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Felix Agu 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Felix Agu 2019/20 – scout report

2. Bundesliga certainly has a lot of talents in it. Some quickly gain popularity after a few impressive games, but some others don’t seem to get mentioned as often. Felix Agu is perhaps an example of the latter. However, though many football fans are not quite yet familiar with his name, that doesn’t mean that his talents have gone unnoticed.

Agu has been a regular for Daniel Thioune’s Osnabrück this season having featured sporadically the season before. The versatile wide player has seen rapid improvements this season and he has, without doubt, become one of the most interesting full-backs/wing-backs to watch this season along with a few others.

In this tactical analysis/scout report, we’ll get a closer look at Agu’s attributes and how he plays in Thioune’s tactics at Osnabrück.

Osnabrück’s tactics and the role Agu plays in it

Felix Agu 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Osnabrück’s formations used throughout the 2019/20 season.

Thioune has used a rather big variety of formations throughout this season, but 4-2-3-1 seems to be his favourite system. The style of play and tactics are relatively consistent though despite being applied in a number of formations.

Osnabrück tend to play from the back but seem to be fairly direct as they usually would look to move the ball forward quickly either through quick exchanges of short-medium passes or even using long passes to bypass the midfield. When in the build-up, they’ll usually create a three-man backline with one midfielder dropping to sit in between or beside the two centre-backs to help circulate the ball. Meanwhile, the full-backs/wing-backs would sit high and instead of dropping to receive when they’re under pressure at the back, they tend to run forward instead, giving the three-man backline options upfront where they can launch the ball to. On some occasions though, they do drop deep to receive in order to reduce the risk of a very dangerous turnover and help circulate the ball and get out of pressure.

Osnabrück tend to combine and create chances from the flanks. Using wide rotations, third-man combinations, and quick passing exchanges they’re usually able to attack the flanks and create chances from crosses. The full-backs/wing-backs usually sit high and wide to stretch the defence while the wingers sit narrower.

In defence, Osnabrück usually defend with a medium or medium-high block with moderately aggressive pressing. They use a flexible man-oriented approach in both marking and pressing. Their shape is narrow and compact in defence and they’ll look to concentrate their players on one side of the pitch in order to create overloads or at least create numerically equal situations.

Meanwhile, Agu naturally plays as a right-back or a right-wing back but can be deployed on the left as well. At times, he can even be played in a more advanced position, as a right/left-winger. This shows versatility and tactical flexibility as Agu can play in a number of different positions and a number of different offensive/defensive roles. As mentioned earlier in this section, he does like to sit high and wide and he has the tendency to advance forward more often than dropping deep. But that does not mean he tends to abandon his defensive duties.

Agu is very disciplined defensively and will quickly trackback or chase the ball carrier in defensive transitions. If the ball is won, he’ll then quickly run forward again. His tenacity, energy, and quickness are particularly useful in transitions and these qualities will be mentioned in more detail later in this tactical analysis/scout report.

As an attacking full-back, Agu is tasked to advance forward and help the team create openings via wide rotations and combinations as well as create chances via crosses. What’s quite interesting is Agu’s tendency to drive deep into the box and attack the far-post when the ball is on the other side of the pitch. This particular movement will also be covered later in this tactical analysis/scout report.

Physicality

Agu is 1.80m (5’11”) tall with a lean build. He seems to have rather thin arms and legs and his upper, core, and lower muscles do not seem to be particularly developed yet.

Agu is a bit lacking in strength and this can be seen when he’s engaging in both aerial and ground duels. He looks rather easy to outmuscle and jostle off the ball. This results in his inability to hold up play and play with his back to goal. When engaging in physical duels both on and off the ball, a heavy contact can render him off balance while a lighter contact can easily push him away. The lack of upper and core strength seem to mainly play a part in this, however, he does still have time to improve this particular area.

However, he does possess great power in his legs allowing him to be more explosive and pacey over short and long-range. Linking to his lack of strength, Agu tends to keep the play going and quickly move after receiving the ball rather than holding up play, and his explosiveness and excellent pace really help him a lot in this. His quickness is particularly useful to get past players and escape pressure. His ability to cover the ground very quickly also can cause panic when he presses his opponent and this often results in the opponent rushing to make a decision and take an action which can lead to a turnover.

