Most of the team people praise players and criticize others just on the basis of their approximate knowledge of soccer. Yanga-Mbiwa seems to be AS Roma’s best defensive player so far and I’m going to let you know why.
No more than 8 months ago AS Roma’s passionate fans were really disappointed about Benatia’s departure toward Germany. Undoubtedly the Moroccan defender was an important masterpiece of Rudi Garcia’s puzzles. Last season thanks to the duo Benatia–Castan Roma’s defensive line was practically impenetrable. This season the situation is a bit different and even if Sabatini replaced Benatia with the solid Greek player Kostas Manolas everyone noted that the team is suffering so much more than forecasted on the eve of the current Serie A.
However, just a few days before the end of the summer transfer market session Walter Sabatini, Roma’s sporting director, supported by Rudi Garcia decided to close another important deal, Yanga-Mbiwa! Garcia knew the rocky defender very well because when he was playing for Montpellier he was considered the best defender of the League 1. Roma’s supporters were a bit skeptical about this deal because most of them didn’t know the real qualities of the French defender. However, by analyzing the stats I can definitely say that Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was a great purchase for Roma.
In order to explain the reasons why I’m firmly convinced about what I’m saying I’m going to compare Roma’s defensive line 2013-14 and the actual one. In 2013-14 Benatia and Castan amazed the crowds due to their confidence in protecting Morgan De Sanctis and undoubtedly the entire team benefited from their great solidity. In the current season Manolas plays together with Yanga-Mbiwa and, even if both players can be considered very strong Roma’s defensive line is not as good as the previous one. Let’s check the graph below:
As we can see Benatia was a defender of a significantly higher level than Castan, Manolas and Yanga-Mbiwa but the numbers of Roma’s French defender are actually astonishing. On average Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa loses only 1.44 tackles per game while Manolas 1.50, and Castan 1.67. Benatia is leading this parameter with just 1.39 tackles lost per game. The above graph highlights that Yanga-Mbiwa is actually a master in intercepting the ball. He leads this category with a great 2.83 intercepts per game a result even higher than what the phenomenal Benatia recorded last year 2.79. Castan intercepts an average of 2.53 balls per game while Manolas only 2.40. Another parameter in which the French defender leads is the successful passes: Mapou (51.72 per game), Benatia (42.09), Castan (40.75) and Manolas in the last position with (39.45 per game.)
The defensive score of these 4 former and actual Roma defensive players (provided by the famous portal Squawka.com) is there to confirm that Sabatini didn’t find a player able to replace or replicate Benatia’s last year performances but Yanga-Mbiwa, who was pursued as the natural substitute of Leandro Castan, is performing as well as the Brazilian defender did last season. This parameter is obviously led by the Moroccan defender (23.92 per game), followed by Castan (22.62) and Yanga-Mbiwa (22.54). Sadly I discover that even in this parameter Manolas closes in the last row with a mere 13.79 per game that is a far lower value than his above mentioned colleagues. I want to conclude this meticulous analysis by highlighting that in the so called “Total score”, which a score in which all the defensive and offensive parameters are counted, Benatia is still the leader with a shocking 39.79 per game but Yanga-Mbiwa (36.53 per game) is very close to the amazing performances of the Moroccan defender. Castan and Manolas’ values are far lower than those of the Moroccan and French defenders. Castan closes in third position with a total score of 30.42 while Manolas still in the last row with a disappointing 23.57.
In conclusion I would say that this year Roma’s best defensive duo would have been Benatia / Yanga-Mbiwa and not Benatia / Manolas as many supporters would think. The French defender chosen by Sabatini and Garcia seems to be Roma’s real top player so far.