There have been many players in the Bundesliga this season to make a breakthrough and start to alert clubs of their presence with their stats. Although Jean Paul Boetius arrived in the Bundesliga last year, Boëtius has built on his consistent form shown in his first season and has become a key player for Mainz. This form has seen him become one of the best attacking midfielders in the Bundesliga and I would not be surprised to see teams keeping close tabs on him over the course of the second half of the season. In this tactical analysis, we will look at why he is now considered one of the most underrated players in the Bundesliga, and analyse both his offensive and defensive output to show why clubs could look to him as a low-risk option for an attacking midfielder.
One of Boëtius’ best attributes is his smart passing, which Wyscout defines as:
“When the player is cutting the lines and winning some advantage for his teammates with this pass, leading them in good position to attack. The pass should be between 2-3 opposite players.”
Boëtius leads the Bundesliga in this metric and lies fourth in smart passes per 90 minutes, an impressive statistic for a player valued at 6 million euros on Wyscout.
As well as smart passes, Boëtius lies 13th in the league for progressive passing accuracy and lies second for through passes. His accuracy in these stats could improve, but when compared to similar players who are valued much higher we can see below that he is still performing impressively. His defensive stats are better than all other attacking midfielders compared, which is made even more impressive when you consider that Boëtius has faced the fourth most duels in the Bundesliga this season.
He is competing with the very best attacking midfielders within the Bundesliga while playing within what has been one of the poorest teams in the league this season.
In the below images we can see some of this smart passing in play. Here, Boëtius keeps his touch tight and is able to find a space in Dortmund’s backline to play into. Boëtius is excellent at receiving under pressure and using his receiving abilities is able to quickly release the ball, as he does in this example and the next.
Again here, Boëtius is able to receive and play a pass in behind under pressure, where Mainz get a goal-scoring opportunity. All of his passes are underpinned by his vision, as I’ll highlight in the next section.
This first example sums up Boëtius as a player well, with a recovery, dribble and assist all in one. Boëtius wins the ball back for Mainz and looks to get back into a position to receive. Moving centrally, Boëtius makes his first scan to check the space he moves into.
Once ready to receive the ball, Boëtius checks his shoulder to check for a pressing player and sees a Werder player pressing. Therefore, with more awareness of his surroundings, Boëtius can plan his next movement in order to evade the defender.
He then feints around the defender and is able to play a pass through a compact Werder backline and set up a goal. A great sequence of football set up by two quick scans in a matter of seconds.
In a similar situation below, Boëtius pulls wider into space away from the Werder midfield and scans to check for a pressing player and to assess the situation in front of him. Boëtius recognises the space in front of Jean-Philippe Mateta and has already decided his next move when he receives the ball.
Boëtius is then set and can play Mateta in first time, who gets a shot on goal which he probably should do better with. A player with less awareness here has to take a touch and allows both themselves to be pressed and for the space Mateta has to run into to be closed down.
Having said that, Boëtius is still capable of driving past players using his pace, as shown in this example below. Here he brings the ball down with a man at his back and late in the game sees space and uses his electric pace to drive into it, going past four players. Within six seconds, the ball is in the back of the net.
These examples within the analysis show that the Dutchman is a threat both in transition with space in front of him, and in tighter situations against a team sat deeper who concede little space. Under new Mainz manager Achim Beierlorzer, Boëtius’ game is likely to advance, and we have seen already more qualities from the player, with Boëtius operating as a free-roaming playmaker in recent weeks and being involved in constant positional rotations within the midfield.
Pressing and recoveries
Boëtius’ pace and attitude make him a useful tool out of possession, and within Mainz’s tactics, he has been used as an efficient way of picking up on second balls. Playing just behind two target men strikers, Boëtius can find space in behind the midfield from long balls when Mainz are deeper in their own half. Boëtius is effective at positioning himself for these second balls from long passes up to the target men, and his pace can also allow him to reach second balls that drop unpredictably.
Here, the long ball from the Mainz player is pretty inaccurate and so Boëtius is unable to position himself well to reach the second ball. However, he is able to use his pace to reach the second ball ahead of the dropping Hoffenheim midfielders, and Mainz are able to launch an attack from high up the pitch.
Again, here he is able to get in behind the defensive midfielder and recover the second ball high up the pitch for Mainz after a flick on by the striker. From here he is able to then use his ability in transition to drive up the pitch, or to use his passing skills to pick out a pass in behind.
Here is an example of this, where Boëtius is in a position to win the second ball and then has the quality to play a first-time pass into space behind the backline, where he again assists Mateta for a goal.
Boëtius’ pace makes him a useful part of virtually any pressing structure, as simply he is able to close down distances between himself and players quickly. Here he shows his awareness out of possession, where he moves from pressing the pivot to cut the passing lane to a dropping central midfielder in space. This awareness of space translates from in possession to out of possession, and once Boëtius has made a recovery he is press-resistant enough to retain possession often, although his upper body strength is probably something that could be worked on.
Boëtius is an underrated player who at the age of 25 is now starting to reach a point where he has to start performing consistently. His stats are pretty good and become excellent when you assess his market value, but are ever so slightly undermined by his pass accuracies, but nevertheless for a player valued at six million euros, I’m not sure there is a better value immediate option as an attacking midfielder for any club, as this scout report has hopefully shown.
Boëtius has qualities in possession and out of possession, and will be looking to improve further under new coach Achim Beierlorzer in the second half of the season. In terms of any potential move, Boëtius at the very least would fit into any mid-table Premier League side in need of an attacking midfielder in my eyes and in the Bundesliga would be a good option for most sides with less spending power than the likes of Borussia Dortmund or Bayern Munich. Mainz fans will be hoping they can continue their solid start so far under Beierlorzer and convince the attacking midfielder to stay, but I expect smart clubs will come knocking in the summer.
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