CMs. Pirlo not quite there but close, Scholes well he belongs in a different conversation as good as he was.
 

RooneyLegend

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You get long passes, then you get those caressed balls that dont have much distance to them. Xavi specialised in those, not real long passes ala Scholes, Pirlo, Gerrard and the likes.
 

RooneyLegend

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This.

Pirlo was often the main playmaker in the team or even when played with other playmakers (Kaka, Rui Costa) he tended to be markedly deeper than them. Not the case with Xavi who had Iniesta and Messi drifting about in same areas of the pitch with him. So Pirlo's long passing ability was seen more than Xavi's.
Nope, Xavi never really had the firm technique you associate with those types of passers.
 

VanKenny

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Nope, Xavi never really had the firm technique you associate with those types of passers.
He most certainly did. Neither Barcelona or Spain ever played a kind of football that would allow for long passes to be executed oftenly, but when they were an option, Xavi would surely execute them perfectly.

Not really the best option going forward when you have players like Messi, Iniesta, Pedro etc expecting ground passes, but when it was a good option, Xavi would do it.

To say Xavi didnt have the technique needed to make ANY kind of pass is laughable to say the least.
 

RooneyLegend

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He most certainly did. Neither Barcelona or Spain ever played a kind of football that would allow for long passes to be executed oftenly, but when they were an option, Xavi would surely execute them perfectly.

Not really the best option going forward when you have players like Messi, Iniesta, Pedro etc expecting ground passes, but when it was a good option, Xavi would do it.

To say Xavi didnt have the technique needed to make ANY kind of pass is laughable to say the least.
We'll agree to disagree. Xavi wasn't like Xabi when it came to those passes. It was pretty obvious when watching them, even in the same team.
 

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I wouldn't call anyone a much better passer that Xavi in any possible category to be honest. He definitely choose the long option more often than the Spaniard, but I don't think that he was capable of something that Xavi wasn't.

I've always found it hard to say with confidence that A was a better passer than B when we're talking about the very best of all-time, since they are basically at the level when they can execute every pass that they can think of (Xavi, Pirlo, Platini, Laudrup etc.).
Pirlo was a better long passer, Xavi couldn't make the same type of passes long and mid range Pirlo did consistently, Xavi was a great passer but it doesn't mean he had the variety others did, I think in terms of variety Pirlo had more variety.
 

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I think it's pointless to argue Xavi had better long range passing than those two. Xavi usn't great because of his technical passing ability but because of his problem solving intelligence, consistency, positioning in midfield, awareness, reaction times etc. In technucal ability alone, there are multiple players even of the same area who are much better than him.

Thing is, the variety of your passing is not important, it's important how, you make it count. And as someone already pointed out, yoj can fully trust Xavi to control a game against every other midfielder you can imagine. Pogba is a good analogy, he's probably got the largest set of tools of any midfielder currently in the game and certainly a greater technical variety than Xavi. Yet he got dominated by the PSG modfield and by City. It doesn't matter what you could do with the ball if the opposition wom't allow you to receive it in positions you could utilize those skills. That's what Xavi is best at while also being decent (but not all time best stuff) in terms of splitting up defenses.
 

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Never liked Barcelona but Xavi was special and always a joy to watch .
 

RooneyLegend

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I think it's pointless to argue Xavi had better long range passing than those two. Xavi usn't great because of his technical passing ability but because of his problem solving intelligence, consistency, positioning in midfield, awareness, reaction times etc. In technucal ability alone, there are multiple players even of the same area who are much better than him.

Thing is, the variety of your passing is not important, it's important how, you make it count. And as someone already pointed out, yoj can fully trust Xavi to control a game against every other midfielder you can imagine. Pogba is a good analogy, he's probably got the largest set of tools of any midfielder currently in the game and certainly a greater technical variety than Xavi. Yet he got dominated by the PSG modfield and by City. It doesn't matter what you could do with the ball if the opposition wom't allow you to receive it in positions you could utilize those skills. That's what Xavi is best at while also being decent (but not all time best stuff) in terms of splitting up defenses.
Games are basically controlled by committee, especially to the extent that a Pep side dominates a game. People need to stop behaving like if you threw Xavi in our current side you'd end up with Barcelona game dominance. He's the perfect player for that system no doubt, but the system deserves most of the credit.
 

