Follow-up of Milan@Napoli analysis

Many readers told me that they did not think that Montolivo has played well after reading the Milan@Napoli game analysis. This is totally fine. The update here is not trying to argue who is right and who is wrong. But one reason I start this blog is exactly for this purpose: by breaking down the game in a tactical term, there will be angles or ways to look at the game in more objective manner, and therefore better describe the game.

To me, rating a player is a very difficult thing. It’s so difficult to compare a defender performance vs an attacker performance. It’s often more difficult to rate midfielder like Montolivo or Jorginho. Their performances can be difficult to “measured”.

I always thought that the data in isn’t available to the public, but someone told me otherwise recently. So lets use Montolivo’s performance in this game as an example to see if we can better describe whether he performed well or not using some data.

I think most people will agree that Montolivo’s main job is “passing the ball”. Lets look at his “passing” performance:


This is all the passes Montolivo attempted in this game. So his passing % is about 90%. Lets compare his with the passing data from other midfielders in the same game:

bonaventura-1hamsik-1jorginho-1kucka-1allan-1 Jorge Luiz is Jorginho. You can see that Jorginho and Hamsik had attempted way more passes with similar %. However, I don’t think that meant Montolivo’s passing is inferior. That’s because:


Napoli is the yellow and Milan the white. You can see that Napoli has almost almost 160 more passes than Milan. The ratio of number of passes Napoli:Milan is 483:323 is about 3:2, which is around the same ratio of passes between Jorginho:Montolivo (96:60 is about 3:2). And its fair to compare between them because they has very similar role and play almost the same position for their team. So passing-wise, Montolivo isn’t that far off from Jorginho.

There is also argument about Montolivo’s positioning and usage of the ball are not optimal. I can’t think of a way to look at the usage of the ball using the available data. But for positioning, there may be one way to look at it. I looked at the “pass received” of a player in the whole game. The idea is if he receives a pass, he must occupies that location. Lets take a look:screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-8-50-36-pm-1screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-8-50-59-pm-1

It’s difficult to make out whether who is “better”. But one thing to notice is that Jorginho basically receives the ball EVERYWHERE along the left and right half-space (the space between middle or the pitch and side-line). For Montolivo, he mostly receives passes in the middle part of his own half. So one point can be made is that he doesn’t operate as much area as Jorginho.

But does it make his positioning bad? If you remember my analysis, I argue that Milan played a 2-3-5 where the defenders/midfielders tend to separate themselves from 5 attackers (when two wing-backs push up with 3 strikers). So Montolivo’s positioning would actually be consistent with this idea. And for Jorginho, Napoli plays mostly with short-passes and quick one-two. So his positioning map will also be consistent with Napoli’s tactics.

So the question remains: did Montolivo play well? Please let me know what you think!! I still think that he passed well!

PS: I found that using data like that is very useful to our analysis. So I will do one more update on Juventus@Lazio game before the Palermo@Inter game. In fact, most of the analysis of that game will be using a lot of passes data. I promise it will be updated before Saturday when Serie A week 3 started

Fobster Ho




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