There have been many Brazilian players in the Liga NOS recently and Marlon is one of them. The left-back plays on loan for Boavista Porto FC and has been outstanding for them this season. In Brazil, Marlon has played for Fluminense and Criciúma EC. Boavista have an option to buy him next summer.

In total, Marlon has played 33 matches on the highest level in Brazil, while playing in the Serie B for two seasons as well. He impressed with his attacking abilities and sharpness in defence but needs to improve some aspects as well. This scout report will provide a tactical analysis of the role that Marlon performs at Boavista.

Positioning

Taking a look at Marlon’s positioning on the pitch, it can be seen that he likes to drive forward and that he likes to keep a distance from his own goal. Boavista have played in a 4-3-3 formation and a 5-4-1 formation. Later in this scout report, an analysis will be made of Marlon’s role in both formations and what differences there are between both formations.

Marlon 2019/20 - scout report tactical analysis tactics
It can be seen in the heatmap that Marlon likes to drive forward.

Marlon in a 5-4-1 formation vs. in a 4-3-3 formation

Boavista have a different approach each game depending on the opponent, which means that their tactics differ weekly. When Boavista play in a 5-4-1 formation, they like to sit deep and let the opponent keep possession. The three central defenders stay close to each other, while both wing-backs are being tasked to put pressure on the opponent’s wide midfielders early. When possession is recovered, Boavista play direct and they look to find Mateus or Heriberto Tavares by playing long through balls.

Both wing-backs of Boavista are given the license to drive forward and especially Marlon is eager to get in possession. For example, against FC Porto, Marlon had the most touches (74) and the most passes (55) in the team. The Brazilian wing-back likes to pass it short to the left-midfielder and run forward into space immediately. He is very energetic and always likes to drive forward.

In possession, FC Porto played in a 3-2-4-1 formation and both full-backs of Porto were allowed to play higher on the pitch. This lead to the fact that the right-back of FC Porto was the direct opponent of Marlon. When Porto played the ball to the left-hand side in the defensive third, Marlon sprinted to the right-back of FC Porto and put pressure on him immediately. By doing that, Marlon left space on the right-wing behind him, but FC Porto did not make use of that against Boavista.

Marlon 2019/20 - scout report tactical analysis tactics
Marlon immediately puts pressure on the right-back of FC Porto when the ball is played to the right side of the pitch.

In a 4-3-3 formation, Marlon likes to keep close to his direct opponent as well and because Boavista play with four defenders instead of five there is no-one to cover the space that he leaves behind when he gets close to his direct opponent. When taking a look at his stats in 1-on-1 defending, it can be seen that 46 out of 125 duels were against defensive wingers and 55 out of 125 duels against attacking wingers. In total, Marlon lost 66,4% of his 1-on-1 defensive duels.

Boavista did not have possession on the opposition’s half very often, but when they did, there were two things that Marlon did. In the situations that Boavista played it out from the back, Marlon played higher up the pitch and he was in acres of space as the right-back of Porto was his direct opponent and he liked to stay close to his central defenders. However, in the image down below, the right-back got attracted to close the gap to Marlon which lead to Mateus having space to make a run in behind.

Marlon 2019/20 - scout report tactical analysis tactics
The long ball is played to Marlon, who sticks close against the sideline, attracting the right-back of FC Porto to close the gap. Mateus has the space to make a run in behind

As already mentioned before, Marlon had the most touches (74) and the most passes (55) against Porto. One of the reasons for that is the way that Marlon positioned himself when Boavista were in possession on the right-hand side of the field. The Brazilian moved to the centre of the field and got the ball often in that position.

Marlon 2019/20 - scout report tactical analysis tactics
Marlon often moved to the centre of the pitch to be included in the build-up.

There were a few moments where Boavista lost possession high up the pitch and Marlon’s decision-making in those scenarios is very risky. The left-back is very attacking-minded and that can be understood from the image down below as well. The right-back of Porto takes his time to pass the ball but does not get it because Marlon sprints to him and tackles him. In this case, Marlon recovers possession, but if he gets passed then it could be very dangerous for Boavista as they only had a few players behind the ball.

Marlon 2019/20 - scout report tactical analysis tactics
Marlon puts pressure on the right-back of FC Porto and recovers possession.

This happens as well when Boavista play in a 4-3-3 formation and this is more of a weakness than a strength of Marlon. He has 6.89 defensive duels per 90 minutes and loses 50,6% of them. 9,5% of those defensive duels are in the final third of Boavista. In addition to that, Marlon makes 4.75 interceptions per 90 minutes and 5,4% of them are in the final third. It can be concluded that the pressure high up the pitch of Marlon is not that effective based on the number of defensive duels lost and the number of interceptions in the final third.

Passing and attacking abilities

It can be said that Marlon is one of the most creative players at Boavista. He takes all the set pieces and even scored a free-kick against Sporting Lisbon. Per 90 minutes, Marlon gave 1002 simple passes to this date, which is an average of 28.65 passes per 90 minutes. Most of them are in the opposite half (522) and most of them are forward (511) as well. Taking a look at his accuracy when passing forward, it can be seen that 81,2% of his forward passes are accurate. On the opposite half, Marlon has a passing accuracy of 87,7%.

Marlon played 26 smart passes this season and 13 of them were in the opposition’s half. Out of these, 13, 53,8% was accurate. Marlon likes to play long passes as well. In total, he played 106 long passes which is an average of 3.03 per 90 minutes. 77 of those 106 long passes were on the opposite half and 74% of those long passes were accurate. When he plays a long pass from his own half, only 54,2% are accurate. However, it can be taken into consideration that Boavista are put under pressure early and that Marlon often needs to play it long without having the chance to take his time. Per 90 minutes, Marlon loses the ball 13.35 times.

The Brazilian left-back gives 0.86 key passes per 90 minutes (30 in total) and 9 of them came from a free-kick. As already mentioned, Marlon takes every set-piece and is very good at them. Nearly every corner or free-kick from Marlon is dangerous as he has a very good technique. Per 90 minutes, Marlon crosses the ball 3.37 times. Most of these crosses are high (75) and out of these high crosses, he has a success rate of 50,7%. Out of his low crosses (43), Marlon has a success rate of 20,9%.

One thing that Marlon likes is to dribble. Per 90 minutes, he averages 1.43 dribbles and 72% out of his dribbles are successful. 52% out of his dribbles are in the final third of Boavista.

Conclusion

The Brazilian left-back provides creativity, energy and skills to Daniel Ramos’ side and fits perfectly in a formation with five defenders. Marlon is a good crosser, he is a good dribbler and he forms a great threat through set-pieces. For Boavista, it would be wise to buy him next summer.


Total Football Analysis Magazine #16: December 2019

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