Robin Quaison 2019/20 – scout report
Robin Quaison is a 26-year-old Swedish footballer who currently players for FSV Mainz 05 in the German top flight. Quaison is Mainz 05’s leading goalscorer with 12 goals in all competitions this 2019/20 season, as well as sitting fourth in the overall 2019/20 Bundesliga goals-scored table.
Quaison joined FSV Mainz 05 from Serie A side US Palermo at the end of January 2017 and played over 3000 minutes for the Italian side. Quaison has already surpassed his xG statistic, which currently sits at 9.7. Since joining FSV Mainz 05, he has made himself a key player within the side and is attracting interest from top clubs around the world, including those from the EPL.
This scout report will examine Quaison during this campaign. Through the use of tactical analysis, the left attacking midfielder’s movement in between the lines during the build-up will be analysed, as well as the effectiveness of his actions when in the final third. This analysis will conclude by investigating Quaison’s role out of possession and how he prevents teams from advancing further up the pitch.
Quaison’s movement during the build-up phase
One of the main areas in which Quaison is the most effective is in the other teams half and this analysis will analyse his movement in between the lines during his team’s build-up phase. When Mainz 05 are in possession of the ball, Quaison has the freedom to vacate his left attacking position and roam in between the oppositions defensive and midfield line. This movement means it is very difficult for the other team to track his runs and follow his movements. During this campaign, Quaison has touched the ball 378 times in the midfield third and 353 times in the attacking third. He has only touched the ball 87 times in the attacking penalty area this season.
In this first example, we can see Quaison receiving the ball in the midfield third and he has the time and space to control, turn, and advance forwards. Quaison has drifted into the central space to receive, which then attracts and pulls the Union defender out of position, as highlighted in yellow in the image above. The engagement of this player cues Quaison’s teammate, Jean-Philippe Mateta, to make a run in the space which Quaison vacated.
During this game against Union Berlin, Quaison received a pass in the midfield third 18 times and receives a pass on average 12.08 times per 90 minutes. Although some could argue this statistic is low for an attacking player, the movements he makes in between the lines to create space for himself, as well as others to receive, is one of the main strengths that he holds when Mainz 05 find themselves in possession and looking to build play.
Quaison’s freedom of movement in between the lines when his team are looking to build is one of the key routes which allow Mainz 05 to advance forwards successfully. In the above example against FC Köln, his team are looking to progress the ball forward and Quaison has vacated his left attacking midfielder’s position and entered the central space in between the lines. By performing this movement, he not only provides the player on the ball with a clear passing option to progress the ball forwards, but he also creates space for his teammates to exploit, as we can see above.
The movement Quaison makes means the opposition defender is attracted to that movement and allows Mainz 05’s left full-back, Aarón Martín, to make a progressive run off the ball, as well as allowing Jean-Paul Boëtius to check his run into this vacated space.
Quaison’s movement in field and movement along the other team’s defensive line can also be highlighted in his heat map for this season. The map highlights Quaison’s movement in the middle and final third and shows that he dominates the space in between the lines.
Although the map above shows that Quaison doesn’t venture much into the defensive third, later in this analysis we will look at his role out of possession and the defensive work he does to allow his team to regain possession of the ball and prevent the opposition from advancing further. It could be argued that the movements he makes in between the lines are more of a team tactic, however, the positions he gets himself into in these areas are really effective in punishing the other team.
As well as occupying the central space with his movement, Quaison also makes use of the half-spaces which engages the Wolfsburg defenders and creates space in the central areas for other teammates to receive. As we see in the above example against Wolfsburg, Mainz 05 are looking to progress the ball deeper into the attacking half. Quaison can be seen to start in the half-space and make a forward run which engages and takes away the defenders. The run not only provides the player on the ball with an option to play over the top, but also creates space in the central area for Boëtius to receive in between the lines. Quaison’s timing of the run to engage defenders to create space is very effective in allowing his side to exploit the advanced areas.
Quaison has scored 12 goals this season in the Bundesliga and is the leading goalscorer for Mainz 05. He has surpassed his xG tally, which currently stands at 10.2. He has scored the more goals this season than any other and has started 27 out of the 28 games this season Mainz 05 have been involved in.
Mainz 05’s main area to progress the ball is through the central areas, and Quaison’s movement allows him to be a huge part of this process which has seen him achieve an xG per 90 of 0.47. In the above scenario, Quaison is once again occupying the central area and looking to make a split run in between the two Hoffenheim central defenders, which provides Mainz 05 with a route into the penalty area. However, what also needs to be noted is that Quaison’s central movement makes Hoffenheim narrow and creates space on the left side for Kunde to exploit.
It should be also mentioned that the interchanging runs of all of the Mainz 05 attacking players enables the build-up process to work. However, what this analysis has looked to examine is the role Quaison plays in this build-up, and the movements he makes to create space for himself and others to receive in dangerous areas, which has led Mainz 05 to make 406 live ball passes which have led to a shooting attempt.
Actions in the final third
In addition to Quaison’s movement off the ball, his actions in the final third make him a very effective player, one which has contributed to him being Mainz 05’s leading goalscorer. Firstly, his progressive passing ability when in the final third should not go unnoticed. Although he has only made two assists this campaign, he averages 2.5 progressive passes per 90. 85.7% of his progressive passes are accurate over a distance of 30-40m, and 83.3% are accurate over a distance of 20-30m. Throughout this 2019/20 season, Quaison has produced 77 progressive passes and of these, 68.8% have been accurate. Due to him being an attacking player, most of his progressive passes have taken place in the attacking half and in the midfield and final thirds.
