The 20-year-old Burkinese Edmond Tapsoba has been one of the biggest surprises of this season in the Liga NOS. He made his official debut for Vitória Guimarães this season and has developed himself enormously. The central defender moved to Portugal in 2017 and after playing for the under 19s of Leixões for a few months, he then moved to Vitória Guimarães.
Last season, Tapsoba played for Vitória Guimarães B where he played 30 matches in the Liga Pro (second tier) and he scored seven goals. In the summer of 2019, Tapsoba got promoted to the first team of Vitória Guimarães and the central defender took his chance immediately. Since then, he played nearly every match. This scout report will provide a tactical analysis of the role that Tapsoba performs at Vitória Guimarães.
It can be seen in the heatmap below that the right-footed Tapsoba mostly plays as a right centre-back, but that the Burkinese international also occasionally plays as a left centre-back. The defender likes to drive forward in possession and Vitória often play with a high defensive line, which will be explained later in this scout report.
In Liga NOS, Ivo Vieira’s side like to keep possession and play out from the back. This is the case against weaker sides especially, and they change to a more direct style of play when they play against a stronger side, such as SL Benfica, FC Porto, or Sporting Lisbon. These tactics against weaker sides allow Vitória to play a high defensive line and put pressure on their opponents. However, when Vitória play in the Europa League against sides like Eintracht Frankfurt and Arsenal, they like to sit a bit deeper and allow the opponent to keep possession. Only in the away game against Standard de Liège did they have more possession, while it was quite balanced at home against them.
Tapsoba feels comfortable in both systems, but he has some weaknesses in both as well. These weaknesses will be explained later in this tactical analysis.
The first system that will be explained is the one that Vitória use against weaker sides. As already mentioned, Vitória play with a high defensive line against weaker sides. This means that the defence leaves a lot of space open for attackers to run into. There are a lot of important aspects that play a role for defenders when they play a high defensive line -communication, positioning, anticipation, pace, etc. are very important when playing with a high defensive line.
He has the pace to play with a high defensive line and does well to anticipate in certain duels to gain possession. However, the central defender makes some mistakes as well.
A situation where Tapsoba anticipated well can be seen in the following scenario. Standard have possession on the left side of the field, and Lestienne is put under pressure. The only option that he has is to play a through pass to Mpoku. Tapsoba does well to cut the passing lane to Mpoku and he makes it very hard for Lestienne to reach his teammate. This results in, because of the pressure that Marcus Edwards puts on Lestienne as well, the obvious through pass which the goalkeeper can easily grab.
When a team plays a high defensive line, it is important to be aware of your surroundings at all times to prevent yourself from making mistakes leading to a big chance for the opponent. This is one of the key weaknesses of Tapsoba as most of the time, the Burkinese international is too focused on the ball. In this example, Vitória lose the ball in a dangerous area, and there is a 4 v 3 situation for Standard. The ball is played to their left central midfielder and Tapsoba tries to put pressure on him without seeing the space that the left-winger of Standard has. Subsequently, he is too late and the through ball is played to the left-winger, who creates a big chance for himself.
In the example that is mentioned up here, Tapsoba lost his concentration and discipline. This is something that comes back often – he’s gotten booked eight times already this season and this is mostly due to the loss of concentration.
Another example where Tapsoba does not check his surroundings is when the right central midfielder of Standard de Liège played a through pass to the striker. Tapsoba is too focused on the direct play and does not see that Pedro Henrique (his partner in defence) is not on one line with him. This results in another big chance for Standard de Liège, but luckily it is missed.
Taking a look at his defensive statistics, it can be seen that Tapsoba loses his defensive duels often. The defender has 5.6 defensive duels per 90 minutes and loses 41.1% of them. Tapsoba does not excel in 1-on-1 defending as well. Out of 2.4 duels per 90 minutes, Tapsoba loses 57.1%. Tapsoba makes 5.3 interceptions per 90 minutes as well, and most of these interceptions came from passes of the opponent.
In the second system, Vitória like to let the opponents keep possession and they sit a bit deeper. Vitória concede more crosses in this system as well: Tapsoba won 95 out of 168 aerial duels, which is a success rate of 56.5%.
Tapsoba forms a threat in the air as well and he makes 0.55 headshots per 90 minutes. Out of these headshots, Tapsoba scored at a rate of 16.67%. Tapsoba gets in scoring positions very often (for a defender) as he is the regular penalty-taker for Vitória as well. The defender scored 7 times in 27 matches.
Passing and dribbling
One of the strengths of Tapsoba is his passing. Tapsoba always takes his time on the ball to scan the whole field to see where his teammates are. The Burkinese defender likes to play cross passes and he likes to break lines with his passing.
Per 90 minutes, Tapsoba averages 47.29 passes. Tapsoba played 1,808 passes in total and 1337 of those passes were forward. 93.3% of these 1,337 passes were accurate. As already mentioned, Tapsoba likes to play cross passes as well. Tapsoba played 93 horizontal long passes in total and 92.5% of them were accurate. There is one thing that stands out when taking a look at his long passes. 176 out of 221 long passes were on the opposite half and 88.1% of those long passes were accurate. Tapsoba played 5 long passes into the box as well, and all of them were accurate.
It can be said that passing is one of the key strengths of his and that he is very comfortable on the ball.
This can also be concluded when taking a look at his 1 vs 1 dribbling. Tapsoba likes to dribble and in total, he made 33 dribbles. Per 90 minutes, this is an average of 0.76 which means 87.9% of these dribbles were completed.
At the age of 20, Tapsoba has plenty of time to improve his positioning and concentration. However, he is already very good at passing and could be a good ball-playing defender, keeping in mind that he is good at anticipating in certain situations as well. If the young centre-back can improve his positioning and concentration this year, it will not take long for him to move to the absolute top of Portugal.
This piece was originally published at Football Bloody Hell