Independiente del Valle lost away to Atlético Mineiro on the fifth matchday of the Copa Libertadores. The Ecuadorian side, led by Miguel Bravo (as Renato Paiva was absent because of this reason), set up in a 5-2-2-1 which also can be seen as a 3-4-2-1. They tried to put pressure on Atletico Mineiro in the first phase of the build-up and opted for a high defensive line. Whenever they would recover possession, they tried to build it out from the back but Atlético Mineiro also pressed Independiente del Valle on their own half. Both teams played out of pressure quite well. The Brazilians scored an early goal through Hulk after Ordóñez failed to cut the passing lane and William Vargas failed to track Hulk’s run. Independiente del Valle hit the post shortly after and Hulk made it 2-0 in the second half. Richard Schunke and Luis Segovia did not cover Hulk’s run into space that well and allowed him to score. William Vargas made it 2-1 but Savio sealed the match shortly after with a wonder goal.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
- C – Average for level, re-watch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Ecuadorian
- Age: 18
- Date of birth: 21/04/2004
- Club: Independiente del Valle
- Career: Independiente del Valle
- Position: Central Defender
- Preferred foot: Right
Joel Ordóñez played as the right central defender in a back three. The defender made his second start for Independiente del Valle in the Copa Libertadores. Early in the match, Ordóñez failed to cut the passing lane towards Hulk leading to Atlético Mineiro’s opening goal. In the first ten minutes, it seemed like he occasionally, especially during counter-attacks, struggled to cope with the high tempo of Atlético Mineiro’s counter-attacks. This is not that strange, considering it was his first match at this level. Thus far, Ordóñez has only played a few matches for the first team of Independiente del Valle and none of them was at this level. Later in the match, he seemed to get more comfortable.
On the ball, Ordóñez looked secure and he possesses a good passing technique over short distances. He was not that adventurous with his passing in this match, logically, but his short and medium-long passes over the ground were good and consistent. Sporadically, he had a pass that was a little bit bouncy, making it hard to control for William Vargas in that certain situation. His long passes were quite inconsistent. Sometimes, it seemed like his technique was quite good but in other long, diagonal passes, his technique was less good. It was something that I spotted in the Copa Libertadores U20 as well; his long passing is certainly something he can still work on.
When defending in a low block because of Atlético Mineiro’s pressure, Joel Ordóñez liked to step out of the defensive line. He showed that he reads the game well in certain situations, intercepting a few passes and timing his interceptions really well. Ordóñez did not make a single mistake stepping out of the defensive line when defending in a low block. His decision-making and reading of the game when defending in a high defensive line was a little bit worse. The Ecuadorian defender is a very proactive defender. Defending in a three at the back requires a different approach as opposed to defending in a four at the back, allowing Ordóñez to step up more aggressively.
He often recovered possession, blocked the pass or at least forced his opponent backwards in situations where he stepped up near the halfway line. However, in some situations he was slightly too late and Ordóñez could have defended more passively in those situations. Ordóñez is a brave defender and showed a lot of confidence after the early minutes of this game. His small mistakes when stepping up only led to a big chance for Atlético Mineiro once, in other situations he was able to get back into the duel and either recovered possession or he made it as hard as possible for the opponent to do something with the ball.
I do not think that his defensive awareness was bad though. Moreover, it was quite good in this match. Not only because of the reason I mentioned in the third paragraph but also because of the fact that he did not get dragged out wide by his opponent at all. It often happened that an Atlético Mineiro player moved out wide when one of his teammates was carrying the ball forward diagonally from the left wing. A lot of defenders would have moved out wide and followed that player, but Ordóñez didn’t and immediately changed his stance so that he could defend the player in possession who was cutting inside with the ball, preventing any danger from happening.
I am most amazed by Joel Ordóñez’s athletic ability. Looking at his frame, he has a normal build and is around 185 centimetres tall. The Ecuadorian has muscular legs and seems to generate a lot of power from his legs. He is quite quick in the first meters, but his speed over long distances is very impressive. There was one situation where he recovered possession before joining the attack with a very powerful sprint. It would not surprise me if that sprint was the top speed of any player in the match between Atlético Mineiro and Independiente del Valle. However, the Ecuadorian defender is also agile and changes directions quickly. He is a very mobile defender.
As mentioned above, he seems to generate a lot of power from his legs. However, he also showed good core strength and did not come second best in physical duels against Hulk that often. Most duels were actually won by Joel Ordóñez. The Ecuadorian showed good stamina throughout the match and I liked his confidence.
Rating – A2
His physical strength combined with his athletic ability makes him a very interesting central defender for most European teams. I think that big European teams outside of the top 5 leagues should be very attentive to Joel Ordóñez’s transfer status. He has all the tools to play in a high defensive line in the future but needs to gain experience in either the reserves teams of the big European teams outside of the top 5 leagues or at Independiente del Valle before immediately joining the first-team squad of a big European team outside of the top 5 leagues. He would suit very well next to a ball-playing defender. Ordóñez defended more passively in a 4-3-3 for Independiente del Valle U20 in the Copa Libertadores U20, implying that he adapts quickly and is capable of adopting different roles.
I am going to write a player report on him this weekend or next week, where I will be a little bit more expansive about his playing style, but also his potential. I think that Ordóñez could be a part of Ecuadorian’s National Team at the World Championships in 2022.
I also watched Jhoanner Chavez’s performance, but I did not remember enough about his performance to make a full match report. I tweeted about him here though.