Jean Lucas 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

The Brazilian football calendar is madness. The first four months of the year are occupied by state championships, and then from May to December, the Brazilian Serie A runs at a blistering pace. This is alongside the final rounds of the Copa do Brasil, the domestic cup tournament. And the players who perform for all these tournaments never fail to win the hearts of the fans. One such young Brazilian is Jean Lucas.

Lucas is a promising talent in Brazil and Olympique Lyonnais recognised that talent. The Flamengo youth academy product was signed for the Rhône valley club reportedly for €8 million on a five-year contract.

Under contract with the Rio giants until December 2021, the youngster was allowed to leave for the right price. He is the second new arrival after goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu since Sylvinho and Juninho Pernambucano were drafted in as head coach and sporting director, respectively.

Lucas won the hearts of the residents of Stade Groupama with his quick thinking and accurate passing. He can break up counter attacks by attacking the opponent from an early stage.

The Brazilian enjoyed the likes of Juventus and Valencia but the decision to sign Lyon came easy for him. The defensive midfielder would play from the upcoming season of 2019/20 for the French Ligue 1 side.

The young midfielder has already shown that he is ready for Europe. Lyon will now be able to enjoy the qualities of the 21-years-old Brazilian in an area that was defined as a priority by Juninho and Sylvinho.

This tactical analysis will profile Lyon’s midfielder Jean Lucas.

Background

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Lucas started his career with Nova Iguacu’s youth setup. Released at the age of 15, he represented Bonsucesso before joining Flamengo in 2018.

The midfielder made his senior debut by starting in a 2–0 Campeonato Carioca away win against Volta Redonda. He made his Serie A debut in April. He came as a late substitute for Lucas Paqueta in a 2–0 home defeat of America Mineiro.

The 21-years-old Brazilian played a total of 28 matches for the club. He then joined Jorge Sampaoli’s Santos on loan in February. He played nine matches at Santos. Initially a backup to Alison and Carlos Sanchez, he became a regular starter under Sampaoli.

Flamengo

Lucas spent the majority of his career at Flamengo. Originally known as Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, he played as a midfield protector and supplier.

The Rio club has built a strong in an unspectacular side which has snuck in almost unnoticed. Given the financial plight of several clubs in this corner of the world, playing squads are thin on the ground at the best of times. Even attempting to power through two games a week is akin to trying to sprint a marathon.

The club has a possession-centred style of play. The tactical awareness and possession of the ball will outplay power, strength, and speed.  They play through the backline, the midfield and the forward line and into the attacking third with possession.

As a defensive midfielder for the club, Lucas had high ball circulation from side-to-side and through the three lines of the opposition. He produced multiple passing combinations. His statistical analysis points for 87.2% accurate passing with 2.86 interceptions.

The midfielder had to adapt to the club’s different formation after being loaned to Santos. Sampaoli has tested his team with a 4-3-3 formation that practically takes on a 2-3-5 shape when attacking. They create many chances but look vulnerable when counterattacked or when forced to defend for extended periods by a superior opponent.

Santos has been able to blend youth and experience in their squad. They gave younger players like Rodrygo, Lucas and Jefferson Soteldo chances to play.

Lucas improved his skills by providing quality passing and keeping more possession. He is also capable of beating players with his excellent dribbling and possesses an adept long-range shooting ability. His tactics account for 46.2% duels won.

Lyon

When Lyon announced the return of legendary player Juninho alongside compatriot Sylvinho, it became clear that Les Gones were going to sign serious talent.

As a player, Juninho played a crucial role in the rise of Lyon as the most successful club in France. The Rhone giants won seven Ligue 1 Championnats on the trot and amazed everyone in the Champions League regularly.

The signing of the young midfielder was a no-brainer for Lyon. The 21-years-old midfielder is the replacement for Tanguy Ndombelé, who left Lyon for Tottenham Hotspur. Physically and technically above average, Lyon has signed someone who could turn a major profit in the long run.

By having Lucas, they got a player who is accustomed to playing the anchor role in a defensive scheme. He is a player who is easy on the ball, has an amazing passing range and a burst of pace that starts some great offensive moves.

