Emiliano Buendía – Through pass analysis

The English Championship. Some would argue that it’s the most exciting league in the world right now and it has been for quite some time. This year Norwich City have absolutely walked away with the league and are back in the Premier League after one year. Simply to good for this year’s Championship.

One of the reasons that Norwich City performed so well in attacking is the presence of Buendia. He has been a aesthetically pleasing player to look at who’s mere presence is an addition to the Premier League next season, but this season has been a form of art from the Norwich City player.

The Argentinian playmaker is instrumental to their success and in this analysis, I will look at his key passing, and his through passes in particular. The data and video footage come from Wyscout.

Data analysis

In the data that I’m using all players that have played right wide midfield in the Championship 2020-2021 have been included. The reason is that Wysocut has set him as such, so that’s how I’ve taken it on. I’ve filtered them for >900 minutes played, as that’s enough, in my opinion, to make a good judgment on their data performances in the league. This leaves me with a total of 65 players to look at in data analysis. The data and video has been retrieved on April 30th 2021.

In the image above you see a scatterplot where two metrics have been combined. You can see how well Buendia performs in the passes to final third per 90 and in the passes to penalty area. With these metrics you can assess how many passes per 90 minutes are progressing from a certain area in the field to the final third Or to the penalty area. You can measure his attacking contribution with these kind of metrics.

When we look at the number we see that he scores above average in both the passes to final third (7,81 passes to the final third per 90) and the in the passes to penalty area (3,8 passes to penalty area per 90).

It’s hard to describe what effect a key pass or through pass has without looking at it, but the attempts to make a pass that contributes to the attack of your team, can be found in the metrics Key passes per 90 and Through passes per 90. Buendia performs very well and is in the quarter of the players who perform best in those combined metrics, but does perform slightly better in through passes per 90 than in the key passes per 90.

We can see that Buendia attempts a lot of key passes per 90 compared to his peers: 0,94 key passes per 90. If we look at the Through passes per 90, he does very well in passing too: 3,07 through passes per 90.

If we look at the data from the key passing metric, surely we are interested to know in what passes lead to a goal or are expected to lead to a goal. We can assess that via the expected assists per 90 and the actual assists per 90, as illustrated in the scatterplot above. Buendia performs very well in this metric among midfielders when we look at expected assists per 90, and does the same when looking at actual assists given. He has 0,32 xA per 90 and 0,32 assists per 90 – which compared to midfielders in the Championship is very good.

Iv’ve added the metrics above to the profile to assess Buendia, because he has been instrumental in being a threat in front of goal himself. That’s why I’m looking at his numbers in shots per 90 and how many threat does shot pose – what is the probability of a shot being converted into a goal. This can be measured with the expected goals per 90 metric.

Buendia does very well in these metrics as you can see in his position in the scatterplot. He has 2,69 shots per 90 and 0,33 expected goals per 90.

In the graph below you can see the percentile ranks of Buendia compared to the 65 players in my database. This shows in which percentile he is for every metric that belongs to the key passing side of the game.

As you can see in the graph, Buendia is really good. He scores excellent in all the metrics against the players in his position who have played more than 900 minutes. In the deep completions per 90, smart passes per 90 and through passes per 90 he even tops the ranks. In terms of key passing Buendia is so good and he definitely made his mark in this promotion winning Norwich City team and the whole Championship as a whole.

This can also be seen in the beeswarmplot below. This visual shows us the same information, but the visual is slightly different as it visually shows us where the players are in terms of the metric and shows us how far ahead Buendia actually is.

Visuals of the last 6 games

In the two graphs below I’m taking a closer look at the last 6 games of Buendia in the Championship and give a visualisation of where his final third passes have been made and where the shots he had, were conducted. This gives us an idea of the area which he plays in and creates, as well as where he ends up with having shots.

In the image above you can see the heat maps of Buendia in his last 6 games for Norwich City. These heat maps have been made showing the pass locations of Buendia in those specific game, and you can see that he loves to operate in the middle of the pitch and on the right wide midfield.

In the image above we can see the final third passes of Buendia. The yellow arrow indicate successful passes, while the orange arrows indicate unsuccessful passes.

This shows us the passes that have the final third as begin location and not necessarily the end location. This can be seen as in the game against Preston North End, where he pass the ball into the middle third one time. Buendia is present in around the box and loves to distribute the passes there to the upcoming full-backs or to the strikers.

