Adnan Januzaj 2019/20 – scout report
In this tactical analysis piece, we would be analysing about Adnan Januzaj, the 25-year-old Belgium international who plays for Real Sociedad. Having been signed in the year 2017 from Sunderland where he had an average season, Januzaj has grown up to be one of the most reliable players in their side. He’s been one of the best wingers in LaLiga but is not widely spoken about. In this tactical analysis, we shall analyse Januzaj’s importance in the team and about his tactics in the form of a scout report. We would also be looking at his stats which seems very impressive but has gone unnoticed in the season 2019/20.
Januzaj started his career in the English Premier League in the year 2014 for Manchester United and also represented his country for the World Cup in the same year. The left-footed winger who wasn’t consistent was then sent to Dortmund before he finally settled at Sunderland. A decent season at Sunderland in the year 2016 sealed his move to Real Sociedad the following season. His performance in Spain improved drastically than back in England.
He is a versatile player who is comfortable in playing both as a winger as well as a centre midfielder. His confidence and creativity in the final third have been one of his greatest assets. The winger who stands 185cm tall is both mentally and physically strong in any game that he plays for his team and is always looking to give his best.
Looking at the heat map from the above player profile we can easily figure out that it’s in the flanks that he plays most of the time. Real Sociedad who prefer to play in a 4-2-3-1 formation has restricted Januzaj to play only 1,258 minutes this season. Although the team has a different style of play which really doesn’t suit Januzaj, the 25-year-old has been working very hard to make everything work and has been brilliant whenever given an opportunity to perform. When in the final third and on the ball Januzaj becomes one of the most dangerous players. His speed and ball control has been a catalyst to his confidence in dribbling. We will perform a complete analysis in the further sections about his role when on the ball.
Back in the defending third, Januzaj isn’t as active as he is in the attacking third. This can be understood with his difference in statistics between his offensive duels and defensive duels. He has the second most number of offensive duels (18.96) per 90 in LaLiga while his defensive duels (5.08) among the other wingers have been significantly low. We will now jump into our analysis where we will be analysing his style of play and his importance in the team and also would look at his defending abilities along with his area of concern.
Adnan Januzaj – on the ball
Januzaj’s confidence level grows to another level when he has the ball under his control. His dribbling ability has been one of the best in the league and has simply been exceptional. In this below scatter plot, we can see Janzaj attempting the most number of dribbles per 90 who is only trailed by Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
To make it easy for us to identify, Januzaj will be marked red in all the graphs and only his name would be highlighted. Januzaj has an average of 10.87 dribbles per 90 with a success percentage of 53.95% while Messi is slightly behind him with a success rate of 53.76% in his 10.14 dribbles per 90. Although there are players who have enjoyed a higher number of successful dribbles, one should keep in mind the number of dribbles he has attempted per 90.
One main reason why his dribbles aren’t noticed is because of the impact of his dribbles. Messi’s dribbles are widely spoken about because the number 10, cuts inside from his position and dribbles into the penalty area which acts as a key reason for him to create opportunities. Whereas Januzaj is restricted to dribble only on the flanks and prefers to pass and build when in the centre.
The young dribbler possesses great ability to dribble in confined spaces and enjoys taking on more than one defender at a time. While challenging two defenders at a time is a duel which would practically end up in a lower success probability to the attacker, Januzaj enjoys such situations and seeks opportunity in such duels.
In the above picture, we could see that Januzaj was intelligently closed down in one corner by the two defenders who now have maximum advantage of this situation. Defenders being confident on winning such duels, they tend to ignore the space created behind them. As said previously Januzaj who enjoys such situations seeks an opportunity and back heels the ball to one of his team-mate who offers support. This has basically been one of his roles at Real Sociedad. When they find it hard to penetrate or find spaces against a team which sits back and defends, Januzaj’s presence plays quite a significant role.
His speed and pace is a key factor to his dribbling asset. He not only tends to cross from the flanks but often makes a surprise dribbles into the penalty area which results in a goal opportunity. With a majority of his dribbles in the final third ending in a cross or a pass, his dribbles have been most efficient when has penetrated towards the goal.
From the above image, we try to analyse how his dribbles have ended in the final third. It’s easily understandable that although he has quite a number of shots inside the penalty box, the left-footer has been able to score goals when he had a better angle towards the goal. This implies the fact that he could be even more efficient when in front of the goal while dribbling. If he’s able to work on this and make it a habit to end his dribbles in front of the goalframe, he could end up contributing a lot more than he’s right now.
Analysis of his influence in the team
In the previous section, we discussed his ability and how he performs when he has the ball in possession. But in this section, we would see how his play has helped and influenced the team. We would first look at the goal contributions that he has made per 90 and compare it with his expected goal contribution.
One could easily spot the pattern in the scatter plot. With both the metrics almost being proportional to each other, we find Januzaj has a goal contribution value which is more than the league average by a pretty comfortable margin. With an expected goal contribution of 0.31, he has outperformed himself by having a goal contribution of 0.42 per 90. Considering the amount of time given to him to perform, his stats are pretty convincing.