Agu is able to reach his top speed very quickly when accelerating and when already into his stride, he can cover large distances rather quickly – making him very useful in both offensive and defensive transitions. He is rather quick when decelerating as well as he tends to be able to slow down and come to a full stop (from sprinting) very quickly and without needing a few extra steps. This can be useful against tricky, unpredictable opponents who like to change directions suddenly.

Aside from his superb burst of acceleration and pace, Agu is very agile. This allows him to turn and change directions very quickly both on and off the ball. Due to this, he rarely has problems against quick and agile players in 1v1 defensive duels as he usually can keep up with his movements and not get beaten very easily although, of course, other attributes such as positioning and anticipation also play a part in his 1v1 defensive duels. He doesn’t seem to struggle when rotating his hips and there’s usually also no need for extra steps to change directions. However, he does have some problems when it comes to quick turns on the ball but that will be discussed later in this tactical analysis/scout report.

Felix Agu 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Agu connecting his head with the cross deep inside the box.

Despite his lack of strength, Agu is actually not that bad when it comes to aerial duels. This is because of his ability to reach a good height when leaping. As mentioned earlier, Agu does possess great power in his legs and that helps him not only to explode horizontally but also vertically. And to add to that, his 1.80m (5’11”) height is certainly very helpful in aerial duels. Despite that, linking back to his lack of strength, Agu is also quite easy to outmuscle in the air which can be a burden for him. But his aggressive approach in duels, his determination and commitment to get his head on the ball, his judgment of the flight of the ball, and his timing are usually good enough to help him win aerial duels, even against bigger, taller players. His technique and heading power, however, still needs improving as he seems to be unable to direct the ball towards the direction he wants accurately and unable to generate great power with his head. Statistically, Agu averages around 4.07 aerial duels per game with a pretty decent success rate of 42.6%. His decent proficiency in aerial duels often proves to be useful in both offensive and defensive situations both in open play and set-pieces.

And lastly, aside from his quickness and agility, another prominent physical attribute of his is stamina. Agu is a very energetic player who actively covers a good amount of area of the pitch as he roams forward and tracks back. What’s quite impressive is that he rarely shows signs of being tired even after long-range back-and-forth sprinting. And to add to that, there’s usually only a little drop of performance late in the second half, but it’s usually not very significant. His performance throughout the full 90 is usually very stable although, naturally there are fewer sprints done and he’s a little less quick compared to at the start of the game due to fatigue.

Ball control and dribbling

At first glance, Agu’s ball control and dribbling ability may seem good but there are some areas that he clearly still needs to improve in. Agu’s touch is not bad, but his main problem seems to be inconsistency. What I meant by this is that sometimes, he receives the ball with a neat touch and is able to control the ball comfortably before executing his next action. But some other times, he struggles to keep the ball close to him and sometimes can even be seen accidentally flicking the ball up. With him unable to control the ball comfortably, his opponents often get the chance to quickly close him down and pile more pressure on him and as mentioned in the previous section of this analysis, he tends to struggle to hold off defenders and can be outmuscled rather easily which can lead to a turnover.

When it comes to receiving the ball, Agu is comfortable in using either foot. However, despite that, it’s quite clear that he’s not as proficient with left as he is with his right. When receiving with his left, Agu’s struggles in keeping the ball close to him are more visible and happening a bit more frequently.

When receiving the ball, Agu has the tendency to control with the inside of his back foot and occasionally with the outside of his foot but rarely uses his sole. He tends to try to receive with an open shape in order to get a good perception of the pitch.

Sometimes, Agu will use body feints in order to trick his opponent into thinking he’s going one way while in fact, he’s planning to go the other way.

In the picture above for example, at first Agu’s body shape and drop of shoulder seemed to give the presser a signal as if he’ll control with his right and move to the right side. But after feinting, he quickly took a step back and allowed the ball to go past his body before receiving with his left. The young full-back then quickly accelerated forward, leaving his presser on his trails.

Felix Agu 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Opposing players trying to swarm Agu while the latter is trying to dribble his way out of pressure.

Agu can’t be described as a skilful dribbler, but he’s certainly fairly effective. He’s not a tricky player who has the flair for fancy moves and as mentioned in this section, his touch still needs some improvements. However, using his agility and explosiveness, Agu can beat defenders quickly on the turn. He’s pretty decent in 1v1 duels but he may be a bit struggling when isolated and under pressure.

