Well, the 2014-15 season has been over for quite some time now and the Copa America is already in full swing, but that doesn't mean that we can't look back at an impressive year through some stats, once again supplied to us by the great folks over at Sports Matrix. Today we're going to focus on the effectiveness of the two sets of players that get the most attention when they make mistakes, though only one of them, usually, gets the praise when they help the team get win. And continuing with that (very) short description, let's first start with the former group, the quartet that has this season played in the heart of the defense - Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano, Jeremy Mathieu and Marc Bartra.
Luis Enrique was able to spread the minutes across the first three names on the list fairly evenly, with Pique getting 2475 minutes, Mascherano playing 2289 and Mathieu spending 2190 minutes on the pitch. The only one lagging behind was Bartra who barely eclipsed the one thousand minute mark, playing 1069 minutes in La Liga. Obviously, because of the difference in playing time it would be silly to look at the number of plays each player took part in, so we'll take a look at them based on percentages.
And based on those numbers you could make a case that Mascherano continues to the best center-back Barcelona has on its roster, especially when it comes to making plays when the opponent creates a scoring chance, though Pique came a very close second to El Jefecito. Of all the defensive plays that fit into that category, both dealt with over 40% of them in excellent fashion, while both made mistakes on about 10% of them, which is about average. Mathieu made the least mistakes, but he also made didn't make as many good plays, as he barely eclipsed Bartra who wasn't liked by the stat crunchers, even if he usually passed the "eye test", though, admittedly, most of Bartra's good plays came higher up the pitch when the opponents didn't have a scoring chance.
As for the record breaking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar? It really shouldn't surprise anybody that Messi wins in every category depicted by the infographic. The slightly worrying part of it, however, is that both Suarez and Neymar struggle to get their shots on target. That is something Neymar is especially guilty of, and breaking the 40% mark needs to be an objective for him next season. Suarez, on the other hand, gets more of his shot on target, but too many of them are just plain badly aimed as very few of them get blocked by the opposing defenders, which could suggest he's actively trying to aim past the defender, but as a result he also misses the net altogether.
That's it for today's edition of the infographic. Stay tuned as we'll have more stats in the near future.