This data analysis will look at all wingers in the Portuguese first division, the Liga NOS. We will look at the wingers, assessing their passing, dribbling and shooting. All graphs will contain average lines for reference. Upon looking at each set of statistics, a list of the best performing players will be made.
From there, we will look at the three players who have stood out the most this season, and should be analysed further to see their intangible qualities, along with the rest of their tangible qualities.
Firstly we will look at the finishing quality of the wingers, as often enough, wingers will find themselves in opportunities to score. The following metrics allow us to see how often they find themselves in these situations, and how often they convert their chances.
There are five players who stand out in this first graph:
Pizzi – The Benfica player tops both statistics, and this comes as no surprise as well, with the 31-year-old being his club’s and the league’s second top goal-scorer from the wing, only one goal away from former Serie A striker Carlos Vinicius.
Rafa Silva – The other Benfica winger Silva also makes an early appearance. Despite his just above average expected goal count, he comes in at second for his conversion rate, showing his clinical finishing this season.
Ricardo Horta – The 25-year-old Braga right-winger is another name expected to have popped up by those who watch him. Again, he is only second to Pizzi in regards to his expected goals, showing his good movement in the final third, whilst also coming in above average in his conversion rate.
Diego Lopes – Despite not being in the top three for either metric, Lopes stands out due to his great conversion rate and respectable expected goals. He has been one of the shining lights of the season for Rio Ave, who have been outperforming all pre-season expectations.
For this next section, we will look at our wingers’ final pass. Usually, we would be using key passes as one of our metrics, but Wyscout has a stat called smart passes. Smart passes are given the following description from Wyscout: “There has to be some idea in the pass, something creative, when the player is cutting the lines and winning some advantage for his teammates with this pass, leading them in good position to attack. The pass should be between 2-3 opposite players.”
This is more useful than key passes due to some of our wingers playing deeper than others, making smart passes more effective. Our other stat will be expected assists, and it gives us a strong idea of the final pass of our wingers.
We see names like Pizzi and Silva coming up again, but there are also a few new additions:
Carlos Mane – The 26-year-old has been another who has impressed in the current Rio Ave side. His playmaking final pass, as shown above, is impressive, managing 0.26 expected assists per 90, more than any player apart from Pizzi.
Otavio – The Brazilian is someone who we will more of in the next few graphs, as he shows his creative output which has been key to Porto this season, allowing them to be first this season so far, despite a disappointing start to the campaign which saw them drop out of the Champions League.
Nuno Santos – Despite not putting up the best raw metrics with one goal and four assists this season, we can see that Santos’ expected assists has him much higher than four assists, with his 1.2 smart passes per 90 also showing his above-average passing.
Additionally, another set of metrics we will use are passes into the penalty area and through passes. We use these because although they do not necessarily show difficulty in passing, player movement is key in being able to pass the ball into the box, and find the time and space to provide a through pass.
In this graph, one new player of note comes up:
Bruno Tabata – The Portimonense winger has been at his club for almost four years now, and has been quietly having a good season. He tops the list for passes into the penalty area, showing that despite not playing for one of the Portuguese powerhouses, he is still capable of progressing the ball into the box.
Crossing is often an important aspect of wingers in Portugal, with most teams preferring an approach utilising wingers who can cross the ball well. Our statistics are relatively simple this time, just using crossing and success rate.
There are two new players here who show off impressive crossing ability and success rate:
Galeno – The young Braga winger has shone this season after failing to come through the Porto ranks and being sold off to Braga at 20 years of age. The Brazilian is a shining example of a winger, as he looks to use pace and trickery down the byline to hit an accurate cross in, as shown through his well above average crossing figures.
Davidson – Arguably in his prime, the Vitoria winger also stands out for his well-above-average crossing figures. This consistency in the final third approach by Vitoria has seen Davidson become an increasingly influential player in their system.
Being able to effectively dribble is another key component in finding the best wingers in the Liga NOS. The Portuguese first division is also known for teams having space, and so dribbling becomes more important as the winger must be able to exploit it. Similarly to measuring crossing ability, we will use relatively simple metrics: dribbles and dribble success rate.
From here, there are another two new players who make an appearance:
Brian Mansilla – The Argentine on-loan from Racing Club has lacked in his end product this season but has shown his ability to drive is as good as anyone in the league. Despite a below-average success rate, his consistency in attacking the channel has led to him standing out here in this data-analysis.
Lourency – Whilst not having a standout season, Lourency has been doing a good job at Gil Vicente this season so far, especially with his 7.6 dribbles per 90 and above-average completion rate.
The final set of data we will look at is the ball progression of our wingers. Ball progression refers to how much a player moves the ball forward. Our two metrics will be progressive passes and progressive runs. This will give us an idea as to how positive thinking our wingers are, and how often they take the ball forward.
Similar names appear again, but we do have one addition to our list:
Marcus Edwards – The final man to be mentioned today is the former Tottenham Hotspur youth player, and former Norwich player Edwards. At 21 years old, he hasn’t been the brightest prospect, resulting in him leaving the EPL, but has managed to represent England at U-20s level, and has had an under-the-radar season at Vitoria.
Despite not being the first choice, he has shown that he is capable of fulfilling the winger role, and has also shown his above-average ball progression in both runs and passing.
These three final players are the ones who I believe have performed best this season, and have been key to their teams this season.
Pizzi – Undoubtedly a contender for the Liga NOS player of the season, Pizzi has been simply outstanding for Bruno Lage this season. Despite being a more central-based player, Pizzi has taken the right midfield spot in Lage’s 4-4-2 and shown why he is one of the best players in Portugal at the moment, with his versatility, creativity, and clinical finishing.
Rafa Silva – Another man who has stood out and could be up for player of the season is the Benfica left-midfielder Rafa Silva. Many in Portugal know how quick he is, especially opposition defenders, but like Pizzi, he has changed under Lage.
He has gone from a direct and wasteful winger to a trickier and smarter one. This has been reflected in his standout stat: Smart Passes per 90.
Nuno Santos – This last spot was hard to decide between Santos and Otavio, but I went for Santos simply because his non-goals and assists output this season has been amazing, and he has been one of the main reasons for Rio Ave’s impressive run this season.
At only 25 years of age as well, there is potential for him to improve further, and potentially move to a bigger European club.
We have looked at 30 players across this data analysis, and have eventually narrowed our list down to our top three of Santos, Pizzi and Silva. From here, more scouting and a tactical analysis would be required for further information about these players, but the data gives us very strong evidence for them all being quality players.