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Douglas of Corinthians (One Game)

Douglas fighting for the ball. Picture taken from Fifa.com

As promised, although with a bit of delay, I have done a report on one of the players I had picked based on the semi-finals of the Sao Paulo region youth tournament. I made my choice between these Fluminese and these Corinthians players.

In the end I chose to follow Douglas who looked as if he could could become a sort of Adriano (in his better days ofcourse).

The powerful striker turned 18 a few months ago and arrived in Corinthians last year from Guarani.

One Game Report on Douglas

Personal Information:

Name: Douglas Willian da Silva Souza
Date of Birth: 27.10.1993 (age 18)
Nationality: Brazilian
Height: 187 cm
Current Club: Corinthians (contracted until sometime in 2014, not sure of the exact end date)

Basic Playing Information:

Position: Striker
Preferred foot: Left

Game Watched To Make The Report:

Corinthians (U18) – Fluminense (U18) 2:1 (Copinha, 25.01.2012)

Note: The semi-final game against Atletico Paranaenses also taken into account.

Game Description:

Douglas started as a striker in the 4-2-2-2 formation. He had a relatively quiet game, having few shots with little luck in the 90 minute display.

The game itself was deservedly won by Corinthians who initially fell behind. They ended up coming back with two set piece goals from their captain and central defender Antonio Carlos.

Douglas celebrating. Picture taken from Meutimao.com.br

Performance of Douglas:

Douglas’s game was quite a disappointment for me after he had played well in the semi-final where his power and speed caused a lot of problem and his finishing was brilliant.

A yawn he made before the start of the game was pretty symbolic of his display because he looked very lazy and never got into the pace of the game, making me ask the question if his previous good was really just down to poor defenders.

He made three shots… well, two actually as he completely miscued one shot in the box which was his best chance for scoring.

Lacked striker’s intelligence

It did not surprise me at all that he did not get into good shooting positions because from the moment the game started, I noticed he really struggled. Maybe it was big game nerves for young man, but he didn’t show much intelligence or determination. The later being a big problem because not only did he fail to get into good positions, he also struggled to link up with the rest of the team.

The most annoying thing was that he never wanted to attack the near post. There were 4-5 times when he should’ve gone to try and get something at the near post, but he always ended up moving to the area around the penalty spot where his striking partner was already waiting.

Therefore it was easy for Fluminense’s defence to stop Corinthians from getting good chances from crosses. Had he attacked the near post and gotten ahead of the defender, then he might’ve gotten a shot or two as well as definitely stretching out Fluminense’s defence in the penalty area. Instead he got players piled up into one small area. Near post crosses are also far more easier to execute for the wide players and far more difficult to handle for defenders.

Showed good physical ability at times

There were few occasions where he showed the good side of his game, the physicality. In that sense, he reminds of some of Brazil’s past or current powerful strikers like Adriano and Hulk.

He doesn’t show it much, but he has got good speed on him as well as strength and the moments when he has the determination to get the ball, he causes probles. In this game he forced opponents into making a mistake on three occasions. Defenders either gave the ball away or put it out of play when he challenged them.

To finish off the assessment, a short mention of his technical side. He didn’t show much there. Against Atletico he scored with two good finishes with either foot, but in this game he lacked a first touch and he didn’t seem to feel comfortable with the ball.

What level do I think he is:

He is currently a youth player, with decent potential, but another year or two at this level awaits him. On the basis of the two games I saw, he is not a bad youth player, but neither amongst the better youngsters. Lot of simple flaws. Technically and mentally not quite ready for big football.

What level could he reach:

I think that at this moment he is bit too far from becoming a really good player, but I’m sure he can become a striker who plays at a decent level. Top teams of the average European leagues or Brazilian Serie A, why not?

It must be noted that he looks like a player who wants to have fun playing football, to score goals. He does not look like someone who is going to give his absolute everything to achieve some big goal. If he had better technique, his laziness could be excused and he could maybe reach European top league or big club of Brazil level, but I doubt he’ll get that far.

If I had to pay 10 million euros rating: N/A

Wouldn’t pay much for him based on those games, maybe 100-200 thousand euros would be worth a risk now.

Talent Rating: 5/10

His physical ability gives him a good base, but determination/work-rate needs to grow fast for this strong striker to reach places. And probably not just on the pitch but also in the training ground as he does look as if he is few bigger steaks away from becoming overweight.

