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Youssef En-Nesyri The Moroccan Dromedary Unchained

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En-Nesyri is celebrating his goal on World Cup

Morocco has advanced to the round of 16 after qualifying first in a group where Belgium and Croatia, theoretically, were the favorites to advance to the next round. The ‘Atlas Lions’, as Morocco national team is known, managed to tie against Croatia (0-0) in the first match and beat Belgium (2-0) in the second match, finishing strong against Canada (2-1) to secure their first spot of the group.

Many have focused on Ziyech, Mazraoui or Amrabat as their key players, and they are not wrong, these have been key players to elevate the Moroccans to the first spot of the group. However, the ‘Hidden Key’ we want to focus on today is Youssef ‘The Dromedary’ En-Nesyri.

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Morocco’s striker has been key for his team during the group stage at Qatar 2022 World Cup. Despite not playing with regularity at Sevilla during this season, En-Nesyri has played all three matches as a starter and played a very important role, both in attack and defense. En-Nesyri, is one of the few strikers in this World Cup edition who have proved to be a true team player, in both phases of the game, providing efforts to help their team elevate their performance.

We will start with the defensive phase, where he becomes the first defender of his team, and the player that allows them to defend high and be able to press their opponent. This effort starts from the moment the team loses possession of the ball, reacting fast and pressing first the center backs and finally the goalkeeper, forcing him to play a long ball under pressure.

En Nesiry – NESYRI first defender in transition

Also, when defending in block, En-Nesyri is always ready to press not only center backs but also to block progressive passes to the opposite holding midfielder, managing to hinder the opposite attack.

In the examples below, we can see how Morocco is pressing in a medium block and their striker is making numerous and continuous defensive efforts to ensure the back line cannot circulate and find advantage. In the first play, despite not being able to block the passing line at his back (important individual fundamental in defense), his effort allows to hinder a rapid progression and forces the opponent to progress in a space where Morocco has numerical superiority. This allows them to recover the ball and play fast to En-Nesyri, who makes a big effort to run for a long ball and then to press the Canadian goalkeeper, forcing him to commit an error that ends with Morocco’s first goal of the match.

In the second example, Morocco is also defending in a medium block, and again, En-Nesyri triggers the pressing to Eden Hazard, forcing him to play a pass that provides no advantage to Meunier, and allowing Morocco to recover the ball. As we have seen, En-Nesyri offers his team high intensity and continuous defensive efforts, allowing Morocco to defend higher in the pitch, guiding the opponent to areas which are favorable to the ‘Atlas Lions’ defense, and allowing them to hinder and deactivate the opponents’ attacks.

En Nesiry – NESYRI first defender pressing

En Nesiry – NESYRI first defender in medium block

En-Nesyri, as we mentioned at the beginning of this analysis, is a very complete team player and is able to provide the same work rate in attack. His continuous unmarking movements towards the space, helps create space for his teammates and also dangerous chance for himself.

Let’s see, though, which individual ‘Secrets’ he uses to create difficulties for the center backs who are marking him. The main fundamental En-Nesyri uses is to start the unmarking movements from the back of the center back, which does not allow the defender to have sight of the ball holder and the striker at the same time. This gives him advantage, as defenders usually react late to his movement, allowing him to earn some time and space to finish.

En Nesiry – NESYRI en lado ciego

En Nesiry – NESYRI timing desmarque a espalda

To sum up, Morocco has displayed an excellent performance during this first phase of the World Cup and Youssef En-Nesyri has played a very important part in it, both in defense and attack. The 25-year-old striker has proven to be a true team player. In defense, with constant efforts to press the ball holder when defending in block or in transition and in attack, with strong and smart unmarking movements towards the space, starting from the blind side.

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