In my last tactical analysis piece on the tactics of Chennaiyin FC’s head coach Thomas Brdarić, I highlighted the importance of the two defensive midfielders in their tactical system. In this scout report in form of tactical analysis, we will be performing an analysis on Julius Duker, Chennaiyin’s new foreign recruit for the 2022/23 season of the Indian Super League.
We will be looking at the player’s versatility and how he will fit in as part of the team’s tactical system in both the attacking phases and the defensive phases. All the visualisations were created using his data from his 2021/22 season in Germany and more importantly, only players who have played more than 700 minutes were taken into account for the visualisations used.
Düker came through the youth ranks at Wolfsburg and has since represented many German clubs in the second and third tiers. The left-footed midfielder has been used in both defensive and offensive roles which, as a result, has led to his versatile nature.
From the above player profile, one can see that he’s very well balanced in all the key areas. It’s vital to note that the player has very good percentiles in assists per 90 and xG per 90, indicating that he’s able to create and get onto the end of chances for his team.
In terms of passing and progression, one can see that he has excellent percentiles in all key passing metrics. He also has a pass accuracy of 80% which is really good but does look lower on the percentiles and the reason for this is that the player attempts a lot of penetrating passes when compared to other defensive midfielders in the position. Due to this, the player’s pass accuracy is low.
More importantly, looking at duels, a very important aspect of his role, we can see that he has shone in both offensive and defensive duels, with aerial duels being his strongest area.
From his heat map, we can also see the zones in which he tends to operate. Looking at the heatmap, one can say that he operated the most in the lower half of the pitch but also had a presence just at the start of the final third. He’s a disciplined player who knows and understands his role very well and plays according to the situation. We will look more into the traits that set him apart in the upcoming sections of this scout report.
Role as a pivot
In a 4-2-3-1 system, he perfectly fits in the build-up from the back as one of the defensive midfielders pushes up with just one acting as a pivot. Since he’s also able to push up to support the attackers, he would be a perfect partner for Anirudh Thapa, as they could keep switching the roles between them. He also knows when to drop back to offer support when the opponents make the progression hard.
In the match image, Düker is bubbled in a white circle for easy representation and one can see that he’s dropping back into space to help in the build-up of the game. He has very good game-reading abilities which help him in making decisive decisions.
Upon winning possession, Düker looks to progress and tries to keep feeding the attackers with a quick release of the ball. He’s constantly looking for spaces and prefers to play short or medium passes, looking to go long only when absolutely necessary and to switch sides.
The scatter plot is plotted with forward passes per 90 on the x-axis and passes per 90 on the y-axis. The idea is to analyse what he does with his passes when in possession. He falls below average in passes attempted in a match which is influenced by the amount of possession his team enjoys, but something to look at is his forward passes per 90. In spite of below-average numbers in passes per 90, he is very well much ahead in terms of forward passes per 90(16.67). This explains his mentality to keep moving the ball forward as and when he can.
Influence in the attacking third
One of the reasons why the coach would prefer either of the defensive midfielders to push up is to outnumber the opponents in the attacking third and also provide more options in the attacking third during the build-up. One of Düker’s roles when playing further upfield is to support and help in the smooth progression of the ball during the initial build-up.
Just like helping in occupying the space and by helping to progress in the initial build-up play, even when in the attacking third, he helps to exploit spaces in the attacking third and acts as a pivot there to receive and feed his attackers. He is able to take quick decisions and is completely capable of playing with both his feet. Due to this, the player plays a vital role in the attacking third as he plays passes the first time and doesn’t give the opponent a chance to anticipate what his next move would be.
To analyse the influence and importance of his passes, we will now look into the following scatter plot.
We have smart passes per 90 on the x-axis and through passes per 90 on the y-axis, these two metrics are the closest data we have to analyse the player’s creativity and influence via his passes. On looking at the scatter we can see that he’s spotted in the top right grid indicating that he performed above average and belongs to the elite list. He averages 0.61 smart passes per 90 while his through passes per 90 is at 0.97.
His vision is very good and his technical abilities are really impressive due to which the player can execute his plans without fail.
As mentioned earlier, Düker is very comfortable with both his left and right which is one of his strengths. In the match image, we can see him attempting a through pass with his weak foot. Düker is very good with his first touch, he tends to move into empty space avoiding the opponents and then creates enough time and space for him to execute his plans. He’s also capable of playing in confined spaces.
Now coming to the last section of this analysis — here, we’ll be looking at Düker’s defensive abilities as it’s his primary duty in the team. How a defensive midfielder plays off the ball is very important in the team’s defensive phase of the game.
To give an overall idea, first, we’ll take into account this bar chart which gives us an idea of the successful defensive actions per 90 of all defensive midfielders in the league. Düker is at sixth, averaging 12.46 successful defensive actions per 90.
The player is below average when it comes to pace, but is very competitive and physically imposing. To compensate for his lack of speed, the player has an excellent ability to predict the opponent’s moves. His anticipation is so good that it leaves him a step ahead of the opponents. With his long strides, he’s also able to cover enough ground on time and is always one step ahead of the opponent ball possessor.
In the match image, we can see Düker sprinting to close down the ball receiver even before he has received the pass. By anticipating the passes, he’s able to close them down quickly and as a result, he gives no time for the ball possessor to receive and turn. This way he’s forced to pass behind.
Apart from directly applying pressure, Düker also reads the game well to close down the possible passing lane. This way he indirectly put pressure on the ball possessor and give him no option to progress.
In the above scatter plot, we have fouls per 90 on the x-axis and PAdj Interceptions on the y-axis. We can see that he’s ranked high in terms of PAdj Interceptions and is below average in terms of fouls per 90. Now, this indicates that he times his interceptions and tackles well to recover possession, but this could also mean that he is very reliable in the defending third and would not commit silly fouls to regain possession.
Julius Düker is an excellent fit for the tactics of the head coach as he is one such defensive midfielder who can create a difference in both the offensive and defensive third. As this is the player’s first stint outside Germany, it could take time for him to adapt to the Indian soil and conditions, but once done, it’ll be interesting to see how he pairs up with Thapa as the other defensive midfielder. It’ll be interesting to watch how Düker helps this Chennaiyin get back to their old ways, and how he manages to win the hearts and trust of the fans.