The top-level of women’s football has a number of talented young players that can be better matched with clubs that fit their philosophy and playing style. Delphine Cascarino is one such player at Olympique Lyonnais Féminin who could benefit a number of clubs around Europe and the US. The aim of this dossier is to compile a report on Cascarino and use the data to understand which club matches and is in need of a player of her style. For this scout report, we will only look at the FAWSL in our research and identify the clubs that could match Cascarino’s philosophy. This report will include a general overview of Cascarino followed up by detailing her style of play. Following this, I will conduct a data analysis on Europe’s best wingers and identify Cascarino’s standing against them. Does she stack up against the best in the world? The next step would be to understand and detail the type of clubs that fit Cascarino’s profile and whether she fits in their tactics and then choose the best option.
Delphine Cascarino is a 24-year-old right winger playing for Olympique Lyonnais in France’s Division 1 Féminine. At first glance, Cascarino role resembles that of a traditional winger that uses the touchline and sends in crosses for the strikers in the box. However, there is a modern element to her play style as she doesn’t solely rely on overlapping movements, rather Cascarino is also able to make underlapping moves both on and off the ball to create space and provide a different crossing angle or shot on goal. The heat map is an indicator of where she often positions on the field, we can see there is heavy activity in the wide right area, mirroring her role as a wide winger. In 999 minutes this season, Cascarino has contributed three goals and five assists for Lyon. That ties her in 4th place alongside Khadija Shaw and Sandie Toletti, and is only surpassed by teammates Amel Majri and Dzenifer Marozsán. Nadia Nadim and Lena Petermann are also included.
Delphine Cascarino’s play style
To better place Cascarino’s strengths we must first understand the system she is played under at Lyon. Lyon have been pretty faithful to their 4-2-3-1 formation and they’ve used this system for 77% of the season, rarely opting for another formation. They rely on their superiority in possession to ensure they keep the opposition as far away from their goal as possible. Cascarino plays on the right side of the three attackers that play behind Ada Hegerberg. Lyon have a mobile attacking lineup with Cascarino, Marozsán, and Eugenie Le Sommer – three players who interact intelligently with Hegerberg. Hegerberg is mobile and intelligent in her movement and is able to get on the end of both aerial and low whipped crosses making use of Lyon’s different profile of wingers. Because of Lyon’s aggressive and possession-hungry style, the full-backs are usually pushed up high and play close to their wingers. Both wide pairings will interchange positions between wide and narrow positions seamlessly with similar output as both are equally proficient at crossing and ball progression.
Taking a look at her statistics, we can see that Cascarino has all the attributes of a winger with her high frequency and volume of crosses and dribbles per 90. Her expected assists (xA) is quite good and her offensive duel figures indicate a player that is constantly on the ball and is reluctant to surrender possession easily. These statistics go a long way in helping us understand her traits and ability as a player.
Cascarino is an aggressive, hard-working winger with excellent crossing and dribbling ability. Her high number of offensive duels is an indicator of her determination to protect and get past players whilst in possession. Combined with her pace, this could also indicate her ability in offensive 1 v 1 situations, where she is able to get the better of her marker and put herself in a better position to cross. What this also could indicate is her ability to create space in transition where she becomes the focus of defenders while she’s on the ball. Her pace and dribbling down the line will force full-backs to focus on her movement, possibly leaving gaps between the centre-back and full-back for another player to exploit or drag the central defender out of position for the centre-forward.
Cascarino combines her pace, intelligent positioning, and movement off the ball in another effort to create space and allow her right-back, Lucy Bronze, to make overlapping runs and present herself as another passing option.
This pass map is a perfect illustration of Lyon’s attacking structure against Stade de Reims, where we can see Selma Bacha (#4) and Bronze (#2) (she is located under the #23) are both positioned near the halfway line with Cascarino (#20) ahead of Bronze. There were 17 passes between Bronze and Cascarino showing their connection and Cascarino’s ability to develop a partnership with her full-back. This method of ball progression has made Olympique Lyon a massive threat and is why they’ve scored 67 goals this season.
The winger’s main attributes include her understanding of space through her movement, positioning both on and off the ball, ability to drive past players using her pace and dribbling, and output with her crossing. Starting with her in-possession traits, we know that this is one of her strongest assets from just looking at her dribbling statistics. Cascarino averages 10.72 dribbles per 90 with a 61% success rate this season. That alone illustrates her ability to progress play with high frequency and in 1 v 1 situations through her success rate.
The image above sees Cascarino start off slightly further back and make her way to her current position. We can see that she’s able to take on multiple players in close quarter situations and still possess the ball control to cross it into a dangerous area. This example illustrates her crossing intelligence and dribbling ability. What makes the cross even more intelligent is her cross being aimed for the vacant space behind Valerie Gauvin. In this case, Majri makes a smart sudden move towards the space that ends up resulting in a goal. Cascarino could very easily have played her cross in front of the defenders for a potential tap in, but intelligently pulls it back instead.