Notes on other players: I also kept half an eye on some other players. Marcos Junior, who I liked from Fluminense in semi-final, was again very lively. In first half the Corinthians’ defenders couldn’t handle him, but luckily for them, his finishing was poor. Like in the semi, he got very tired as the game went on, but he did manage to create Fluminense’s goal by turning one defender inside out. He seems to have more potential than Douglas, looks very weak however as well as an average finisher, but I can imagine Fluminense will give him a chance in senior team sometime this season. Worth keeping an eye on.

The Corinthians captain Antonio Carlos who scored two goals I sort of liked last game too, but I thought him and his parter were both average at defending. Both lacked speed and Carlos wasn’t very good at reading the game either.

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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in One Game Reports

 

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Daniel Bessa of Inter (One Game)

Daniel Bessa scoring a penalty in a game against Tottenham in NextGen Series. It was consolation for Inter and Bessa who were trounced 1:7 in their first ever NextGen game, but they came back strong after it, now waiting for the semi-finals of the competition. Picture taken from: nextgenseries.com

Inter’s youth academy and scouting system has begun to produce and find a decent amount of talent in last years. Amongst the current bunch who are one step away from big football, one player seems to be head and shoulders above his team-mates. Not literally as he is just above 170 centimeters, but in terms of ability. His name is Daniel Bessa.

He was born in Sao Paulo but with Italian heritage. Inter noticed him when he was playing for Atletico Paranaense’s youth team and brought him to Italy in 2008 (if you can speak Italian, read more about the interesting story of his arrival here). He turned 19 this month but he has only broken onto the scene this season. He first gained wider recognition when he shined in few of Inter’s early friendlies, but he was eventually sent back to the Primavera side.

He has been the star of the show there, especially in the NextGen series where Inter reached semi-finals on Wednesday night, but despite that, he hasn’t gotten another chance to show himself with the first team and probably will not get one before the summer.

As Inter fan I had only seen him on limited occasions (one other full game before this game, some personal highlight videos and longer highlights of NextGen games), but when I have seen him, he has always looked as if he could and probably should play at better level than youth football. I thought it would be injustice to this talent if Inter brings in 1 or 2 new attacking names for first team without even trying him out. Even more so considering that Mauro Zarate is not offering anything to the team anyway.

However the game against Sporting in NextGen was a chance to check him out against a good opponent because Sporting had probably been hailed as the favorites of the tournament after the group stage alongside Barcelona.

One Game Report on Daniel Bessa

Personal Information (Transfermarkt.co.uk):

Name: Daniel Bessa
Date of Birth: 14.01.1993 (age 19)
Nationality: Italian & Brazilian
Height: 173 cm
Current Club: Internazionale

Basic Playing Information:

Position: Attacking midfielder
Preferred Foot: Right

Statistics of Last 2 Seasons (according to Transfermarkt.co.uk):

2011/2012: Inter (U19) – 12 games, 5 goals, 2 yellow cards, 1 red card, 870 minutes played
2010/2011: Inter (U19)  – 18 games, 1 goal, 3 yellow cards, 948 minutes played

Note: Not in this statistic are the NextGen Series games where Bessa has scored 3 goals and Primavera Cup.

Game Watched To Make The Report:

Sporting Lisbon (U19) – Internazionale (U19) 0:1 (NextGen Series, 25.01.2012)

Note: The game is available on Inter’s YouTube channel.

Daniel Bessa has been part of Italy's under 18 squad. Picture taken from: brasileirosdabase.blogspot.com

Game Description:

Bessa started as a trequartista in a 4-4-1-1 formation, behind striker Samuele Longo with a relatively free role drifting from one wing to the other. He played 72 minutes.

The game was even and dull in the first half, but in the second half, after Inter scored the goal, it was dominated by Sporting who were trying desperately to break down Inter’s defence.

Bessa played a part in the game’s only goal, taking the corner which was headed in by Ibrahima Mbaye.

Performance of Bessa:

Bessa is one of those players who you only need to look at to understand that this is could be a very gifted player. You would even guess his position would be a second striker or an attacking midfielder. He has the perfect build – short so he has a low centre of balance and also strong, which means he won’t be pushed aside when in possession of the ball or fighting for it.

For all his talent, there are still rough edges, few signs of inexperience and the usual issue of not really knowing how a player will react once he’s thrown into the deep, playing for one of world’s biggest club.

Physically matches expectations

As I wrote about his body-build, I thought he had the perfect build for an attacking player and he proved this in the game too.

To start off, he did seem to have pace and acceleration as well as a quick turn. Although it is not really part of his game to take on defenders for pace, he did not look second best to anyone when having to sprint. The few times he did use his explosion, it caused problems for Sporting’s defence.

