Giving more importance to the tactics of this beautiful game is the main motive of this website and in doing so, it is important to give full credits to the best player who has been tactically sound and technically astute towards his side’s success throughout the whole season on a consistent basis. This piece is about Thiago Alcantara whom we think is the best Bundesliga Player for the Year 2016/17.
It was another usual season on the domestic front for Bayern Munich as they pocketed another Bundesliga title with relative ease. It was Bayern Munich’s 5th straight Bundesliga title and 26th overall since Bundesliga’s inception 54 years ago in 1963. Bayern Munich enjoyed near total domination as apart from the usual early season pace setters no one provided any sort of competition to the Munich based club. However, the club disappointed in the European front once again, losing to eventual champions Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League. The only highlight in the European season was the 10-2 thrashing of English giants Arsenal in the first knockout round.
The build-up to the season saw Italian head coach Carlo Ancelotti replacing the outgoing Spaniard Pep Guardiola who had led the club to three successive league championships. The appointment of Ancelotti renewed the hope and vigor in fans regarding Bayern’s European performances given the legacy of Ancelotti’s teams in the UEFA Champions League. However the club couldn’t progress beyond the semi-final stage once again. They have not reached the final since defeating Borussia Dortmund in the 2012-13 season.
Thiago Alcantara and Robert Lewandowski were the most influential players in the club’s run in to the domestic glory. Robert Lewandowksi fell agonizingly short to Pierre Emerick Aubameyang in the race for the Golden Boot. The emergence of Thiago Alcantara as one of the best playmakers in the world proved to be the only solace for the fans. Thiago Alcantara enjoyed the best season of his career as his influence on the pitch was immense to his club’s title win. He scored 6 goals and created 5 assists as a deep lying playmaker with a passing accuracy of 90.2% in the 2016-17 season, the highest of any player in Germany.
Thiago has excellent first touch, control and composure. He has a low centre of gravity which gives him a very high balance and the ability to bring the ball out of tight spaces and pressure situations. His impeccable passing range, accuracy and decision making makes him the complete playmaker. On the ball he is a joy to watch. It is as smooth as a magician weaving his magic or a musician orchestrating his orchestra.
He has no problems receiving the ball under pressure helping his team out of tight spots gracefully. He also has the ability to create something out of nothing and destabilising the opposition even from the most improbable of situations. Like most La Masia products his passing and calmness allows him to dictate the game and be an effective influence on the pitch. Defensively he has a telling impact on the game with his well-timed interceptions and reading of the game, despite not having a huge stature or strength.
THIAGO UNDER ANCELOTTI
Bayern deployed either 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 in the season. He was the chief playmaker in either of the formations. In 4-3-3 he was positioned slightly ahead of Vidal and Alonso while he played as a traditional number 10 in the 4-2-3-1. With Bayern employing a 4-3-3 more frequently, his role in both the defensive and offensive phases was at full show.
He was the most influential person in Ancelotti’s squad and his pass accuracy of 90.1% with an average of 94 passes per game shows the willingness of Thiago to take the initiative and manipulate Bayern attacks through his passing. He receives the ball in an advanced position after the initial build up is done. The ball playing ability of the Bayern defenders means he can drift around and offer vertical passing options to the defenders.
When the full backs are in possession he moves to the ball side and provides support on the half space to initiate the possibility of an overload. He glides all over the pitch playing one twos with his teammates and creating space. He comes into his own in the final third as his undeniable creativity and flair act as the fulcrum for the Bayern attacks.
His spacing in between the lines is immaculate and is crucial in the link up play. His positional awareness is brilliant. He is probably the best pressing midfielder in Europe right now and has a keen understanding of press triggers. His ability to read the game in that sense added with his positioning makes him a crucial asset in this regard.
He completes 2.2 dribbles per game and almost 2 key passes per game. Defensively his ball winning ability is quite remarkable. He averaged nearly 4.6 interceptions per game which is the highest of any midfielder playing in Europe’s top 5 leagues. He also won an impressive 2.8 tackles per game.
Performance score of Thiago across the season
KEY MOMENTS THIS TERM
Bayern Munich 3-0 Hertha Berlin (Sept 21, 2016)
Thiago – Performance Time Graph against Hertha BSC
Thiago Alcantara enjoyed a fruitful afternoon as Bayern strolled to a routine 3-0 victory over capital club Hertha Berlin. Thiago Alcantara grabbed a goal as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben were also on the score sheet. Thiago completed 3 take ons whilst having 3 interceptions and a passing accuracy of 93%. Thiago upped his game to a new level in the final half hour to ensure Bayern recorded a comfortable win.
Bayern Munich 3-0 RB Leipzig (Dec 21, 2016)
Thiago – Heat map against RB Leipzig
Prior to this match, RB Leipzig had been in brilliant form matching Bayern Munich toe for toe till this game. But Thiago crushed the hoped of RB Leipzig and their fans with a performance that will be cherished for a long long time. He single-handedly dismantled RB Leipzig grabbing a goal and assisting fellow compatriot Xabi Alonso.
With 120 touches on the ball and attempting 88 passes with an accuracy of 86.4% he asserted his influence on the game as Bayern struck thrice before the interval. Defensively he made a mammoth 6 interceptions and also won 2 tackles. He also completed 4 key passes and 5 takeons. It is safe to say that Thiago’s performance in this game was the best individual Bundesliga performance of the season.
Bayern Munich 6-0 Augsburg (April 1, 2017)
Bayern crushed Augsburg 6-0 as they inched closer to the league championship. Thiago Alcantara was arguably the best player on the pitch despite playing for only 65 minutes. He partnered Kimmich in the center of the park. He grabbed a goal and an assist in another memorable performance. Despite playing for just over an hour Thiago had an astonishing 110 touches on the ball, with 101 passes being attempted. He also completed 2 takeons and made 2 key passes. He literally passed Augsburg to death. Defensively he made 4 tackles and 5 interceptions. This was a mind blowing performance from the diminutive Spaniard.
Thiago – Heat map against Augsburg
This was a season to remember for Thiago as he established himself as one of the best central midfielders in the world along with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric. His influence on the game and his ability on the ball is reminiscent of the legendary Barcelona and Spanish midfielders Xavi and Andres Iniesta. His interception rate is the best of any midfielder in Europe and only the Italian trio of Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti and Jorginho attempted more passes in the top 5 leagues. His passing accuracy of 90.2% is the best of any player in Germany
All the aforementioned stats along with his influence makes him Bundesliga’s top performer for the 2016-17 season and keeping in mind how he led his team to a 5th successive league title, Thiago Alcantara is Bundesliga’s player of the season for 2016-17.