Similarly, looking at her off-the-ball movement, Cascarino’s ability to understand space and use it effectively is a key trait when playing as a winger. Often wingers are reliant on their on-the-ball abilities to create play, but Cascarino is able to create space by identifying spaces to run into and forcing the opposition to react by having a marker follow her. As the example above shows, Cascarino is situated in a narrower position with her teammate on the ball on the touchline. Cascarino identifies the space in behind the full-back and aims to capitalise on the movement made by Gauvin to drag the centre-back away, widening the gap even more. A darting run into the vacant space sees Cascarino latch onto the pass with her pace allowing her to get away from the Brazilian marker closest to her.
Cascarino possesses intelligence and speed that would be a real asset to any team and after reviewing her capabilities on the field, it is clear to see what kind of team she can thrive in. We will now deep dive into the data and see how she fares against Europe’s best wingers followed by the teams that Cascarino’s skillset would suit in the WSL.
Data Analysis – Europe’s wingers
We want to compare and see how good Cascarino is against Europe’s best wingers. For this data analysis, I have chosen wingers from the top two teams in France, Germany, England, and Spain. For England, I have picked Chelsea, Manchester City, and Arsenal because all three teams are considered strong in their domestic league and are the focus of our analysis. There are three metrics being used to show us ball progression, output, and delivery to identify the most influential wingers in European women’s football. Only players with 500 or more minutes this season have been considered using data from Wyscout.
Firstly, we are going to analyse the wingers’ contribution against their expected contribution. We arrived at this metric by simply combining the goals and assists to get the goal contribution and their expected goals (xG) and expected assists (xA) to get the expected goal contribution. Immediately, we can see most players are situated on the left side of the graph. Most players have a below-average contribution in both their actual and expected contribution numbers. Cascarino ranks high in terms of her overall contribution (8) this season but is averaging lower than the sample size in terms of expected contribution (0.56). Caroline Graham Hansen and Kadidiatou Diani both outperform the other wingers in this regard.
Next, we will be examining crosses per 90 minutes and their success rate combined with their dribbles per 90. The darker circles represent a higher number of dribbles. This will give us an indication of how often they dribble and successfully deliver a cross along with its frequency. Immediately, we can see a widespread set of players across the graph. The players in the top right quadrant are the best performers, in this case, Cascarino finds herself there with 10.72 dribbles per 90 along with 6.4 crosses per 90 with a 33% success rate. The average crossing accuracy rate here is 30%, making her accuracy higher than her European counterparts. There seems to be a correlation when crossing frequencies and success rates are high, as the dribbling statistics seem to be high as well, which could mean they play in teams that afford them space and time to transition.
Lastly, we will be analysing ball progression. Using progressive runs is an indicator of how often a player can carry possession drawing the team closer to the opposition’s goal, along with the number of dribbles per 90, we can understand how effective Cascarino is in this metric. The darker circles represent a higher number of dribbles success rate. We notice that Cascarino is ranked amongst the highest performers with 2.8 progressive runs and 10.72 dribbles per 90, with a success rate of 61%. What this illustrates is that Cascarino is one of the best ball progressors in Europe which is a vital asset for a winger, especially when coming up against teams that are likely to sit deep and soak up pressure.
Which WSL club is the best fit for Cascarino?
Through Total Football Analysis’ data team, we were able to use a team profiling method to determine which clubs in the WSL ranked in relation to Olympique Lyon’s metrics in Division 1 Feminine. The data was used to compare and see how well each WSL club fared against Lyon under certain metrics including PPDA, passes, crosses, dribbles, shots, duel intensity, and possession. This would give us an indication of the team that is closest to Olympique Lyon in terms of the aforementioned metrics. Each WSL team was ranked against Lyon’s score of 12. The below graphic illustrates Lyon’s style of play based on the metrics, and we can see that they are a possession-based team who use the wide areas as their primary method of attacks.
The top five teams are Chelsea (5), Everton (4), West Ham (4), Manchester City (3), and Arsenal (3). What this means is Chelsea are the closest team to Lyon and would be best placed to replicate their domination. However, it’s clear to see how dominant Lyon are with their score of 12 and also indicates the competitiveness brewing in the WSL. Now we need to determine which teams would be best suited for Cascarino.
These networks show us the results for both Arsenal and Chelsea. Notice how both teams dominate possession and look to build up rather than counter-attack. The main difference lies in their preference of going wide or central, with Chelsea preferring to utilise their wingers whilst Arsenal capitalise on their strengths in the central areas. From this, we know how both teams like to play in relation to Lyon and will help us determine Cascarino’s best fit.