He had strength and a good center of balance too, riding a few challenges, always able to protect the ball from defenders who were trying to force him from behind into making a mistake or showing too much of the ball.

If there is criticism then he, quite typically for young talented players, was not able to play very intensely. He was much more active at the start of the game and seemed to have a few lazy periods once tiredness kicked in.

Strong preference of the right foot

Technically speaking, the player showed to have very good skills. His first touch was quality and with the ball on his feet, especially first couple of touches, he was unpredictable, even doing one short pass by using the rabona.

His passing was good but somewhat hindered by the fact that he did not seem to have a very good understanding with Longo despite those two playing together for some time now. He did not showcase his long-range passing in open play, but at least his corners were dangerous, one of them creating the only goal.

But there are some technical difficulties – he does not use his left foot very much. In one situation it really showed as he tried to dribble centrally, but since he tried to cut inside from right using his right foot, he left the ball exposed for the defenders between him and the goal. As result he ended up losing it.

I’d expect more dribbling from him because at the moment, he either leaves the opponent dead with the first touch or he looks for a safe passing option (in fairness to him, his team-mates don’t offer a chance for good forward pass very often). I think he has it in him to actually take the ball past someone and he has shown this by dribbling 3-4 players in a NextGen game against PSV earlier this season.

He also managed to put his only shot of the night over the bar, but that was a difficult volley that would’ve been worth seeing if it had actually gone in. He received a throw in, burst free of any possible marker and smacked a looping shot straight from the air but unfortunately it flew over the bar by a meter or two.

Daniele Bessa with former Inter player Adriano who left the club shortly after Daniele arrived. Picture taken from: brasileirosdabase.blogspot.com

Seems to have character

To move to Italy at a young age and to make an impact is not easy. Even more difficult would be to become an important player for a team like Inter. But a strong character helps… and at least on the football pitch Bessa seems to have it. He is confident of his own ability and he is not afraid to command and criticise his team-mates if it is necessary

Still, at times he can do with a little self-criticism too, as even at his current technical or physical limits he is probably not pushing himself to the limit at times. His position requires a lot of involvement in the game, but Bessa, as mentioned before, could be a tad too static in some periods.

His reading of the game and decisions with the ball are still not ideal either, but I’d say motivating himself to move bit more and improving his left foot should be priorities number one for him in this next half a season if he wants to give Claudio Ranieri no other choice but to make him a first team member.

What level do I think he is:

I think Bessa is indeed a player who is possibly amongst the best players in the youth level in Italy, definitely being the best in this Inter squad.

In this period where Inter might actually need extra legs in attack with constant injuries to the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Diego Forlan and underperforming Zarate, I would like to see Ranieri give him a go rather than playing someone like Joel Obi whose playing level cries out for a loan move.

My gut feeling is and has been that once he can show himself for more than 10 minutes with the first team of Inter in a competitive match, he won’t be back with the youth squad. But it is not a disaster to be in Primavera squad either, it gives him more time to fix the flaws and with the Viareggio tournament and final game or two of the NextGen coming up, he will play similar age opponents who are on a good level.

For now, he is largely a player who is often only seriously involved in the game for few moments in the game, but when he is involved, something good comes out of it.

What level do I think he can reach:

If he can become more involved in what is going around on the pitch and if he learns to use left foot when dribbling, then he has all the tools available to even become Italy’s player of the generation even, assuming he does pick to play for Italy as he has already been part of an Italy’s under 18 training camp last November.

However for now, only way to judge him are the youth games and some friendlies against lower league sides with Inter. There he has always been top-notch, even if team-mates make it difficult for him to look good.

Inter might also try to see how he could play in wider areas in a possible 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation as there are already two young attacking midfielders in the squad, one of whom, Riccardo Alvarez, would probably always feel uncomfortable out wide.

If I had to pay 10 million euros rating: N/A

I’d say his realistic price at this moment, considering the level he has played at, the talent he possesses and the risks, would be around 3 million euro mark, but whether Inter would sell for that? I highly doubt.

Talent rating: 9/10

I might be biased, but every time I see him, be it in a full game or in highlights of Inter Primavera games, he just seems like he is so much more talented than everyone else. Natural Brazilian technique, paired with a perfect physique and strong Italian influence – unless something bad happens, it seems to be written in the stars.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2012 in One Game Reports

 

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Lucas Ocampos of River Plate and Argentina Under 17-s (One Game)

Lucas Ocampos has become a starting eleven player for River Plate over the last 6 months.

After Erik Lamela left River Plate did not have to wait long for a new teenager to hype up. The new big talent of River Plate is the winger Lucas Ocampos, just 17 years old.

