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New Serie A stars on the rise?
Surprising results emerge as Diamanti, Cerci and Palacio lead all the players in the Serie A rankings for the month of October, according to CIES
by John Cavenaghi
The CIES (International Centre for Sport Studies) Football Observatory (together with OptaPro), just published the rankings of the best Serie A players for the month of October. The successors of Totti, Ricky Alvarez and Robinho (the top three players for September) are Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna), Alessio Cerci (Torino) and Rodrigo Palacio (Inter), respectively, according to the Swiss based research body.


At a first glance these players might appear as a bold selection, both considering last month’s picks and the incredibly rich summer transfer window for Italian clubs, with stars such as Tevez, Higuain and Kakà coming to play for Italian clubs. However, on the one hand CIES’s selection method is scientific, and on the other, science is backed up by mere evidence, as the three players have been absolutely brilliant for their sides.


First of all, to understand these rankings let’s take a look at the parameters that CIES and OptaPro take into account. With three clearly attacking parameters, and only one truly defensive one, the ranking is biased toward attacking players. But after all, as Vujadin Boskov used to say, “A 2-0 is a 2-0, and if you do 2-0 you win!”…in order to win, you have to score!


The 5 key areas of the game are (in brackets the top performers of October for the single parameters):

  1. Shooting: the effectiveness of a player to shoot and score goals, excluding penalties (Berardi, Sassuolo)

  2. Chance creation: the ability of a player to put teammates into shooting positions, with particular emphasis on goal assists (Palacio, Inter)

  3. Take on: how productive and efficient a player is in dribbling, crossing and winning corners (Guarin, Inter)

  4. Distribution: the ability of a player to make accurate passes, with particular emphasis on those made in the opposition half (Conti, Cagliari).

  5. Recovery: how well players tackle and intercept opposing players so as to minimize the chances for opponents to score goals and shoot, especially from close range (Behrami, Napoli)


The combination of all five parameters produced the abovementioned top three. Alessandro Diamanti is perhaps the most surprising of the three, given the difficult start of the season for Bologna, and given that he leads the overall ranking. He played 90 minutes in all three games he played in October, and scored two goals (one apiece) in the two painful losses versus Hellas Verona and Sassuolo. He did not score, but was among the best players on the pitch in the 1-0 win against his old team Livorno.


Alessio Cerci is the one and only leader of an unlucky Torino side. The Granata deserve way more than the 12 points they have right now, and the latest 1-1 draw against Serie A leaders Roma is just the latest demonstration. Nonetheless Cerci stood out, with one key goal against Sampdoria, and an exceptional performance against Livorno, with two assists and a goal. His only poor performance came at the San Paolo vs. Napoli, against whom he played only 45 minutes, before being substituted at the break.


Finally, Rodrigo Palacio clinched the final podium position. He’s been phenomenal for the Nerazzurri, leading Mazzarri’s side to a surprising start, with 22 points and a promising fourth position. The Argentine scored a double vs. Torino, where his team almost won after having played in 10 men for 85 minutes, and scored again against Hellas Verona in a 4-2 win, while also distributing one assist apiece against Atalanta and Verona.


What might be seen as a limit of this ranking, i.e. that it does not take into account the team performance (wins, draws, losses), is actually a pro. This is in fact a players' ranking, and as such it should isolate the players’ performance from their teams’. This is hence an objective measure of how the players perform, giving every player- may they play for Roma or Chievo- the same opportunity to succeed.


Science and statistics not always coincide with what we see on the pitch with a naked eye, especially in football. If used wisely and skillfully, however, they can become a useful lens, for both football insiders and fans, to see things from a different perspective. We will continue to monitor the rankings in the next months, but in the meantime let us know what you think about this Serie A top three (for October) in the comment section! Would you have chosen differently?


Friday, November 8 th, 2013
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