Ragnar Ache at Frankfurt 2020/2021 – scout report
Following the recent analysis made by me where I look at the data from the new signings in the Bundesliga as well as the one where we took a look at all the teenagers that will feature this year in the Bundesliga, new and already known faces entered the curiosity and expectation radar due to their statistical profile and output. One of the players that stood out in said analysis is the young German striker Ragnar Ache, his statistical output in the offensive side is quite impressive and claims an analysis of his style of play and typical actions in order to truly understand what he is all about.
In this scout report we are going to make a tactical analysis of Ragnar Ache’s behavior in different phases of the game, mixing some of his data in the middle of that will hopefully result in a comprehensive report that highlights the most important aspects of his style of play as well as strengths and weaknesses he might have.
Ragnar Ache is a right-footed 22 year-old German striker who signed for Frankfurt from Eredivisie side Sparta Rotterdam. Ache spent pretty much all of his academy football days in the Rotterdam side and made the leap to the first-team in the 2017/2018 season. A very mobile player, possibly due to his good physicality and speed, Ache presents some very interesting attributes especially for the type of football played in the Bundesliga.
The heat map below shows the areas of the pitch where Ache has the most actions, therefore, the areas of the pitch where he operates and is involved the most.
This map clearly shows the mobility that Ragnar Ache has in his game, in fact, Ache can also play as a winger in a front three for example. Even when playing as a striker, and more often when playing as a part of a front two, Ache is seen drifting wide to find space to receive the ball and provide passing lanes to his teammates. Besides being a fast player, Ache also has a big physical presence that he knows how to utilize in his favor very well and that adds another variable to his game that makes him a more versatile player able to adapt to different roles and tactics if needed.
Off the ball : finding and creating space
When his team has the ball Ragnar Ache is a very lively player in the search for space to receive the ball and help the team progress the ball up the pitch, how does he do that ? Or what spaces does he usually look for? Well, as a relatively big player at 1.82m but with a strong physical presence the first way in which Ache is able to find space to receive the ball up the pitch and be a progressive passing option for his team is acting as a target man. Ache knows how to utilize his body well to gain space but also to protect the ball from his opponents making him capable of receiving the ball from the air or through the ground, hold off his opponent, and lay the ball back to a teammate in a more advanced area of the pitch. Ache really benefits from his physicality, in fact, this is not the only way in which it helps him and the young German seems to be aware of that and tries to take full advantage of his characteristics.
In the example below we can see Ragnar Ache receiving the ball as the man that’s further up the pitch in his team. He makes great use of his strength and height to win the ball in the air and is also able to play it to a teammate in front of him. Notice Ache’s movement coming form a more advanced position, he uses the speed from his run to generate power for his jump and, because of that, he surprises his opponent coming from his blind side which gives him the edge to win the aerial duel.
Another movement that is common in Ache’s game when his team is in the build-up phase are the runs he often makes in behind the opposition’s defensive line. Yet again taking full advantage of his physicality, Ache likes to make runs in behind the defensive line in order to get himself to finishing situations. For a strong as fast player like him this proves to be a very effective way to find space closer to the opposition’s goal as he is often able to beat defenders in a race, however, this movements sometimes come paired with another typical movement that the young German likes to make: drift to wide areas. This is not something straightforward, Ache doesn’t only make this type of runs in the wide areas, however, this areas of the pitch are often where there is more space to exploit and if he is able to get in behind the defensive line then he can easily come to more central spaces to finish if he wants to.
In the image below we can see Ragnar Ache making a run just like the ones mentioned before. He has drifted to the left half-space and makes the run in behind through the space in between the opposition’s full-back and centre-back. The ball is played into space and Ache gets into a privileged position to finish and still as the time to come inside a bit more to get a better shooting angle.
Lastly, Ache is also capable of providing a more positional passing lane for his teammates and receive the ball in the space in between the opposition’s defensive and midfield line. Although this is not the most common movement made by the German, he is capable of doing it but usually looks to pass the ball quickly and tries to make a run in behind the defensive line to get it back into space as soon as possible. It is worth noticing that this is not the best side of Ache’s game, playing in between the opposition’s defensive and midfield line requires very good spatial awareness and ball control and although he is not bad in either of those aspects, they are not the strongest points of his game.
In the image below we can see Ragnar Ache receiving the ball in between the lines and providing a connection between the midfield and the attack. His following action is to pass the ball to his teammate and immediately tries to make a run in behind the defensive line, this type of run is very important for his team when they are in the final third because even if he doesn’t receive the ball himself, it creates space for his teammates by dragging the defenders with him.
