Andre Horta is a young promising Portuguese midfielder, who already has a very interesting career, despite him being only 22 years old. Not to mention his advanced style of play and quality. Even though he hasn’t been given the attention he deserves from the international football community, his quality and his performance levels are really asking for a detailed scout report and tactical analysis that enhances all his fabulous features.
Andre Horta was formed in Benfica but at the age of 16, he signed for the Portuguese first-tier club Vitória FC. When he reached the age of 18, he made his debut for the Vitória’s A team in the Portuguese Liga and stood out, having made 36 appearances and scored two goals in the season of 2015/16.
That amazing season led Benfica to sign him back, but even though he started the 2016/17 season playing at a good level, the rest of the season didn’t go as expected and Horta was sent on loan to Braga, where he made 30 appearances in 2017/18, earning a move to Los Angeles FC.
He returned to Braga this season and has been given the role of key-midfielder in this super competitive Braga team.
Horta’s heat map:
Defensive positioning: the man for every job
Andre Horta is a typical ‘n.o 8’. He is a sheer centre-midfielder and is trusted with the job of being the perfect balance of the team’s offensive and defensive manoeuvres. He does like to take on more offensive duties though, as I will explain soon, and it is curious the way Horta behaves when the opposite team has the ball.
This season Braga play in a plain 4-3-3, trusting on of the centre-midfielders, often Andre Horta, with the job of deconstructing their 4-3-3 in a 4-4-2 when the opposite team is in the first stage of its offensive transition. Horta leaves his position in the midfield and joins the striker, pressuring high up in the field. If the opponents manage to break that first pressure line that Horta composes, he quickly retreats and joins the defensive-midfielder, building a two-player barrier in front of the defensive line.
The following images illustrate this.
As it is shown in the picture, Braga turns the shape into a 4-4-2 when the opposite team is in the first stage of the offensive transition. Horta (in red) forms the first line of pressure, along with the team’s striker.
In this picture, we can see that the opposite team already broke through Braga’s first moment of pressure and so Andre Horta quickly retreats to his original position. As the adversaries move up in the field towards Braga’s goal, Horta also retreats and is going to position himself next to the defensive midfielder, standing as a first-barrier in front of the defence.
Nevertheless, this positioning strategy I’ve evidenced here doesn’t always happen like this. The two centre-midfielders, usually Andre Horta and the Brazilian Fransergio, are key pieces in Braga’s tactics, and so this movements and positioning can alternate between being performed by Horta and by Fransergio, even though Horta is the main responsible for the execution of this strategy.
Offensive transition: the main reference
Andre Horta functions as the main reference in Braga’s midfield in the offensive transition. It is him who often drops to give a passing line that allows the team to break through the opposition’s pressure. It is also him who in the second stage of the offensive transition takes on the role of the most attacking midfielder, that transports the ball forward and serves the attackers of the team.
Horta really is the tie-breaker, the disruptive element in Braga’s midfield in attacking situations. His technical ability allows him to be the conductor of the whole offensive process of the team and he enjoys participating in the last-third offensive moments.
We can see that Horta (in red) is positioned in the most offensive vortex of the midfield triangle and is the link between the midfield and the attackers, the true builder of the team’s offensive manoeuvre. A real midfield linker.
Because Braga’s defence is under heavy pressure and having difficulties in starting the offensive transition, Horta (in red) drops and offers an additional passing solution to allow Braga to break the opposite team’s pressuring strategy and be able to progress on the pitch. This is also the job of a midfield linker: to take action in order to allow the offensive transition to truly happen, not just wait for the ball to be delivered to him.
Close to the goal: a decisive plus-one
Andre Horta is a midfielder that really enjoys attacking and being close to the opposite goal, to score or to assist his teammates. In a 4-3-3, a team usually relies on the winger’s creativity to ensure the best definition of the last-third plays, that will ideally finish with the goal. Andre Horta enjoys participating in this last-third play and adding technical ability and creativity to the team’s attack. The truth is Horta qualifies as an attacking midfielder that always has his eyes on the goal, just like Bruno Fernandes, João Felix, and others.
He often is trusted with the mission of penetrating through the opposite defence line by performing diagonal movements and turning the line of three attackers in a group of 4 attackers.
Horta (in red) dislocates from the midfield to the last third of the pitch, performing a diagonal movement and infiltrating the opposite defence, allowing Braga to be in 4×4 situation, adding up to the three Braga attackers (in white).
As one can tell from this analysis, Horta is an irreverent player, that has a keen sense of positioning but is always ready to make a sprint and start a quick attacking play. His main flaw is his lack of regularity and consistency. That was his main problem in Benfica: when everyone already thought he had secured his sport in the Benfica starting XI, he started being less and less productive in the field and lost his spot, leaving the club when the season ended. That is certainly due to his youth, of course, and he has everything he needs to keep on improving and becoming a star player in the Portuguese league.
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