On Friday evening, Atletico Madrid will face Mallorca with both teams demonstrating different needs on the night.
Diego Simeone’s men will need the three points to try and cement their Champions League status for next season, for Vicente Moreno, anything but three points will dent their already feint survival hopes.
The stakes will be astronomically high when these two sides clash but an individual battle worth keeping an eye on is Iddrisu Baba and Thomas Partey.
Two Ghanaians with a very similar style of play, Baba will be looking to show Atletico Madrid that he can replace Partey who has been linked to Arsenal.
As Arsenal intensify their pursuit of Partey, it is only right that his apparent replacements will start to make the news as well.
Two names that have been strongly linked as replacements are Real Mallorca midfielder Iddrisu Baba and Villarreal’s Andre Zambo Anguissa, who is on loan from English side Fulham.
A match against Atletico Madrid couldn’t have come any sooner for Baba.
With Mallorca inching closer to relegation, a good performance against Atletico Madrid on Friday night could give him an edge over Anguissa.
Partey vs Baba
Aside both being Ghanaians, the similarities are glaring as the pair enjoy playing as combative central midfielders.
Despite playing for different teams with contrasting fortunes, Partey and Baba have been key to their teams this season as they enjoy being on the ball especially in build-up.
Baba has started 30 of the 33 La Liga games this season enjoying 1,408 touches of the ball so far, only Salva Sevilla has more touches.
Partey on the other hand has also started 30 games this season for Atletico Madrid enjoying 1,812 touches of the ball, only Koke has had more.
Most of these touches are translated into passes as central midfielders generally progress the play.
Partey has attempted a total of 1,557 passes with 82.4% accuracy compared to Baba who has attempted 1,111 with 81% accuracy.
In terms of the quality of these passes, Baba has made 93 progressive passes, six passes into the penalty area, 85 final third passes and six key passes as Partey has made 173 progressive passes, 19 passes into the penalty area, 168 final third passes and 15 key passes.
The role of a central midfielder is not just progressing the ball, Baba and Partey pose great figures defensively as well.
Mallorca’s key man has won 40 tackles, made 32 blocks and 35 interceptions compared to Partey who has won 39 tackles, made 49 blocks and 45 interceptions this season.
Although, Baba has aspects of his game to improve, the comparison with Partey shows that there some similarities between the two.
Baba likes to keep things neat and tidy focusing on the defensive aspect whilst Partey has mastered the art of breaking play and progressing the ball as well.
Both players are at different extremes when it comes to their careers. At 24 years, Baba is enjoying his second full season in Spain with a relegation threatened side.
Whereas, Partey is 27 years, currently enjoying his seventh season in Spain and being linked with a big move to Arsenal.
Partey had to drastically develop and re-adjust his game when he was tasked with replacing Gabi at Atletico Madrid.
The circumstances are similar, Baba possesses the potential to suit Simeone’s style of play should Partey make a big move this summer.
Remember, like his older compatriot did six years ago, Baba is receiving a footballing education at RCD Mallorca.
Source: Owuraku Ampofo (Joy Sports)