Barcelona currently boast the three best players in the world as individuals, however it’s their connection and understanding that the trio share which makes them, arguably, the most frightening front-line in football history. The combined force of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez make the Catalans hot favourites to become the first team in the Champions League era to retain the European Cup.
Arsenal have been dealt the unenviable task of facing Barcelona once again when the pair meet at the Emirates in the first-leg of the last 16 on Tuesday night.
In the build up to the clash between the English and Spanish sides, fantasy football game www.oulala.com have studied the stats to reveal the best combined XI based purely on player performance data from the Premier League and La Liga.
Oulala’s stats team have taken a look at two players in each position and analysed a host of key areas to determine who makes the grade and features in our combined Arsenal and Barcelona stat-based best eleven.
Unfortunately, someone had to go head-to-head with Lionel Messi, so Mr Chamberlain – we apologise.
Here’s who made the cut…
Petr Cech beats Claudio Bravo to the number one jersey. Cech has kept more clean sheets (12 to 11), however Bravo has conceded fewer goals per game (0.62 to 0.88). Cech fights back with more saves per game (3.3 to 3), but Bravo boasts more saves per goal (4.8 to 3.7). Cech goes on to lead for catches (2.1 to 1.6) and punches (0.5 to 0.2) per game. .
Nacho Monreal comfortably claims the left-back spot over Jordi Alba. On a per game basis, Monreal has won more tackles (1.7 to 1.2), made more interceptions (2.9 to 2.1), more blocks (0.3 to 0.2) and more clearances (3.6 to 2.4). The 29-year-old also dominates his Spanish counterpart offensively having completed more successful dribbles (0.5 to 0.2) and created more chances (0.9 to 0.5) per game.
Laurent Koscielny has statistically outperformed Javier Mascherano this season. The Arsenal man has made more interceptions (3.7 to 1.9), more blocks (0.9 to 0.5), more clearances (6 to 2) and has won more aerial duels (2.7 to 1.1) per game. Mascherano boasts more tackles won per game (1.8 to 0.9) and the superior tackle success rate (51 to 37 per cent).
Gerard Piqué narrowly edges Per Mertesacker for the second centre-back spot. On a per game basis, Piqué has made more successful tackles (1.2 to 1.1), more interceptions (2.2 to 1.3) and more blocks (0.6 to 0.4). While Mertesacker has made more clearances per game (5 to 4.4) and boasts the better tackle success rate (71 to 58 per cent). The duo cannot be separated aerially having each won an average of 2.2 aerial duels per game.
Hector Bellerin shades the right-back spot from Dani Alves. The duo are inseparable for tackles won (1.3 to 1.3), interceptions (1.9 to 1.9) and blocks (0.2 to 0.2) per game. The Arsenal full-back has made more clearances (3.2 to 1.4) and successfully completed more dribbles (1.5 to 0.9) per game. While Alves has created more chances per game (0.8 to 0.6).
Francis Coquelin has overshadowed Sergio Busquets statistically this season. The Barcelona midfielder may have created more chances per game (0.6 to 0.2) and matched Coquelin for blocks per game (0.2), but the Frenchman has led the way in every other key area this season. Coquelin has a better pass completion rate (90 to 89 per cent), has won more tackles (2.3 to 2), made more interceptions (2.3 to 2) and more clearances (1 to 0.8) per game.
Aaron Ramsey has justified why Barcelona were linked with a move for the Welshman, dominating Ivan Rakitić in a host of key areas this season. The 25-year-old has completed more successful passes (59 to 43), created more chances (1.4 to 1), more key passes (1.3 to 1) and has won more tackles (1.9 to 1.2) per game. Ramsey has also registered more assists (3 to 0) and more goals (4 to 3).
Mesut Özil gets the better of Andres Iniesta in the playmaker role. The players share the same pass completion rate (88 per cent), while Iniesta has made more successful passes per game (61 to 53). However, the German has led every other key stat this term. Özil has created more chances (4.4 to 1.3) and made more key passes (3.7 to 1.2) per game. He has also registered more assists (17 to 1) and scored more goals (4 to 1).
Neymar comfortably takes the left-sided forward spot from Alexis Sánchez . The Chilean edges pass completion (81 to 80 per cent), but then the Brazilian takes over. Neymar has made more key passes (2.8 to 1.8), created more chances (3.2 to 1.8) and has completed more successful dribbles (4.6 to 3.2) per game. He has also scored more goals (18 to 6) and recorded more assists (9 to 1).
Lionel Messi unsurprisingly beats Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to the right-sided forward spot. Messi has scored more goals (15 to 1), registered more assists (7 to 0), made more key passes (1.5 to 0.9), created more chances (1.9 to 0.9) and completed more dribbles (4.1 to 1.6) per game. Chamberlain fights back with the better pass completion rate (82 to 81 per cent).
Luis Suarez dominates Olivier Giroud in every key area. The Uruguay international has scored more goals (25 to 12), enjoyed a better shot accuracy (57 to 54 per cent) and a better conversion rate (28 to 16 per cent) from a higher number of shots per game (3.8 to 3). Suarez comes out on top creatively too. He has created more chances per game (1.4 to 0.9) and has registered more assists (10 to 4).
[sam id=”4″ codes=”true”]