Eduardo Quaresma is an 18-year-old centre back from the Sporting CP academy. The Lions academy is known to have produced players such as Luís Figo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ricardo Quaresma and Nani. However, this time one of their most promising players is a centre-back.
Despite having the age to play with the U19’s, Quaresma played mainly throughout the season, in the U23 Portuguese championship. However, after the arrival of Sporting’s new coach, Rúben Amorim, his luck changed. The new coach implemented new tactics and gave Quaresma the opportunity to play with the first team. In fact, since the restart of the Portuguese championship, Quaresma was a starter in five of the six games played so far.
In this scout report, we’ll get a deeper understanding of Quaresma’s attributes and how he fits in Amorim’s tactics by completing a tactical analysis. Additionally, in this analysis, the young centre-back will be compared to other centre-backs in the Liga NOS.
Quaresma is a modern centre back. He is 6’0’’ and has strong body shape weighing around 76kg. Even though, Quaresma is quite tall and strong he has an above-average pace for a centre back. Additionally, Quaresma completes his modern centre back profile with technique and passing ability.
As we can see above, Quaresma is able to play on both sides in the centre of the defence. This is mainly due to his easiness to play with both feet. In fact, in Sporting’s U23 team Quaresma usually plays as a left centre back. Despite his tradition to play on the left side, Amorim had a different position for the young player.
Ruben Amorim adopted his favourite scheme 3-4-3 for the renewed Sporting CP. The coach implemented the new scheme and gave the right centre back position to Quaresma. By putting the young player in this position Amorim might have an objective.
By playing more in the right side of the back three, Quaresma’s expected defensive mistakes due to his inexperience are safeguarded. With the aid of the experienced Coates, in the middle of the three, the young centre back is benefiting from this position. Definitely, whatever tactical/technical mistakes the young talent makes will be more unnoticed than in a back duo. Like this, the young player can be more confident and improve his game.
As said before, Quaresma is a modern centre back with good passing ability. But how good is he?
The young centre back has great passing skills and his statistics prove that. Throughout all competitions this season Quaresma has 92.1% accurate passes. This means that of the 1543 different passes he tried until now, Quaresma only missed 122. Even though it is common that centre-backs have plenty of certain passes, usually they are back and lateral passes.
However, Quaresma likes to try different passes in order to help in his team’s build-up process. In fact, Quaresma’s technique and decision making enable him to be an important part of Sporting’s build-up process. In addition, to his passing ability, his readiness to adapt his positioning helps his teammates by creating always a passing option. Throughout all competitions, this season, Quaresma has a forward passes success rate of 86.2%.
The young centre-back likes to try passes into the midfield and he is able to do so with both feet. Additionally, his serenity and quality with the ball on his feet allow him to be confident when under pressure. In the images below we can see this kind of pass made by the young player when under pressure.
In the first image, the opponents are applying high pressure and most of Quaresma’s teammates are being marked. The only available teammate that we can see in the picture is the right-wing-back. Nevertheless, the RWB has an opponent arriving at his position. Seeing this, Quaresma discovers a teammate dropping deep and places the ball on his feet.
In the image above the situation is similar. The opponents once again apply pressure to Quaresma and close all his passing options besides the goalkeeper. Instead of doing the safe pass to the goalkeeper Quaresma confidently tries the same pass with his weak foot. Once again he finds his teammate who is dropping deep and the team gets loose of the pressure.
In addition to this kind of passes, the young centre-back is also capable of doing efficient long-range passes. Even though his long-range passes accuracy is not so high is it still reasonably good. Quaresma is successful in 71.2% of his long-range passes. Quaresma is able to make the ball switch sides and to launch his teammates to the back of the defenders. The image below is an example of one of these passes.
Apart from his passing ability one of the qualities that make Quaresma special are his progressive runs with the ball. Whenever the young player has space to carry the ball to the attack he usually does it. By doing this, Quaresma attracts opponents that leave their marking assignments creating spaces to explore in the opponent’s team.
Differently, this quality also comes in handy when Quaresma is under pressure. The centre back is also able to exit pressure situations by dribbling the ball to the free space. By getting free of the opponent’s pressure Quaresma leaves behind one man and is able to launch is team’s attacks. In fact, Quaresma’s dribbling success rate is 70.4%. The image below shows this kind of movement with the ball.
Quaresma receives a poor pass from the goalkeeper and the opponent is getting close even before he receives the ball. Quaresma quickly realises that he no time to think and almost none passing options and he decides to dribble to the free space. Instantly, his first touch is to the front and he carries the ball to get free from the pressure.
Apart from his qualities with the ball Quaresma has many other qualities when his team doesn’t have possession. Indeed, the main role of a centre back is to defend.
