Zivkovic has been holding on tight to his place in Benfica’s midfield. The growth of the 21-year-old midfielder and the influence he has been having on the team, following the commands of the coach Rui Vitória, are supported by the stats.
From the successful dribbles to the clear goal chanced created, from the decisive passes to the assists, Zivkovic has been proving he is a safe bet. After Krovinovic's, the midfielder was immediately one of the (four) cards placed on the table by Rui Vitória. The 21-year-old Serbian was called up by the coach, grabbed a place in the starting XI and has been an important element in the team.
"He plays well in the center of the midfield, with technical quality. He might do combinations on the flanks and he is fit to play in that position”. These were the words of Rui Vitória on Zivkovic when he idealized launching the number 17 to replace Krovinovic, a rupture on his right knee at the start of the calendar year. Three months later – three rounds away from the end of the 2017/18 Liga NOS –, the numbers show that the coach developed Zivkovic and made his performance skyrocket in the 4x3x3.
“The dynamics that Rui Vitória puts on his midfielders allow Zivkovic to play in the middle, but also to fall to the flanks. That makes the work easier because he has those characteristics, and in the middle, we have been seeing that he has been preponderant – especially in the assists –, but he can also be very important in the flanks and easily fulfill his role”, said the coach Luís Diogo Campos, who worked with the young Serbian at Partizan, in statements to Benfica's Official Site.
Last Saturday, in the Amoreira, Zivkovic he stood out once again for the tranquility on the pitch. The Serbian remained calm, remained cool and was, once again, the "boss" of the midfield. Key passes (three), big chances created (two), pass accuracy (76%), Successful dribbles (five in seven attempts)… and a brilliant assist for the 0-1 from Rafa away at Estoril.
Numbers that strengthened the total resulting from the other 17 matches played this season for the Liga NOS. In total, he has played 1307 minutes, with impressive averages.
But let us go to the relevant statistics… In 1307 minutes, the Serbian has carried out 29 successful dribbles, according to Sofascore.com. Above him, among the midfielders of the Eagles' squad, is only Rafa (32). There have been 33 key passes! In this ranking, Zivkovic is only topped by Cervi (61) and Pizzi (60), but the average values every 90 minutes are very similar. In terms of accurate passes in the opposition midfield half, there are already 431 passes that were executed by the Serbian international, according to Sofascore.com, being, on average values, only overcome by Pizzi, the only midfielder in the current edition of the Championship who has surpassed the milestone of 1000 accurate passes in the offensive zone.
The statistics prove that Zivkovic has been creative, efficient and decisive, growing noticeably with the work developed by the coach. He totals 18 matches in the Liga NOS, three goals and four assists.
ZIVKOVIC'S NUMBERS IN THE 2017/18 Liga NOS
|Accurate passes in the opposition half||431|
|Big chances created||8|
“The truth is that these numbers do not surprise me. Zivkovic has a lot of potential and has been growing a lot with Rui Vitória”, highlighted Luís Diogo Campos.
At the age of 21, the Serbian took on an important role at Benfica. In 2017/18, he brought together the ability to assist his teammates and the power to successfully finish the elaborate attacking plays. Three goals and four assists are, at this point, under the Serbian's belt, but Luís Diogo Campos believes that the number will still improve.
Serbia needs him in the World Cup
“Benfica is the right Club for Zivkovic to grow and to continue developing. He should remain at Benfica for a long time because the magnitude of the Club allows him to have all the conditions he needs to grow even more”, said Luís Diogo Campos.
The Portuguese coach, who was a member of Drulovic's coaching staff at Partizan and who followed the number 17 during nearly four months in Belgrade, has few doubts that Zivkovic will integrate the squad list that will represent Serbia in the World Cup. “He has already been called up, and I hope he goes to the World Cup because he is a huge asset for the Serbian national team”, he concluded.
Text: Filipa Fernandes Garcia
Pics: Archive/ SL Benfica