Olympiacos B, the reserve (U23) team of Olympiacos that plays in the 2nd Division of Greece, hosted GS Ilioupolis. Olympiacos’ positional approach, with a 3-2-5 in possession and a 4-4-2 out of possession against Ilioupoli’s man-oriented 4-2-3-1 defensive shape, allowed them to dominate possession, outshot their opponents and led to two penalties that weren’t capitalized. Ilioupoli got away with a 0-1 win at the injury time of the first half, after a quick, throw-in attack.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at a level
- B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, rewatch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: France / Guinea
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 04/03/2001
- Club: Olympiacos
- Career: Bell. Nantes, FC Nantes, Juventus U23, Olympiacos
- Position: Central Midfielder
- Preferred foot: Left
Abdoulaye Dabo joined Olympiacos at the end of the January transfer window of 2022 and has been a member of the reserve team ever since. His huge frame, combined with long strides when accelerating forwards, as well as his left-footedness stand out from the first glimpses of his game. As per Transfermarkt, he stands at 1.81cm but he seems to be at least 5-7cms taller, when comparing him to teammates on the pitch that are listed much higher.
Against GS Ilioupolis he was used as a central midfielder next to a holding #6, and played towards the right in the 3-2-5 shape (transitioned from 4-2-3-1 with the left back in the first line) Olympiacos used in possession. Against a deep and man-oriented block, Olympiacos always had an advantage in the first line that allowed him to control the tempo with the centre-backs, but from midfield onwards GS Ilioupolis could put pressure on-ball adequately, without controlling the space between the lines as efficiently.
When Olympiacos couldn’t penetrate through organized attacks, having limited progressive passing from the back 3, Dabo often received from the centre-backs and had an attacking mentality in his ball-carrying taking a first touch forwards and broke the opposition man-oriented system with long-carries over 15m in the opposition half. He had moments like this both against a settled block, as well as in transition situations after a ball recovery. His decision-making after reaching the final third was on point, preferring a pass at the right moment towards a wide runner, that was always provided by the system. Two of Olympiacos’ big chances were created from those line-breaking carries Dabo provided. He’s bulky enough to resist opponents and combines forward pace and agility to make these types of carries with consistency. He’s as efficient in taking a touch out of pressure in smaller distances too and finding a teammate in open space, with generally good timing in his releases.
He often had to stay between the opposition lines and wasn’t the most central part of his team’s build-up. His movement was mobile enough and tried to make the most out of his off-ball positioning. He executed runs to the channels and to the last line, but wasn’t picked up many times. He would also pass & move when carrying into the final third, creating further space for his teammates and wouldn’t remain static. He looked to take responsibility when Olympiacos’ build-up was stale and dropped deeper to ask for the ball.
Most of his turnovers were from taking an extra touch to create a different situation when having multiple options in the final third (for example changing the point of attack on the counter – instead of playing to the near-side runner), or from receiving with his right-foot. His right foot receipts aren’t as stable, he doesn’t open up his body from the right side and looks to move the ball to his left foot to either pass inside or dribble past an opponent. Against a defensive system that puts more and better pressure on-ball immediately, he can be a pressing trigger for oppositions when receiving like that.
His passing ability with his right-foot can also be improved. Generally he didn’t showcase anything spectacular regarding his passing range, as he had two main tendencies when receiving or recovering the ball; take a touch forwards and carry aggressively into space or play a first-touch pass into an open teammate. He didn’t take unnecessary touches to keep the momentum static, most of his touches were purposeful. He was accurate with proper weight in open space and tried a few passes of longer range without success when under pressure and when spotting a teammate making a forward run.
Olympiacos didn’t spend much time defending in a block and GS Ilioupolis apart from one or two situations went long from the back. Dabo jumped outside the block to initiate a press a few times, but his defensive positioning wasn’t tested enough. He can be accused however for ball-watching behaviour in a packed box when the opponents scored from a throw-in. His recovery speed in long distances in defensive transitions wasn’t as impressive too, but when having access to counterpress immediately he showed a good attitude.
Abdoulaye Dabo is already too good for the reserve team of Olympiacos B and is expected to get opportunities on the first team in the second part of the 2022/23 season. His impressive physical skill set, combining size and pace, as well as an attacking mentality, ball-carrying skills and unselfish decision-making make him a unicorn for the level he is currently playing at. He has to work on his receiving tendencies from the right and his defensive ability and attitude have to be examined more closely at a higher level to properly project his future, but he currently looks like a top 5 league material.