Irvin Cardona at Brest 2019/2020 – scout report
Irvin Cardona spent a good part of his young player days at AS Monaco, after five years in the youth teams, Cardona had his chance to play for the first-team in the 2016/2017 season completing 7 games in total. In the following season, however, Cardona wasn’t part of the plans for Monaco’s first team and was loaned out to Cercle Brugge in Belgium where he played for two seasons. Following Cardona’s good performances in the Belgium league, he completed a move to Stade Brestois in the beginning of the 2019/2020 season and the opportunity to play in Ligue 1 came for the young striker once again.
During the 2019/2020 season Irvin Cardona played 23 games, scoring 7 goals and making 3 assists, the Frenchman played at a very good level and showed great potential to improve.
In this scout report we’ll be taking a look at Irvin Cardona’s performances for Brest, a tactical analysis of his actions in the different moments of the games will allow us to identify his main traits, strengths and weaknesses, and a look at his statistical profile will allow us to access his output in certain key metrics while also comparing him with other Ligue 1 players.
Irvin Cardona is a 22 year-old striker that can also play as a winger and in the 2019/2020 season he played in both roles for Brest depending on the chosen tactics. When playing as a striker, Cardona would drift wide sometimes to find space and that reflects in his heat map below. The map shows us the areas of the pitch that Cardona occupies the most and gives us a good picture of where he usually operates in the pitch.
Because he is able and used to play in different positions, Irvin Cardona is a very versatile player in the attacking line. He is mobile and fast and that allows him to search for space in various areas of the pitch. Cardona is not a traditional striker that stays central and close to the defensive line, instead, he moves around the final third looking for space to receive the ball and combine with his teammates. In doing so, he is able to maintain himself in positions where he can attack the opposition’s penalty area, and that allows him to be ready to recognise and react to finishing opportunities. The heat map above shows precisely that with its spread all around the final third.
In order to have a better profile of the abilities and style of play of Irvin Cardona, we took a look at the data. Calculating percentile ranks for some key metrics allowed for a comparison with other strikers from Ligue 1.
An analysis of the bar chart shows us how Irvin Cardona had a very good season with Brest both scoring and creating goals. The Frenchman scored high in most metrics with touches in the box per 90 and dangerous passes per 90 standing out the most. The metric “Dangerous passes per 90” was created adding passes to the final third per 90, deep completions per 90, and passes to the penalty area per 90. The metric “Chance creation contribution was created by adding third assists per 90, second assists per 90, assists per 90 and key passes per 90. Cardona ranks high in both these metrics proving is ability to link-up play, find teammates in dangerous positions and create chances for them to score. Playing as a centre-forward, Cardona has a good offensive output, he ranks well in goal contribution per 90, xG contribution per 90 and goal conversion, and, although not as high as in other metrics, the room and potential for improvement are certainly there.
Having established Irvin Cardona’s profile and is role as a mobile forward, we will now take a look at his actions in the various phases of the game in order to complete this scout report. A tactical analysis of his gameplay will allow us to identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as have a better notion of his style of play.
When Brest are in their attacking phase Cardona is constantly trying to find space wether he is playing as a winger or as a striker. Because he is a very mobile player, his variety of movements of the ball is big, and that’s why he can be seen dropping deep, exploiting depth, providing width or occupying the half-space in the same match. Having all this mobility around the pitch can pass the idea that Cardona is often away from key areas, however, he looks precisely for those areas when moving around the pitch to either exploit them himself or play the ball to a teammate in them.
There are two main types of run that Cardona makes when in the attacking phase, he either drops deep and away from the opposition’s defensive line to receive the ball to his feet, or he makes use of his speed to exploit the space in behind the defensive line. The area of the pitch where he makes those runs is obviously influenced by the position he is playing in, however, Cardona will look for space wherever there is some. With this variety of movements, Cardona often drags defenders out of their positions opening up space for himself or his teammates to exploit.
In the image below we can see Irvin Cardona dropping deep and away from the opposition’s defensive line so he can combine with his teammate. His movement drags out a defender and leaves a big gap open for another player to exploit.
Irvin Cardona is very effective and intelligent when trying to make runs in behind the defensive line, he times his runs well and quickly recognises the best angle to give them, so he can receive the ball and have good chances of creating danger. Being a fast player Cardona is often successful in the runs he makes, but his perception of space is really what gives him the edge over defenders. In the image below we can see Irvin Cardona making a run in behind Nice’s defensive line after he recognised the space available, he signals his teammate with his hand, times the run well, and is able to get into a 1vs1 situation against the goalkeeper
Irvin Cardona plays an important role in creating chances for his team both as a striker and as a winger. The frenchman has good vision and is decent at passing and, when he combines that with his very good of the ball movement, he is able to be in the right area and provide the right pass or cross. One particular area from which Cardona is able to deliver good passes into the penalty box is the half-space. Cardona often makes runs in behind the defensive line through the half-space in order to reach the penalty box and then play the ball to one of the other attackers. This is particularly noticeable when he is playing as a part of a front two, Cardona plays the role of the striker that drops deep and roams trying to find space and therefore has the freedom to make this kind of movements. His partner in the front line benefits a lot from this movements as they often drag defenders or create chances for him. When playing in wider areas Cardona is also able to create chances through crosses into the box, he shows good crossing technique as well as vision to spot teammates unmarked. In terms of numbers Cardona averaged a chance creation contribution per 90 of 0.59 which is well above the average for Ligue 1 strikers.