We will only consider Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester City because they are likely destinations for Cascarino if she were to move. Chelsea currently possesses Guro Reiten, Ramona Bachmann, and Erin Cuthbert as their three wide players, while Arsenal have Beth Mead, Lisa Evans, and Daniëlle van de Donk. Manchester City will not be considered due to their system of playing with their right full-back as their source of width, with the right-midfielder tucking inside. We will consider one of Arsenal or Chelsea because their systems are predicated on playing with wide players.
So, which team is better suited to Cascarino? From the results, a move to Chelsea would be in line with the way both player and club like to play. Cascarino is a player designed to use her speed and crossing ability to attack and with centre-forwards such as Sam Kerr and Bethany England, Cascarino would have two potent goalscorers to aim for – similar to what she has at Lyon in Hegerberg. However, Cascarino’s skill set would bring a style change to Arsenal and arguably present a much more interesting option.
How Cascarino fits in at Arsenal?
We will now analyse how Cascarino fits into Arsenal’s system, and how her playing style would benefit the side. First, we need to understand the players involved in her position currently at Arsenal. Evans and Van de Donk are the ones who occupy the right-wing position playing in a version of the 4-2-3-1 system. Arsenal’s play is usually fluid and involves short passing exchanges between midfield and attack. The average position pass map below gives us an idea of Arsenal’s attacking style.
While Mead provides width on the left side of Arsenal’s attack, the right side is usually much narrower with Van de Donk often drifting into the central areas (as can be seen in the above map (#7)) allowing Leonie Maier or Evans to overlap and create width. If Arsenal are looking for a more conservative option they opt for Viktoria Schnaderbeck. They often look to get their playmakers on the ball in the middle areas with build-up coming through Lia Walti as the deepest-lying midfielder. Kim Little and Jill Roord take up more advanced positions and control possession to feed the front four. Van de Donk, Mead, and Jordan Nobbs supply Miedema up front mainly through the centre, but there are times when the full-backs will overlap and provide a crossing option. Their preferred option is through the middle, and Van de Donk – the right-winger – will play in a much more central position playing next to Nobbs because of her preference to drift inside.
Cascarino can bring a different dimension to Arsenal with her skillset able to change the way Arsenal play and give them a second point of attack. The French winger’s directness, movement, and crossing ability can allow Arsenal to take advantage of Miedema’s all-round play style and make Evans a much more potent attacking threat from right-back on the overlap. Cascarino’s ability to pull defenders towards her will give Mead space on the opposite side to attack the left and allow for switches of play.
To further emphasise Arsenal’s case for a new winger, they are ranked third in total crosses and crosses per 90 (16.76) in the WSL behind Chelsea and Manchester City. However, they rank 8th in terms of accuracy with only 26.6%. Manchester City rank first with 41.1% for comparison. They also rank 4th in 1 v 1 dribbling per 90 minutes with a 53.3% success rate.
The pass network above illustrates Cascarino’s (#20) position against Montpellier in a league match. The darker areas indicate where she was most active and the two players she had the most connection with. Lucy Bronze (#2) and Amandine Henry (#6) had the most number of passes with Casacrino giving her service to provide to Hegerberg. Bronze is playing much higher, as is customary for a Lyon full-back against a team that sits deep. This is a similar sight for Arsenal when they come against most teams who surrender possession. Cascarino would be able to fit in and provide numerous crosses to a similar clinical striker in Miedema.
These radars compare Cascarino with Evans and Van de Donk at close quarters. What instantly jumps out is Cascarino’s crossing and dribbling per 90. Cascarino eclipses the other two players by a large margin in this regard making her much more effective. Van de Donk does have more goals, but Cascarino’s main role is to provide service for the forward players rather than to score. Lyon have forward players who take the goalscoring burden so the winger doesn’t need to score a plethora of goals. We need to take into account the profiling scores from the earlier section and Arsenal ranked lower which means Lyon’s playstyle is different to Arsenal’s. However, I believe Cascarino can bring both a new attacking dimension and an added goal-scoring ability to ease the burden off Miedema. The values have been taken from the same data set we used for the earlier data analysis and the players with the highest and lowest number in each category were used as the minimum and maximum.
Cascarino is a dynamic right-winger that could improve any side in the world. Through our tactical analysis, we can see that Cascarino ranks amongst the best wingers in the world. Cascarino’s play style is one that can not only flourish at Arsenal but also give the team a different point of attack. Cascarino’s presence would give the Gunners a new tactical identity in attack by allowing different players to be moved around into positions of strength whilst strengthening in other areas. For Cascarino, this move would represent somewhat of a bold move for the French winger but would also give her an opportunity to get more game time from the start and a chance at claiming the WSL title.