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Stat Attack: How Do Barcelona Targets Koulibaly & Kounde Compare Against Pique

This summer, the defensive line-up of Barcelona will undergo a significant makeover. In light of Gerard Pique's fitness and longevity concerns, the club is poised to sign Andreas Christensen on a free transfer.

Jules Kounde and Kalidou Koulibaly are the two main targets for Barça's search for a third center-back.

However, will they be able to replace Pique at the Nou Camp? The statistics of Kounde and Kouliably will be examined here at Barça Universal to see how they compare to the seasoned defender.

Quality in the field of science and technology

A strong backline is essential to Barcelona's style of play, and any centre-back must have excellent technical skills to be able to distribute ball and make those crucial in-between-the-lines passes.

For more than a decade, Pique has been a master of the craft. It's hard to argue with his stature as one of Europe's best ball-playing defenders, despite his recent decline in form.

Pique and Jules Kounde have both averaged 71 passes per 90 minutes in statistical terms. However, the veteran's passing accuracy is nearly nine times higher than the Frenchman's 88%. In comparison, Koulibaly only averages 61 passes with an accuracy rate of 87.6 percent in this region.

However, it is worth noting that Pique is a member of a squad that places a great value on possession. According to the 2021/22 La Liga season, Barcelona averaged 64 percent possession compared to Sevilla's 59 percent (third place) and Napoli's 58 percent (fourth place).

But Pique is the most dominant player in the arena because he is able to carry the ball and pass between the lines. In the past season, 35-year-old averaged 4.77 progressive passes (PP) and 5.44 carries.

Even while Kounde's 3.67 PP and 4.63 PC and Koulibaly's 3.35 PP and 2.46 PC are commonly regarded as some of the best ball-carrying defenders in Europe, this is significantly and somewhat unexpectedly higher.

Is Koulibaly's ball control good enough to play for Barça?

Although Kounde (0.26) is better at beating players, he is not as good as Pique. However, it's still extremely impressive for a centre-back to have 0.73 attempts per game; Koulibaly has 0.74.

Battles on the ground and in the air

A competent defender must be able to dominate in air and ground duels and be proactive enough to prevent their opponents from shooting on goal, even if technical ability is an important part of Barcelona's game.


In this match, one would expect Koulibaly to take the lead because of his strong-willed defense and larger body than his two opponents.

It's surprising that the Senegalese international, despite his 195cm height, has only won 1.93 out of every 90 aerial duels. Not on the same level as Kounde (3.15), or even Pique (3.78). Among the three, it has the highest success rate (68 percent).

Koulibaly, on the other hand, has an average of 2.37 tackles per 90 minutes, so he's more likely to be involved in the action. Pique (1.06) and Kounde (1.18) are among the lowest performers in this category, with the former hardly even averaging a challenge every 90 minutes of playtime.

In contrast to Kounde (3.55 clearances) and Koulibaly (3.55), Pique averaged 4.35 clearances during the previous season (3.26). At 1.47 blocks per 90 minutes, Pique trails Kounde by a wide margin (1.33 blocks per 90 minutes).

Brilliant use of position

As important as it is for centre-backs to be able to distribute possession from the back and dominate the box with their physical and aerial prowess, they also need to appear savvy when they are not in possession.

That's when each defender's positional expertise comes into play. Barcelona boast one of Europe's most intelligent center backs in Pique.

This previous season, Pique's interception rate was merely 1.41 out of 90. In this division, Kounde has a higher score of 2.01 than Koulibaly's 1.63.

Because of his sluggishness in recent years, Pique's numbers have been low. Neither is Koulibaly as athletic as Kounde, a centre-back regarded as one of the fastest in Europe.

However, when the opposition share possession, the young Frenchman is less aggressive than Koulibaly. Pique had 6.95 pressures per 90 minutes last season, and Koulibaly had a whopping 9.61.

Araujo would be a great companion for Kounde, who isn't as forceful.

This gap can be explained by Napoli's style of play under Luciano Spalletti, but even so, the Senegalese international is highly combative without the ball and is always looking for opportunities to win back control.

Conclusion


There are a few things we can say about Gerard Pique's style of play based on the number of times we've seen him in action. However, Kounde has a more combative and athletic personality than the aging Spaniard.

When it comes to regaining possession for his team, Koulibaly is in a league of his own. In comparison to Kounde, he lacks technical ability and athleticism, which may not be an ideal defensive partner for Ronald Araujo, who is physically savvy and aggressive.

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Barcelona Jules Kounde Kalidou Koulibaly Nou Camp Pique

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