In the image below we can see Irvin Cardona receiving the ball in the half-space and playing a first time pass into space. With this pass he is able to get his teammate in a 1vs1 situation against the goalkeeper and the play ends in a goal. Cardona recognised the space prior to receiving the ball and that enabled to play the first time pass, if it wasn’t that way, the attack would most likely break down.
With his role of a more mobile striker Cardona often finds himself in the position of playing the final pass when he drops deep and he shows good qualities in this respect. The data backs this up, he averages 6.53 dangerous passes per 90, ranking above the 80th percentile as we can see in the bar chart shown previously.
Cardona is a very dangerous player in the counter-attack because of his pace but also his ability to find space. He often stays up the pitch when the team is defending in order to be a viable and progressive passing option for the team to counter-attack. He has very good ball carrying abilities and thus is able to drive the attack forward himself and get to the dangerous areas. Once in the mentioned areas, Cardona usually makes the right decision, however, his youth sometimes leads him to either decide or execute wrongly.
In the image below we can see Irvin Cardona making a run in behind the defensive line through the half-space during a counter attack. Like it was mentioned before Cardona likes to make this run, this time he receives the ball and after carrying it some meters forward while also dragging the defender with him, plays it back across to his teammate putting him in a 1vs1 situation against the goalkeeper.
Irvin Cardona shows good goalscoring abilities, he is a fairly good finisher and knows very well how to find space to try and score. Besides the already mentioned runs in behind the defensive line and the dropping deep to combine with teammates, Cardona some other interesting movements in finishing areas. The Frenchman makes good use of his speed and space interpretation to anticipate defenders and get in the end of crosses or passes made into the penalty area, but he also knows when to delay is run into the box in order to receive the pull back and have more space to shoot.
In the image below we can see these two different movements being made by Cardona. In the top half of the image, he recognises the space in between the two centre-backs and makes a run to receive the ball into that space. In the bottom half of the image, Irvin Cardona delays is run into the box so that he can take advantage of the opposing defenders being dragged back by his teammates’s movement.
Cardona is fairly comfortable with his weak foot and that also helps him in finishing positions because he has the confidence to shoot with either his left or right foot depending on the angle. The combination of his good shooting technique with his very good movements often creates a lot of danger for the opposition, plus, Cardona is also good in dribbling and 1vs1 situations making him a versatile forward with good set of skills. Looking at the data, Cardona averaged 2.51 shots per 90 this season and a goal conversion of 13.95%, showing how despite not having a huge volume he was able to be somewhat clinical and ranks a bit above average in this metric. In terms of dribbling, Cardona averaged 3.56 dribbles per 90 and 40.98% of those were successful.
In the image below we can see a great play by Irvin Cardona, he receives a pass in behind the defensive line and, always dribbling with this left foot, tricks the goalkeeper and the defender with a fake shot, and scores.
Irvin Cardona is usually part of Brest’s press when the opposition is in the build-up phase. The Frenchman uses is pace very well to close down on opponents quickly, he is also able to angle his runs well so he always provides cover shadow to the player behind him. Again, Cardona’s space perception comes into lay in this moments of the game, he is able not only to press and close down on opponents but also to read passes and intercept them.
In the image below we can see Irvin Cardona pressing the Dijon defender, he angles his run to cover the opposite side and is able to steal the ball back for his team.
When playing as a winger, Irvin Cardona shows the willingness to defend deeper but always keeps up the press on the opponent in order to be able to intercept a pass or force a mistake and get the ball back. He is a very active player and always looks alive on the pitch looking to get the ball from his teammates or to steal it from his opponents, in other words, Cardona is a “high rotation” player that puts in the effort to help his team.
In the image below we can see Irvin Cardona defender in deeper and wider areas. He spots the pass made and immediately closes down on the receiver to steal the ball from him.
This scout report showed how Irvin Cardona is already a very versatile and complete forward at the age of 22. He is able to recognise and exploit spaces intelligently and pairs that with good speed and technical abilities. His ability to play in different positions across the offensive line, and put up good performances in all of them, makes him a real asset for his team. Our analysis of the data also showed how well Cardona ranked compared to other Ligue 1 strikers and, with many great forwards playing in the league but especially in PSG, the youngster’s offensive output is even more impressive. Cardona has some aspects of his game that he could improve of course, he sometimes makes wrong decisions or executes a pass or a shot poorly, but that is something that happens with all young players.
Having passed through Monaco’s academy system he certainly has his training on his favour and, apart from the great potential, he also shows desire and attitude on the pitch. All in all, Irvin Cardona seems to be ready for a move to a bigger team so he can develop and show is talent in a higher level, possibly the Champions League, and we’ll certainly keep an eye out for this talented young forward.