For Ocampos the stage was well set for him to make his big start, Lamela had left and River Plate was playing in the second division of Argentine football, therefore he had no big pressure on his shoulders when it came to performing on the pitch as there were others who should’ve already been more than good enough for the second division level.

However, while River Plate has put around 15 million euro price-tag on his head and European big teams are looking on with interest, the question must be asked: how good is he really? The Argentine first division itself already has very slow tempo football compared to European leagues where Ocampos might be heading, I can imagine the second division to be even slower so one must take his statistics with a pinch of salt.

Torneo de Verano was a good chance to see him in action against a first division club as River Plate met Racing last week. It migth’ve been the debut of David Trezeguet, but my attention was turned to Ocampos.

Note: Again, when reading, you have to take into account that this report is based on one game, and a friendly-esque (making up words here) game at that, so the picture it provides might and probably isn’t the whole truth.

One Game Report on Lucas Ocampos

Personal Information:

Name: Lucas Ariel Ocampos
Date of Birth: 11.07.1994 (age 17)
Nationality: Argentine
Height: 187 cm
Current Club: River Plate (according to media reports contracted until 2014)
National Team: capped for U17 national team

Basic Playing Information:

Position: Left winger
Preferred Foot: Right

Basic Career Statistics (according to Wikipedia.org):

River Plate – 18 games, 4 goals, 5 assists
Argentina U17 – 8 games, 3 goals

Game Watched To Make The Report:

River Plate – Racing 2:0 (Torneo de Verano, 20.01.2012)

Game Description:

Lucas Ocampos played as the left-sided midfielder in a 4-3-1-2 formation. River Plate was the better side in this sort of half-serious, half-friendly game. For River Plate it was a great chance to prove themselves against top division team and the game was played out in a very serious manner.

They made loads of chances and were solid in defence, winning 2:0 in the end. Ocampos wasn’t involved in either of River’s goals. First one being a one on one chance scored and the other coming from Trezeguet after Ocampos had come off the pitch injured in the 61st minute.

Lucas Ocampos has represtented the Argentine under 17's squad.

Performance of Ocampos:

It was a more of friendly game and in a tournament that takes place after a bit of break for clubs so rusty and slack movements/touches were expected and accepted to some extent.

However, I would’ve thought in this environment a young, talented and quick attacking player would have a field day. It was not the case for Ocampos who looked to blow hot and cold.

Not lighting fast

When you think of a young attacking talent, the first thing you imagine is that he must be a quick and a good dribbler. To an extent this is true with Ocampos too, but when it comes to speed, he seemed to have less acceleration than some of the previous/current South American “wonderkids” like Alexandre Pato when he was 18 or even the former River player of Lamela.

He has good pace, but it’s not really enough at this moment to cause decent defenders many problems and it is not helped by the fact that he is not aggressive and experienced enough when challenging for the ball in shoulder to shoulder situations. He lost almost every duel he had when the ball was even slightly out of his control.

His tallness and promisingly strong-looking bodybuild make it possible that he could grow to have similar playing style to Cristiano Ronaldo, minus the step-overs and incredibly quick sprints.

He did manage to make good use of his tallness, winning a couple of headers he went for, even if he did simply put his head against the ball rather than directing the ball towards a preferred area of the pitch.

Inexperience shows

Biggest faults in his games were caused by laziness and inexperience. Where he really showed his age was in the tactical department. The amount of times his tactical discipline and understanding of the game frustrated me was big.

It was his movement in the attacking phase that I did not like. He showed little to no eagerness to get on the ball, to offer his team-mates an option to pass the ball to. He often dragged his wing inside when the ball was barely over the half-way line on the other flank, therefore significantly narrowing the space his team could play in. He couldn’t even make such a basic thing as coming deep to collect a pass from full-back, instead expecting the later to pull a miracle and pass the ball over a defender between Ocampos and the ball.

He struggled to respond to opponent movement in both defensive and attacking phase and as the game went on, he became less and less active.

To add bit of praise into this criticism, he does try to keep his eyes open for opponents moving. At least this is what I noticed at the start of the game when he checked his opponents constantly when defending, making sure he wouldn’t miss anything. And to be fair to him, his defensive contribution was reasonable for a winger, making lot of challenges and winning the ball on few occasions.

On another positive note, I did like when he did cut inside on one occasion during a more counter-attacking situation where a ball came into the box from opposite flank and found Ocampos free about 10 yards from goal. Sadly his right foot finish was quite average and went straight at the goalkeeper.

