In Simon Rolfes, the Bundesliga and its partner AWS have an expert who knows the Bundesliga from A to Z. Bayer Leverkusen's sporting director wore Die Werkself's colours 288 times between 2005 and 2015, and represented Germany on 26 occasions. Rolfes is the ideal man to write a regular column for the 'Bundesliga Match Facts Zone' on bundesliga.com, analysing current trends and giving unique insight on the Bundesliga Match Facts.
By Simon Rolfes
In February, the Bundesliga introduced three new Match Facts: 'Average Positions: Trends', 'Attacking Zones', and 'Most Pressed Player'. The latter is perhaps the least-known of these real-time statistics among fans, as it's not used all that often on television.
To recap: The 'Most Pressed Player' statistic rates the pressure on a player in possession and determines how often a particular player is put under significant pressure by the opposing team. Relevant variables in this calculation include the number of defending players as well as their distance and direction of movement relative to the player with the ball.
Watch: 'Most Pressed Player' explained
On Matchday 33, the pressure situation totals for the 'Most Pressed Players' ranged from 22 (Augsburg's Marco Richter) to 49 (Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho). Substitutes tend to only fall in the single-digit range, despite being put under significant pressure during a game.
The below table shows us which players of the 18 Bundesliga clubs have been awarded 'Most Pressed Player'.
What stands out is that Augsburg's Daniel Caligiuri was the 'Most Pressed Player' on 21 separate matchdays, followed by Sancho (17), Arminia Bielefeld's PSV Eindhoven-owned Ritsu Doan (17) and Hertha Berlin's Matheus Cunha (15). All four were also the players who attempted the most dribbles among their teammates. Sancho, Doan and Cunha were among the top five dribblers league wide.
The fact that the high-tempo dribblers who carry a goal threat prefer to run past their opponents - and are sometimes even double-teamed - makes total sense. Yet there is a second pattern: players who like to play decisive passes are often pressed. As well as being their respective teams' 'Most Pressed Players', Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich), Filip Kostic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Amine Harit (Schalke), Jean-Paul Boetius (Mainz) and Ondrej Duda (Cologne) are also their best assisters.
Also among the 'Most Pressed Players' are No.6s Robert Andrich (Union Berlin), Xaver Schlager (Wolfsburg) and Orel Mangala (VfB Stuttgart), and right-back Stefan Lainer (Borussia Mönchengladbach). Classic centre-forwards and centre-backs, meanwhile, are conspicuous by their absence. The reason? Relative to their teammates, centre-forwards don't tend to have the ball for long.
For example, when Robert Lewandowski scored three goals against Gladbach on Matchday 32, the Pole had 42 phases in possession - the lowest of all Bayern players who played the full 90 minutes.
By contrast, defenders on the home team enjoy much more possession, often releasing passes over short distances, without any significant counter-pressure. That explains why the top five players for successful passes from open play are all defenders: Nico Elvedi (Gladbach), Manuel Akanji (Dortmund), Jonathan Tah, Edmond Tapsoba (both Bayer Leverkusen) and Willi Orban (Leipzig).
In summary, 'Most Pressed Players' are usually those who attempt the most dribbles or decisive passes. The fact they are often their teams' key players is hardly surprising. They're the danger men, after all. It also shows what qualities the 'Most Pressed Players' draw on in order to relieve themselves of opposition pressure and make a decisive contribution in attack.