Eric García & Xavi's backline dilemma

The prodigal son may have returned back home but his performances have been dividing opinions ever since. So what does the future hold for him in Xavi's system

Analysing defenders is a very unenviable job. Data may be taking over the industry but even with so many tools at our disposal, it’s very difficult to paint the real picture. The metrics, for one, are very vague when it comes to (most) defensive aspects. Simply looking up a player’s number of tackles and interceptions won’t really do much, the same as his offensive contribution won’t help either.

Another issue we often face in such situations is analysing certain profiles of defenders who fit a very specific type of system. Generally, every club will have its own preference. What I mean by this is that not every profile of defender will fit every club’s philosophy. Just because someone is a very traditional centre-back - big, strong and amazing in 1v1 duels - won’t mean he’s ideal for a particular system. In that regard, analysing how well a defender would do at Atlético Madrid as opposed to Barcelona is very different.

This is very important when talking about Eric García. By very traditional measures, a 182 cm (6'0''), 76kg (167lbs) defender who is often easily brushed off in duels and lacks real pace would be easily labelled as ‘not good enough’. But that very general and superficial analysis disregards his other qualities that may be key for a system akin to Barcelona’s. Of course, pace, strength and other defensive traits will always be relevant when profiling defenders. After all, that is their primary job.