Going too far when exhibiting his skills

He showed to have good technical skills, but on more than one occasion he went overboard with it. He lost the ball many times by trying a trick too many, often failing completely.

He even tried to flick the ball up high in the middle of the pitch which is great when he can pull it off, but in a tight situation with lot of players involved, getting the ball back is more down to luck than skill in the end. He did somehow get the ball back, but he made the simpler thing a lot harder in my opinion.

His first touch, especially killing the ball in air, was very good, but that is all bit useless when you cannot offer an end product – be it a pass which creates a lot of space or a successful shot. In his case, the decisiveness and real vision is not there yet.

What level is he now:

I think a 15 million euro price-tag on him seems like a stretch too far but it is understandable on River Plate’s part to hype him up a bit and ask a big price in today’s market where every big club is more desperate than ever to spend big bucks on young players, all in hope of finding the new Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo before someone else does.

He should look to stay in Argentina for longer and clubs interested should also wait to see how he does in the Primera should River get back up. And if River don’t get back up, they might be forced to give him away for a cheaper, more reasonable and risk-worthy price.

For now he looked like a decent player for the level he was playing in. Far from the star of the show which he should be in a league like Argentina to warrant the price-tag he has.

What level might he reach:

I do not see a world-beater in him as he looked lazy on that pitch. He might develop enough physically to become difficult opponent for the Argentine defenders, but to make big things in Europe, he’d need to improve a lot more in that physical department, something that is not very easily attainable.

If I was his manager, I would actually try to convert him into a central midfielder because he showed good tackling skills. He has potential to be a very strong player who can break, dictate and create. But now when he has already gotten his big price-tag as a winger, this is not going to happen.

It is actually really hard to predict if he would become an expensive mistake for which-ever big team would buy him or a good Argentina starting eleven player. But the thing I’m more convinced of is that he won’t be the one fighting out for best player awards and raw talents like him could be found for better price.

If I had to pay 10 million euros: N/A

I definitely wouldn’t pay 10 million euros for him now, maybe 5 million would be a reasonable price-tag for him.

Talent rating: 7/10 (I’d say 8/10 if there was a bigger chance of him being converted into a central or even attacking midfielder in young age)

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in One Game Reports

 

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Christian Eriksen of Ajax and Denmark (One Game)

Christian Eriksen is the hottest property in Eredivisie. Picture taken from: devilsofmanchester.com

Christian Eriksen enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame in the year 2011, but he started the newest year with the KNVB cup game against AZ Alkmaar, the leaders of Eredivisie. I watched him in that game to give a report of what level is the 19-year old currently on.

Eriksen is a playmaker who broke into Ajax’s first squad already in 2009/2010 and into the Danish national team for the 2010 World Cup, but it was the next season when his influence on the team, as well as interest from abroad, in the Danish player grew.

Now, Ajax’s no. 8, who has already represented Denmark for 20 times, has become the hottest property in the Dutch league full of talents. And Premier League and Serie A clubs are paying the most attention.

Before you read, I would like you to understand, that this report is based on one game so it might not provide perfect accuracy of the players level, even more so when taking into consideration that it was the first official game after the winter break in Netherlands. But then again, they had played some friendlies, so he was not completely out of form.

One Game Report on Christian Eriksen

Person Information (according to Transfermarkt.co.uk):

Name: Christian Dannemann Eriksen
Date of Birth: 14.02.1992 (age 19)
Nationality: Danish
Height: 177 cm
Current Club: Ajax (contracted until 30.06.2014)
National Team: capped for senior, U21, U19, U18 and U17 national teams

Basic Playing Information:

Position: Attacking midfielder / Left winger / Central midfielder
Preferred Foot: Right

Statistics Of Last 3 Seasons (according to Transfermarkt.co.uk):

2011/2012: Ajax / Denmark – 29 games, 6 goals, 13 assists, 1 yellow card, 2324 minutes played
2010/2011: Ajax / Denmark / Denmark U21 – 61 games, 10 goals, 20 assists, 2 yellow cards, 4105 minutes played
2009/2010: Ajax / Denmark – 21 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, 1 yellow card, 1028 minutes played

Game Watched To Make The Report:

Ajax – AZ 2:3 (KNVB Beker, 19.01.2011)

Game Description:

This was the cup game which was originally abandoned due to an incident with a fan. It was played in front of kids as no older fans were allowed into the arena.

Eriksen was part of a 4-3-3 midfield, often chasing positions with his midfield partners. The game was balanced with Ajax dominating, but AZ holding their defence reasonably tight.