During the game against Wolfsburg, Quaison made three progressive passes. Although this seems fairly low for an attacking player, Mainz 05 failed to dominate possession throughout this game, having only achieved a 44% possession rate. Due to their low dominance of possession and failure to keep the ball for long periods of time, when they did find themselves in the final third, Quaison was the player who generated any real threat to the Wolfsburg backline.
In the image above, Quaison has possession of the ball in a transition defence to attack phase of play. Under pressure from the front as well as the left side, Quaison looks to advance the ball into the Wolfsburg penalty area. His close control under pressure and strength to stay in possession against pressure meant he was able to progress the ball into the path of the oncoming left side progressive player who is making the run forward. This pass from Quaison allowed Mainz 05 to progress into the penalty area and gain a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
Quaison has made two assists this season, which is above his xA of 1.9. Although it could be argued that he doesn’t create many chances for his team to score, the progressive passes that he produces put other teammates in positions to create assists/goal scoring opportunities.
We can see here another one of Quaison’s progressive passes which provide his teammate with a chance to shoot at goal. Quaison is in the central space, again under pressure from two Union players both from behind and in front. His ability to scan and identify his surroundings in this situation enables him to see a clear passing line to Mateta who is playing off the shoulder of the Union full-back. Quaison’s timing of the pass meant that Mateta could get into an onside position and attempt a shot on goal. Although Mainz 05 failed to score from this situation, the accuracy of his progressive passes places his teammates in great positions to carry out a shooting action.
In addition to his progressive passes, Quaison’s goal-scoring actions in the final third make him a highly successful player, one who has excelled during this current campaign. He has made 66 shots this season and holds a 2.57 shots per 90 statistic. One of the main reasons why he is the fourth leading goalscorer in the Bundesliga is down to his ability to manipulate defenders with the ball to create space to shoot, as well as finding space to receive in, in the penalty area.
Mainz 05’s thrashing of Hertha Berlin saw Quaison score three goals, with the third being a penalty kick. The first two goals will be analysed in this analysis below.
Quaison put Mainz 05 in the lead near the 20-minute mark in the game away at Hertha and his brilliance to do so was fascinating to see. He received a pass in the left advanced half-space and carried the ball into the top of the Berlin’s box. His action to manipulate the defender 1 v 1 by performing a fake movement allowed him to create space to shoot. Whilst performing this fake action, he was also aware of the goalkeeper’s position which affected the choice of shot he made. Knowing the goalkeeper was to the far right of the goal, meant he was able to place the ball at the other side, giving Mainz 05 the lead in the game.
His movement off the ball to receive in goal-scoring areas makes him a handful for defenders and he again proved this in the Hertha game as we see in the image below.
Shortly after his first goal, he can be seen in the left half-space, making a move into the box to receive. This movement enables his teammate with the ball to play a lofted pass into his path and was in on goal. Although he didn’t score from this situation, his movement to receive in the final third to be in with a chance of scoring highlights his clever thinking and dominance where it matters most.
In the second half against Hertha, he scored his second goal and this came from his quick-witted recognition of space and timing of the run to get on the end of a pass in the box to score. 50.8% of Quaison’s shots inside the penalty area are on target, and 66.7% of his shots on target are directly after a set-piece.
In this second goal example against Hertha, Quaison makes a quick forward run into the central space when he recognises that his teammate is able to execute a cross into the box. Although it could be argued that the defensive shape and positioning from the Hertha defenders is very unorganised, he makes the most of this by running in between the two defenders and into the space in front of the goal, where he is able to score from this position.
Not only does he possess strong traits on the ball in the final third, but his actions to get into goal-scoring opportunities through clever runs and positioning has enabled him to make a name for himself this season.
Quaison’s role out of possession
The last part of this analysis will examine Quaison out of possession and identify his role in preventing the opposing team from advancing into his team’s half. This area could be argued as an area that Quaison needs to improve and this analysis will delve into why this is the case. This season, he has applied pressure to an opposing player who is receiving, carrying, or releasing the ball 568 times. When applying pressure, his team has been able to regain possession 127 of the time. The most amount of times he has applied pressure has been in the midfield third, which has seen him perform this action 279 times.
In the second half against FC Köln, Quaison’s area of improvement in his defending duties when his team are out of possession could clearly be seen. The FC Köln player in possession looks to progress the ball into their wide right player. He recognises this situation, yet fails to commit to covering the passing line and instead the pass to the wide right player is made. Although it could be argued that his right full-back teammate could have covered this line instead of being in a central position, Quaison could have prevented FC Köln from entering their penalty area if he had made a movement quicker to block this passing line.
This analysis does appreciate and take into consideration that the team’s tactics may not require Quaison to carry out much defensive work and instead look to keep him high up the pitch to be a part of the counterattack. However, we did see him drop deep to pressure the opposition to prevent them from advancing deeper into his half against Hoffenheim.
Quaison in this example is trying to deny the Hoffenheim player entering the half-space by following his run with the ball and applying pressure delay the attack. Against Wolfsburg, we again saw Quaison attempting to apply pressure to prevent the Wolfsburg player from advancing forwards.
Quaison does hold the necessary traits to delay the other team from attacking. However, this analysis takes into account the team’s tactics and appreciates Quaison would be a great fit in the transition phase, which means he would need to be involved less in the defensive side and adopt a position higher up the pitch when out of possession.
As we have seen in this analysis, Robin Quaison is an exciting prospect who is making a real name for himself at FSV Mainz 05. Having scored more goals than his current xG statistic, as well as being the leading goalscorer for his current Bundesliga side, it all highlights what a very important player he is within the starting eleven.
This tactical analysis has examined Quaison’s movement in between the lines when his team is in the build-up phase and how this creates space for himself, as well as other teammates to receive. His actions in the final third have also been noted as one of the key strengths of his game, making him such an effective player on and off the ball.
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