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Sara Däbritz at PSG Féminine 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

“An absolute powerhouse”: Why “understated” PSG midfielder Sara Däbritz could be on the move this summer – scout report

As with most of the leagues around Europe, the 2021/2022 Division 1 Féminine season is rapidly drawing to a close, with newly-crowned European champions Lyon Féminin sealing a 15th domestic league title last week and regaining what fierce rivals PSG Féminine took off them last year. However, the end of a season means the beginning of transfer rumours and there is plenty of discussion around the future of PSG’s Germany midfielder Sara Däbritz at the moment, with reports linking her with a switch to Lyon or a return to her former club Bayern Munich Frauen this summer.

Given that she registered 11 goals and 17 assists for them in all competitions this season, PSG will be keen to keep hold of her, and this tactical analysis will look at how she fits into their tactics and what her next team would be getting if she moved on. Generally, she has operated on the left of a midfield three in PSG’s favoured 4-3-3 formation, which they have used 75% of the time, allowing her to contribute with equal effectiveness to defensive and offensive situations, and this scout report will look at how she disrupts opposing play, helps to build phases and contributes in the final third.

Defensive work

Sara Däbritz has been described in reports over the years as a powerhouse, due to the fact that she participates in almost every in-game situation, and this analysis will begin by looking at her defensive work.

Sara Däbritz at PSG Féminine 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sara Däbritz has been key at disrupting play and stopping chances being created against them.

As mentioned, one of the most noticeable aspects of her defensive play is that she gets between opponents and prevents them from creating chances, with the combination play between Fleury 91 Féminine’s Cameroon international Jeannette Yango and French defender Sara Kassi being disrupted here. When she has the ball, she always looks to move it as far away from her goal as possible, but in a composed manner, working to ensure that the ball doesn’t come straight back into PSG Féminine’s third and the attack restarts.

It is worth noting that Däbritz making interceptions like this is not rare, with her registering 73 in total this season, at an average of 2.93 per game. Therefore, opposing attackers have to be careful when she is around as any loose passes or moments of hesitancy will be punished.

Sara Däbritz at PSG Féminine 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sara Däbritz moves into spaces where she can help either defensively or offensively, depending on the situation.

When PSG have possession at the back, Däbritz is often one of those who drops back and gets into holes between opponents to offer passing options, with the midfielder between four Montpellier Féminines players here. This means that she is in the perfect position to receive the ball and take it up the pitch or offer defensive support, depending on what is required. In this case, it is the latter, as Poland centre-back Paulina Dudek loses the ball under pressure and PSG need to get back and prevent Montpellier from having a clear route to their goal.

However, because Däbritz is already in this position, she can fill in until her teammates get back, marking potential passing options and making it as difficult as possible for the opposing side to move the ball forwards, and this awareness and positional ability is another reason why the Germany international has been a critical player for her team this season.

Sara Däbritz at PSG Féminine 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sara Däbritz helps to slow opposing attacks down and allow her teammates to get back into position.

The other thing that Däbritz contributes to defensive situations is that she can slow attacks down when her teammates are caught out of position. PSG’s full-backs, Canada international Ashley Lawrence and France defender Sakina Karchaoui, are often seen in advanced areas of the pitch supporting attacks, but the downside of this is that the two centre-backs are left exposed once the ball is lost.

In order to address this issue, Däbritz has generally needed to stay further back and play just in front of the central defenders. Therefore, she can meet the ball early and keep it away from the exposed defensive line, giving her teammates the extra second needed to get back and fill gaps that were previously open. In this case, Dijon Féminine could have exploited the space left exposed by the stretched defensive line, but Däbritz prevented them from doing so by getting tight to the ball.

Again, this comes down to her ability to disrupt play, but also shows how she can delay attacks when an interception is not possible. The German has won 60.8% of her defensive duels this season, so her qualities in these situations are clear and have proven to be highly beneficial for her side during the current campaign.

Building play

When Däbritz is in the middle of the field, her focus switches towards building play and helping her team to transfer the ball through their opponents, with her 71.3% accuracy of passes to the final third showing how many of PSG Féminine’s attacks have involved her in one way or another.

Sara Däbritz at PSG Féminine 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sara Däbritz anticipates play and plays a crucial role in the second phase of each attack.

We have already mentioned that she likes to be in a position where she can offer defensive support but also run forwards when her team are in transition. When PSG are moving up the pitch, her focus is always on the second phase and ensuring that there is a passing option available when it is needed.

The key point here is that Däbritz makes this move before Karchaoui has turned to look up the pitch, showing how she is always a step ahead of everyone else. This is critical because it enables PSG to keep their momentum going and make it harder for their opponents to win possession, as any slight hesitation could give Montpellier (in this case) a chance to close off a potential passing option. Therefore, this is one reason that PSG have been so difficult to defend against this season, with 68 goals in 21 league games (a rough average of 3.24 per game) indicating their offensive threat.