Finishing: movement and shooting in the box
Ragnar Ache has good mobility to find space to receive the ball, that we’ve seen already, but now we’ll take a look at his movement inside the box, the positions he gets himself to in order to finish plays as well as his technique when performing all that.
Starting with some statistics, Ragnar Ache scored 5 goals and assisted 3 last season in the Eredivisie, these numbers aren’t the biggest but with roughly 1400 minutes played he still managed to be joint second best scorer in the league for Sparta Rotterdam. Moving into more advanced metrics, Ache averages 0.65 non-penalty goals per 90 and 0.81 xG per 90. The lack of balance between the two values hints that Ache is not being able to convert all the chances he has but also shows that the youngster is being able to get himself into good scoring positions which is very important. This is backed by the numbers Ache displays in terms of goal conversion, with a rate of only 17.24% it is clear that he needs to improve in his finishing but the following statistics will show us how he is already good at moving and finding good finishing positions.
From the statistical point of view, and that’s what we’re starting with, touches in the box per 90 and shots per 90 are two metrics that allow us to measure a striker’s ability to receive the ball in finishing positions as well as is shot volume in relation to that. So a striker with a high number of touches in the box per 90 but a low shot volume is a player that is not being expedite and clinical at finishing when in the box and vice versa. Ragnar Ache averages 5.55 touches in the box per 90 and pairs that with 3.74 shots per 90 which is a good balance between the two meaning he doesn’t take many touches in the box before shooting. Adding his 0.81 xG value (per 90) to the equation allows us to say that Ragnar Ache is indeed getting into good scoring positions and trying to convert them but his finishing technique is sometimes letting him down.
The map below taken from Wyscout shows us Ragnar Ache’s shots, their position and the outcome from them during the last calendar year.
An analysis of the map shows us how Ache is able to shoot from good positions inside the box, hence is good xG value, but is also highlights is defect in terms of conversion by showing us the shots that went wide or were blocked. All in all, Ragnar Ache still has to improve in his finishing but shows great promise in the positions he manages to get himself to inside the penalty box.
Having seen the German’s statistical profile in terms of finishing, we’ll now take a look at his in-game actions and how he gets into the mentioned good finishing positions.
When his team has the ball in the final third, an already mentioned movement made by Ache is to try and get in behind the opposition’s defensive line in order to get to finishing positions. In the image below we can see a perfect example of Ache making a run in behind the defensive line and getting into a 1vs1 situation with the goalkeeper.
Another different movement that is very characteristic to Ache happens in crossing situations. When his team has the ball in the wide areas and there is the chance for a cross, Ache moves inside the box very intelligently. The German is very often seen lurking behind the last defender on the far post and, because he places himself in the defenders blind side, he is able to then have theelement of surprise and get to the cross first to finish. This type of movement is also done by Ache in a different way, sometimes, he starts close to the defender and then takes a few steps back in order to be free to head the ball on the far post. This type of movement is not only intelligent by itself but also shows that Ache is once again aware of his physicality, ability on the air and speed to be able to anticipate crosses or passes and beat defenders to them.
In the image below we can see a situation where Ragnar Ache makes one of the mentioned movements. His teammate has the ball in the wide area and is lining up the cross. Ache takes a few steps back to get away from his marker and, because he is on the defender’s blind side, he is able to take a free header and score. The starting position from Ache is key here, being able to be relatively close to the defender and still go unnoticed in his blind side is key so he can then either take a few steps back to head or win position in front of the defender and get to the cross first to finish.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning that Ache doesn’t only try to finish plays on the far post, he is able to recognize the space wether it is in the near post or in between the two centre-backs and that the main point to be taken from here is that the young German is very clever in losing is marker and finding space to finish inside the penalty area.
This scout report has showed how Ragnar Ache looks to be a very good signing for Frankfurt, the young striker shows great mobility and physicality making him a great weapon in Bundesliga games that are more often than not full of transitions and fast play. Although Ache still has some aspects to improve in terms of his finishing and technique, the potential and time for that to happen is definitely there, and with this new experience in the Bundesliga he has a big stage to showcase his talent against some of the best teams in the world like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
In the current season Ache has only featured 2 times for Frankfurt but with the right adaption to the team and the coach’s tactics he can be a really good help for the team to achieve its objectives for the season.