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What a player he was. Master of the deft touch.

There isnt any one like him any more.

Game is full of pretty boy twats
 

Bennz McCarthey17

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I will never agree with the notion that Xavi was in a higher tier to Pirlo, Xavi was a god in that tiki taka system, Pirlo was a god in any system. Whether it be controlling a game, counter attacking and looking to win with a free kick or from a corner. I understand Xavi's Barca was something else, but player vs player they are equal to me...they dine at the same table.
 

RooneyLegend

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I will never agree with the notion that Xavi was in a higher tier to Pirlo, Xavi was a god in that tiki taka system, Pirlo was a god in any system. Whether it be controlling a game, counter attacking and looking to win with a free kick or from a corner. I understand Xavi's Barca was something else, but player vs player they are equal to me...they dine at the same table.
Where do you have Scholes in this?
 

matbezlima

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Games are basically controlled by committee, especially to the extent that a Pep side dominates a game. People need to stop behaving like if you threw Xavi in our current side you'd end up with Barcelona game dominance. He's the perfect player for that system no doubt, but the system deserves most of the credit.
Xavi was a big part of that system. In fact, no player defines and embodies tiki-taka as well as him, he was the main pillar of the possession system employed by Guardiola. Xavi's style of play and the tiki-taka are virtually the same: inseparable.
 

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Xavi was a big part of that system. In fact, no player defines and embodies tiki-taka as well as him, he was the main pillar of the possession system employed by Guardiola. Xavi's style of play and the tiki-taka are virtually the same: inseparable.
Clearly the are separable given that City play a similar way. The fact is the system is dominant. I remeber Xavi before that system and you wouldn't wax lyrical like you do now. As i said, he's the perfect player for the system but lets not act like he is the system.
 

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Clearly the are separable given that City play a similar way. The fact is the system is dominant. I remeber Xavi before that system and you wouldn't wax lyrical like you do now. As i said, he's the perfect player for the system but lets not act like he is the system.
Tiki-taka is based on possession and total control of the midfield.

Otherwise I don't what it is, but it's not tiki-taka.

Barça's problems after 2015 are centered around a weak midfield and pseudo-tiki taka.
 
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matbezlima

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Clearly the are separable given that City play a similar way. The fact is the system is dominant. I remeber Xavi before that system and you wouldn't wax lyrical like you do now. As i said, he's the perfect player for the system but lets not act like he is the system.
City does not play the same pure tiki-taka of Pep's Barcelona. It required a very specific set of players and lucky factors combining at once.
 

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Games are basically controlled by committee, especially to the extent that a Pep side dominates a game. People need to stop behaving like if you threw Xavi in our current side you'd end up with Barcelona game dominance. He's the perfect player for that system no doubt, but the system deserves most of the credit.
A) even in a no-Pep team, don't you think a player like Xavi would lead to a certain dominance in midfield? Not necessarily prime Barca level of dominance but at least to a certain extent?

B) who is better, the player that is a 7
/10 in any system or the one who is a 10/10 in one?
 

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I like Pirlo but he can be a passenger in high tempo games. His workrate can be suspect as well. Imagine him in those Pep-Mou El Clasicos, he probably find it hard to exert his dominance.

But no doubt his dribbling is better than Xavi. When needed he can drive the play forward with it.
I will never agree with the notion that Xavi was in a higher tier to Pirlo, Xavi was a god in that tiki taka system, Pirlo was a god in any system. Whether it be controlling a game, counter attacking and looking to win with a free kick or from a corner. I understand Xavi's Barca was something else, but player vs player they are equal to me...they dine at the same table.
Tbf Pirlo had questionable workrate and his poor athleticism counts against him in high tempo games. Xavi never had that problem and he actually had an engine.

Ability wise I'd say they are about equal. Pirlo's ball striking ability was on another level though.