Joan Jordán is probably an unknown figure to football fans who don’t watch La Liga often. However, his impressive performances in his two seasons at Eibar has made him one of the best central midfielders in La Liga. He deservedly got to play for Sevilla – who are currently third in the La Liga table. Having impressed at a top pressing side like Eibar, Jordán easily fitted in Julen Lopetegui’s high press tactics. Alongside Fernando and Éver Banega, the all-rounded Jordán has been an integral part of Sevilla‘s wonderful midfield three.
Jordán is a product of Espanyol’s youth academy. After spending three seasons with the club’s first team, he joined Eibar in July 2017. He played well in two seasons there and earned himself a move to Sevilla last summer.
The below heatmap would give you an overview of how Jordán plays. He is a central midfielder with a good work rate, who operates around the two half-spaces (more on the right and in the opposition’s half).
Let’s take a look at some of Jordán’s strengths:
He’s clearly a quality long-range player. 5 out of his 11 La Liga goals in the last three seasons have come from outside the box, overperforming expected goals by 2.53 xG. This season, he attempted 6.28 long passes per game, with great accuracy of 82.4%. He’s also a great set-piece taker. In La Liga since 2017/18, he has scored from three direct free-kicks from 17 attempts since (a great 17% conversion rate), and generated 60% of his 8.45 xA through set-pieces.
Jordán is also a good dribbler, completing 54.6% of his 2.88 attempts per 90 this season. He doesn’t give the ball away in dangerous areas – in his own half, he only loses the ball 2.78 times per 90. In addition, he is an aggressive ball-winner, which suits high-pressing systems, but also caused him to commit lots of fouls. This season, he has committed 1.61 fouls and received 0.2 yellow cards per 90.
Sevilla has mainly played in a 4-3-3, with Jordán and Banega – the two playmakers – protected by Fernando in central midfield. In possession, Fernando would drop to become the third centre-back, pushing their aggressive full-backs high up the pitch. Their shape could become a 3-5-2 if Óliver Torres plays, as he would often drop into a central midfield position. In the build-up, Jordán can drop deep if needed to help the back three buildup short.
Sevilla mostly attack through flexible movements on the wings with overloads from the ball-near full-back, central mid and wing forward on each side. The aim is to combine on the flanks to send crosses in towards the 1.88-meter tall Luuk De Jong. Their key pass leaders in this season’s La Liga are Banega (2.18 per 90), Jesús Navas (1.68), Sergio Reguilón (1.64) and Jordán. It’s not much of a surprise when these four are also currently their team’s leaders in accurate crosses per game.
The Jordán – Navas – Lucas Ocampos triangle has been a key feature in Sevilla’s attack this season. Jordán’s flexible wide movements and short combinations with the wide players has consistently allowed them to penetrate the opponent’s right half-space and wing. In the below example, Jordán found Navas, whose lobbed through ball down the half-space gave Ocampos the chance to send a dangerous cross in, which led to an own goal from an Athletic Bilbao defender.
Jordán has shown that he can contribute directly to his team’s output, mainly through direct free kicks and long shots. He has scored two goals in La Liga this season, with one from a direct free-kick. However, it is his passing that is his most important feature. He’s a key playmaker for Sevilla, attempting 70.23 passes per 90 with a whopping 90.6% accuracy. The former Eibar man is extremely competent in forward passing. His passes to final third and to box accuracy are 87.3% (11.1 attempts per 90 – 5th of all La Liga CMs) and 70.5% (2.7 attempts per 90 – 6th of all La Liga CMs) respectively. Clearly a top player in this department.
It is no doubt that he has great vision. In the below example, despite being followed closely by the Eibar midfielder, he could still spot Ocampos’ run and find him with a great lobbed through pass. It is important to note that due to the opponent’s tight marking, Jordán clearly didn’t have the best posture to take a pass, but his hip was flexible enough to allow him to pass with great accuracy.
Lobbed passes towards the other flank are one of Jordán’s favourite. After some overloads and passes on one side, these switches of play would free up a pacey wide player on the other side, e.g. Navas, who would have time and space to use his skill and speed to beat his man and cross. In the example below, he spotted Navas’ run on the right. His flexibility once again helped him take a difficult pass to progress the ball as early as possible so that Navas’ pace could come into full effect.
Below is another illustration of his wonderful range of passing. First, a typical switch of play towards Reguilón on the left.
He then received the ball back and sent a through ball down the half-space onto Navas’ bursting run. The Espanyol midfielder was busy looking at Jordán and not aware of Navas’ movement.
Jordán is a player with great work rate and stamina. Combining those with good defending skills, it’s no surprise that Jordán has registered good defensive numbers compared to league average. In La Liga 2019/20, his possession-adjusted interceptions and tackles per 90 are currently at 2.02 (league avg. 1.96) and 1.48 (league avg. 0.94) respectively.
In defending, Sevilla often deploy a wide overload to outnumber the opponents on the flanks. The likes of Banega and Jordán, thus, are expected to have a high work rate and smart positioning.
When losing the ball, the side would instantly compress the space around the ball, with players closing down the ball-carrier from all sides. Being a ruthless presser, Jordán is clearly an important name in these situations. In the below example, Jordán’s pressing movement cut off a nearby passing lane, but the Osasuna player could still make the pass. The ball receiver was then instantly closed down by two nearby Sevilla players.
Sevilla’s pressing focuses on cutting off nearby passing options. That’s exactly what Jordán was doing here with his dash, which also instantly suffocated Matić, the ball carrier.
In the following example, Jordán rushed at Rakitic, who was about to receive Piqué’s pass. Enrich then closed down Rakitic, forcing him to pass back.
Jordán continued his run, intercept the pass and then got past Piqué.
It was already the 93rd minute.
In this example, Jordán covered two passing lanes by his body orientation. The ball-carrier couldn’t pass back due to Jordán’s use of his cover shadow, and his posture made sure he could stick out a leg to intercept the pass, which is demonstrated by the black arrow.
In the example below, he showed great tactical discipline by following the opponent midfielder’s late run into the box. He then intercepted the cross.
His smart positioning again showed here on the other end of the field. Here, he removed Real Betis’ Álex Moreno’s two nearby passing options and then closed him down, forcing him to clear the ball.
This analysis has shown that Jordán is a player who contributes as much to his team’s offence as their defence. He will continue to play a key part in helping his side earn a Champions League spot for next season.