One of the secrets for the outstanding season of Hellas Verona have had is Amir Rrahmani. Rrahmani is a right-footed defender and he is, despite the young age, also the captain of Kosovo national team. He joined Hellas Verona in the summer of 2019 from Dinamo Zagreb and in this season he has played 25 Serie A matches to date, for a total of 2,390 minutes.
The manager of Verona, Ivan Jurić, could constantly lean on Kosovar’s adaptability and strength for his distinctive 3-4-2-1 / 3-4-1-2, in which he was always lined up as right centre-back.
This scout report will provide a data and tactical analysis on Rrahmani, focusing on his physical peculiarities and his abilities in both non-possessive and possessive phases. These features will be related to his contribution to Hellas Verona’s actual Serie A season.
First of all, Rrahmani’s heat map illustrates his behaviour on the pitch. He is not locked to a fixed or limited position but instead, he covers a large space. It implies a tendency to intercept the ball outside the area, following the marked opponent in width and depth, most likely with an aggressive attitude. Moreover, he does not dislike to carry the ball in the offensive half and to move himself forward.
The graph below highlights the main characteristics of the player, as per the ongoing Serie A season. The information that particularly catches the eye is the percentage of won aerial duels, equal to 73.17%. This reveals his great strength in the air and his structural solidity.
His supremacy on aerial duels is even more emphasised by looking at the parallel with the opponents in Serie A: Rrahmani is the second-best in the league concerning both the whole percentage success and the percentage success in the own penalty area up to now.
Hellas Verona’s non-possessive phase is based on individual duels and an intense marking all over the field, characterised by a large number of 1 v 1s. Juric’s vision comes from the teachings of his main mentor, Giampiero Gasperini, the current coach of Atalanta.
These tactics can be confirmed by some key data. The team made 66.6 defensive duels per 90 minutes (5th in Serie A), with 58.3% of success. Moreover, a PPDA of 8.9 (also 5th in the league) indicates a high level of pressure against the opponents’ build-up. This last consideration can be further reinforced by the challenge intensity value – evaluating the number of challenges and interceptions by the defending team per minute of the attacker’s ball possession – equal to 6.1 (6th best).
The upper picture shows Hellas Verona’s line-up in non-possessive phase during the match versus Fiorentina. Here we can see the three central defenders, Rrahmani (13), Koray Günter (21), and Salvatore Bocchetti (15) (mostly substituted by Marash Kumbulla (24)), with the two full-backs, Davide Faraoni (5) on the right side and Darko Lazović (88) on the left one, linked to the backline and thus forming a sort of a 5-2-2-1.
From the image, it is visible how Rrahmani is stretched out towards the marked opponent, ready to follow him between the lines.
The most significant ability of the Kosovar defender is the pressure he can exert on the opponent, marking him strictly and with the constant use of arms. He often leaves the defensive line, with the defensive partners (usually Kumbulla (24) and Günter (21)) covering depth, maintaining the concentration on the man in possession and keeping the marking tight. In the following images, the analysis of a situation against Juventus is shown.
Rrahmani here exerted a strict marking, with an intense pressure by extensive use of the body. This was effective in obstructing Juventus’ build-up.
When it is possible, Rrahmani often tries to catch the timing to anticipate the opponent. In fact, among the three defenders, he is the most suitable to make the transitions to start the attack. His combination of strength, good ball defence, and velocity support his propensity in conducting the counter-attack directly.
This attitude is presented in the following situation, in the match against SPAL.
Hellas Verona’s aggressive approach, as well as the intense counter-pressing applied once the ball is lost, often leads to unsafe counter-attack situations by the opponent. Nevertheless, an even-number situation is accepted and challenged, even though supreme vision and space management are necessary.
In the Lazio-Verona match, various cases came out with defenders forced to run backwards and to cover depth in a situation with attackers’ even number.
The pictures above show an illustrative example. Rrahmani guided the depth coverage by standing repeatedly his arm. By doing so, he showed leadership and personality in keeping the backline.
Moreover, body positioning was correct, with a proper situational understanding. The movement, in fact, was aimed at better control of the action. In the 1 v 1 situation, the anterior-posterior posture was correct and gave a fundamental contribution in saving this counter-attack in a crucial moment of the match.
In the following images, the Kosovar’s trajectory moving inside the pitch is even more clear, as well as the ability in facing the 1 v 1.
Finally, another example of proper body positioning is evidenced from this defensive duel with Cristiano Ronaldo, in the winning match against Juventus.
These defensive principles, based on lots of individual duels and 1 v 1s, are definitely working in the ongoing season. Even though they are newly promoted from Serie B, Hellas Verona stands out as the 4th best defence of the league, with just 26 conceded goals in 25 matches, straight after top clubs like Lazio, Juventus, and Inter.
In the 3-4-1-2 designed by Jurić, Rrahmani plays a crucial role in the possessive phase. He is often able to create numerical superiority on the lateral side along with Faraoni (5), making overlaps or giving alternatives in the offensive texture.
In the example versus Fiorentina, the opponent’s defensive line-up (5-3-2) was suitable to exploit a numerical superiority in the sideline.
The following example illustrates how Rrahmani triangulated with Faraoni (5), to exploit the space between the opponent’s left midfield and left-back and finally gain a corner.
Rrahmani, therefore, exhibits a good space recognition and exploitation; when carrying the ball, he is proactive and likes to attack the space, breaking up in the opponent’s half. This may lead to several solutions in the finishing zone.
The following example comes from the game versus Sampdoria. Here, the ball possession of Hellas Verona created a high density in the left part of the pitch, as it is visible from the first image. In particular, Rrahmani recognised the free area in front of him and attacked the space once he had received the ball. Even if the move did not lead to a real goal opportunity, it allowed five different teammates to become possible receivers for an assist.
A similar instance – but with a different outcome – happened in the match against Genoa. As we can see in the captures, Rrahmani actually behaved as a right-back, carried the ball and got it forward, beyond Genoa’s backline, after a valuable triangulation including Matteo Pessina (32) and Valerio Verre (14).
This action, after the save by Genoa’s goalkeeper Perin, resulted in a successful tap-in by Mattia Zaccagni (20).
Rrahmani proved to be one of the best revelations of the ongoing Serie A, as a pillar of the defensive performances of Hellas Verona. As the second-best player in the whole league for percentage success in aerial duels, he is a solid centre-back with great strength. In addition, he is an optimal all-out marker, vital for the defensive tactical principles of the manager of the team, Ivan Jurić. Rrahmani exhibits also good situational understanding, proper body positioning in covering depth and in 1 v 1 situations. He is also proactive in the possessive phase, in carrying the ball, space recognition, and exploitation.
Rrahmani’s performances were noticed by Napoli in particular, so much so that they already purchased him last January for the next season, paying a total of 14.5 million euros plus bonus. Therefore, it will be very interesting to see him playing at higher levels, fighting for greater objectives and in European cups.