In this chapter, Quaresma also stands out in many actions. His physical qualities (strength, pace and stamina) help him to win many defensive duels. Apart from his physique, his highly developed tactical/technical skills also help him to overcome his opponents. Overall, in all competitions this season, Quaresma has won 70.4% of his defensive duels. Apart from the physical and technical skills, Quaresma’s positive aggressiveness and concentration help him to win these kinds of duels.
One of Quaresma’s best traits is his reading of the opponents game. Together with is positional and tactical awareness his anticipation game helps him to recover many balls for his team. In fact, this season, Quaresma has an average of six interceptions per game. The image below shows a good anticipation and game reading situation.
Quaresma’s teammate is closing to the ball carrier forcing him to pass the ball. By seeing that opponent is going to try a one-two Quaresma quickly anticipates the play and intercepts the pass.
Secondly, an important part of Quaresma’s defensive qualities is his tackling skill. The young centre back is very efficient when he tries to get the ball back from his opponents. Quaresma finds always the right way to steal and recover the ball. He is very intense, resourceful and intelligent in these situations. These qualities are shown in the 11 recoveries Quaresma does on average per game. In spite of his aggressiveness and intensity without the ball, Quaresma is a player with few fouls per game. With an average of 0.7 fouls per game, Quaresma was only shown four yellow cards this season.
His efficient tackling is also proven by his 73.7% successful sliding tackles. The image below shows a sliding tackle that prevents a dangerous attack from the opponents.
In the image above, Quaresma’s opponent dribbles the ball in speed after an error of Quaresma’s defensive partner. Quickly reacting, Quaresma closes the space from the opponent and tackles the ball ending the dangerous situation.
As described above, Quaresma’s pace allows him to be very efficient when tackling. This resource is also very valuable when the young player needs to cover the depth. In fact even in situations when his opponents have the positional advantage he is usually able to get to the ball first.
In the images above, Quaresma’s body orientation allows him to control both his opponents. The opponent passes the ball to the outside channel exploring the space behind Sporting’s defence. Rapidly, Quaresma leaves his marking and with his speed reaches the ball before his opponent with a sliding tackle.
On the other hand, one of the qualities that the centre back needs to improve is the aerial duels. The young defender regarding only his Liga NOS games won 55% of his aerial duels. These statistics are not great for a centre back compared with the 80% of his teammates Coates and Borja. Regarding this kind of duels, Quaresma is not as aggressive as he needs to be to play with the “big boys.”
Post-COVID-19 centre-back comparison
After the forced break in the Portuguese championship, Quaresma made his debut with the first team. Since then, the young centre-back was not a starter in only one game until now.
Consequently, this situation allows us to compare the young centre back with more experienced centre backs in the league. By only comparing statistics from the last three months we can compare him to players with the more games. This gives 6 games to analyze and more reliable and comparable data. Like this, Quaresma is going to be compared to other centre backs that play in the top Portuguese teams: Porto, Benfica, Sporting and Braga.
Starting with the average of successful defensive actions per game let’s take a look at Liga NOS top teams centre-backs that already played in the post-COVID-19 matches.
From the chart above we can see that even being the younger player in the list Quaresma has the biggest circle. This represents the highest number of successful defensive actions per 90 min. Quaresma does on average 11 successful defensive actions per 90 min and takes the first place.
Now let’s take a look at the number of interceptions per game. As said before Quaresma’s anticipation and game reading are two of his best qualities.
Looking at the chart above we can see that once again Quaresma is the leader in this specific statistic. Finishing above of bigger names such as Pepe and Rúben Dias the Portuguese national team centre backs.
Finally, let’s compare the centre backs passing ability. Specifically, their forward and long-range passes.
In spite of being in the sixth place in the forward passes accuracy, Quaresma takes once again the first place in the long-range passes. Still with 18-years-old Quaresma can battle with the best in the league. His 79.9% of accurate forward passes in Liga NOS represents reasonably good statistic. On the other side, his long-range accuracy of 80% is 10% higher than the second-placed Bruno Viana.
All of these comparisons show that Quaresma is capable of playing at the highest level of Portuguese football.
To sum up, the post-COVID-19 Portuguese championship was the opportunity for the young centre back to make his debut. However, Quaresma is still very young and can improve his game with more experience.
Even though the young player only did five games for the first team, his work was already being noticed in the youth squads. Until now, Quaresma’s first-team performances showed that he is a talented player destined for higher flights. In fact, the media say that he already is on the shortlist of the main UEFA Champions League clubs.
Can Quaresma follow the steps of Cristiano Ronaldo and Luís Figo and make a big transfer to the EPL or La Liga? It is still soon to tell but he is on a good path if he continues to work hard and performing well.