Pep Guardiola once said: “I’ve been a coach for a few years now and I have come to the conclusion that a truly good player is always a good player. It’s very hard to teach a bad player to be a good one. You can’t really teach someone to dribble. The timing needed to go past someone, that instant in which you catch out your opponent, when you go past him and a new scenario opens up before you … Dribbling is, at heart, a trick, a con. It’s not speed. It’s not physique. It’s an art.”
You can see the importance of a player’s ability to dribble in Guardiola’s system both in transition, as well as in more controlled situations. When a team sets up in a deep, narrow shape, the ability of a player to take a player out of play by going past them is key to unlocking an opposition’s defence. A well-coordinated defence can quickly come undone by the trickery and penetration of an expert dribbler.
“Dribbling is, at heart, a trick, a con. It’s not speed. It’s not physique. It’s an art.” – Pep Guardiola
With the above in mind and the value of dribbling well-established, we decided to take a look at the most effective dribblers in the Cypriot First Division. When analyzing the data, we took certain parameters under consideration.
Firstly, the players in our dataset have at least 400 minutes of playing time this season. Secondly, players with either zero dribbling attempts, as well as players with zero dribbling success, have been removed. Further, the data only takes into account games from the current season, not the entirety of the previous calendar year.
This left us with an interesting set of data from which we focused on the top performers in two key metrics: dribbles per 90 minutes and dribbling success percentage.
17 players stand out with both of the above metrics taken into consideration. These players include APOEL’s Al Tamari, Ethnikos Achnas‘ Elia, Anorthosis‘ Okriashvili, Apollon‘s Diego Aguirre, and Salamina’s Eloundou.
In terms of Dribbles Per 90, the top five performers are made up of Al Tamari, Elia, Koneh, Vá, and Okriashvili, with 11.86, 10.61, 10.51, 10.33, and 8.36 respectively.
When it comes to dribbling success percentage, the top five performers are Raúl Ruiz, Sako, Hamdi, Diego Aguirre, and Vá.
You can see the combination of both metrics, sorted by dribbles per 90, in the visual chart below. Dribbles per 90 are represented by the area in red, while successful dribbling percentage is represented by the area in grey.
note: all visuals have been created by UBVIA