Lyon is known for their creation of a diamond with their both centre-backs, a central midfielder, and the goalkeeper. The squad can position perfectly and can adjust in reference to the position of the ball. They never fail to impress with a good positional play. They can move the opponent, open space and use that through different actions like the third-man concept.

Jean Lucas 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

With the Brazilian in their squad, it would be a major coup for Les Gones who would be eager to mount a serious title assault next season.

Playing style

While top-flight European football is all about the midfield battle between pressing systems, South American football is more direct. It often involves teams trading long passes with long balls trying to win the individual duels. In this context of directness, reinforcing both ends of the pitch is usually more important than reinforcing midfield zones.

Lucas is one of the thriving midfielders who is equipped to play both types of football. With his quick thinking and tactics, he can read the game well and adapt accordingly. The scout report analyses his position in the midfield.

As a defensive midfielder, he is strong and a very good tackler. His awareness of the opposition positioning makes him a perfect fit in the central and defensive midfield. He is physically strong with a height of around 6ft, which helps him winning aerial duels at a canter. The statistical analysis accounts for 25.8% of aerial duels on average.

Jean Lucas 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

 

He fitted well with the playing style of Sampaoli. Santos usually looks to counter-attack, building through the flanks and exploiting the spaces left in the middle. The raw pace of the young midfielder helped his team to go deeper on the pitch. This generates numerical superiority in midfield.

In the following picture, Soteldo’s ability to drift wide draws partial attention away from the opposition. This opened up space centrally, where Lucas and Jean Mota found themselves free. Felipe Jonathan played a chipped pass into the undefended central area which was headed on by Lucas onto Edu Sasha’s run into the box. The young midfielder’s mobility to drag out the centralized rival players, and then overload the area gave Santos a lead.

Jean Lucas 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Football is a cruel game of details, and all it takes is one slip to lose. Dribbling with intent and confidence, Lucas’ ball-carrying has been extremely useful in attempts to break down the opposition. His statistical analysis accounts for 47.8% successful dribbles. Given his preference of starting from a deeper position, Lucas has the view of the entire pitch and assesses the correct passing option.

In the following picture, fullback Cortez lost an aerial duel against Jean Lucas close to the box. Lucas headed the ball to Sasha, and the forward managed to control the ball. He finished spectacularly despite the marking of opposition strikers.

Jean Lucas 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

His flexibility allows him to shift over to a counterattacking approach whenever required. His quick reactions enable him to get touch tight to his marker. This aspect of his outing transferred into how effectively he managed crosses and cutbacks, meaning he took up top positions to quell any danger.

In the following picture, the aggressive pressing of the Brazilian can be noticed. He gave his squad to have nearby options after winning the ball. Santos would commit as much as three players to win the ball. He would form triangles with his other midfielders to get the possession. It adds pressure to the opponent which could lead to quick mistakes.

Jean Lucas 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

The 21year-old midfielder mostly features at the base of the midfield. His tactics allow him on average an accuracy of 57.1% in long passes and 13.8% in crosses.

Comfortable on both flanks, Lucas can switch to the right-hand side looking to trouble the defence. This sort of versatility in his game was key to Santos as they controlled the encounter. He used this to his advantage by quickly shifting the ball from side to side trying to get an opening.

Jean Lucas 2018/19 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

The youngster would regularly drive upfield with the ball at his feet to provoke a pressing action from an opposition. This creates a free man and opens a passing lane or manipulate the opponent’s setup. In general, he likes to pick players up in the final third through successful long balls. On the attacking side of his game, he isn’t afraid to let one fly from distance. He loves to combine his defensive duties with his natural central midfield role.

Conclusion

Lucas is one of the best midfielders in South American football. He moves forward and can trackback quite well. He is an attacking threat but would also offer defensive stability to the side. With his excellent tactics and analysis of the game, he can provide his strikers with better space to attack.

This is a major coup for Lyon since they haven’t been able to attract a top Brazilian talent since the departure of Mariano Diaz to Real Madrid a couple of years ago. One can expect Lucas to start the new season with his new team on a strong footing.


Total Football Analysis Magazine #11: July 2019 - tactical analysis tactics
Artwork by @chapulana

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Shipra Kapoor

Sports Journalist from India. Inclined towards Manchester City and Olympique Lyonnais.
Shipra Kapoor