Why Damaris Egurrola is very important in Olympique Lyonnais’ midfield and comparing her with Barcelona’s Keira Walsh – Scout report
Damaris Egurrola is a 23-year-old footballer who was born in the United States but who is half-Dutch and half-Spanish. Nevertheless, Egurrola decided to represent the Netherlands and has been playing with them since 2022 despite playing a single match with Spain.
She started her footballing journey at Athletic Bilbao in 2014 before moving to WSL’s Everton in 2020 for one season. In 2021, Egurrola joined Olympique Lyonnais and gradually became a key but unsung player for the team, and that’s exactly why we would like to shed some light on the player’s importance within the team, providing an analysis of her playmaking abilities and her roles in Olympique Lyonnais’ tactics through a tactical analysis scout report on the player.
Roles at Olympique Lyonnais
Egurrola’s roles at Olympique Lyonnais are various, different and very fundamental for the team. In fact, Egurrola is the player responsible for linking between defence and attack since she usually plays in front of defence to distribute the ball towards the wings to the central midfielders or the striker.
Egurrola is very important to the team also because she absorbs most of the opposing high pressing when getting the ball and knows exactly how to get away from it using body feints and anticipation to launch an attack. The following picture highlights Egurrola’s passing abilities and mainly her progressive passes this season. This shows the big number of successful progressive passes being executed towards the final third and sometimes directly towards the box. It is true that this shows that Egurrola didn’t use a lot of long passes towards the box this season yet that doesn’t mean that her long passing is poor or unreliable, the opposite is true.
Egurrola is also one of the most consistent players in terms of passing accuracy and knowing how important accuracy can be for this exact role. The fact that Egurrola is excelling in this regard has been rather overlooked or taken for granted. It has never been a simple or easy task to succeed in this regard. And for Egurrola, being able to have an average of 83.5% passing accuracy per match is an excellent trait that should be highlighted.
Moreover, it should be mentioned that Egurrola is a left-footed player and that she is also able to pass using her right foot without lacking precision, and this helps her a lot in some situations especially when she is surrounded by opposing players.
At Lyon, Egurrola doesn’t only act as a defensive midfielder. In reality, she is often given the freedom to advance towards the opponent’s half and play a major part in the team’s build-up and in playmaking. Being able to provide key passes regularly makes Egurrola even more fundamental in Olympique Lyonnais’s line-up and perhaps what helps her execute these key passes recurrently is the fact that opponents often fear players like Lindsey Horan, Amandine Henry, Sara Däbritz, Catarina Macario but rarely expect Egurrola to be a pivotal player in Olympique Lyonnais’ attacks. And this gives Egurrola an advantage and helps her play without tension and eventually find passing pathways in a less complicated way.
This passing map shows the frequency with which Egurrola passes on average and indicates that she is at the heart of Olympique Lyonnais’ midfielder and, therefore, her presence in the line-up is heavily needed despite being an unsung player and not really a “star” for fans since her roles are not very explicit.
Egurrola is actually one of the best left-footed passers at the moment and she has been proving this, especially during this season, and will aim at confirming her talent during the upcoming years if she continues improving, which is very likely given her age. In fact, the areas that Egurrola can improve are mainly her goalscoring abilities and attempts as well as her dribbling skills.
Increasing and varying her goalscoring options would be key for the team when they run out of options or when the players are all strictly marked. Egurrola should therefore be pushed to increase her shooting from distance attempts and efficiency for instance as well as being more present inside the box during set-pieces, even though this already happens and Egurrola has already been able to score goals using her headers.
For dribbling, it is true that she is excellent in terms of body feints and in confusing her markers, yet it would be very beneficial for her to work further on her dribbling techniques in order to be able to surpass her markers in an easier and more frequent way.
