Ivan Rakitić and Cesc Fabregas are both world class players, with the former winning a European treble and the latter winning both his domestic cup and league. Although they wear the same number on their backs, they play in completely different midfield roles. So, which one of the players has had a better campaign for their new club?
Fabregas has had a marvellous first season with Chelsea; he made an immediate impact to Jose Mourinho’s side, bagging six goals and 21 assists in all competitions. The Spaniard can play anywhere in central midfield and, because of the knowledge he acquired from playing up front in Barcelona, the midfielder knows exactly where his forwards are and when to play them. Linking with former Atletico striker, Diego Costa, the pair had just about single-handily won Chelsea the Premier League trophy.
Fabregas managed to bag two trophies in his first season, something he failed to do whilst at Arsenal. He tends to follow a certain pattern which may be the one thing holding him back, and usually starts off the season on a high, then dips in form due to injury and other factors, slowly dying down near the end of the season.
Fabregas is already considered as one of the world’s best central midfielders. However, if he wants the title all to himself, then he will have to be more consistent when it comes to the closing stages of the season.
Chelsea never had players like Fabregas, in terms of being able to play calm and beautiful football. They have always had players who are always looking for the easiest route to goal, whether that means playing a 60-yard ball to get there.
Ever since Cesc came into the picture, Jose Mourinho’s men look a lot less pressured with the ball; they play less end-to-end football and more possession-based football, making the opposition play at the pace of their choosing.
More on Cesc – http://www.whoscored.com/Players/8040
Andoni Zubizarreta, ex-Sporting Director at Barcelona, brought Ivan Rakitić into the Barcelona squad to replace Fabregas and be the ‘new Xavi’. After winning the Europa League with Sevilla, the Croatian midfielder has lived up to the expectations of Coach, Luis Enrique, and the treasured Culés (Barça fans).
He hasn’t scored/assisted as much as Fabregas, but Rakitić was brought in to replace Xavi, whose role was never to score goals but to create them. Ivan has done just that.
Although many see the ‘Big Three’ as the most integral part to Barcelona’s success, Rakitić has been just as, or, even more important than them. His links between defenders and strikers are impeccable.
Whenever you see Messi moving into the centre of the field, watch the left hand side and you will see Rakitić immediately appear to allow as little space for the opponent as possible. He applies the same technique for Dani Alves. Alves tends to make several surges forward throughout the game but fails to recover, leaving a huge gap at right back, but the Barça players never really feel worried or threatened because they know that Rakitić will be there to mop up for him.
Rakitić has also brought a certain raw style of play to Barcelona. The beautiful Tiki-Taka has already become a bit too predictable and is, quite frankly, very easy to read. However, with Ivan, they are playing a lot more long balls, looking to score with the head more too. So, anticipating what Barça do next in a match is a near impossible task.
Looking at both these players, it seems as though they are meant to be playing in each other’s leagues. But, in terms of statistics, Fabregas is by far the better player. Although, if you are looking at this from a general perspective, Rakitić has had the better season and could be the more superior player because of those he has around him. He played for a fourth placed club (Sevilla), won the Europa League whilst achieving Man of the Match for the final. He then joined Barcelona and scored in the final of the Champions League to secure a second historic treble for the club.
But that’s just my opinion. Tweet me who you think is the better player @Mukisa3 using the hashtag #RakiticVFabregas