Apart from his direct goal contributions, he also influences or creates chances for his strikers in the final third. Once into the final third and in front of the goal, Januzaj prefers to combine with the team than to dribble on is own. His vision for his teammates and to identify spaces has been quite significant this season.
From the above image, we can see Januzaj delaying the game and waiting for his striker to get to the last defender and for him to then make a through pass and create a goal-scoring opportunity. While most of the wingers at his age have struggled in decision making, especially in the final third, Januzaj has not only proven to be the best in decision making but also has been consistent with his performance. Defenders have found it hard to study Januzaj has he mixes up between dribbling, passing and shooting and have made himself hard to study.
His constant threat in one form or the other has always had a positive impact on the team. He’s behind Messi in the number of passes into the penalty area with an average pass value of 5.02. As we analyse the value of his passes, let’s also analyse how many smart and key passes that he averages.
It’s really surprising to actually spot Januzaj out of the bunch where he sits in third for the number of smart passes per 90 with a value of 2.72 per 90 and his number of key passes per 90 being among the top six with a value of 0.64. Here the size of the dots indicates the expected assists of each player and Januzaj holds a value of 0.21. With just 1,258 minutes on the pitch, Januzaj has shown some brilliant performance and effect on the team and it’ll be interesting to see if the winger would still be this consistent if given more time the next season.
Off the ball movements
On average, a player has 60 to 90 seconds on the ball and for the remaining time, what matters is the players off the ball movements and how he supports the team. Having analysed Januzaj’s on the ball performance and his influence on the team, we should also discuss his off the ball movements and the impacts they have.
From the above picture, we could see the whole team shifting from one side to another side, and with all their focus on the ball, Januzaj identifies the gap between the centre-back and the full-back and intelligently makes the run behind the defenders to go unnoticed. These sudden and surprise runs by Januzaj doesn’t give time for the defenders to settle or react during the switch. With 2.22 deep completions per 90, he has also been the man to break the opponents’ defence when they are very compact. Not afraid to make these runs, he gives an extra option in the front when the ball possessor runs out of players to make a pass.
His runs are very decisive during the counter-attacks and he isn’t afraid to take the central role during such moves. He’s able to identify spaces in no time and accelerates to gain control over that area.
In the above picture we could see a defender trying to close down the winger and Januzaj who is in the centre and behind the two defenders, senses an opportunity in this move. With another defender trying to cover the attacker behind, Januzaj’s quick sprint from behind as would go unnoticed and could be taken by surprise and it would only take seconds for him to finish. Especially with his ball control in confined and critical areas being exceptionally good, Januzaj is a reliable player inside the penalty box to do the job for the team.
Having discussed his off the ball movements to support and influence the attacking play, we should also discuss his support during the defending transition, which we would do in our next section of this tactical analysis.
Adnan Januzaj’s defending abilities and his area of concern
Having discussed a few words on Januzaj’s defending ability in the player overview, we would now analyse a bit further on it. Januzaj who loves to have possession is hungry to regain possession and is quite competitive in offensive duels per 90.
Easy to identify, Januzaj stands second in the most number of offensive duels per 90 with a value of 18.96 and see’s success in 42% of them. Although his success percentage seems low, it’s actually a very good success rate given the number of offensive duels he involves himself in per 90. With such competitiveness in the attacking third, Januzaj becomes less active in the defending third.
One of his main concerns being the aerial duels, Januzaj has involved himself in six aerial duels inside his own penalty area and has lost all of them. On comparing his stats to the remaining wingers in the league, he’s found to be underperforming in this particular skill of the game.
With just 1.5 aerial duels per 90, Januzaj has a very less success rate of 23.81% which acts as an area of concern. Given how tall he is and the potential of his, he’s expected to have a better reputation in aerial duels than the current stats. The winger becomes very feeble during the aerial duels and quite often doesn’t even jump to compete to win the ball. This although hasn’t really caused any damage to the side, it could really become a hole to exploit during corners if the opponent’s identity his lack of ability in the air.
Having said that, it’s also worth mentioning that his support offered in the defensive third isn’t as sound as it is in the attacking third. Although he has given the balance the team needs while defending his man-marking at the time of crosses is very concerning.
From the above image, one can see while the other Real Sociedad players are tightly marking the opponents, Januzaj is late to realise that the man he should be marking is free and then runs to mark the player. He often forgets that he also holds an important responsibility in the defending third. These are the aspects of the game where Januzaj needs a little more focus and on and if improved he could be a complete winger with no flaws.
In this scout report, we analysed Januzaj and how he acts as a key player in the team. He has started 13 games from his total of 24 appearances which highlights his importance. It’s because of his reliability and talent he possesses, he’s been shown the trust of being a game-changer in the team. It’ll be interesting to see if he will continue to be this consistent and have a greater influence on the team if offered more minutes or becomes a part of the regular eleven next season.
But with the skillset and the confidence the youngster possesses, he’s definitely a player to watch and enjoy and with years to come, he will for sure turn out to be one of the most promising wingers ever.