Marc Casado scout report: 18-year-old talent primed to succeed Busquets at Barcelona
Barcelona have never lacked quality midfielders, neither in their senior squad nor in LaMasia. The La Liga giants have always been blessed with highly technical, diminutive and versatile players capable of controlling and deciding games through their sheer talent and skill. However, one position they’ve struggled to patch up is the pivot.
Occupied by Sergio Busquets for what feels like an eternity now, the defensive midfielder role is yet to get its rightful heir to the throne. Even though we’ve seen the likes of Nico González and Jandro Orellana attempt to stake claim at it, so far, the definite answer is yet to come.
But Juvenil A’s captain Marc Casado Torras seems like a player moulded for specifically that role. This tactical analysis will dissect his player profile to see how he’d fit Barcelona’s tactics. The analysis will also provide you with a full scout report too, highlighting both strengths and weaknesses of the young midfielder.
Marc Casadó is an 18-year-old defensive midfielder, currently plying his trade for Barcelona’s U19 or Juvenil A team. The youngster is a right-footed player mostly positioned deeper on the pitch and either slotting directly ahead of the backline or between the centre-backs, not unlike Busquets for the senior squad.
In terms of his role, Casadó is mostly a ball-recycler, capable of beating the pressure through his crisp close control and great decision making in possession. That being said, he is not a very adventurous passer, as we’ll see further down the line of this tactical analysis. He will retain possession at a very high level but will mostly deploy passes that carry less risk.
Above, we can see his heatmap, which can tell us more about his movement and positioning. Casadó’s movement is an incredible weapon in his arsenal as he has excellent awareness to recognise where and when to move across the pitch. This not only opens new passing channels but also corrects other teammates’ positioning as well, something which will be explored further as well.
Of course, the 18-year-old is not without weaknesses, as is always the case with such young prospects. Defensively, while aware, Casadó can be late for challenges and his 1v1 duels still leave something to be desired. Similarly, for a player of great technical quality and exceptional close control, he is sometimes reluctant to run with the ball.
This scout report will now move on to some of his most important traits and do a more in-depth analysis of them.
Movement & control
We’ve already mentioned how movement and control play a huge role in Casadó’s player profile. Generally speaking, the young midfielder will either be positioned between the centre-backs or just ahead of them in the first phase of the build-up sequence. Once possession is inevitably transferred to the final third, he will act as the anchor down the central channels, recycling play and also having a big defensive role too.
Here, we’ll take a look at how Casadó intelligently moves across the pitch and what kind of an impact does that have on his teammates too. Take this sequence as an example. Initially, the 18-year-old is positioned between the centre-backs but as soon as the opposition’s press is triggered, he moves across to open a new passing channel.
The centre-back ends up passing to his partner on the opposite side but this was still the type of movement a pivot should be able to recognise and execute. But what I found most interesting about this play is that before moving into the open space, Casadó instructs the other teammate to not drop deep but rather track back higher to drag his marker with him.
This means the opposition are spread out and more space is created for Barcelona to work with. So while the movement itself was great, this part is what really signals quality, awareness and understanding.
In the following image in the Champions League, however, the centre-back does take the option and plays the ball to Casadó who has once again enabled progression from the first line through good movement.
Once the ball reaches him, he can advance play himself. Moments later, he recognises where the action should go next and pings the ball towards the left flank where Barcelona can continue their attack. But apart from using his excellent movement to progress the play, Casadó has the control most LaMasia graduates have in common.
One of the moves we can often see him execute is receiving the ball on the half-turn. This means angling his body to let the ball slide across and then shielding it while running forward. Take the following image as a great example.
Casadó is just ahead of the backline and the ball is being played into him. Instead of playing the way he’s initially facing, he makes a half turn and lets the ball pass him.
His marker wasn’t expecting that and as a result, he’s instantly sent the wrong way while Casadó advances with the ball at his feet. This is a very powerful tool as it enables instant progression when executed properly.
Luckily for Barcelona and the player himself, he is very good at doing this consistently. Here is a very similar example that will show us the same thing. Casadó is approaching the goalkeeper to offer him a new passing lane. But instead of receiving the ball to his feet, he once again angles his body to let the ball pass him, all the while shielding it by turning his back towards the marker who’s following him.
That way, he guarantees that the player behind him can’t reach it.
When you combine both his intelligent movement and great control, you get a very capable pivot that fits the tactics Barcelona’s senior team would need too.
