For the second year in a row Hamburger SV try to move up to the first division. After 25 games played untill now, they stay in the relegation place for promotion. With 48 goals scored, HSV have the second-best offense in 2. Bundesliga, just behind Bielefeld having scored two more goals.
Coach Dieter Hecking’s mostly uses an offensive 4-3-3 with wide attacking wingers and offensive full-backs. They are so successful in scoring, due to their talented wing players. Looking at the statistics, the left side of Hecking’s XI is especially productive. Left-winger Sonny Kittel is the top scorer and left-back Tim Leiboldt has the most assists.
But on the second glance, there is a flexible winger on the right side, who flourishes in their shadows. His name is Bakery Jatta. The 21-year-old Gambian secured a starting squad place this season. Despite the overmanning with former Bundesliga players on the right side, he has played 82% of all possible minutes in the league so far. He can also play as a left-winger or as a left attacker.
Jatta gets the preference towards his teammates because of his speed. This is especially a thread on counter-attacks, which has the main focus in this scout report as a tactical analysis. As the fastest player of the league, with a maximum pace of 35.97 km/h, he can outplay his opponents, despite having less technical skills. But next to his physiques, which we analyse in this scout report, he has a professional mentality, too.
As Jatta had played 38 games in the second team, the right-footed winger had 20 goals and assisted for five. Numbers that he used to draw attention to himself. His breakthrough into the first team followed last season. This season, he has already scored four goals and assisted for one.
Comparison to the similar wingers in 1. Bundesliga
His market value has increased to 2.3 million euros (Source: Transfermarkt). This is quite cheap for a U23 starting player with these numbers. The market value is even more outstanding because Jatta hasn’t had any big injuries so far.
But are pace, mentality and physique demanded skills for a 1. Bundesliga club nowadays? In this scout report, we compared Jatta with 19 wide players from the first league, as you can see in the graphic below.
They all play in a similar counter-attacking system like Hamburg. Besides, we set a maximum limit of six million euros as market value for these players. The benchmark players have played a minimum limit of 1350 minutes (15 games).
Jatta is the youngest player with also a very low market value, compared to the benchmark. There are backed wide players, whose market value is almost thrice as high as Jatta’s market value (e.g. Marius Wolf at Hertha BSC Berlin). Based on this fact, he could be a real steal in this transfer window. This is one reason why we analyse his skills in this scout report.
Hamburg’s playing style
As said before, Hecking uses mostly offensive tactics with a 4-3-3 formation. HSV’s attacks focus is on the wings. While Kittel’s role on the left side is creating chances in less pacey situations of the game, Jatta is responsible for the counter-attacks. Kittel tends to slot into the half-space and Jatta stays wide, as you can see below. Based on the strengths of both players, their positional interpretation depends on Hecking’s philosophy.
The team from the north tries to build-up through its defensive midfielder Adrian Fein, and over the strong left side. As a consequence, the opposite teams have to relocate to the left side, which means a lot of space for Jatta’s speed on the right side. He is usually covered by only one of the opposition’s full-backs.
As most opponents play in a defensive block against HSV, Jatta’s one-on-one battles after a cross-field pass are the key factor to their superb goal rate.
In contrast to the left full-back Leiboldt, the right full-back is the weak spot in Hecking’s XI due to the fact, that Jan Gyamerah, Josha Vagnoman, and the new winter signing on loan Jordan Beyer, all got injured during the season. Due to Jatta’s work rate and his defensive skills, the damage is considered within limits on the right side. His defensive work is another advantage for him on the right.
Jatta compared to his teammates
Jatta is often alone on his side and tries to move past the defender in one-on-one situations. He has on average 5.43 offensive duels per game. Despite his less technical skills, he wins over 50% of them through his rapid acceleration, which is a top amount for an offensive winger.
In the next image, you’ll see all HSV wide players compared for successful dribbles and dribbles per 90 minutes. The drawn lines show the averages. Despite that Kittel and Khaled Narey have closer and trickier ball control, Jatta is the only player who suites in the upper right rectangle. His fought battles underline the importance of the Gambian in the offensive tactics.
With Gyamerah, there is just one who has more successful dribbles. He plays as a full-back and hence he has less intense duels.
Narey is often substituted in, where the opposing players are tired. Due to this fact, Jatta’s astonishing dribbling values are even more impressive.
