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FC Barcelona La Liga Overview: Top Passers Infographic

A look back at the top passers of Barcelona's 2014-2015 La Liga season.

Alex Caparros/Getty Images

The days of "tiki-taka" might be in the past, days in which numerous Barcelona players would finish the game with over 100 passes are all but gone, though they do return on occasion, but Barcelona's passing was arguably more deadly this season than it was in seasons past. Barcelona was much more decisive with their passes, the passes were quicker and much more direct, leading to quicker transition from defense to attack, lowering the need for seemly endless sideways passes. This increased the number of "good passes", which, as defined by our good friends at SportsMatrix, are passes that improved the team's position on the pitch. Any pass that did not improve the team's position won't appear in this stat, even if it was an accurate pass.

It really should come as no surprise that Lionel Messi excelled in this category, as almost every third pass he made improved the teams position. Andres Iniesta and Xavi weren't far behind Messi in percentages, but both made more "good passes" than the Argentine because both also made more passes per game. in fact, Xavi led all Barcelona players in passes, by some margin in fact, ending the season making ten more passes than the next guy on the list, Iniesta. Interestingly, even though Jordi Alba and Ivan Rakitic made many passes, both missed out on the "good passes" chart by some distance. Dani Alves also missed out on the "good passes" chart, even with a healthy 19% "good pass" rate. The Brazilian finished just behind Busquets, on the outside of the chart looking in.

As you've probably noticed, I skipped the first part of the infographic and first focused on the second part. To talk a bit about the top passing combinations; three of the top five include passes to Messi, slightly reinforcing the "when in doubt pass to Messi" mantra. The top two combinations both feature full-backs passing to the wide-playing forward - 22.6% of all passes that Alves made went to Messi while "only" 19% of Alba's passes were to Neymar. It's a similar situation in the "good pass" combinations. Messi is this time featured four times, three times as a receiver, once as the passer, while Neymar is involved in three instances, twice as receiver and once as passer. Interestingly though, Messi is not involved in the most frequent "good pass" situation, that one includes Iniesta as the passer and Neymar as the target.

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