On Wednesday night, the Dutch midfielder was a 45-minute passenger, as his Galatasaray deservedly lost 3-0 at Mourinho's Real Madrid.
In other words, it's no stretch to say it's been a long three years for Sneijder, who joined Galatasaray this past winter after a nasty and protracted contract dispute with Inter. But until Wednesday's quarterfinal first leg, we had not seen quite so vivid an illustration of just how far Sneijder has fallen.
In his 45 minutes on the pitch, Sneijder took just 19 touches, second-fewest among Galatasaray players. As a point of comparison, consider that his replacement, Gökhan Zan, had 31 touches in the same amount of playing time (via WhoScored.com).
Nor did Sneijder do much with his touches. Overall, the Dutchman completed 14 of his 17 attempted passes for a respectable rate of 82.3 percent. But most of the passes went backwards or sideways, as the graphic courtesy of the FourFourTwo Stats Zone App shows below:
Sneijder attempted only four passes in the attacking third. Only one, to the right flank, succeeded. Three others down the middle failed, as the graphic below illustrates:
So who's to blame? Has Sneijder regressed so much, or was Wednesday's failure an issue of management?
There's some reason to suggest the latter. Playing both Sneijder and Drogba in the same side clearly did not work for Galatasaray manager Fatih Terim:
Galatasaray should have bought Sneijder or Drogba, not both, I feel. Unless of course Terim compromises more on his system.— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) April 3, 2013
You can blame Sneijder for having a poor game but Terim made a mistake in playing with two forwards in a game like this. @cnnfc— Pedro Pinto (@pedrocnn) April 3, 2013
Regardless, Wednesday's performance showed in a striking way how different a player Sneijder is in 2013, compared to the brilliant creative midfielder he was in 2010.