When it comes to passing and ball protection, it can be said that Egurrola is actually about to become one of the best in the world and is already outstanding in this regard. Egurrola often provides key passes that meet her teammates’ movements even when the space in front of Egurrola looks full of opposing players. She often finds a way to pass the ball between her opponents to reach the destined player at the right time and with the needed amount of power.
The following example shows how intelligent Egurrola’s passes can be as she received the ball in a key area and quickly noticed her teammate’s movement and therefore had to pass the ball instantly. She quickly used her right foot to pass the ball accurately and without issues towards her teammate’s movement and at the back of Soyaux’s defensive line.
This type of pass has been recurrent and Egurrola is usually reliable in this regard. When she advances towards the box, she usually waits for the striker’s movement without the ball to quickly provide her with a key pass. That’s what happened in this picture when Eugénie Le Sommer was moving without the ball and Egurrola automatically spotted her movement and gave her a key pass.
In addition to key passes, Egurrola is usually instructed to act like a third centre-back in the build-up phase and get the ball from the goalkeeper and start the attacks from the defence. When she does so, she often relies on long passes to serve her teammates in a quicker way especially when being behind in score or when noticing that the opposing team is leaving some space at the back. Egurrola executes these long passes efficiently most of the time but can improve her rate even further since her long-passing accuracy is actually 60.4%.
The following example further highlights Egurrola’s long-passing since, in this example, it clearly shows how she can exploit the opposing defensive organisation’s mistakes efficiently with just one long pass towards the wing but at the back of the defensive line. Such passes can create a lot of danger especially when the striker moves well during the execution of such passes in order to be well-positioned when the winger receives the ball, and that’s exactly what happened in this action.
This picture also shows that Egurrola has the freedom to act like a central midfielder and not just as a player who plays in front of defence and doesn’t join attacks or remain at the back, and this gives numerical superiority to Lyon when attacking.
Ball protection is one of Egurrola’s best traits as it allows her to gain some time over her opponents and helps her in resisting the continuous opposing pressing. Also, combining between ball protection and body feints is a key combination that allows defensive midfielders like Egurrola to get away from marking smoothly and in a remarkable way. Egurrola masters these two traits and can become even quicker in this regard and that would help to exclude markers in a more fluid and automatic way as it would help her gain time and effort.
Furthermore, Egurrola knows how to play with her back towards the marker and often looks at her surroundings in order to spot the pressing attempts and prepare her reaction without showing that she is aware of that attack. In this match against Paris Saint-Germain, she spotted a pressing attempt and let the opponent make the interception attempt before getting the ball away from her and obliging her to commit a foul. And this highlights Egurrola’s tactical awareness and that she has a great level of analysis of her surroundings.
Comparison with Keira Walsh
We tried to compare Egurrola to an excellent player like former Manchester City and current Barcelona star Keira Walsh in order to assess whether Egurrola has got the level of a player like Walsh or if she is a little bit behind compared to the Barcelona Women’s midfielder. In fact, according to what this graphic shows, it should be said that Egurrola’s level and statistics are not really behind compared to those of Walsh since each player is better than the other in some aspects and is behind compared in others.
Egurrola has got better statistics in terms of dangerous passes per match, aerial duels and positioning. And at the same time, Walsh is better regarding defensive duels, progressive passes, passing accuracy, number of passes per match and especially in terms of dribbling, knowing that the two players are quite similar but with a slight difference in terms of defensive duels won, progressive passes and passing accuracy.
To resume, Egurrola’s statistics are actually very good and we have been able to compare her to a fundamental player like Walsh without finding drastic gaps between the two players. Egurrola should improve her dribbling rate and continue working on her passing in order to remain among the best and be even more crucial in this regard.
Damaris Egurrola is actually one of Olympique Lyonnais’s most important players, particularly when it comes to midfield and she has been putting on some excellent performances this season.
Being able to improve and confirm her performanca even further during the next period would certainly help Egurrola get more recognition, especially if she works harder on her dribbling skills and participates more in goal contribution.