Tag Archives: Football

QUICK SCOUTING: Jonas Hector (FC Köln)

  • Name: Jonas Hector
  • Age: 25
  • Position: Left Back
  • Height: 6ft 1 in
  • Bundesliga Apps: 53
  • International Caps: 10

Born in Saarbrücken in 1990, Jonas Hector signed for Köln’s second team in July of 2010 at the age of 20 from SV Auersmacher. Hector had 2 full seasons in the 4th tier of German football with Köln II before getting the call up to FC Köln, as one of Germany’s biggest football clubs was struggling in the second tier of German football. After a strong debut season in the Köln first team, Hector became an integral part of new manager Peter Stöger’s 2013/14 side in his second campaign, starting 33 of 34 matches as Köln won the 2.Bundesliga . Under Stöger Köln have developed immensely, immediately taking them back amongst Germany’s elite and quickly re-establishing themselves in the Bundesliga with Jonas Hector only missing one of the 54 league matches they’ve played since promotion.

Jonas Hector’s consistency both in fitness and form has made him a key player for his club and a strong option for his country. An extremely well rounded wing back Hector is physically impressive. Strong and quick Hector can handle several different threats one-on-one with his overall awareness and intelligence making him such an incredible team asset. Köln’s system is often changing to adapt to each individual opponent, Hector’s intelligence in adapting to different ways of pressing and transitioning from defence to attack and vice versa is such a key in allowing Köln to get positive results in matches where they’re seemingly inferior for the majority. Currently 9th in the Bundeliga, Köln’s slightly more pragmatic approach has them looking upwards, hoping a strong run of form could push them towards an improbable but certainly not impossible European place.

Hector transitioning into a defensive position

Jonas quickly transitioning back to cover the counter attack, show great recovery pace.

Koln attacking but Hector is looking over his shoulder at potential counter

As Koln attack, Hector drifts in field to support the attack but looks over his shoulder, making sure he is aware of the possibilities on a Dortmund counter.

Hector’s stats show him to be a steady if not remarkable player. An average of 2.6 interceptions, 2.4 clearances and 1.8 tackles per match isn’t going to stand out amongst Europe’s defensive elite but it’s his variation and intelligence in his defending that makes him so important. Ensuring that when he goes forward he maintains an understanding of the situation to which he can transition quickly and effectively to stop any counter attack is a huge key. In the modern game where it’s very common for talented offensive wing backs who offer fairly limited defensive capabilities are successful, it’s refreshing to see a full back who likes to get forward but is always aware of his defensive responsibilities. Intelligence is the key word when talking about Jonas Hector’s defending, his awareness in transitioning is one example but his quality in his positioning and pressing has been such a huge part of what’s seen Hector make a 5 year rise from Köln II player to German international. Hector is rarely forced to dive in or is taken into areas where he’s isolated one-on-one against his opposing winger because of his expert positioning. Hector keeping his tactical discipline and working with his CB both when he has to engage the ball (press opponents/clear crosses) and when the ball is away from his defensive zone being the reason why.

Covering passing lane whilst still marking

Perfect position to help defend in the channel whilst also marking the out of shot Ginter.

Pressing Ginter high up, angles body so Ginter has to go backwards

Hector pressing Ginter so cleverly that even in a 3-on-1 situation he has to play backwards as Hector can track the outside so with his pace.

Dortmund heat map

The Dortmund heatmap shows just how little of the ball they saw high up on the right side

In Köln’s recent 2-1 win over Dortmund (arguably their biggest of the season) Hector played as left wing back in a 5-3-2 formation before moving into central midfield late on. Köln’s game plan was simple – they allowed Dortmund possession deep, pressed them high centrally and forced them wide where their wing backs would force them backwards. Dortmund had 69% possession but only three shots on target (with one of those being Sokratis’ goal from a set piece) displaying the effectiveness of Köln’s performance even at 1-0 down. Köln’s resistance to Dortmund pressure had allowed Stöger to go more offensive late on – putting on attackers Bittencourt and Modeste and pushing for an equaliser, which they got along with a subsequent winner. Jonas Hector was superb throughout, he won 8 aerial battles and made 7 interceptions whilst also managing 4 key passes at the other end. Hector’s biggest plus point, however, was how well he neutralised the attacking threat of Dortmund right back Matthias Ginter whilst also supporting Heintz on the left side of Köln’s back 3. Effectively Hector all but shut down Dortmund’s entire right sided offence almost single-handedly, I counted an incredible six occasions in the first ten minutes where Ginter received the ball but through the intelligent pressing of Hector (quickly engaging from the inside cutting off the central pass but not getting too tight to top Ginter running down the line) could only pass back to where he had received the ball from. After those ten minutes, along with his ability to cut off any space in the inside right channel, Dortmund were very reluctant to attack down the right side as their heatmap shows.

