2. Bundesliga is closely watched mostly by the fans of German football. The rest of the football world doesn’t pay that much attention to what is happening in the second German division. So, the talented players are beginning to get attention only when they start to shine either in the Bundesliga or in some of the top 5 European leagues. But there is one player that I believe we need to take a closer look into today. It is Finn Ole Becker, a 19-year-old midfielder who is currently playing for a mid-table St. Pauli, his boyhood club. This scout report will help you understand his role in his present team, areas where he can improve and what potential career moves can be awaiting him in the near future.
From my analysis for this season, Finn Ole Becker mostly plays as a right central midfielder, but in the last matches of this season, he was used as a left pivot in midfield. In some games, he even was used as a deep-lying midfielder in 4-1-4-1 formation, but it is a very rare case used by St. Pauli’s coach Jos Luhukay in the closing minutes.
St. Pauli’s tactics don’t demand to play in possession most of the time. But when his team is during the build-up phase, he often receives the ball between the lines from fullbacks and centre-backs to move the ball forward with his great passing ability and intelligent runs. Also, his movement helps to form triangles for a faster ball distribution.
When St.Pauli are out of possession and are looking for counter-attacking opportunities, Finn Ole Becker is usually the one connecting the team and being responsible for the start of the build-up. He is playing in a “number-six” role, but his offensive abilities will surely allow him to play a more attacking role in the future in a more possession-oriented side.
A midfielder with a good dribbling ability is always a great option for any team in the attack. Such players bring one more dimension to the play, helping the team create chances not only from passing but from moments of individual brilliance too. Finn Ole Becker given his young age is brilliant in this component. He attempts around four dribbles per game from a midfield spot, which is pretty impressive, especially because more than 60% of his attempted dribbles are successful. With his dribbling he is capable of breaking the lines and creating the space like in the example below:
For his young age he is good at reading the game and identifying spaces in the defence to run into, like in the example below:
Having such a good dribbler in the midfield is a great weapon for any team as it provides more tactical diversity. His ability to take the ball in a deeper position and get it to the final third for a shooting position or even 1v1 is crucial for this St. Pauli side. He completed three out of four attempted dribbles in his last game against Arminia Bielefeld, and this is impressive (for example, Thiago from Bayern Munich attempts 4 dribbles per game with over 60% success rate, which is very similar to previously mentioned dribbling stats of Becker).
Playing the role of a number six, the controlling midfielder, doesn’t require large amounts of going forward and shooting, as the main job of this role is making shots happen for the teammates. Still, having the ability to smash the ball into the back of the net if a situation demands so is a precious asset. Becker is averaging 1.4 shots per game and he scored one goal this season. He tries his luck from time to time and usually his shots come off from his string left foot as he almost always tries to get the ball on to it. This is clearly not the best aspect of Becker’s play, and he definitely needs to improve in this area. His shooting can surely improve as his career evolves and he starts to play in a more offensive role in midfield and this is what we are hopefully going to see.
Becker has an interesting style of passing play. The majority of his passes are simple short passes to the teammate, but, despite that, he still doesn’t have the best passing accuracy (only 82.9% which is below the average for midfielders in 2. Bundesliga). The main reason for that is that he is not only distributing simple short passes, but an important element of his gameplay is his forward passes. This is high-risk, high-reward kind of pass and Becker makes these passes more than anyone in St. Pauli. His job is to get the ball to the final third and to the attacking group and he is the main man in St. Pauli’s midfield for that duty.
Also, he is very good at making long passes. He usually analyzes the space around him before getting a pass, so he knows what he can do straight away. If he sees that he make a long pass instead of a short one, he immediately does it with good accuracy and timing, like in the example below:
Together with long passes, Becker’s another good way to break the opposition defence is through passes. Most of the time they come from situations when he already created himself some space with dribbling and so he can make a pass into an open area to get the attackers into dangerous positions. It is very helpful when it comes to attacking to have a midfielder who can dribble and create space and then make accurate through passes. Two images below illustrate this concept:
If we look at his passing stats below, we can see that he makes around 7 progressive passes per game, and also the accuracy of his forward passes is around 77%, which is good for these kinds of passes, but it drives his overall passing accuracy down, which was mentioned earlier. He is already a good passer of the ball, and in a more dominant team that has more possession, his passing qualities would flourish.
When it comes to his defending, Becker is not the most aggressive type of a midfield player. In the defensive phase, when St. Pauli are defending in their own half, he doesn’t make a slide or tackles that often. Instead, he is just following and pressing the opposition player down the pitch until he either makes a pass or looses the ball. I think the main reason for this is his body type and height(he is 5″10 tall), he is not very strong physically, so it is hard for him to have physical battles. I think if he develops more physically, he will be much more efficient in helping his team defend. Another aspect that is worth mentioning is that his style of play results in a few yellow cards and so he doesn’t have any problems with discipline in such a young age.
But when he presses the opponents in the opposition half, his defensive game steps up massively. He makes 7 recoveries per game in the opposition half this season. When he presses the opponents in their own half, there is a higher chance that he will have a higher chance of making a tackle when his opponent has deployed his back. This way it is much easier for Becker to tackle and get the ball back to his team. But you also need to understand that it is not the whole opposition half that he makes recoveries and tackles. Most of the time it is zones 10-12 and sometimes a little bit higher.
One more thing to point out is his pressing. You can’t find a lot of moments from his play when he is counter-pressing the opposition team. The main reason for this is that most of the balls are lost in the final third, and Becker very rarely appears there. One of the tactical concepts of his side is that after the team loses the ball they try to shape a low-medium defensive block right away, so there are not that many opportunities to counter-press, especially for a midfielder.
In this tactical analysis, we saw that Finn Ole Becker is an exceptional talent with some great qualities. Now we can describe him as a ball carrier, great dribbler and a good player to control the midfield. There are some areas where he needs to improve but he is still only 19 and he has his whole career ahead of him. I can see clubs from Bundesliga and Premier League already lining up for him this summer. And even if it may not be a grand (yet), he will definitely play in a big team if nothing strange happens.