Despite being comfortable to use either foot when controlling, Agu has the tendency to push the ball with his right foot when dribbling and only use his left when forced. He also tends to dribble with the inside/outside of his foot rather than rolling the ball with his sole which can give him greater control of the ball, especially when under pressure.

Talking about statistics, the talented wide player averages around 3.16 dribbles per game with a success rate of 48.5%. He also records an average of 6.85 offensive duels with a success rate of 41.3%. His numbers certainly aren’t that bad but definitely can be improved.

Combining and creating chances from wide areas

What stands out in his offensive contributions on the flank is his ability to combine with his teammates and create chances from wide areas.

Statistically, Agu averages 23.63 passes per game with a 74.8% success rate. Looking at his numbers, he may seem to be a pretty good passer, however, passing seems to be a technique he hasn’t quite yet perfected. This because there are a few other attributes that affect his executions.

Firstly, Agu tends to rush his decisions. As mentioned previously, Agu tends to struggle under pressure mainly because of his lack of strength and as he’s aware of this, he tends to make decisions very quickly and execute his actions earlier in order to give his opponents less time to react against his actions. This can result in poor decisions and/or poor execution of his passes which can result in a turnover.

His inability to control the pace and power of his passes can be a problem too. At times, his passes can be a bit difficult to control as it was too sharp and this renders his teammate unable to control the ball comfortably and putting him at risk of receiving pressure from the opposing team. At other times, his passes seem too weak and this passes can be intercepted easily by the opposing player before it can reach the intended target. In terms of accuracy, he’s not that bad though and he does show impressive vision as he’s often able to switch play and find teammate’s run on the other side of the pitch.

As per the playing style of his team, Agu likes to combine quickly on the flanks using few touches and short passes.

Felix Agu 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

In the image above, you can see Agu dragging his opponent out and exchanging short passes with his teammate before turning and quickly exploiting the space that was created.

Although mainly using short passes in his game, at times, Agu will also look to play medium-long passes. He tends to play these passes to switch play towards the opposite flank when the ball-side area is overloaded. On average per game, he attempts 1.44 long passes with a success rate of 46.7%.

Despite having a few weak points in terms of passing/distribution, apparently crossing/delivery is still one of his strongest aspects of the game. Agu is a very creative full-back/wing-back and his contribution of six assists in 19 2. Bundesliga games this season is a good proof of his ability to create goalscoring chances but of course, numbers alone won’t be enough to explain how good he is in creating this chances.

Agu mainly creates chances via crosses. The types of crosses he delivers can be seen in the cross map below.

Felix Agu 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

As you can see, Agu would opt to deliver early crosses sometimes although mostly he’ll deliver them from the byline. There’s a difference that you may spot in the cross map above. That is that he tends to drive deeper inside the final third before crossing the ball when he’s playing on the right side. However, on the left side, he doesn’t always get too deep inside the final third. This is because when playing on the left, Agu occasionally chooses to drag the ball back and cut into his stronger right foot before delivering a cross.

The quantity is also different as he has more attempts from the right side rather than left side although this season he has spent more time on the left side of the pitch. This links back to his lack of weaker foot proficiency. As mentioned earlier, Agu is quite comfortable using either foot whether it is to control the ball or strike the ball, but what’s quite obvious is that the quality of his executions when using his weaker foot is wanting.

The same problem of inability to control power and pace also persists when he’s crossing. Accuracy is not always the problem but at times he’ll deliver a cross that’s too sharp that literally nobody in the box is able to connect with it. Some other times, his crosses are too weak and can be dealt with easily by the opposing defender.

Stats-wise, Agu produces an average of 2.4 crosses per game with a 36% success rate.

His crosses are mainly quite good as it has good accuracy and a good curl to it, but if he can control the sharpness of his distributions and deliveries, surely he can be more effective.

Defensive prowess

When it comes to defending, Agu has certain strong areas but also some glaring weaknesses. Tackling and 1v1 defensive duels seem to be his strongest attributes in this area.  But his lack of defensive awareness and tendency to lose his man are his weakest spots.

Felix Agu 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

As mentioned before in this tactical analysis/scout report, Osnabrück’s approach in defence is heavily man-oriented in both marking and pressing. And due to that, Agu will stick close and tight with his mand and will follow him wherever he goes, even if he the opposing player drags him out of his position. Oftentimes, he’ll follow his opponents out without regards to the position that he left. His teammate will certainly cover that position, but often, against teams with active positional rotations, the defence of his team can be compromised due to this tendency.