HSV defend in a mix between counter-pressing and pressing on the outsides in the midfield. This is perfectly tailored to Jatta’s physical abilities. He wins over 60% of his average 6.08 defensive duels per 90 minutes played– average values for defensive educated players.
The next image shows such a typical midfield pressing situation with a ball win by Jatta. In the initial situation, Nuernberg’s central-midfielder plays a one-two back to the left full-back. This pass reduces the options for the receiving full-back. He can start dribbling, play a safe-pass to his centre-back, or play a pass to the allegedly open left-winger.
As Hamburg are marking their opponents well, Nuernberg’s full-back moves with the ball forward. In the image below, the pass played to the winger is the signal to go into an active pressing. Jatta attacks the left-winger with an aggressive and energetic tackle.
The last chance for Nuernberg to stay in possession is getting a freekick or to do some successful dribbling. But Bakery Jatta reads the situation and tends not to play foul in this situation. Instead, he comes within an arm’s reach and urges his opponent to the outer line. Jatta wins the ball comfortably.
If Hamburg are losing the ball inside the opponent’s half, the team switch their game into a direct high-pressing in the flank zones. Below, St. Pauli’s centre-back passes in the back of his left full-back Daniel Buballa. Buballa has to pick up the ball with the whole pitch in his blindside. A typical counter-pressing signal.
On top of that HSV are marking their opponents well in St. Pauli’s half. As the poor pass played, Jatta ignores his former direct opponent and presses Buballa. It is very difficult for Buballa now to turn around and to play a clean pass around Jatta, as he is under pressure.
Counter-attacks as his offensive threat
A quality that is more than asked in the 1. Bundesliga this year is counter-attacking. Next to Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, there is only Bayer Leverkusen, which create most of their chances from open play, instead of playing a counter-attacking style.
Hamburg have an average possession of 59% though, but they have scored close to 50% of their goals within just 20 seconds after ball wins. Bakery Jatta was involved in half of those goals in different ways. Every goal he scored or assisted was within 20 seconds after a ball win.
An example for his pacey counter-attacks is his assist in the 2:0 home win against Karlsruhe SC. As you can see in this tactical analysis, Hamburg are defending in a midfield pressing on the left wing.
Karlsruhe want to rebuild the attack via a shift to Hamburg’s right side. Jatta indents to the kick-off point as he reads the opponent’s central midfielders first-touch. Karlsruhe’s midfielder plays a horizontal pass to his left full-back. Jatta anticipates the possible interception situation.
He intercepts the ball and exploits Karlsruhe’s uncoordinated situation with a sprint with the ball into the penalty area.
After he dribbles past the last defender, he crosses a flat ball to Lukas Hinterseer, who just has to pass in the empty goal – seven seconds after Jatta intercepted the ball.
Another moment of Jatta’s counter-attacking was as HSV beat Stuttgart 6-2. Jatta scored to make it 2-0.
Together with Martin Harnik, Jatta puts the left full-back Emiliano Insua under pressure as he gets a poor ball from Philipp Clement. Insua stands with his back to the open field and hence this is an ideal pressing signal. The left full-back has, apart from to clear the ball, the only option is to play the ball back to his central defender, who has dropped deep in his half.
Insua decides for the pass back, but Harnik and Jatta anticipated this idea. Harnik deflects the pass and Jatta takes off in the direction of Stuttgart’s centre-back Maxime Awoudja. The ball jumps to Awoudja and Jatta steals it in Stuttgart’s half. He runs straight into the box and pushes the ball in well-considered way.
All in all, Jatta has neither a unique first touch or a perfect shot, but his skills and form developed positively since his debut in 2017. His physical abilities allow him to be successful as a modern counter-attack winger, who does not always need the ball for being productive.
Jatta has the potential to be an impact for a counter-attacking and physical team in the 1. Bundesliga. He convinces with pace, understanding of tactics and his work rate. After we analysis his tactic behaviour, we could also imagine him as a right midfielder in a 3-5-2 formation. They play it in Frankfurt, and Jatta could be a good fit because of his work rate and strength in direct duels. If he levels up his completion accuracy and his touch, he could also have the role of a striker.
Right now, he has a relatively cheap market value for his age and contract situation, but Jatta has emphasised more and more that he is happy in Hamburg.
There are also no transfer rumours around Jatta. With his physical playing style, he could be a promising talent for 1. Bundesliga. So, maybe we see him next year in Germany’s first league – with his current club or with a new team.