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Why some world class footballers are underrated

Why some footballers are underrated

Tactical Analysis: Why some footballers are underrated- How to Judge a footballer’s Career using the Portugal 1-2 Serbia 2022 World Cup qualifiers game as an Illustration

One of my biggest pet peeves is using selected individual games or moments to say one player had a better career than another player. If we’re talking career, look at performances week in, week out, all competitions, all seasons – in context.

Another pet peeve is using a lack of team success (eg internationally) to say one player is worse than another. Unless a player has made individual errors, it makes no sense. By that logic, Capdevilla and Arbeloa are like the best FB duo of all time.

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Illustration: Portugal 1-2 Serbia Post-Match Tactical Analysis

Portugal are blessed with such a pool of talented players and exciting, innovative coaches. But their manager Fernando Santos is not one of them. He has dined out on the 2016 success for far too long and has been holding them back for years. Last night (Portugal 1-2 Serbia) another manifestation of this.

No country will be hurt more by failure than their fans. 3 clubs hopeful of Champions League last 16. Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Bernado Silva, Joao Felix, Renato Sanches, Ruben Dias. Absolutely scandalous underachievement if they miss World Cup qualification.

What a story for Aleksandar Mitrovic. 12 months ago he missed the penalty that meant Serbia missed out on the EURO, in a year that he was dropped by Parker for Fulham. Last night he scored the goal that sends Serbia to the World Cup, whilst he’s scored 20 in 17 in the league.

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Fernando Santos is a tier below Luiz Enrique, Mancini and Hansi Flick in international levels. Excellent balancer, deploys his team to defend space on the back foot very well. Portugal have a golden XI for the first time in years now; he’s being asked to control games rather than to just absorb pressure and  he’s struggling to do so.

This same setup is what won them the Euros in 2016. But international football has gone past that style now and Santos can’t cope with it. The ‘smaller’ teams have learnt to dig deep and don’t go head to head anymore. It’s slowly turning into defending space vs a team trying to break it down. Diego Simeone’s influences some underdog managers here.

For how long did Fernando Santos instruct his team to absorb pressure and be passive instead of pushing high and attacking? The narrow shape last night was exploited by Serbia. Cancelo was asked to be involved in the 1st phase instead of utilizing his creativity in the final 3rd.

Serbia played with two dominating CFs- Mitrovic and Vlahovic. The Portuguese back line tucked inside to check Tadic, Mitrovic and Vlahovic while leaving acres of space for Kostic & Zivkovic on the wings. Serbia were so ahead with their tactics. Santos actually used Bernardo Silva to stretch wings instead of controller in midfield. Pep was surely fuming.

Think the four/five man frontline by pushing a midfielder to cause numerical superiorities/central overloads to attack wide will be the new trend in possession oriented systems for the next couple of years. We’re already seeing it being used by the likes of City, Bayern, Germany, Serbia etc.

Wide forwards pinning the back line, overload in the central area, lose the ball, win it back within 15 seconds or so and attack again. Solid structure.

EDITOR’S PICK

Like I said before, Qatar 2022 will be the highest quality of systematic play we have seen in international football until now. Lucho [Luiz Enrique], Hansi Flick, Roberto Mancini followed by the likes of Southgate, Van Gaal, Hjulmand, Martinez etc. Need Zidane at France to turn this into a total party.

When I say followed by the likes of Van Gaal, Martinez etc I meant that these are very good balancers that play on end-to-end football/back foot. A tier below the three mentioned at first.

Gavi (Barca and Spain)?

My one, criticism is a strong word, more like observation or nitpick about Gavi (Spanish and Barca Midfielder) is that he needs to work on his progressive passing. For now, he circulates the ball really well but I want him to be braver with finding players BTL and in behind.

Other than that, he’s got everything else to reach the elites. Repetitive at this point but Gavi’s performances for both Barça and now Spain are often at a ridiculously high level. Not only good to be 17, but good compared to whoever you want. Sensational talent.

Conclusion

To conclude, considering Fernando Santos is left in that position as the coach of Portugal for lets say the next 5 to 6 years, all these young superstars will definitely pass their prime without a taste of international trophy if Santos does not change his tactics. Of course they maybe performing well in club competitions but internationally NO, Not their fault, maybe the coach.

Some of these players may also be individually performing brilliantly but so without a team trophy, many fans of the game will not want to over rank them.

The truth be told, if you cannot win in both club and national footballing levels, fans of the game aren’t going to really know your worth. This is why some footballers are underrated. If you like Ask Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo fans.

Key

BTL: Between the lines

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