Usually, Agu would give his man a little space but will quickly close him down when the ball is played towards him as in the picture above. Again, as mentioned previously, beating Agu using a quick turn and in a 1v1 duel can be hard as he can always keep up with his opponent’s movements due to his agility and explosiveness.

Felix Agu 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

The 1999-born attacking full-back is also good at keeping distance with his opponent. He allows his opponent to make the first move and when it’s deemed the right moment, he’ll stick his leg out and take the ball away. He tends to be quite patient and rarely sticks out his leg carelessly that can result in him being beaten in a duel or committing an unnecessary foul. In the image above, for example, Agu managed to shadow his opponent, blocking his path to take a shot and forcing him to take another action. When the attacker made his move, Agu already knew where he’d go and he stuck out a leg to nick the ball away from him.

Although Agu is not a very strong player, he’s very aggressive and brave. He’s not afraid to engage in physical duels and he’s always willing to get stuck into rough challenges whenever necessary.

Statistics-wise, Agu averages around 5.94 defensive duels per game with a success rate of 67.7% which is quite impressive. Meanwhile, he also registers an average of 0.19 slide tackles per game with a 50% success rate which means that he rarely commits slide tackles but rather would opt to execute standing tackles instead.

Although Agu mainly has pretty good spatial and positional awareness as proven by his ability to use space to defend against attackers, Agu seems to lack the awareness of what’s going on behind him. For example, wingers or strikers who make an inward run from out wide or from half-spaces usually will go unnoticed. This renders Agu to react slower, thus giving time and opportunity for the attacker to take his action.

This is perhaps due to his tendency to fixate his eyes on the position of the ball and the lack of checking and scanning he does when in defence.

Positioning and movements

Felix Agu 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Agu’s heatmap in the 2019/20 season.

Above you can see Agu’s heatmap this season and there you can see his tendencies in positioning and movements. When playing on the right side, Agu tends to stick closer to the touchline and rarely cuts inside. Meanwhile, when playing on the left, he cuts inside a little bit more often. Apparently, he’s a little bit more active at the back when he’s playing on the right side, while on the left, he’s more active in the opposing half.

Felix Agu 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tacticsMainly, Agu is tasked to sit high and stay wide to stretch the opposing team’s defence. He’ll mainly look to stick close to the touchline and watch out for a long pass towards him as his teammate may want to switch play and give the ball to him or onto space in front of him.

Felix Agu 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

However, Agu has the tendency to run inwards from the back when he plays on the left side both on and off the ball. Meanwhile, the winger or the ball-side central midfielder will then occupy the flank to stretch the defence if he does this. His ability to use either foot comfortably does give him a bit of an edge as he can be quite unpredictable as to where he’d move. By cutting inside, Agu also has even more options to choose rather than just hug the touchline.

Felix Agu 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

The same thing can be seen when he’s off the ball. Instead of staying wide, he will always look to enter the box and make himself available as an option on the far-post. Usually, though, Agu will stay wide at first and then sneak into the box late. Other times, he’ll try playing off the shoulder of the opposing defender. But mostly his off-the-ball inward runs from out wide result in the opposing defender unaware of his presence as their focus is shifted towards the ball.

Conclusion

With his contract ending on 30 June 2020, Agu could be signed for free in the summer when his contract ends. Werder Bremen saw this opportunity and quickly grabbed it. The club announced in their official website on 6 February 2020 that they have reached an agreement to sign the player in the summer on a four-year contract.

Signing Agu is certainly a smart move by Werder Bremen considering their right-back/right wing-back position certainly seems to need bolstering with the ageing Theodor Gebre Selassie mainly occupying that position and loanee Michael Lang looking most likely to go back to parent club Borussia Mönchengladbach after his loan period ends. Werder Bremen still have Simon Straudi at the ready, however, there are doubts as to whether or not he’s ready to step up and play regularly in the senior side.

Agu has developed well at Osnabrück and he certainly will be dearly missed. It will be very interesting to keep tabs on his developments at his future club. The Osnabrück native certainly will be hoping that Florian Kohfeldt and his side can survive this season’s Bundesliga and stay up so that he can get some valuable experience in Germany’s top-flight.