Football Tactics For Beginners: Attacking FullBacks

The modern attacking fullback has many duties to perform. No longer is it enough to leave an opposition winger stud-pocked and bruised, a modern...
Daniel Alexander
A seventeen year old pursuing his dream of being a football manager.

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Martin Ødegaard : A ‘failed’ wonderkid on his way to rejuvenation.

Martin Ødegaard is a Norwegian professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Real Sociedad, on loan from Real Madrid, and the Norway national team. Having made his name as a very young player at Strømsgodset in the Norweigan top flight, he was tipped for stardom at a young age. So when Real Madrid came calling in January 2015, many thought this was the beginning of a brilliant career. However at such a tender age he failed to break into the first team, and then the subsequent ‘failure’ at Heerenveen meant many labelled him as a failed wonderkid. However, his fantastic performances at Vitesse and now Sociedad prove otherwise and suggests that maybe, people were quick to judge.

Profile:

Full Name: Martin Ødegaard

Date of Birth: 17.12.1998

Age: 21

Height: 178cm

Nationality: Norweigan

Best Position: Centre-Attacking Midfielder

Preferred foot: Left

Current Club: Real Sociedad

Club Contracted to : Real Madrid

Contract expiration date: 30.06.2023

Market Value : £40.5m (April 2020 – TransferMarkt)

  • Stats (19/20)

La Liga :

Appearances | Minutes Played   : 23 | 2,013

Goals | Assists : 4 | 5

Copa del Rey:

Appearances | Minutes Played   : 5 | 402

Goals | Assists : 3 | 3

Currently, Ødegaard is 14th on the assists chart in La Liga but according to expected assists data provided by Opta, he is third, behind only Lionel Messi and Jesus Navas. His xA is 5.97 which shows he would benefit from being at a bigger club where there is superior finishing. His expected assists per 90 is 0.27. His expected goals is at 2.95 for the season, which suggests his finishing is very good, his xG per 90 is 0.13. A lot of his strikes are from range which highlights his ability from distance which is very dangerous and hard to stop eg. his goal against Eibar. This means he has 0.4 goal involvements per game, higher than established La Liga players like Modric and Isco at his parent club. His stats clearly prove he is a fantastic young player.

+ Set Play Ability

His set piece taking ability is also good as he scored from a direct freekick once this season as well as providing an assist through set play (free kick). This shows he is extremely capable of scoring free kicks as well as providing an assist via a corner or free kick. This is a very dangerous weapon to have in your arsenal for any team.

+ Brilliant Passing

In La Liga, he averages 2.3 key passes per game meaning he is only behind Messi in that stat. He is ahead of established passers like Kroos and Koke, which is impressive. He also has an impressive pass success percent of 84.7% and his average of 2 long balls per game suggests he is capable of playing a deeper role if necessary though he lacks the defensive stats. His dribbling stats are also fantastic with 2.4 successful dribbles per game ahead of the likes of Vinicius Junior and Santi Cazorla. He also consistently asks for the ball, dropping deep when his team has the ball in their own half to either pass it forward or dribble with it.  He is efficient at passing and dribbling with both feet although his left foot is better. His dribbling to get away from the opponent in order to make room for the space to pass is also excellent and he uses his dribbling as an asset to make space.

Tackling

His tackling is considered to be weak by many and rightly so, he averages about 0.9 tackles per game which is poor for a midfielder. However La Real are a team that averages about 54.5% possession in a game, and they have the 4th highest average possession in the league which hinders his tackles per game as his team see a lot of the ball. Real Sociedad are also a counter-pressing team, and Ødegaard is crucial in this style of play winning the ball numerous times. It is true that his defensive stats are not great for a midfielder as he doesn’t really track back and help his teammates out that well.

+ Positioning (Versatility)

As the diagram above shows, that Ødegaard despite playing as a centre attacking midfielder likes to drift towards the left side of the field and play crosses in with his stronger left foot. He is excellent at crossing the ball and this shows he could play as a mezzala in midfield as well as a left winger. He is a very versatile young player.

Final Remarks

I think Ødegaard is a fantastic player and he has come on leaps and bounds since his high profile move to Real Madrid when he was still young. His failure to break into the first team and then subsequent failure on loan at Vitesse has been shrugged off according to his recent plights at Heerenveen and now La Real. His passing, dribbling, set play (crossing), abilities are all brilliant as well as his ability to shoot from long range as seen by his goals. His 1.1 out of box shots per game means he is not scared of doing so. I think it is a matter of time before he breaks into the Real Madrid team and I think Zidane will see him as a competitor for the Isco role that he often uses in big games. Personally I think Ødegaard is perfect for the false 9 role, his ability to drop deep and dictate play by shooting, dribbling or passing is perfect for it. He also occasionally joins the striker in a 4-4-2 shape during Sociedad’s play in order to disrupt the defensive line by dropping deep so I believe he could play there permanently.


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Daniel Alexander
A seventeen year old pursuing his dream of being a football manager.

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