Konstantinos Mavropanos scout report: The Arsenal loanee keeping Stuttgart’s Bundesliga survival hopes alive
Contrary to last season, Stuttgart are struggling in the Bundesliga this term, currently being in the relegation zone with only 17 points in 17 games. The team doesn’t show consistency both in defence and in attack and have difficulties in keeping their opponents away from the goal.
There are a few players, though, that still hold the hope for a better outcome at the end of the season and do their best in each game. One of them is the centre defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. The Arsenal loanee is the best performer for Stuttgart in the 2021/22 campaign so far, not only due to providing defensive stability but also contributing to the attacking actions.
Despite his position in the back three, he is currently the team’s top goalscorer with four goals, which shows his versatility but also underlines Stuttgart’s struggles in possession. Mavropanos’ decision making and confidence have helped the team in scoring on a few occasions, but it has also affected their vulnerable defensive performance positively as he is one of the most active players out of possession.
This scout report in the form of tactical analysis explains why the 24-year-old is that important in their tactics and how he keeps their hopes for survival in Bundesliga alive.
Die Roten have one of the worst-performing defences in the league, having conceded 31 goals so far and struggling in many aspects out of possession. One of the team’s biggest vulnerabilities is their reaction to counter-attacks. Or more accurately said, the lack of organisation and awareness in these situations. One of the reasons for their struggles is the back-three formation.
While it helps them in possession as they like to play with width, it leads to many defensive mistakes. Not only because of the late defensive movement of the wing-backs but also due to the highly positioned centre-backs. The manager Pellegrino Matarazzo opts for either 3-5-2 or 3-4-2-1 which often results in the team getting carried away in their attacking actions and leaving spaces behind.
They have conceded four goals from counters so far, which underlines their inability to both cover depth and defend as a unit as they fail to anticipate the oppositions’ movement and position well defensively. Despite their lack of awareness, they most frequently become victims of losing possession in key areas, which leads to their opponents’ counter-attacks.
Another team fragility is their positioning and reactions when defending set-pieces. The team are often unable to defend crosses which also affects their performance when defending corners. They have so far conceded seven times from set-plays, while many of the goals conceded from open play are a result of poor man-marking and positioning in the box, after corners.
Mavropanos out of possession
Mavropanos’ defensive performance has been very strong since the beginning of the season. The team’s poor defensive record would have been even worse if it wasn’t for his strong reading of the game and anticipation skills. He is the most solid player at the back as thanks to his decision-making most of his direct challenges are successful.
His correct judgement of the situations lead to his measured actions. Stuttgart often concede dangerous attacks due to individual errors and Mavropanos is the player who tries to minimise the impact of these mistakes. And often, the only way to do it is through tackling. The 24-year-old makes 1.17 tackles on average per 90 which turn out very beneficial for the team thanks to his concentration and good timing.
His anticipation skills are extremely beneficial for the team as he is constantly aware of the ball movement as well as the opposing players’ positioning. This helps him in anticipating passes and off the ball runs, allowing him to stop them and limit the oppositions’ freedom in Stuttgart’s half. He contributes with 7.56 interceptions on an average per game which ranks him 5th in Bundesliga in terms of frequency. By intercepting the ball he helps the team in stopping dangerous attacks and gaining back possession. This is important not only defensively but also in attack since the team try to have more of the ball and progress it through short passing.
Apart from his high awareness that allows him to intercept, Mavropanos’ aim to win the ball back doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t hesitate to dive into challenges, no matter if it’s direct defensive duels or press. His measured actions again lead to successful interventions and have him win 70.5% of his defensive duels and recover the ball 10.56 times on average. Having in mind all of the above, it is impressive that the Arsenal loanee averages only 0.65 fouls per 90, underlining his clean actions.
Another aspect of his game is his aerial impact. The Greek’s aerial presence is an important ingredient for Die Roten’s safety. He is the league’s third-most efficient player in the air with a 73.7% success rate and a tremendous ability to defend in his own box where he wins 86.76% of his aerial duels. That has a great impact on Stuttgart defensively due to their vulnerability in defending set-pieces and crosses.
His contribution in possession
While Mavropanos is crucial in defence, he does have a huge impact in possession too. With his movement and passing, he allows the team to move forward and helps in distributing the ball to the final third successfully. Whenever he is unable to do that through the team’s preferred short pass combinations, he tends to send long balls in effort to bypass the opposition press and advance the ball.
With his 6.97 long passes per 90, he helps the team not only in getting the ball out of their defensive third but also in switching play, whenever the ball-near side is overloaded with opposing players. That helps the team in exploiting spaces and reaching the goal. That’s how he tried to counteract Bayern Munich’s defensive structures. He attempted 14 long balls and eight of them were in effort to switch play and expose them. Despite his centre-back position, he contributes with 7.36 passes to the final third on average, which shows his importance to the team’s attacking strategy.
Mavropanos is also a very unexpected direct threat as he often joins the attacking actions with runs from behind and has the composure to take on his markers and finish the attacks. He manages to threaten the oppositions’ goal with 60% of his shots being on target and while his shot frequency isn’t very high, his versatility and contribution have been very beneficial for the team in attack. As mentioned, he is the team’s leading goalscorer with four goals. His off the ball runs and his aerial presence also make him an indirect set-piece threat.
Stuttgart’s poor season isn’t able to overshadow Mavropanos’ impressive performance. As our analysis shows, the 24-year-old’s impact both in defence and in attack might be the key to their survival in the Bundesliga this season. While the team’s future looks uncertain, with his performances the Greek makes sure to secure his own and while he wasn’t given a chance at Arsenal, another Premier League move might be on the radar for him in the summer.