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Stephen Ireland Vs. Michael Ballack: A Statistical Comparison

Stephen Ireland Vs. Michael Ballack: A Statistical Comparison
By Donny Mahoney Updated
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This all a bit strange, but over on MLS.com, they've commissioned one of the great folks from Opta to commission some statistical analysis comparing the past five seasons of Stephen Ireland and Michael Ballack (see this link if you're confused why anyone would bother to do such a thing). The findings according to Opta are that Ireland is roughly as creative a player as Ballack over the past five years.

Ireland wins in terms of minutes played per chance created while Ballack has more shots per minute (a stat that can arguably be spun to show that Ballack shoots more, and is thus more selfish). I love stats, but have some doubts about all this. Remember, the MLS has a vested interest in showing that Ireland and Ballack belong in the same conversation, as the Red Bulls have now sent pretty overt signals that they're looking to sign Ireland, not Ballack, this summer. I thought this little paragraph at the end was most telling:

It's also worth noting that except for the current campaign, Ballack has consistently outperformed Ireland in the categories of passing completion percentage and passing completion percentage in the opponent's half, in some cases by as many as 10 percentage points.

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