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UEFA B and El Gouna FC youth coach Omar Lasheen provides a tactical analysis on Brentford FC‘s in-demand Algerian winger, Saïd Benrahma.
Another attacking player in the Algerian production line comes in the form of Saïd Benrahma. The 24-year old has been a revelation since joining Londoners Brentford, as many suitors are looking to get his signature before the start of the new season.
His journey, starting with his hometown club, NRB Bethioua, and through the divisions in France, almost led him to immortality in Brentford’s history after narrowly missing out on their first-ever promotion to the Premier League. This player analysis will highlight Saïd Benrahma’s biggest assets as well as identify aspects of his game where he can improve to join the illustrious list of African footballers that have come before him.
Player Profile – Saïd Benrahma
For offensive teams who play against a low block, it is important for the forward players to have the ability to get away from the opposition’s defenders to create space for themselves and their teammates. Benrahma’s appreciation of space allows him to appropriately make his actions depending on the specific defensive orientation of the opposition.
Saïd Benrahma’s constant scanning of the area around him gives him the tools to find the areas in which he can operate or occupy in order to free up space for his teammates.
In Brentford’s offensive situation below, Benrahma constantly scans around him in order to create a picture of his surroundings to interpret the area of the pitch where his team are attacking. This allows him to be able to make an informed decision on his next action, trying to think quicker than the opposition’s defenders to escape their marking and to give himself the opportunity to operate in the least congested area possible.
The communication created in the front line of the Brentford team allows Benrahma to make the appropriate runs in relation to his teammates’ positions. The tactical intelligence of Benrahma, especially in offensive organization against a team that accumulates a lot of players at the back is shown in his ability to make unselfish runs that attract opposition defenders away from the intended target player.
His ability to interpret the offensive situation combined with the utilization of his vision to see space allows him to make movements that breaks the defensive organization of the opposing team.
This is seen in the example below, where Benrahma is in possession on the left wing. The Algerian makes the pass inside and sets off on his run in the left vertical lane.
His quick movement attracts two opposition defenders and creates a gap between Derby County’s right-back and central defender. This gap is where midfielder Joshua Da Silva plays a through pass to Ollie Watkins, which he finishes on goal.
Coach Thomas Frank gives his forward players the liberty in attack to roam from their positions to run into spaces where they can be unmarked. Saïd Benrahma uses his ability to scan the area to maximize the tactical freedom and exploit the different areas their opponents leave open. His quality in making inside movements and operate in half-spaces gives Brentford different options in attack, which creates doubts for opposition defences.
Through his quick accelerations from standing positions, Benrahma is able to escape defenders by creating a gap between them over the first few yards. He makes more short and sharp movements as he gets closer to the penalty area and in more congested spaces.
In the situation below, against Fulham, Joshua Da Silva is on the ball near the middle of the pitch, where Benrahma makes a slow inside movement, to escape the right-back’s attention, in the half-space behind the opposition midfielder.
As he receives the ball, he dribbles towards the penalty area to progress the attack. Benrahma then lays the ball to his teammate Tarique Fosu on the right wing. He makes another, more sharp runs into the penalty area, where he again tries to escape any marking to put himself in a goal-scoring position as a potential cross comes into the box.
As well as putting himself in good goal-scoring positions, Saïd Benrahma has many qualities that allow him to have high numbers in terms of goals and assists.
The confidence and bravery to attempt a shot or a final pass from an unexpected position, maybe frustrating for his teammates, but gives him a better opportunity to make a direct impact on the game. Benrahma has the highest number of attempted shots in the Championship, 168, as well as the most number of shots from outside the box, 94. This has helped him become the highest goal-scoring winger in the league with 17 goals.
One of the main qualities that helps him with his goal-scoring and his assists is his dribbling, especially in terms of cutting inside from the left wing into central areas. Benrahma’s ability to create space for himself gives him the opportunity to take shots and make crosses on a consistent basis.
An example of that is shown below, in a situation where he attracts two defenders into the left vertical lane, vacating space in a more central area. He uses his dribbling ability to cut inside into the space he has created for himself. As he reaches the edge of the area, he has the confidence and bravery to attempt a finessed shot from an unanticipated angle, aimed at the far post. The ball reaches its intended target as he scores an important goal for his team.
The trust that Benrahma’s teammates have in him permits them to make their action based on his moves with the ball. They trust his quality in terms of passing and his ability to scan the area around him and pick out their runs in the final third. His aggressive nature in running with the ball and attacking the space forces his teammates to be quick and sharp in terms of reaction to Benrahma, in order to receive the suitable key passes for a potential goal-scoring opportunity.
Against Cardiff, Benrahma received the ball in his usual left wing area as he dribbled inside to commit players and create gaps in the opposition’s defensive organization. His direct style of play allows his action areas to be close to goal and effective in terms of the numbers of chances he creates for himself and for the team.
As he gets closer to goal in this situation, he sees his teammate, right winger Bryan Mbuemo coming off the side and into the central space. Benrahma plays a short through ball into his path to give his teammate a big chance to score a goal.
Room for Improvement: Heading
For all his goalscoring ability, Benrahma has lacked the quality to threaten the opposition with his head. A relatively average frame of 172cm, Benrahma lacks the physical presence to dominate aerially through his height and strength. However, he has a high jumping reach that allows him to out-jump many of his direct opponents, which can give him an advantage in aerial situations.
As explained before, tactically, he is able to occupy good positions to threaten opposition defences and picks up good areas in which he can be effective in terms of scoring and assisting. Of the 17 goals Benrahma has scored in the Championship this season, none of them have been with his head. This stat shows his need for improvement in this area in order to become a more complete player and to reach his potential.
Benrahma’s required improvement in his heading technique would be mainly on his body position and the angle he approaches the ball. As the timing of his jumps allows him to meet the ball at an appropriate height, it is the tilt of his approach that does not allow him to hit the ball with the required accuracy.
In the example below, Brentford put in a cross from the right wing. Through his impeccable positioning and his understanding of his teammates, Benrahma puts himself in an area in the penalty box where he can reach the cross with good elevation to give himself the best chance to get good contact on the ball. However, his body position, tilted towards the left, instead of facing forward, results in Benrahma attacking the ball at an angle which pushes his header wide of the left post.
Saïd Benrahma – Conclusion
A top player in the making, Saïd Benrahma has many qualities that can see him fulfill his undoubted potential. With his positioning and maintaining his productivity levels, he can be a very special player on the world stage.
If he stays determined and works on his weaknesses, then Algeria can proudly add Saïd Benrahma’s name onto their list of greats.
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