Eriksen played whole 90 minutes and had his role in both of the Ajax goals. In first one he sent a ball over the top to Siem de Jong and in second case his weak long range shot fell from the goalkeeper onto de Jong’s feet who put it into an empty net.

Christian Eriksen with Denmark. Picture taken from: sportsstarclub.blogspot.com

Performance of Eriksen:

Eriksen was very involved with Ajax’s game in the final third and he looked like a very typical Dutch-school playmaker. Although presented pre-game as a part of a flat midfield trio, he looked as if he spent a lot of time in the position of an attacking midfielder.

He was easily Ajax’s most quality attacking player, but he was far from perfect either, making a few mistakes and showing some shortcomings.

Needed more speed & strength

Eriksen is very similar in his style of play and role to a former Ajax product Wesley Sneijder and therefore it offers a good possibility to compare Eriksen with another world-class player in his position.

Much like Sneijder, he is a player with not that much natural speed, which is probably the reason why he is not a winger or a forward, instead taking up a position in the midfield. He probably lacked a bit of form due to the winter break, but even when taking that into account he seemed to lack of explosion as well as pace. It was most evident in one situation in second half in which he took on a player on the wing for pace and failed miserably as the defender easily got ahead of him.

Eriksen will definitely have to work on his speed if he wants to go to a league like Premier League and become a big hit. It’s not just pure straight-line speed that seemed average. Also his speed when changing direction was not great, and that is something that Sneijder manages to mask his lack of pace with.

He could also become much stronger and better at using his body, there were a couple of occasions where he was outmuscled by opponents and this is something that would happen to him many more times in a better league with a big club.

An incident which perfectly summed up both of his shortcomings in this game happened in the second half. He had the ball in front of the defence with quite a lot of time, but one AZ midfielder came charging from behind to win the ball – Eriksen couldn’t get away from him and ended up being robbed off the ball despite having his body between the ball and the opponent at first.

HOWEVER (I needed to make this stand out), I have to admit that when it comes to speed, he seemed to be faster on some video compilations I watched after the game to get a bit better understanding of his physical form in cases where he hasn’t come back from a month without a competitive game.

Another criticism I have is that when it comes to defending he was too passive. He looked as if he only did the minimal work in defence, no real interceptions or tackles in that game. When chasing back he lacked motivation and energy to win the ball and at first opportunity he looked to give his duties away to someone else.

Amazing one-touch pass

The biggest part of Eriksen’s game is his passing range and easily the most impressive part of his passing portfolio is the one-touch pass.

He does it with incredible ease, playing one-two’s off him is like hitting the ball against the wall. If the ball is passed to him for one-two, it will almost certainly find its way to received in a way that the latter can continue his run without slowing down. His good control of the ball is also evident with great first touch.

His short-range passes and long-range passes are of good quality too. It was his very clever pass which created the opening goal of the game as he sent a chipped ball from midfield position over a few players to de Jong who had a free way into the box.

He also gave a few corners, which were decent.

Prefers right foot too much

On a technical, what could disturb his manager tactical, is that if there was a chance for him to use his right foot, he always preferred it, even if it meant he had to slow down the game. He did not look comfortable with the ball on his left foot.

He made a few passes with the left, mostly shorter one’s. Indeed he can and does use his left foot at times, but an hour or two extra work with it on the training ground every week would help him.

This constant preference of the right foot paired with average pace and strength might hold him back by a level. If he could use his left foot the way Sneijder uses, he could become much more unpredictable and he could speed his game up by a notch, a notch necessary for making an impact on the very biggest of scenes.

Would have to note that he did take one shot with his left foot and it ended up creating the other Ajax goal as his weak and low effort from the edge of the area was somehow spilled by AZ’s goalkeeper.

What I did not see in this game from his technical side was the lovely skill and nutmegs that have made him a bit of a YouTube hit and which have helped him get past players in previous games in his career.

Mistakes grew as the game went on

At the start of the game he was very calm on the ball, making just a couple of bad decisions, but in second half there were more as the tiredness started to affect him.

He did seem to have decent vision, as shown in the assist for the first goal, but there were times where he misjudged the situation badly, trying to make passes which were never going to come off and maybe at times not re-calculating a difficult situation, trying to put a ball over the top for a team-mate who was moving back from a offside position for example.

Also amongst the very poor decisions you could list the aforementioned try to take on an opponent player for pace despite him probably knowing very well that he was not going to win the race.

Eriksen has many suitors, amongst them Manchester United. Picture taken from: forzaitalianfootball.com

What level is he now:

I do not think he is actually starting material for a top team just yet. He looks like a player who would only fit into a certain system as his playing style really makes the only position available for him the one of a playmaking attacking midfield.

