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Non-Goal of the Week 4-28-22

It's a double NGOTW, one from each of the Champions League matches this week. In both games we saw some terrific central midfield play from two experts: Madrid's Luka Modric and Villareal's Dani Parejo. Few players are better at getting the ball from defense to attack in just one touch, and in these two NGOTWs we can see how vital it is for each of them to understand what's happening on the field around them in order to play first-time passes forward to attacking players.

In the Modric clip above his movement is outstanding and his first-time ball is impeccable, but what's most fascinating is how often he scans the field so that he's ready to play a pinpoint pass as soon as the ball comes his way. We've highlighted each time he looks around the field--every time he's taking a snapshot of open space, the position of defenders relative to his teammates, etc. And as he sees Bernardo picking up the ball, Modric moves forward into the space Bernardo has vacated, readying himself to ping the ball on the volley down the flank.

We see something similar from Parejo in Wednesday's game. In this situation, Parejo has to come much deeper to receive the ball from his keeper (Villareal were forced quite deep all game due to Liverpool's press). As he does, he's constantly scanning around him to find a release for his pass. He scans before he calls for the ball, while calling for it, even as the ball is on the way to his feet. But with all the information he's gathered he's able to get the ball out wide quickly and get his team at least into Liverpool's half of the field.


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