In the image above we can see the shots of Buendia in the last 6 games. The grey dots indicate shots, while the red dots indicate goals scored.

This shows us the shot locations in the last few games of Buendia and shows us whether he scores a goal in one of these matches. What we can conclude is that he always is looking to shoot and has a shot in each game analysed. This makes his 0,33 xG per game obvious.

Video analysis

As displayed in the title of this piece, this analysis is concentrated on the through passes of Buendia. Until now I’ve analysed a lot of different passes, more specifically his key passing. Now, I’m going to show his variety of through passes via 10 video examples.

In the video above you see Norwich in their game against Watford. Watford has the ball and Buendia presses the man with the ball along with his team mates. As soon as the ball possession is regained and the ball comes to Buendia he looks for a passing option forward. In this particular case he sees Pukki making a run down the line and manages to give the ball into the right corner of the pitch, where Pukki can get it.

In the video you above you Norwich City playing away against Derby County. From the moment Norwich City have the ball deep in their own half, Buendia moves forward to the middle third and patiently waits until he sees Pukki trying to lose his marker and make a run forward. Only then Buendia gives the ball forward. The pass doesn’t have the perfect outcome, but the idea behind the pass is excellent. The execution as well with the outside of his boot.

In the video above you can see Norwich City in their game against Huddersfield. After getting the ball back in possession on the right side of the middle third, Buendia eyes a run from Pukki again. This time Pukki plays in the central zones, which means that Buendia needs to give a different ball. The pass is high and curls around the defender and between the two defending player, and Pukki knows what do with these kind of ball and scores a goal.

In the video above you can see Norwich City in the same game against Huddersfield. This thime Buendia drops to his own half in order to collect the ball. When he has the ball he moves up the middle third on the left side of central zone and spots Pukki again, who makes a run from the central zone to the right. Buendis gives a high through ball and reaches Pukki.

In the video above we Norwich city in their game against Preston North End. The attack start with goalkeeper Krul kicking the ball long in to oppositions’ half and after the aerial duel the ball falls to the feet of Buendia. His handling of the ball and the pace wherein he does it, make it possible for him to give a quick through ball into the right wing. In that area Pukki had already made a run and is anticipating the ball.

In the video above we see the same game of Norwich City against Preston North End. Their direct approach can be seen through winning the aerial duels in the defensive third and getting forward as quickly as possible. The balls to Buendia in the middle third and he spots Pukki’s run through the middle and the through pass goes through the middle as well. In the end Pukki was not able to convert the chance, but a threat nonetheless.

In the video above we see Norwich City in their game against Sheffield Wednesday. The attack concentrates on the right side of the pitch with Buendia starting on the right line. When he gets the ball he has several options going forward. With Pukki dropping down a bit, Buendia spots Rupp who overlaps and goes into thr space at the right wing. This through pass is done again with his left foot.

In the video above we see Norwich City against Birmingham City. In this case we see Buendia in the middle of the pitch and in the examples above he had time on the ball and had a few touches before he passed it. This time he has on touch that sets Pukki alone before the keeper. The 1v1 is one by the keeper, but the chance was there.

In the video above you can see Norwich City play in the game against Rotherham United. Buendia drops into the the middle third in his own half and with his movement he turns away from three Rotherham players. In doing so he creates space for himself and can look forwards, to eye the runners of his team. His through pass goes to Pukki again, but unfortunately he is standing offside.

In the video above we see Norwich City in their game against Coventry City. Coventry is in the attack when the ball is intercepted and the counter-attack starts. As soon as the ball is with Buendia, Pukki begins his run and that is obviously seen by Buendia – who provides the through pass. This time Pukki manages to get the ball and scores the goal for Norwich City.

Final thoughts
Buendia is a gifted player. That is not something new, we have all said that in the Premier League, but also in this season he has shown that he has excellent qualities and is one of the reasons that Norwich City is going back to the Premier League. In this analysis we have looked at his data and video of key passing, and he definitely matches his data when we look at the eye test.

It’s not strange that he has attracted the attention of bigger teams in England and in Europe, but Norwich City will absolutely want to hold on to him as he can prove to be of vital important in the Premier League next season.

Data: Wyscout
Video: Wyscout
Telestration: Metrica Play

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