Paul Horschig is a tall (192 cm) and lean built right-sided center-back for BSG Chemie Leipzig in Regionalliga Northeast (German 4th Tier). The right footed 23-year-old has started all nine competitive matches at time of writing and has not missed a minute of action. Additionally, Horschig has a goal and four yellow cards.
The Erzgebirge Aue youth product has long strides to aid his notable hustle in recoveries, translating to nice pace for his size and position. His height and leaping ability are put on display with his dominance aerially, winning headers cleanly and consistently to clear his lines. Despite his lean frame, Horschig is quite strong and embraces physicality in duels.
Defensively, he works well in a high line due to playing with anticipation and aggression to step up from his line into challenges. Horschig could stand to gain more consistency stepping up from his line for these duels, as at times he will lunge forward past the duel and put himself out of position, forcing him to utilize his recovery pace and waste some energy. Despite this, after a mistake in lunging into a tackle, either standing or sliding, Horschig is quick to learn the timing and not be wrong twice. Sticking with his play style and not getting down is part of what makes him special as an aggressive and anticipatory defender. Alongside his resilience, his precision on tackles is decent, too. His bookings come more of a result of his aggression and physicality while his tackling is timed and chosen carefully. Many of his tackles come in transition covering for a full-back/wingback sweeping at the wing for a timely slide tackle.
Off ball, Horschig is attentive to mark and uses some physicality to track his marker in the box when the opposition is in possession in the final third. Leipzig’s tactics tend toward zonal marking many times so man-marking is not a huge worry for him, so his readiness to cover is more important. With his quickness to sweep over to the wing, covering is no trouble for him. These quick reactions also aid Horschig when recovering in transition to come from behind and put in a last-ditch tackle or run an opponent out of play. The biggest improvement for him to make is to sure up his timing in training prior to matches rather than figuring it out in-game. Physically and technically his defense is perfect for this level; it is about attention to detail to bring his game to the next level.
In the buildup, Horschig is a key player for Leipzig. He is almost exclusively right footed but is a terrific progressive of the ball on the ground and through the air. He is constantly scanning once on ball, even when under pressure. Although mostly facing little to no pressure, Horschig deals with the press in his face or gaining from behind well versus what is expected. This is displayed well in his progressive carrying ability from before the midline into the advanced middle third. He dribbles confidently and with some technicality to retain and is quick to spread play backward or laterally once his marker closes out. In some instances, he will find a line breaking pass prior to being fully pressured to continue that progression. When pressure is not engaging him, that is when Horschig does his best work in distribution. His active scanning allows him to find runners through over the top, progressing directly from the base of the buildup into and toward the final third wings. Those passes a selected carefully while his line breaking passes on the ground from just before the midline are a bit more aggressive but pinpointed past midfielders with impressive precision and weight. When playing one-touch football, Horschig is quick in his decisions and sometimes knows where to go before the ball hits his boot. His tactical understanding is there when supporting the attack, his improvement more needs to come in terms with dealing with pressure and dribbling technique to make the step up to the second or third tier.
Tactically, Horschig is best suited to the right side of a three at the back system that he currently plays in for Leipzig. This way he has multiple levels of cover for his aggression stepping up from his high line in anticipation. Due to his distribution prowess and defensive style, I believe he could translate as a defensive midfielder in a double pivot down the line. His height and aerial ability are other components that suit him well for these tactical placements. This puts less pressure on the manager to have more height surrounding him. As a lengthy ball-playing center-back these tactics maximize his skillset.
Horschig is a 4th tier center-back ready for a step up. His anticipation on a high defensive line accompanied by physicality and precision in duels combined with his progressive carrying and distribution have created a threatening Regionalliga talent. Small details are what is needed to perfect his game at this level and simply refining his strengths for more difficult competition is all that is required to make the step up to 3. Liga or 2. Bundesliga.