5 Things Arsenal's Mesut Ozil Does Better Than Andrea Pirlo
Arsenal's Mesut Ozil and Juventus' Andrea Pirlo are two of the very best players in the world. While they play in differing positions, they each possess the technique, control and vision to rip any team apart. However, when it comes the attacking side of the game, Ozil is, without doubt, the superior player.
Pirlo is easily one of the greatest exponents of central midfield play the world has ever seen. The graceful 34-year-old possesses a phenomenal range of passing and can open any defense. He is so good that he has even been dubbed "Mozart" by his club's fans.
To his teammates he is regarded even higher. They call him "the architect" on account of his ability to survey the game before him and to know where every single player is and where each one will move to.
He is a free-kick specialist and is the greatest passer of a ball on the planet. He caresses the ball like it was a newborn baby and has the ability to deftly guide it to a teammate over any distance.
It is safe to say we're talking about one of the best players in the world here.
But, he isn't perfect at everything. There are aspects of his game where an advanced playmaker like Ozil has a distinct advantage.
Here, Bleacher Report offers five things that Mesut Ozil does better than Andrea Pirlo.
There are no two ways about it; Mesut Ozil is a far more flexible player than Andrea Pirlo.
Pirlo is at his best in the base of midfield where he can receive the ball from the defense before initiating an attack. Over the course of his outstanding career, Pirlo has been exclusively used in central midfield in one way, shape or form.
Ozil, on the other hand, can operate on either flank and anywhere on the offensive spine of the team. His incredible skill set allows for tactics to be changed at a whim in the full knowledge that the 25-year-old will put in a stellar performance regardless of his position on the pitch.
Mesut Ozil has the advantage in the dribbling stakes over Andrea Pirlo.
While it is almost impossible to dispossess the Italian international, that is mainly down to his superb control and technique in close quarters. Ozil can prove just as elusive a customer as Pirlo in this regard. However, the Arsenal man has the added ability of being able to dribble out of danger and go not just one man, but by two or even three.
Ozil averages 1.8 dribbles per game to Pirlo's 0.9 per game. The German has attempted 24 dribbles in just 14 games this term, while Pirlo has only attempted 14 over the same amount of games.
Speed and Movement
Andrea Pirlo, as great as he is, is one of the slowest central midfielders in the world today. That does not detract from his overall ability, but it does take away from his potential as one of the greatest players of all time.
Ozil is extremely quick over short distances. When combined with his intelligent movement he is almost impossible to mark. From a central position he can drift all over the pitch and drag man-markers all over the place. From the wing he can suck players out wide before exposing them to his pace, or he can go central and expose them with his vision.
The above heat map from Squawka shows just how elusive Ozil can be. As the shading clearly shows, he covered almost every single inch of the opposition half in Arsenal's 4-1 win over Norwich. The most amazing aspect, however, is that this heat map also clearly shows that he doesn't stay in one space for too long and that he is more than comfortable to receive the ball in any quadrant of the pitch.
In short, his movement is supreme and at pace.
Creativity in the Final 3rd
There is no copy of him, not even a bad one. He is the best number 10 in the world.
He makes things very easy for me and for his teammates with his football vision and the decisions he makes.
Everyone loves him and sees a bit of Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane in him.
Mourinho wasn't wrong.
Last season Ozil was the most creative player in European football. An EPL Index study, using statistics from Who Scored, into Europe's most creative players during 2012-13 clearly shows that the German is best in class.
Ozil played 32 games last term and created 13 assists. However, the real findings into his outstanding play show that he created 92 goalscoring opportunities last term with an average of one every 22 minutes. He also created the most clear-cut chances with one guaranteed every single game he played.
Andrea Pirlo, by comparison, made seven assists and contributed to 88 goalscoring opportunities in 32 matches.
Pirlo's figures, I'm sure you'll agree, are more than excellent, but Ozil just about shades the Italian's numbers.
This season Ozil has five assists with 45 key passes to Pirlo's three assists with 33 key passes.
Eye for Goal
Andrea Pirlo is the veteran of over 730 matches for club and country over the last 18 years as a professional. The Italian legend has scored 76 goals and averages, hitting the back of the net once every 9.6 games.
Ozil by comparison has played just 366 games and has scored an impressive 63 goals. He averages out at one goal every 5.8 games.
There can be little doubt that Ozil is the more dangerous man in the final third of the field. He creates and scores more goals than Pirlo and edges the pass-master in this regard too.
Statistics from UEFA and Soccerbase.
It is more than true that Pirlo and Ozil are vastly different players in vastly different teams and in vastly different positions.
Pirlo is a playmaker, while Ozil is a playmaker in the truest term of the word.
The 34-year-old Italian does his best work in his own half and initiates almost every single move and attack for both Italy and his current club Juventus. He is the metronome upon which the entire team ticks. He begins the move and then keeps the continuity flowing before eventually releasing one his team's more attack-minded players.
If he could, he would give the ball to Ozil.
Ozil is the guy who picks the ball up in the final third after much of the hard work is done and then applies his magic. He is a supremely creative player and possesses great composure in pressurized situations in front of goal. Pirlo applies that composure in his own half pressurized moments.
Both are great players, and both have great qualities.
Up front you would like Ozil doing what he does best, scoring goals and creating chances. At the back you would like Pirlo pulling all the strings.
In short, Pirlo makes the team play, while Ozil plays the team's maker.