The Eredivisie is considered one of the most exciting leagues out of the top five leagues, perhaps it’s even more exciting. Right now it seems that Ajax is dominating the league, with PSV being the main contender for second spot, but the potential of AZ from Alkmaar is not to be disregarded. Their academy has produced some great players over the year and in this tactical analysis, we will look at one in this scout report.
Myron Boadu is a great talent as put out by the Dutch experts, but has been unlucky with his injuries during his youth career. Even his start to the senior level was put a halt to by a horrible injury. But all those injuries do not seem to bother him in his upward trajectory and this season is the example of what a prolific striker he can be, as this tactical analysis will show using tactics.
Boadu was set to make an impression in the 2018/2019 campaign, but due to injury the striker only made 11 appearances with eight of them being in the Eredivisie. The talent that he is, made sure to make an impression in those games, scoring three goals and giving two assists.
This season as this scout report will show, the young striker is fit again and this season is the season where he hopes to finally break through and make a mark for himself in the Netherlands, and perhaps even further. With a talented AZ side and his partnership with Calvin Stengs, this could prove an exciting season. Both the attacking players are doing so well, that the Dutchmen national team has called them up with both of them making their international debuts in the game against Estonia.
Style of play
As said above, Boadu had a very unlucky season in 2018/2019 but the new season has proven to be more prolific. He’s improving on his finishing and has scored predominantly in the box, as you can see in the image below – as well as creating chances for the other attacking players in the AZ squad.
The striker is strong and quick, which makes him useful in situations where he is the sole striker, especially in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Although he possesses these qualities, he’s not the most complete forward. Boadu is a fox in the box with his greatest threat: scoring goals
As you can see in the image above, Boadu is very strong in the link-up play, receiving the ball in the box and dribbling. As a prolific striker in the box, these three aspects of Boadu’s game are very interesting and this we will discuss in the rest of this analysis.
AZ Alkmaar is under new management with Arne Slot and the manager predominantly plays in a 4-2-3-1 formation (53%), followed by a 4-3-3 formation. In this formation, Boadu plays as the (sole) striker and is the main point in the attacking phase of play, which we will explain in this tactical analysis.
In the image below you can see the heatmap of Boadu in the current season. In this heatmap, we look at the games played in the Eredivisie, Europa League, UEFA U21 Championships and games with the Dutch national team.
The striker is very much present in the box and most of his shots come from there. How the striker does it, is something we will touch upon now. This depends on the positioning of the striker in different formations.
First, we will look at his positioning when he plays as the sole striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation with AZ. Behind him, there is an attacking midfield consisting of Idrissi-De Wit-Gudmundsson or Idrissi-Stengs-Sugawara. This can be seen in the game against Heracles Almelo.
Boadu plays close to the two central defenders of Heracles Almelo, while the attacking midfielders are occupied with the defensive midfield of the guests. In the case of the transition phase from defence to attack, Boadu tries to move between the central defenders, awaiting a cross from the attacking players.
Another function of Boadu in the 4-2-3-1 formation is to receive the ball and drop down, as part of his characteristic link-up play. This gives the opportunity for the attacking midfielders to switch from the defensive phase to the attacking phase and create a 4v4 situation close to the opponent’s box.
This style of positioning by Boadu can be seen in the image below, where AZ played ADO Den Haag.
In the image above you can see how Boadu makes a forward towards the midfield. In doing so, the striker creates space for the attacking midfield to move forward, as the left full-back and left wing-back are occupied with the attacker. He draws the defenders to him and creates the space for AZ to attack in numbers. In doing so AZ creates a numeric advantage with the three attackers against two defenders.
In the 4-3-3 formation, Boadu has a slightly different role. He’s not the sole striker but is accompanied by two players on the flank. They form a unity going forward, as you also can see in the image below where AZ played away at Astana in the Europa League.
You can see Boadu in the 4-3-3 formation where the three attackers move together as a unity. Boadu is the player who plays highest in the attacking third, but the attackers don’t move back into the midfield as they would do in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
The way the unit moves can be demonstrated in the image below. Boadu and his wingers move towards the area where the ball is.
