Scouting Report: Is Sokratis the Answer to Barcelona's Defensive Troubles?

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJune 14, 2014

Greece's Sokratis Papastathopoulos, left,  heads the ball against Colombia's Jackson Martinez during the group C World Cup soccer match between Colombia and Greece at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Saturday, June 14, 2014.  Colombia won 3-0. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
Martin Meissner/Associated Press

Could Borussia Dortmund's Greek international Sokratis Papastathopoulos, a 26-year-old, 6'1", 187-pound centre-back, be a summer transfer window target for Barcelona? 

To cover that scenario, this article grades Sokratis' display against Colombia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and provides a scouting report on his season for Dortmund.

 

Sokratis vs. Colombia Grade: B

Source: FIFA.com.

Colombia comprehensively beat Greece 3-0, forcing Sokratis and Kostas Manolas to work overtime. 

The pair had strong individual games, but with no potency going forward, Greece were constantly under pressure. 

Sokratis surged forward four times, per Squawka.comand attempted to spark some life into Greece's toothless attack. 

He made three of his five tackles, two of which were on Colombian central attacking midfielder James Rodriguez, per Squawka.com.

Source: Squawka.com.

With three tackles, three interceptions and six clearances, Sokratis did his job for Greece.

How did he perform for Dortmund?

 

Borussia Dortmund Positives

Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp signed Sokratis from Werder Bremen for €8/£6.4 million last summer as part of a contingency plan. 

Sokratis was called into action when Dortmund's two-time Bundesliga-winning centre-back Neven Subotic tore his cruciate knee ligaments.

Deputising in Dortmund's fragmented defence, Sokratis was world class, and the German media rated him highly. 

Sokratis' Critically Acclaimed Campaign
PublicationDefenders Only Ranking
Bild4th
Kicker5th
Bild.de and Kicker.de.

Source: Kicker.de.

Source: Bild.de.

Compared to Barcelona's centre-backs, Sokratis is a stronger tackler than Gerard Pique, substantially better in the air than Javier Mascherano and more experienced than Marc Bartra.

League OnlySokratisPiqueMascheranoBartra
     
Tackles Per Game2.62.12.92.8
Fouls Per Game1.61.01.20.9
Tackles Per Foul1.72.02.43.1
Interceptions Per Game1.32.02.92.9
Headers Won161983444
Headers Contested2411426565
Headers Won %66.969.052.367.7
     

Sokratis possesses a win-at-all-costs mentality as demonstrated when he man-handled Bayern Munich centre-forward Mario Mandzukic and Schalke centre-forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Source: Bundesliga.com.

Source: Bundesliga.com.

A feisty, gritty and sturdily built defender, Sokratis is an upgrade over Pique from a defensive point of view.

Source: Squawka.com.

Another plus in Sokratis' game is him being a constant goal threat from set pieces. 

He overpowered Stuttgart right-back Gotoku Sakai to head home Borussia Dortmund defensive midfielder Nuri Sahin's corner. 

Source: Bundesliga.com

Sokratis got in front of Hannover 96 right-back Hiroki Sakai to head the ball toward Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels, who poked the ball past Hannover goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler.

Source: Bundesliga.com.

 

Borussia Dortmund Negatives

Sokratis plays on the edge, and his brute strength can be neutralised by strict referees.

He was cheaply sent off after accumulating a second yellow card for barging into Bayer Leverkusen centre-forward Stefan Kiessling. 

Source: Bundesliga.com.

 

League OnlySokratisPiqueMascheranoBartra
     
Passes Per Game53.460.554.451
Pass Completion %81.990.288.989.9
Long Passes Per Game6.25.78.33.8
Long Passes Completion %60.875.678.970.8
    

Sokratis' pass-completion percentage (81.9) is below the Barcelona average (88.4).

He is not as proficient of a passer as Pique, Mascherano and Bartra.

That said, Sokratis is a passing outlet from the back for Dortmund and has flashed vision, such as a deep pass to Dortmund right attacking midfielder Jonas Hofmann against Bayern.

Source: Bundesliga.com.

 

Bottom Line

Barcelona's Achilles' heel is their defence. 

Sokratis was good against Colombia, and his world-class season for Dortmund means he would shore up Barcelona's back line. 

He is taller, stronger and more prolific in the air than Mascherano. 

With more experience than Bartra, Sokratis can also push Pique to perform, as the Spanish international has been resting on his laurels. 

 

@allanjianga

Statistics via WhoScored.com