Strengths and Weaknesses of Atletico Madrid Signing Stefan Savic

Tim Collins@@TimDCollinsFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2015

Strengths and Weaknesses of Atletico Madrid Signing Stefan Savic

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    Marco Vasini/Associated Press

    Atletico Madrid have signed Montenegrin centre-back Stefan Savic from Fiorentina for €12 million, according to Marca

    The 24-year-old has been brought to the Vicente Calderon to replace the now-departed Miranda, the Brazilian defender having recently made the switch to Inter Milan.

    As part of the deal to sign Savic from Fiorentina, Atletico Madrid have sent midfielder Mario Suarez the other way.

    Savic, who's spent the last three seasons in Serie A following a move from Manchester City in 2012, will undergo a medical on Monday before joining up with the rest of Atletico's squad. 

    Across the following slides, we examine his strengths and weaknesses.

Strength: Aerial Ability

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    Fabrizio Giovannozzi/Associated Press

    Undoubtedly, Stefan Savic's biggest strength in his ability in the air. 

    Like Diego Godin and Miranda, the 24-year-old stands at 6'1", giving him a height advantage over many players in congested penalty areas. 

    Combined with his obvious game awareness and reading of the play, such a stature has allowed the Montenegrin to become one of Serie A's most effective aerial players. 

    Indeed, in 2014-15, Savic won 2.8 aerial duels per game—the highest figure at Fiorentina and the seventh-highest figure in the league. The season before, he averaged 4.1, second only to Giulio Migliaccio.

Weakness: Tackling

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    Felice Calabro'/Associated Press

    Though Stefan Savic appears to have shrugged aside much of the tentativeness that defined his time at Manchester City, he remains a rather noncommittal tackler. 

    A player who prefers to remain on his feet to block or intercept, the 24-year-old is rarely found sliding in for strong challenges, even when the situation appears to demand such acts. And when he does, he's not always convincing—a good example coming in March against Lazio, when Keita breezed past his tackle with ease to set up Miroslav Klose. 

    Across last season, Savic was dribbled past on 25 occasions in Serie A when attempting a tackle—significantly more than Diego Godin, Jose Gimenez and Miranda, who were dribbled past on 19, 12 and 10 occasions in La Liga respectively.

Strength: Distribution from the Back

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    Fabrizio Giovannozzi/Associated Press

    It's important to compare Stefan Savic with former Atletico Madrid centre-back Miranda, given the Brazilian is the player he's effectively replacing at the Vicente Calderon. 

    For Miranda, one if his major weaknesses is his ability on the ball. Sometimes clumsy in possession and regularly wayward with his passing, the veteran defender rarely provided any sort of possessional fluency from the back.

    Positively for Atletico, that's one area where Savic differs. 

    Comfortable on the ball and neat with his short passing, Atleti's new signing will bring slightly more polish to the central-defensive pairing at the Calderon. 

    Last season, Savic's pass-completion rate was 87.6 per cent. In contrast, Miranda's was 77 per cent and dropped to as low 64.3 per cent in the intensity of the Champions League.

Weakness: Power and Speed

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    Fabrizio Giovannozzi/Associated Press

    Though Stefan Savic possesses height and aerial strength, his isn't exactly what you'd call powerful or explosive. 

    Relatively finely built for a centre-back, the former Manchester City man can be overpowered and outrun, lacking the dynamism and all-action style that defines a defender such as Jose Gimenez. 

    In fact, the comparison with Gimenez is interesting. While Savic is a touch taller, the Uruguayan is seven kilograms heavier, according to ESPN FC, his powerful physique allowing him to engage in, and win, duel after duel. 

    Savic isn't like that; he's a defender who relies on astute positioning and reading of the play to break up attacking moves.

Strength: Reading of the Play

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    Fabrizio Giovannozzi/Associated Press

    As mentioned in the previous slide, Stefan Savic is the sort of defender who relies on brains rather than brawn to operate effectively at the back. 

    A strong reader of the play and good at anticipating, the centre-back averaged 5.8 clearances and 2.4 interceptions in Serie A last season—numbers ranking among the top 25 in the league in both categories

    For a player who doesn't possess great power, recovery speed or tackling skills, such figures are impressive and indicative of his ability to make timely interventions because of his positional intelligence. 

    All statistics courtesy of


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