For now, he might struggle in a top team in a top league because of all the shortcomings I’ve mentioned and this is taking the fact that it was the first official game after the winter break into consideration.

I think it wouldn’t be bad for him to stay in Ajax for another season after this because he can still learn in Eredivisie where he does have decent challenges with games against solid teams like AZ, Twente, PSV and Feyenoord in addition to European matches. I think a half-starter role in a big team would not benefit him much.

I think he might struggle to make an impact in a physical game of Premier League and also in both Spanish giants, almost definitely in Barcelona. For his technical ability, he would easily fit into one of the high possession, high tempo teams, but his work-rate when defending and also when attacking might not be enough.

What level might he reach:

He could and probably will become a top class player in the same mould as Sneijder with not such great two-footedness and set piece ability, but with bit more technical skill as he has some good tricks in his locker.

He will turn 20 in February so he has a plenty of time to go. His problems can be fixed or at the very least covered up.

It could also be possible that someone converts him to a deeper playmaker role in the future as he often seemed to like to get onto the ball around the central circle rather than between opponents defensive and midfield line. Something similar to the likes of Paul Scholes and Andrea Pirlo.

If I had to pay 10 million euro’s rating: 8/10

I imagine he could be a player worth 30 million euros in a few years time, but for now, such price tag would be overrated. It’d be reasonable to give him a price of around 15 million, more would be a robbery. I was torn between 7 and 8 rating for him, but I gave him the benefit of doubt because of the fact that it was the first game after a long break.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2012 in One Game Reports

 

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Kevin Volland of 1860 München (One Game)

Kevin Volland

Kevin Volland is owned by Hoffenheim, but is currently playing with 1860 München in 2. Bundesliga. Picture taken from: dieblaue24.com

I was browsing around the games I could watch today with the goal of finding a game with a possibly interesting young player. I stumbled on a bunch of German 2. Bundesliga games and I decided to check the team-list of 1860 München where I found a player named KEVIN VOLLAND, a name which I had definitely seen somewhere before.

When I looked further into it, I found that this is a young player born in 1992 who might become one of the next players to come out of Germany’s seemingly endless production line of great young players.

He received bronze Fritz Walter Medal in the under-19 class which is a special award given out to Germany’s best youngsters. Ahead of him were Mönchengladbach’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Matthias Zimmermann.

Volland is a striker who has been with 1860 München for a long time, but in the summer of 2010 Hoffenheim bought the rights for him for a sum which Transfermarkt quotes to be 600 000 euros. However he was sent back on loan to 1860 München for two seasons.

He has represented Germany’s youth teams from the level of under 17 to under 20-s but he has really made an impact at the start of this season, already beating his tally of 6 goals in 24 games in 2. Bundesliga by hitting 9 in 19 with half of this season ahead.

One Game Report on Kevin Volland

Person Information:

Name: Kevin Volland
Date of Birth: 30.07.1992 (age 19)
Nationality: German
Heigth: 179 cm
Current Club: on loan to 1860 München (owned by Hoffenheim, contract until 30.06.2015 according to Transfermarkt.co.uk)
National Team: capped for U20, U19, U18 and U17 national teams

Basic Playing Information:

Position: Striker / Forward
Preferred Foot: Left

Statistics Of Last 3 Seasons (according to Transfermarkt.co.uk):

2011/2012: 1860 München / Germany U20 – 23 games, 11 goals, 8 assists, 5 yellow cards, 1778 minutes played
2010/2011*: 1860 München / 1860 München II / Germany U19 – 44 games, 16 goals, 4 assists, 5 yellow cards, 2458 minutes played
2009/2010*: 1860 München / Germany U17 / Germany U18 – 10 games, 6 goals, 558 minutes played

* – club level youth games not counted

Game Watched To Make The Report:

Karlsruher – 1860 München 1:3 (2. Bundesliga, 17.12.2011)

Game Description:

Volland was used in a 4-4-2 formation, partnered upfront with Benjamin Lauth. He played full 90 minutes.

The match was not particularly good viewing. The tempo was poor, both teams building from the back and attacking without too many risks taken. The technical qualities of the players on show were far from perfect.

However 1860 München won quite deservedly as they were the better side. Their last goal was born from a penalty kick which Volland earned.

Performance of Volland:

Having not seen Volland play previously, I expected him to be quite similar in style to Mario Götze and to an extent it was quite like this.

However he is slightly different as he seemed to be much more of a typical forward when it came to the area in which he played, this of course is something what his statistics and starting position suggested anyway.