In the action of Boadu, there are two distinct aspects of his movement. The first aspect is that he moves towards the ball within the trio of attackers. The second aspect is that he moves towards the left and makes way for Stengs in the process.
Boadu is regarded as typical striker talent and this season is the first season that the striker is matching his potential, as we are trying to explain in this tactical analysis. In the shot map below you can see the shots of Boadu this current season in competitive games.
The striker has quite decent numbers with this finishing. He has 63 shots this season in the Eredivisie, Europa League and international games. Of those 63 shots, 33 shots were on target – which is a percentage of 52.4%. He had an xG of 17.29 in those matches and proved to be true to that number, as he scored 17 goals so far this season.
Not only is his finishing great, but he creates goalscoring opportunities for his colleagues as well. He has given seven assists so far and given 30 shot assists, leading to an xA of 4.43. It is also an indication of the high profile scoring players at the club from Alkmaar, that the striker can give assists to the attacking players.
The attacking player has played 2,182 minutes this season, averaging 0.7 goals and 0.29 assists per game. If he continues this form, he will be a top priority for big clubs in Europe in the years to come.
Passing and receiving in the box
The passing of this striker is okay for a player in his position with 424 passes so far with a pass completion of 87%. A very important aspect of his attacking style of play is his passing to the final third with 25 passes. It is not weird that he has already got seven assists to his name.
His quality in passing could be seen in the game against FC Twente, where he made 24 passes and successfully delivering 22 of them, which is a pass completion of 92%. In the image below you can see how he conducts those passes.
His play as a strong striker with link-up play can be seen on his pass map of that game, he passes a lot to the side and back to his attacking midfielders. But he is not shy of making passes forward, as the key pass shows in this pass map.
More important for a striker, is that he is on the receiving end of the passes in the final third. He received 329 passes in the final third.
You can see this in the game against FC Twente, where he received 22 passes of which eight were in the box. For a striker of his calibre, it is important to get in the position to shoot at goal. This is made possible by the excellent partner of Boadu, Stengs.
Movement and dribbling
The striker’s movement is good when he anticipates a key pass or a through ball, which is a key element of this tactical analysis. His partnership with Stengs is instrumental to his way of playing. We will look at an example of the game PSV vs AZ below.
In the game against PSV – which AZ won 4-0 in Eindhoven – Boadu was on the receiving end of a through pass by Stengs. He recognises the space behind the defender when PSV is in the transition phase.
This goal by Boadu is the consequence of the direct attacking style of play by AZ. Stengs is responsible for taking up the pace and Boadu levels that by running behind the defenders and capitalising on the through pass, scoring in the process.
Boadu has been responsible for 70 dribbles this season for club and country, and 50% of those dribbles were successful. He feels comfortable with two different sorts of dribbles which we can categorise as ‘dribbling in the box’ and ‘dribbling in midfield’.
In the first category, we see Boadu dribbling in the box for the Netherlands in the game against Estonia. We can see this in the image below.
Boadu combines his movement with this dribbling ability after receiving the ball from Frenkie de Jong. The striker moves into the gap and wins the 1v1 with the Estonia defender. After winning this duel he passes the ball to the incoming players on the edge of the box, which is Stengs.
The other category of dribbling can also be seen in the game against Estonia, where he receives the ball in midfield, as is illustrated in the image below.
As illustrated above, Boadu drops down to midfield to collect the ball from Blind and after that, move forward in order to look for opportunities in attack. By doing so, he makes sure that defending players of Estonia are looking to disposes him and creating space for the attacking players to get themselves in good positions.
Boadu’s has been considered as a great talent in the Dutch youth ranks with a promising career. It’s only in this season that the young striker has capitulated on that promise and started being prolific in the Eredivisie as well. He’s not the most complete forward, as he is lacking in the air and physicality, measured in winning attacking duels – but he is the ideal striker in the box with goals and assists to account for it. If he produces the same numbers throughout the season, he might be a viable option for Ronald Koeman’s Dutch outfit for Euro 2020 as this tactical analysis has shown.
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