Jules Koundé is a French youngster in Sevilla who was in an outstanding form this season and mustered brilliant performances during the 2019/20 La Liga campaign, where he participated in the centre of defence.
The 21-year-old, a graduate of the French Bordeaux Academy, has caught the eye of the Andalusian squad this season because of the great confidence in his performance, which made him participate in most of his team’s league matches.
Through this tactical analysis, we will try to review what the player has provided tactically and statistically to his team this season.
Koundé is one of the most prominent defensive lines players this season in the Spanish League, participating in the coach Julen Lopetegui’s squad in Sevilla, who favours a 4-3-3 system during the team’s defensive play.
Here Koundé is in the centre of the defence when his team applies the idea of high pressure on Barcelona, keeps his eye on the space between him and the right-back, as well as guarding the area between the lines.
Standing tall at 180 cm, he can play in both as the right or the left centre-back, and because of his ability to play with both feet, the coach can even use him as a right-back or even a left-back at times, because of his high tactical flexibility and performing his defensive roles well.
Here we can see the area where Jules moves, which is the area on the right side of defence and also the right-back area, where he covers his colleague, Jesús Navas, who is moving forward a lot, either for pressure or for offensive support.
Also, Koundé has good defensive skills and reads the game well which gives him the advantage on the opponent.
One of Koundé’s big strengths is his performance in individual defensive duels, whether on the ground or in the air, which made him win many balls for Sevilla team in the possession stage. Once he does that, he can disperse the passes forward and immediately restart the attack.
The French player chooses the perfect timing to cut the passes, as he focuses heavily to do so without making mistakes, as he has a recovery rate of 11.08 balls per game this season, and we will see his ability to do so as he moves during the next example.
Here we see the ball heading towards Willian José, and Koundé is positioned behind in his usual area of operation. He’s keeping an eye on the opposing striker and anticipates the pass perfectly, moving just in time to intercept it.
Here we can notice that the young defender advanced aggressively to get the ball before the opposing striker and was able to cut it because of his high concentration in the defensive third, which enables him to make the right decisions.
Koundé has a 78% success of defensive duels in his third. It is a special percentage for a young man, and in a new atmosphere for him, as this is essentially his breakthrough season in the Spanish League. We can see more details about that in the next picture.
Here we can see that the majority of those balls are in the space behind the right-back Navas who will often move forward and vacate the space behind his back, which would then open Sevilla for counters.
Koundé is also distinguished in the air duels, which is what was quite apparent in all his games with Sevilla this season. With a success rate of up to 61.59% in this season, it is one of the most important features of the player as we will notice in the next example.
Here we find Koundé taking a few steps forward and leaving the centre of the defence to Nemanja Gudelj, the returning pivot player who dropped to form the back four and maintain the offside trap while the Frenchman marks Iñaki Williams a bit higher up the pitch.
And soon, Koundé was able to recognise the opposition’s attempt with the long ball as then engage and win the air duel against Williams, both because of his ability and by choosing the ideal timing to jump.
The constant focus on the ball and the opponent at the same time makes it a difficult task for the defending players, especially one of such a young age and lack of experience, but Koundé showed this season a great ability in defence against the top teams.
If we talk about focus, then we must talk about tactical awareness and positioning of the French player.
Koundé’s positioning awareness
Koundé follows Lopetegui’s instructions when pressing and he can often be seen advancing to the higher areas of the field to directly mark a player and not leave him free.
This was evident in some Sevilla matches this season, as Koundé was tasked with exiting his position if a certain player received the ball from the opposing team, which we will notice during the next examples.
Here we can notice his duel with Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal, who tried to go down and contribute to the build-up play but was quickly met with the young centre-back. His task was to close the spaces in front of the opposition player who’s looking to spin and run vertically.
In this match, we saw a different aspect than that of the defender who is mostly stationed in his area as the Frenchman turned into an aggressive presser whenever Oyarzabal was on the ball.
Here the scene is repeated once more as he moves up to watch Oyarzabal, standing behind his colleague Navas with a few steps to close the space and not leaving the opponent with an opportunity to move vertically and receive the pass from his teammate.
Here we can see his tactical awareness in an attempt to control the offside trap with his teammates, also his ability to cut the passing lines, and at the same time, preventing Luis Suárez from receiving the ball in the half-spaces.
Here we can see his good reading of the game that made him take two steps early to be able to cut the ball before the Uruguayan controlled it in that space. And good thing that he did, otherwise this action could’ve turned into a great opportunity for Barcelona.
Koundé has the power and the focus when defending, but he is also good on the ball when he gets the chance.
Koundé on the ball
Koundé has been one of the best centre-backs on the ball in the Spanish league this season, which must be mentioned in this analysis, as it is one of the most important elements that contribute to the process of build-up and progression of the ball from back to front for the Sevilla team.
Koundé has successful dribbling up to 64.71% this season as the best centre-back in that category and this helps him to participate in the build-up play, as we can see in the following example.
Here we see him on the ball while Real Sociedad’s Portu tries to cut the diagonal pass angle to Navas, along with pressure on Koundé’s favourite foot to make build-up difficult to play.
However, Koundé has the ability to dodge and advance vertically, immediately looking for other solutions to progress the play.
He has a correct pass rate of 90.81% during this season due to his choice to pass safely to the closest teammate, either horizontally or vertically.
Besides, he has a success in offensive duels of up to 55%, which is an acceptable percentage for a player active in a defensive position, and we will try to note both points in the next example.
In this match, he was playing as the third defender position in Lopetegui’s 3-4-3 tactics, and here we see him, in the beginning, doing the work of expanding the stadium by standing on the right side and in front of Navas in an attempt to play a vertical ball between two opposition players.
But even more impressively, we note that he was able to actually run with the ball towards the opponent’s penalty area and ended up scoring the third goal for his team against Getafe after a distinct vertical move.
It is true that Jules Kounde is a great defender and offers very acceptable offensive support, but some things must be improved in the future.
Koundé is a great defender and has a future, otherwise, he will not be linked with the transfer to major clubs like Real Madrid for example, but some things must be taken into account. Among them is the lack of coordination with Diego Carlos when dealing with crosses, which leads to goals against the team. We will try to see that in the next example.
Here we can see Casemiro’s second goal in Real Madrid‘s match against Sevilla comes at the expense of the young defender who was late in observing the Brazilian player, as he had not marked him in this situation, which led to receiving the goal.
This can be attributed to the lack of experience at a high level for the player, which is also confirmed by the next example.
Here we can see his recklessness in interfering with the Getafe player during the counter-attack and raising his foot, almost getting sent off in the process. And although he prevented the attack from being completed, it was possible to receive a red card and be leave his team man down.
It makes sense that this happens occasionally to a young player, but it is certainly a point to improve as he often gets bullied at a great level. But this can easily be fixed in the future, especially with a coach like Lopetegui who can help young players grow.
In this scout report, we saw that Koundé is a distinguished defender, both in his defensive style and tactical awareness, and is also proficient when on the ball. But he lacks some experience at a high level.