In the recent Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United there was an interesting, and very telling, statistic which I had never seen tracked before. The statistic was the “most common pass exchange”.
The “most common pass exchange” (MCPE) is the two person combination that make the most passes between each other during the game. If the MCPE is between a center midfielder and a forward it probably means there is a lot of penetration going on. If the MCPE is between two backs, it might mean there is some possession but the team is most likely losing the battle for field position.
In the Champions League final, the MCPE for Barcelona was between Xavi and Iniesta with a total of 60 passes between each other. For Manchester United, the MCPE was between Ferdinand and Vidic with a total of 16.
Besides the incredible discrepancy between 60 MCPE vs 16 the other telling part of this is where these passes are occurring.
When your MCPE is between your two center backs, it usually means your midfield is being outplayed and aren’t making themselves available from passes from the back. This results in passes from one back to the next and means there is very little penetration or progression taking place.
When your MCPE is between two center midfielders it usually means they are controlling the middle of the field (especially when the numbers are so much higher than the opponents) and are controlling possession of the ball as well as field position.
Have you considered tracking the MCPE for your team? Another thing you can determine from this is if the MCPE indicates two players are looking for each other too much. If your MCPE is so skewed between two players that they aren’t looking for other options, this might also be a problem.
Just something to think about.
Have a great day!