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Talent Radar

Talent Radar: Leonardo Bittencourt, Alexandre Lacazette and the story of two braces

 Talent Radar is our latest feature, you can know more about it here. Updates and Performance Report on young talents is one of its features as we track the progress of their early careers.

LacazetteBittencourt

Leonardo Bittencourt scores a brace and does the Chicken Dance

Hannover 96 seccured an impressive 3-1 away victory over Wolfsburg in the weekend that saw the side edge away from the relegation zone; a loss would have kept them just 2 points away from the relegation play-off spot, currently held by Hamburg. While the victory came as a bit of a surprise with Wolfsburg having an impressive season, there were no surprises about the supremely talented ex-Dortmund man, Leonardo Bittencourt.

Still only 20 years old, the youngster has had a good season in the Bundesliga, getting a regular run of games. He even featured in our extensive series, “100 Best Young Talents to Watch-Out for in 2014“.

Against Wolfsburg the youngster started on the left side of the midfield, with a rather defensive mind-set as new Hannover boss, Tayfun Korkut, looked to blunt Wolfsburg’s attack before setting his own side out to get some goals. The result was a tactic that worked well and Leonardo Bittencourt made a real case for himself in Korkut’s first game in charge since taking over in the winter transfer window.

With the game tied at 1-1, Bittencourt stepped up in the second half. Bittencourt shifted to a slightly central position, choosing to adopt a narrow game and run through the centre. Mame Biram Diouf played a lovely through ball to find Bittencourt’s free run, the youngster did the rest with a comfortable and composed finish through the ‘keeper’s legs.

20 minutes later Bittencourt made sure of the result. Another run through the centre went unmarked, and his team-mate was able to meet his run again. Bittencourt displayed the same calmness again, drew the keeper out and smashed the ball into the back of the net.

Both goals were marked by a memorable chicken dance, not sure about the context, but it was a hilarious scene, one which the Hannover fans thoroughly enjoyed.

His two goals weren’t his only noticeable contributions in the game. Bittencourt managed 5 successful tackles (out of 11 attempted ones), the best tackling stats on the pitch. A bulk of them countered Wolfsburg’s attack down the right with the tackles made in the defensive zone, highlighting his defensive capabilities as well, an impressive feature to have in any attack minded player.

Bittencourt has always been considered as a talent to watch, but failed to get opportunities in Klopp’s side; funnily enough Klopp could do with some personnel right now.

Lacazette continues to pull Lyon through

Long gone are the days where Lyon used to dominate French football, with 7 straight league title victories, and were also considered a dangerous team to face in the Champions League after regularly featuring in the knock-out rounds, even going as far as the semi-finals a few years back. With PSG’s rise and impressive displays from other sides such as Lille, Marsellie and more, Lyon have struggled to stamp down a place at the top of Ligue 1.

The focus for Lyon remains on youth and their development, with none another than Alexandre Lacazette being the focal point of the side. Lyon are currently in 5th place, fighting for a place in the Europa League and have an outside chance at a Champions League return. You can read a detailed Scout Report on Alexandre Lacazette here.

Lacazette is enjoying the most fruitful campaign of his career, having previously managed no more than 5 a season, with only 3 league goals to his name last time around. He is currently the 3rd highest goal-scorer in the league, 1 behind Edinson Cavani, and 5 behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Lyon had a poor start to the Ligue 1 season, going on a run of only 1 win in 8 games at one point. This was replicated in December where they earned just 1 win in 6 games and there seemed to be a sense of fear in the young side. But they’ve gotten off to a good start in 2014, getting 3 wins in 3 games, the latest being a 3-0 home victory over Evian at the Stade Gerland. Alexandre Lacazette was the hero, scoring a brace and ensuring a victory, those 2 goals being his 11th and 12th of the season.

Lyon were expected to win at home and they didn’t disappoint. We witnessed the Lacazette show after Gomis gave Lyon the lead. Evian were reduced to 10 men and Lyon took advantage, pressing high up the pitch and forcing Evian into mistakes. Lacazette’s first arrived this way too, with Evian dallying on the ball, Lyon’s midfielders’ pushed up, forced a turnover in possession and the resulting ball fell in Lacazette’s way and what transpired next was a thing of beauty. Lacazette ran on the ball and neatly chipped it over the keeper to increase Lyon’s lead just before half-time.

In the second half, Lyon continued to press and when Evian committed too many men forward, Lyon pounced with a quick counter. Jimmy Briand got past a couple of players before a low cross onto Lacazette’s path, and the 22 year old made no mistake; a well deserved 3rd goal for Lyon.

Lacazette’s exploits have been pulling Lyon through the campaign, despite the horror start, and things look to be getting better. Champions League may be out of reach but a Europa League spot is still definitely up for grabs. Note that the next highest scorer for Lyon is a full 8 goals behind him.

Josip Drmic & Marco Benassi impress on the weekend

Josip Drmic has been impressive for Nurnberg this season. The Swiss has been a regular in Nurnberg’s side, scoring a whopping 8 goals in 17 games. At just 21, that’s certainly a good scoring record to have. Last weekend against Hoffenheim he scored his first brace as the home side ran away with a 4-0 win. Josip has surprised many with his performances and now has a decent chance of making the Swiss national side if he continues with his scoring form.

19-year-old Marco Benassi is currently on loan at Livorno from Inter Milan. He hasn’t had too many games but has put in decent performances  in the limited chances he has received. He was instrumental in Livorno’s 3-1 win over Sassuolo, scoring one and setting up another while proving to be strong figure in the centre of midfield. A return to Inter is unlikely any time soon, but Benassi needs to take the chances he does receive.

Special mention must also go out to Espanyol’s 20 year old Colombian striker, Jhon Cordoba who opened the scoring against Valencia in a 2-2 draw at the Mestalla after just 3 minutes.

To discuss this and many other football topics, join thousands of fans at R/Football

Sami Faizullah

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