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Lamine Yamal and a different way of studying performance with data

In football, understood as the king of chaos and uncertainty, it is very difficult to be guided directly by data, and even less so by data that only define events. At Kognia we are involved in an analysis process that not only defines football concepts, but also expresses tactical behaviors. For a single game analysis, simple events give us a picture of the player's performance, but when performing a more detailed longer term analysis of a player these simple events miss interesting performance indicators that more specifically define how a player is developing and performing in his role on the field. In this article we will perform a player analysis utilizing the Kognia football concepts and tactical behaviors.

We are going to talk about the performance in recent La Liga games of some of the best wingers and we are going to put the spotlight on Lamine Yamal, as one of those players whose behavior and role on the pitch should be extensively analyzed. Lamine Yamal with only 16 years of age has a market value of 80 million euros and has played more than 60% of the minutes in La Liga and the Champions League, scoring 4 goals and adding 6 assists. He has been in Xavi Hernandez's ideal eleven 70% of the time and is a very important player for Luis de la Fuente's Spanish National Team.

Lamine Yamal's behavior and his role in FC Barcelona's game affects his numbers, as he stands out as a vertical and deep winger, but also supportive and who offers himself excessively to receive the ball and generate situations of superiority from the width. In the last phase of the regular competition, Lamine Yamal has emerged as the winger who offers the most vertical support to overcome opponents, as he is always in intermediate positions with the freedom to create space, mobilize his opponents, disarray the defending team and give agility and pace to the game. He is a winger capable of going 1v1, dribbling past his opponents and getting to the byline to look towards the opposition goal. However, that does not mean he is not a highly skilled winger in understanding the game, as he has the ability to identify passing lanes under pressure. It is not surprising to see Take Kubo positioned very close to Lamine in terms of data measuring on-ball behavior, as both are immersed in two styles of play that combine to generate interesting situations from possession in the opponent's half.

However, there is one tactical concept that measures the depth and intent to attack behind the back of the opposition defenders, the movements behind the defensive line. In this case, it is other La Liga wingers, such as Nico Williams, Vinicius Junior and Luis Rioja, who are used to playing in a more vertical and direct style of play, who emerge above the attackers of FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad. All these facts indicate, how tactically smart Lamine and Take are, they are not just completing lots of runs behind the defensive lines like Nico and Vinicius but are actually more strategic in when they make their runs behind the defensive line. When there is a weakness in the defense with a defensive line imbalance they quickly observe this and are the best at taking advantage of these moments. 

As we get closer to the opponent's goal, some other final third metrics are relevant, such as crosses into the area, finishes and space taken up by the attackers to receive and finish. In this case, Lamine Yamal again scores higher than some of the best wingers in La Liga, although with Vinicius Junior above him in terms of finishing. This is not surprising, as if anything can be asked or demanded of Lamine, it is an improvement in his goalscoring numbers. Vinicius has managed to score, to date, 9 more goals, despite the fact that in assists they are practically equal.

In this section, Girona FC left winger Sávio, on loan from Troyes, deserves a special mention. He has scored 8 goals and has 9 assists, helping Míchel's team to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in their history. He is the winger who, after Vinicius Junior and Lamine Yamal, tops the list of players that most often occupies the area to receive and finish. Savio has been one of the revelations of the competition and one of the wingers with the greatest ability to generate goal scoring chances in La Liga. He has undoubtedly dynamited the opposition's systems, has provided different alternatives for his team in the opposition's half and has transmitted a highly aggressive competitive spirit with and without the ball.

In conclusion, it is good to see that deep and vertical wingers such as Lamine Yamal, Nico Williams, Vinicius Junior, Sávio or Luis Rioja are not disappearing. Many of them are adapting to changing contexts to take on roles that can make them more complete and allow them to develop their performance even further in favor of understanding the game and the match plans set out by their coaching staff.

To find out more on what tactical advantages Kognia can provide click here and we will be in touch.


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