In the Line of Fire

I just want to go bat-shit crazy and praise one Bundesliga defender. Why? Because I just want to. I asked my followers on Twitter about who they think are the highly rated and under-rated defenders. Names flew over cuckoo’s nest, then. Hummels, Badstuber, Pogatetz, Piszczek, van Buyten, and all fell in to my mentions column. I am not going to talk about these defenders as they always get ‘talked-up’ here and there.

In fact, I’m going to pull a joker and present to you a defender who mostly comes under scrutiny for which shampoo does he use for his silky, black hair. He’s none other than the centre-back at FC Köln, and the captain of the club, Pedro Geromel.

Pedro Geromel moved in to Bundesliga in 2008, joining FC Köln. What did he do before is none of your concern. In these four years, Geromel has amassed over 100 appearances for the Rhine club and has been a mainstay at the heart of their defense. I always kind of believed that he would eventually move to Serie A for Roma or something (he was once scouted by Real Madrid in 2010, I guess) but we are lucky enough to have him in Bundesliga this long and you certainly don’t realize that. He’s not been lucky enough to get enough praise and plaudits which he seriously deserves.

This is why I’m here.

Geromel: Presumably well versed in the art of picking the right shampoo. Just look at the fella's hair...

Geromel’s main strengths are interceptions and shot-blocking with strong tackles. He’s very tough defender to get past by. Last season, he was on another level but let’s stop delving in to past. Let’s talk about present. Due to injury this season, he missed many of the matches in first half of the season but came back to make appearances in big matches for the club. Highly rated defender Mats Hummels has made 18 appearances while Geromel has appeared in like 13 matches so far. I have watched Geromel very closely enough so I kind of seem to have somewhat “vague” opinion of what he offers on the pitch for his team but, you lot, have to keep this little thing in mind that Geromel has played lesser matches than Hummels and Geromel doesn’t play for Borussia Dortmund.

Comparison

Mats Hummels (per game): 3.6 tackles; 1.8 interceptions; 5.2 clearances; 60 passes with 79% accuracy

Pedro Geromel (per game): 2.4 tackles; 3.5 interceptions; 7.5 clearances; 40 passes with 83% accuracy

Of course, the gulf between the teams and the players of Borussia Dortmund and FC Köln can’t be ignored but these are your individual stats as compared to the best defender of the league, Joey. Of course, Hummels passing and power-play is what ‘Geromel can only dream of’ but his game doesn’t revolve around expansive game-play but simple short passes with iron-fisted defense. He’s a solid, rigid defender who shores up your defense (looking at the match results of FC Köln: at least he tries to), and heavily relies on his defensive duties. No fancy pants, here.

Here are some individual stats for Pedro Geromel when he was up against ‘the big sides’ of Bundesliga this season:

In first half of the season

Vs. HSV (August 27, 2011)

3 tackles; 0 interceptions; 6 clearances; 33 passes; 88% accuracy

(Gave away a penalty, Köln won 4-3)

Vs. Bayer Leverkusen (September 17, 2011)

1 tackle; 6 interceptions; 7 clearances; 22 passes; 64% accuracy

(Highest number of interceptions and clearances in the match, Köln won 4-1)

Against Werder Bremen, Geromel only played last 30 minutes of the match

Vs. Gladbach (November 25, 2011)

6 tackles; 5 interceptions; 8 clearances; 60 passes; 82% accuracy

(Highest number of interceptions and clearances in the match, Köln lost 3-0)

Vs. Stuttgart (December 03, 2011)

2 tackles; 5 interceptions; 6 clearances; 36 passes; 70% accuracy

(Highest number of interceptions and clearances in the match, Köln drew 2-2)

Vs. Bayern Munich (December 16, 2011)

1 tackle; 6 interceptions; 6 clearances; 40 passes; 90% accuracy

(Second to Tymoshchuk in highest number of interceptions in match, Köln lost 3-0)

In second half of the season

Vs. Wolfsburg (January 21, 2011)

4 tackles; 1 interception, 10 clearances; 63 passes; 90% accuracy

(Köln lost 1-0)

A video here:

http://youtu.be/jZ8PzifYU6Y
(Pedro Geromel against Borussia Dortmund last season)

Well, it turns out that this young fellow doesn’t only use some ace shampoo for his silky, black hair but also he is one hell of a defender and a player. In moment of odd sagacity, people tend to overlook stats and sometimes even go on to play down the importance of stats at all. That might hold true when it comes to judging the teams as amount of possession would never always win you matches but the quality use of possession will — but when looking individually at players, stats really separate the good players from better players. That’s how most of the scouts study the players over the course of time and draw the best ones out from mediocre teams and make a move for them.

This all brings up a question, though. How the defenders of the past would have been rated with the use of the modern stats? When we look at the footage, then some players just had it in them who, in our opinions, would do nothing wrong the minute they take on the football pitch. The aura around some players of the past was magnificent and somewhat enigmatic. You always get to see the goals scored in black and white era but you hardly see a player intercepting a pass or performing tackles from the past. So, the defenders — who we think were the greatest defenders — were they really the greatest? That, I think, can be saved for some other time.

Let’s get back to Pedro Geromel for the last time in this write-up. Playing for a club like Köln, where Prinz Poldi is larger than life, it’s sometimes difficult for the supporters of other clubs to look at Köln beyond Poldi. Add to the fact, when team is letting in awful lot of goals then the probability of noticing individual performances of Geromel is very low. On the other hand, if you really start looking at how he plays then perhaps you’re going to see quite a different man and one brilliant defender in Pedro Geromel.

I think I have manipulated you lot enough. So, I’ll leave you alone now. You can abuse me on Twitter for writing all this crap. Or, collectively shower us in with your wisdom in the comments section below and we can have a long discussion about Geromel and probably some other players like Geromel. Or not.

Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Vampy

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4 Comments

  1. I learned it from

    Charles

    Saatchi. The only good thing Charles Saatchi ever did for us, really.

    At least I find that to be the case.

  2. “This is why I’m here.”

    A five word paragraph? Your writing is as sexy as a typical Felix Magath press conference.

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