We put our player ratings system to the test again. This time, we analyzed Andres Iniesta and Daniele De Rossi’s impact on Spain v. Italy in the knockout round of the European Championships.

Spain and Italy, two giants in European football, squared off in the round of 16 of the UEFA Euro 2016 Championships on Monday, and we put our player ratings system to the test again.

Unlike our last piece, we aimed to break down the impact of players from both teams in this test to see how well our formula aligned with the outcome of the match. We picked Andres Iniesta of Spain and Daniele De Rossi of Italy for the similarities in their style of play and their anticipated impact on the match based on the way the two teams line up.

Here’s what our ratings helped us uncover about the match’s end result, a 2-0 victory for the Azzurri.

The First Half

It was a tale of tactics as Italy shaped up against Spain’s infamous 4-3-3 with a 3-5-2 of their own. Andres Iniesta played as the number six in the Spain set up, and was tabbed by many as the creative hub for Spain going forward.

Italy would see to it that they couldn’t create any meaningful opportunities.

With De Rossi anchoring, the Italians controlled the midfield, essentially eliminating Iniesta and his cohorts from creating any real threat on goal. Much of Spain’s play is dictated by controlling the midfield, and Iniesta is responsible for most of the link up play from the back. He struggled for much of the first half to break down the Italian midfield and defense with his passing, often passing the ball from side to side in hopes that the Italian’s would fold - they didn’t.

Italy pressed Spain as a cohesive unit, and broke incisively on the counter, exploiting the space between Sergio Busquets and the Spanish back line to open up the play. Watch this series of play that led to the first goal.

The play that led to the foul prior is the key. The Azzurri move the ball up the field with such fluidity, and Spain allowed them all the time and space to do so. The initial ball in from De Rossi to Graziano Pelle is weighted perfectly, and Gerard Pique can’t do anything but foul Pelle. The result? 1-0 to Italy.

The Second Half

The introduction to the second half saw De Rossi subbed off for Thiago Motta in the 53’. Despite the early substitution, De Rossi earned a match rating of 8.3 with our formula. His incisive pass to set up the free kick that led to the first goal was a factor, but his impact on the organization of the midfield was the real key. His involvement in the game directly contributed to seven chances for the Azzurri.  

As the second half wore on, the Spanish midfield began to get a foothold in the match. Credit Vincente del Bosque for the substitution of Lucas Vasquez, who injected some life into the side going forward. Iniesta saw more and more chances created as the game moved closer and closer to the end, even lashing a shot that forced Gianluigi Buffon into a save.

Ultimately, it was not enough for Spain, despite Iniesta’s best efforts. Statistically speaking, Iniesta had a game very much on par with his previous performances. The real key was chances created, in which he had far fewer than De Rossi, despite playing a full 90 minutes. His passing just couldn’t open up the Azzurri defense. And ultimately, the lack of chances was what lost Spain the match.

Over the course of our two tests using Sportscode, we noticed the importance of chances created. If the passes a player makes are resulting directly in chances for the other team, there is a higher value in those plays than if your passing is simply keeping the play moving. Although Iniesta’s passing kept the play moving, his passing didn’t result in chances for his team, which contributed to the 2-0 scoreline.

The important thing to remember is that analysis is all subjective, and the data you choose to analyze can impact that. Moving forward, we will attempt to analyze different positions and the impact they have on the outcome of the match based on the analysis we can do in Sportscode.

If you’re interested in giving Sportscode a try, check out this page for more details on the product.