Sara Däbritz at PSG Féminine 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sara Däbritz’s vision is key in PSG Féminine building from the back.

On other occasions, Däbritz is the one who needs to take the ball forwards rather than creating the option, with Dijon sitting back and giving her time to move the ball beyond the halfway line here. As mentioned, it has often been the case this season that she has stayed back and operated as a deep-lying playmaker for her team, giving PSG balance and the two full-backs the freedom to get up the pitch. The reason that she is the one tasked with sitting back and not another player is because of her vision when in possession, with a good ability to pick out the right pass at the right time, as indicated by her 85.6% passing accuracy this season.

Therefore, when considering how PSG build phases of play, it is important to note that Däbritz has been an anchor for them in this role and is someone who can receive passes and move the ball into the right areas, which is particularly important when playing a more defensive-minded team where precision is essential.

Sara Däbritz at PSG Féminine 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sara Däbritz can operate just as well in tight spaces as in open areas.

This section has so far focused on how Däbritz builds play in open spaces, but she is just as capable at keeping the ball alive when in tight areas of the pitch too. In this situation, Montpellier have looked to close the ball down and take time away from PSG, but the home side never worry about this and simply stick to their calm approach, passing accurately and waiting for their opportunity to come.

The threat this time comes from Karchaoui, who has made a good run up the pitch and is now in a position where she can send the ball into the middle, so she is the best option for the ball to travel to. Therefore, in order to maximise this opportunity, Däbritz plays a one-touch pass from captain and France midfielder Grace Geyoro into the left-back’s path, as shown by the blue arrow. Whilst setting up the attack, Däbritz’s pass also takes the four Montpellier players closing the ball down out of the game, so her vision and the impact it has on opponents is again demonstrated.

In the final third

Over the seasons, it has been common to see Sara Däbritz in an attacking role and getting forward to support play in the final third, and her goal and assist numbers for the current campaign indicate that this has also been prevalent during the last year too. Therefore, this analysis will now focus on what she gives PSG Féminine once the ball has reached the opposing goal area.

Sara Däbritz at PSG Féminine 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sara Däbritz always looks for where her teammates are and the best way to keep attacks alive.

As with much of this scout report, Däbritz’s role has largely been to find teammates and create chances, with this situation showing her in a gap after being played in by former Barcelona Femení midfielder Kheira Hamraoui. Many players in this space would look to put the cross into the middle themselves or perhaps even shoot at goal, but the Germany international instead keeps her head up and looks at her surroundings, knowing that there will be a player outside her who is in a better position to deliver the cross, with Karchaoui once again in the right position to do this.

Therefore, her ability to remain calm when looking for teammates in the final third is the same, with accurate passing helping to turn situations like this into shots on goal, and this is another reason that she has been an important player for her team this season.

Sara Däbritz at PSG Féminine 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sara Däbritz makes runs beyond opposing defences that exploit spaces and provide passing options.

It has also been the case at times that Däbritz has been PSG’s most advanced player, running into spaces left open by either Kadidiatou Diani, Sandy Baltimore or Marie-Antoinette Katoto dropping back. In these situations, she looks to attack any gaps left open by the opposing defenders and give her teammates a passing option in the areas behind, again starting her run before they have looked to play the ball forwards.

This also helps when the pass lacks quality, with Switzerland and former Chelsea Women forward Ramona Bachmann slightly overhitting the ball here and forcing Däbritz to work hard in order to gather it before it went out of play. However, the fact that Däbritz was already moving when Bachmann sent the ball through meant that she was able to combine with her teammate to break through Dijon and create a goalscoring opportunity, so her anticipation and ability to read the game were once again essential in keeping the attack alive.

Sara Däbritz at PSG Féminine 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sara Däbritz needs to keep improving her finishing when she gets into good shooting positions.

The area of her game that Däbritz can keep improving is her final third productivity, which might sound strange given the number of goals that she has scored this season. However, despite her impressive return, she has only managed to get 41.4% of her efforts on target, with a lack of composure at times meaning that chances like this are not converted, with this shot going over the bar.

She has also been prone to hesitation and taking too long with the ball, as was the case against Bordeaux Féminines earlier in the season, allowing the goalkeeper to come out and win the ball. Therefore, whilst she does have a good number of goals, she could have even more, which does highlight just how dangerous she is.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this tactical analysis has looked at PSG Féminine and Germany midfielder Sara Däbritz, looking at the role she has played in their defensive and attacking play during 2021/2022. What the analysis has highlighted is that she does a lot of work that often goes unnoticed, making runs that open up opportunities and working with teammates to build play, and, when putting that together with her goals and assists, it is not hard to see why several teams are reportedly interested in signing her this summer.

In a previous analysis of her game, it was noted that she is an “understated” player, and the points raised in this analysis support that, as she is not someone who grabs the headlines and instead simply goes about her game and works hard for her team. Therefore, were Lyon, Bayern Munich or another club to sign her, this is perhaps the biggest quality that she would give them.