I could understand Hoffenheim’s decision to let him stay in 1860 München for another season (they had chance to bring him back from what I understand). There is still a lot for him to learn and 2. Bundesliga is good level to do it.

The potential to be ready for a level higher than that as soon as next season seems clear as I felt that he is one of those players that the better players you surround him with, the better he plays. Basically when he is one of the stars of the current team, he’d still be one of the best in the side if you’d get some very good players in.

However his performance in the particular match wasn’t really as eye-catching as I hoped but in my opinion, he does have more in himself than he did in that game. Mind you, my expectations were very high. If I rated him simply against other players on the pitch then he did fine.

Kevin Volland in Germany youth team. Picture taken from: merkur-online.de

Very energetic

Within minutes of watching the game I liked what I saw from him. He was running hard even without the ball and although at times showed to be bit tired, managed to keep it going for full 90 minutes.

There was a lot of youthful energy in his game and the light feet you expect to see from a young forward of his size.

He is no Cristiano Ronaldo when it comes to speed but he looked faster than most other players on the pitch. Quite short and frequent steps, good explosion.

Needs more strength and/or cleverness

He is quick, but there is a need to improve on the physical side when it comes to strength. When defenders were living on his back, he didn’t look comfortable and lost a ball few times when defender came in with a strong challenge while he was trying to control the ball.

But I feel this is more down to lack of experience than simple matter of strength. He needs to learn how to position his body so that the defenders can’t get to the ball and also learn how to get the ball under control in situations where you’re going to get challenged from behind. The very best strikers, who are often similar build to him, aren’t as big as the defenders who are giving them a hard time, but usually they come out of those situations with the ball.

He did succeed at controlling the ball on a couple of such occasions, but I think they were more down to luck than him knowing how he should position his body.

Good technical side

Technical side of his game seemed quite solid especially for his age and his poor passes or poor ball controls seemed to be isolated incidents which will become fewer as the games played count rises.

What I mean by isolated incidents is that although he made some bad passes, he did some very good ones too in similar situations, meaning that the ability to do good stuff is there, just needs experience to learn how to assess the situations he is in a bit better.

Three of my favorite passes were a one-two he did in midfield before bursting into the box to earn a penalty, a great pass between two players when he was under a lot of pressure in midfield and one lovely back-heeled pass to a free team-mate on the edge of the area.

He mainly uses his left foot, but I saw him be quite comfortable when the ball is on the right foot too. First touch was good but needs to improve in situations where he is under pressure. Ball control at speed was neither bad or perfect.

I cannot rate his long-range passing based on this game since there weren’t any but short-term passing seemed to be good. As for headers, I only saw him head the ball once but that was a decent header in midfield which he aimed at his fellow team-mate and it got there perfectly.

I also saw him making two very lovely quick turns on the ball which left the opponent defenders flat-footed.

Main issue comes from little experience

Good technical quality, energy and quick feet are there but it might take a couple of years before he can actually become a high-scoring forward in Bundesliga.

His awareness and decision-making is something that needs to improve. He does seem to think a lot “tactically” when he does not have the ball, but with the ball he doesn’t seem to have the full picture of the pitch in his head.

He leaves himself too open for challenges, like for example in the situation he earned a penalty, if he had moved the ball slightly away from goal he could’ve used his pace to get away from the defender challenging him and then possibly rounded the goalkeeper or have a shot immediately. He seemed to be very concentrated on the net and didn’t notice the defender coming, luckily for him the defender was a bit late.

Also I saw a few passes where he could’ve thought them through a bit better, one was particularly bad as he was completely free in midfield but made a weak, predictable pass which was easily cut out.

It’s not all bad vision and decisions though as every other time he does manage to spot some open team-mates in difficult situations and make quick decisions.

What level might he reach:

From that one game it is hard to judge but I think if he has the right coaches and the right personality he can become one of the better forwards of his generation in the game, something which he has proven with great record in youth level.

He looks to me like a player who, if he continues to develop to the level I predicted above, would be able to play to very well in any league he goes to because he seems to have quite universal characters.

I think it will be clearer when he goes back to Hoffenheim next summer (this is assuming Hoffenheim want him for next season) and plays a bit in the Bundesliga.

If I had to pay 10 million euros rating: N/A – has only played in lower level competitions

At this moment I would assume 5 million would be the honest price tag I’d give him. He hasn’t at a higher level  than 2. Bundesliga so I’d prefer not to give him a low rating just because of that.

Talent rating: 8/10

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in One Game Reports

 

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