Hector is able to combine his strong defensive game with solid technical ability. He releases the ball early and to good effect, showing the sort of discipline and strong decision making that parallels his defensive game. He has very good crossing ability that in a more offensive team could be used as a powerful weapon and shows intelligent timing in his offensive running. Hector’s very recent spell as a central midfielder is looking like another positive step in the German international’s career. Using his pressing and positioning abilities along with his sharp, simple passing game has allowed Hector to make an impressive first impression in his new role and already lead to an assist in the 1-1 draw with Hamburg.

Jonas Hector is quite comfortably one of the most consistent high quality full backs in Europe right now and has been for quite a while. Already an established international a move to one of Europe’s elite clubs is surely on the cards soon for Hector, a move that in my opinion Hector is more than ready for.

Could the Coppa Italia run boost Udinese’s league form?

Tuesday night saw Udinese win the 1st leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final, beating Fiorentina 2-1 at the Stadio Friuli. The win made it 3 our of 3 for the Zebrette in the cup competition which, for a side as inconsistent as Udinese have been this season, is a big deal.

Luis Muriel’s fantastic 83rd minute strike edged Udinese in front before the return leg in Florence in a game that could well salvage a poor season for the side from Udine. Udinese sit 15th in Serie A with 23 points from 22 games, a performance that has been far too reminiscent of the 2009/10 season that saw Udinese finish 15th on 44 points and lead to the managerial sackings of Pasquale Marino and Gianni De Biasi. Marino would return to the helm at the back end of February and finish the season before trading roles with Parma manager Francesco Guidolin.

Image via Uk.Soccerway.com

Image via Uk.Soccerway.com

It had appeared that Francesco Guidolin had instilled stability and consistency into the Zebrette until this season. The loss of key defender Mehdi Benatia to Serie A rivals Roma, injuries to impressive young forward Muriel and the struggling form of talisman Antonio Di Natale have all been factors that have worked against the Udinese boss. Udinese’s lack of consistency from front to back has been the big issue for Guidolin however; just 4 clean sheets in the league so far this season and defender Thomas Hertaux (4 goals) being the club’s leading league scorer when excluding penalties from Di Natale’s total of 6 goals underline the club’s issues.

Despite his side’s poor form, however, Guidolin has remained positive; on many occasions the experienced manager has stated that his side are confident they can end their poor run and are ‘ready to prove a point’. Guidolin’s positivity over the last month seems to finally be taking effect on his young side, with them winning 3 of their last 5 in all competitions since the diabolical display that saw them finish with 9 men and a 3-0 defeat away at Sampdoria.

2 of those wins have come in the Coppa Italia but the one that didn’t was the 2-0 win at Bologna; a win that showed a side of Udinese that hadn’t been present for most of the season. The Zebrette seemed buoyed by their success in the cup and had enough mentally to shrug off defeat to Parma a week earlier and show a resilience in their performance that had been lacking for most of the season.

Having won in Bologna and again mid-week with that 2-1 victory over Fiorentina, Udinese host Chievo on Saturday with probably their best chance of the season to finally string 3 wins together and give everybody at the club a huge lift ahead of that 2nd leg in Florence.

Nobody could blame Guidolin for already having next season in mind; realizing that the best they can hope from this season would be a mid-table finish to garner some momentum heading into the 2014/15 Serie A campaign. To do that however they’ll need to get some confidence from somewhere and lifting the Coppa Italia could very well be the huge boost everybody at the club needs.