You can’t talk about LaMasia graduates, especially midfielders, without mentioning their passing capabilities. It’s heavily ingrained in the system and the philosophy of the club itself. Casadó is technically very proficient and secure on the ball but I would say that he’s still not adventurous and courageous enough in possession.
Below you can see four of his recent passmaps that will help us understand his tendencies a bit better. Immediately, we see two major things here. Firstly, Casadó is heavily involved and accurate, just like any other Barcelona pivot, and that signals security on the ball. But secondly, he’s also more cautious in possession, avoiding risky sequences.
Generally, this isn’t a huge flaw considering the roles he’s tasked to do, which mainly revolve around recycling possession and dictating the tempo, but it’s definitely something he should be looking to improve upon.
The eye test confirms this as I’ve found Casadó to break lines and be more adventurous only when it carries less risk for the team. In other words, he will attempt the ‘simpler’ line-breakers and through balls.
You can see an example of that below. Now, this isn’t an easy pass to execute by any means. But it is easier than most of the incredible line-breakers you see or probably expect from LaMasia midfielders.
That being said, this doesn’t mean Casadó is not a good passer of the ball. We’ve mentioned how he’s very secure and proficient in possession and this is true in almost every situation on the pitch. But more importantly, he is fast to react under pressure too.
A Barcelona pivot must be able to retain possession when aggressively pressed by the opposition and finding pockets of space or passing channels to exploit is key in these situations. Fortunately, Casadó is very good at this.
The main ingredient here is scanning. The youngster will scan often and will do so efficiently, which maximises the chance for success. Take this next sequence against Bayern Munich as a good example. Even though we don’t see it in the image, Casadó scans multiple times while dropping deeper to assist the build-up phase.
Once he recognises where the play needs to be directed next, he wastes no time in the execution. A first-touch lofted pass towards the unmarked area of the pitch relieves Barcelona off pressure and lets them advance far more easily.
And these switches are quite a common tool in his arsenal too. Just having the vision and the skill to execute them speaks volumes of his true passing potential and quality despite the lack of many aesthetically pleasing sequences that usually rally the crowds.
Down below, he combines his great control, receiving on the half-turn and shielding the ball with vision, composure and great execution to once again escape the opposition’s press.
One final thing we have to mention on Casadó’s passing is his weak foot. The 18-year-old is a right-footed player but can still make use of his left foot too, when necessary. Admittedly, he lacks control of the power when executing passes, often making them more difficult to control or even less accurate but the fact he can use his weak foot under pressure is a huge plus.
Below, we can see him do just that in the face of the press. The pass is far from perfect and his teammate needs to somewhat work for it but it’s still efficient enough to do the job.
This makes his passing profile quite impressive, to say the least.
In the final part of this tactical analysis, we’ll touch upon some of Casadó’s weaknesses. None of these are overwhelmingly big and more importantly, they can still be coached in the future. This means his progression under good guidance is almost guaranteed.
Generally speaking, apart from the less adventurous passing profile, I’d say another flaw in his positional game is the reluctance to run with the ball. Casadó has the technical quality and the pace to execute progressive runs far more often than he currently does. Even when Barcelona have clear superiorities set to achieve that, he would rather recycle possession than advance with the ball at his feet.
This trait or ‘flaw’ is closely connected to him being a more risk-averse type of player. Running with the ball in these situations is far riskier than passing to your closest teammate so it doesn’t surprise Casadó often opts for them instead.
Another weakness I’ve discovered is regarding his defensive work. Generally speaking, the youngster reads the game quite well and is often positioned in the right way to stop opposition attacks. This helps him get a head start and get to the ball first in direct duels.
Take this sequence as an example. By reading the game well, he can quickly jump in and intercept the pass, immediately starting the transition for Barcelona.
However, this is not always the case, especially when it comes to pressing. Casadó is sometimes very late to press, accelerating after the opposition player and thus missing out on the window to intercept.
This can be problematic since Barcelona often rely on their pivots to successfully snuff out attacks and even start the pressing sequence. Below, we can see this weakness in late reaction time against a very good opponent, which can result in dangerous attacks by the opposition.
Marc Casadó is a huge Barcelona prospect that could indeed develop into a great player. Not only does he have a high ceiling but also fits the Catalan team’s tactics. Of course, there are still things he needs to improve upon but with currently no major flaws in his player profile, the future looks bright.
If trained and mentored properly, he could be a viable option for Barcelona pretty soon.