Every weekend we pick out one player under the age of 23 from around Europe and analyse their performance to provide you with an in-depth scouting report.
As the new generation begin to make their mark, the big clubs start to be linked with an interest and that’s certainly been the case with Germany and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl.
Man City and Liverpool are known admirers and so for those fans looking to know more, we examined the 22-year-old’s display as Dortmund travelled to Borussia Monchengladbach.
Shots – 0
Touches – 63
Passes – 38
Pass accuracy – 60.5%
Aerials won – 3
Tackles – 6
Interceptions – 4
Key passes – 0
Clearances – 1
Dispossessed – 1
30 SECOND REPORT
One of the hottest properties in the Bundesliga, Weigl’s understanding of the game is beyond his years making him the epitome of a cerebral Dortmund team.
The German international has only made 15 appearances for the Westfalenstadion outfit this season after returning from a broken ankle suffered last May, but looked in mixed form against Borussia Monchengladbach.
From intercepting the opposition’s attacks to setting his side away on the counter, the midfielder was at the very least a steady presence defensively for Peter Stoger’s side.
At 22, his best years are yet to come, but he needs to improve physically.
Positioning – The German showed plenty of maturity with his positioning and the sense of responsibility with which he tracked back and covered for his team-mates. Despite offering little threat on the attack, he was still solid if unspectacular – and always looked for the simple option.
Defensively – He was top-notch, always alert and made six tackles and four interceptions – the highest of any Dortmund player. Needs to improve on his aerial ability if he wants to prosper in the defensive midfield role.
Physicality – Although he looks a model of consistency in terms of his intelligence and how he uses the ball, he needs to strengthen up if he wants to be a world class central midfielder. At 1.87m and 72kg, he got pushed off the ball far too easily in key areas of the park.
Energy – Looks a shell of the star he was under Thomas Tuchel last season in terms of his contribution in and out of possession, with a pass accuracy of just 60.5 per cent on Sunday. Perhaps a week’s rest would do Weigl wonders in a bid to keep him fresh for crucial games towards the end of the season.
7th minute INTERCEPTION – The German started brightly, intercepting Lars Stindl’s pass and flicking the ball on to Mario Gotze, but Dortmund were unable to force an early breakthrough.
10th minute LINK-UP – Dortmund lose possession from a corner and the ball is sent up the pitch, but Weigl is the last man back and collects possession inside his own half and feeds it to Marco Reus.
15th minute FOULED – Runs into space to take the ball from Sokratis Papastathopoulos and is chopped down by Monchengladbach’s Jonas Hoffman on the right.
29th minute LINK-UP – Sprints onto a loose ball, breaks past three would-be tacklers on the right and feeds the ball to Reus but Dortmund are turned over.
31st minute GOAL – Flicks the ball over to Gotze who sends a cross-field ball to Andre Schurrle. The youngster collects possession on the edge of the box, flashes it across goal and Reus dips one over a stranded Monchengladbach keeper Yann Sommer to make it 1-0.
58th minute INTERCEPTION – The hosts come bounding through the middle but Weigl stick a foot in to avert the danger, however his attempted pass runs too far for Michy Batshuayi to collect.
68th minute INJURY – Looks to have picked up an ankle injury when tracking back but is able to shake off the niggle a few minutes later.
72nd minute FOULED – Comes barreling into a 50/50 challenge with Stindl, and falls under the sheer impact, earning a free-kick around the halfway line.
73rd minute CLEARANCE – Shows fantastic alertness to pounce on a would-be pass for Stindl and sends the ball down the far end of the field.
All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com
Substitute Steve Davies earned Rochdale an FA Cup fifth-round replay at Wembley with his remarkable stoppage-time equaliser against Tottenham.
Sky Bet League One’s bottom club played superbly to take the lead into half-time thanks to captain Ian Henderson’s sixth goal of their cup run, yet they looked to have been denied when Lucas Moura equalised.
Substitute Harry Kane netted a penalty with just two minutes left but, three minutes into four minutes of added time, Dale threw men forward and got their reward as Davies lashed in to make it 2-2.
Rochdale fans queued in the snow at the Crown Oil Arena on Monday morning to get their hands on a precious ticket, and within four hours it was the first sell-out anyone at the club can remember.
Much of the talk in the build-up was about the pitch after Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino reacted with horror when shown pictures of it after Dale’s fourth-round replay win over Millwall.
The third-tier side were more than a little miffed to see their achievement completely overshadowed by the playing surface and invested in a new pitch, which was laid on Wednesday.
Pochettino’s men certainly should have known what to expect having faced AFC Wimbledon and Newport, who took them to a replay, in the previous two rounds. Although these were probably not the surroundings Moura, making his full debut, imagined when he made the move from Paris St Germain last month.
Moura’s pace made him an obvious danger to Rochdale from the start while Son Heung-min created several early openings but struggled to find his feet.
Rochdale took umbrage at claims they were giving away an advantage by relaying the pitch, and set about showing they, too, prefer a surface conducive to passing.
Matt Done and Mark Kitching stood out early on, while the home fans appealed vociferously for a penalty when Andrew Cannon harried Toby Alderweireld and the defender appeared to handle the ball on the ground.
Cannon’s harrying skills created the first big chance in the 18th minute when he dispossessed Victor Wanyama and played in Henderson but the captain could only shoot tamely at Michel Vorm.
Spurs should have gone in front eight minutes later when Josh Lillis could not hold a Son shot but the forward dithered when the ball came back to him and, when he eventually found Fernando Llorente, the striker shot wide with the keeper stranded but defenders on the line.
— Harry Kane (@HKane) February 18, 2018
Moura also missed the target as Tottenham applied some sustained pressure but Dale were as tenacious in defence as attack and, with the first half almost over, they produced the move of the match on the counter to take a deserved lead.
Stephen Humphrys played in Cannon and he timed his pass to Henderson to perfection, leaving the striker to sweep a cool finish beyond Vorm.
Pochettino was not tempted to turn to his talisman early and with 59 minutes gone Spurs found their leveller, Moussa Sissoko playing in Moura, who confidently beat Lillis from 12 yards.
The danger levels were increasing for Rochdale, who soon had Kane to contend with back at the ground where he made his professional debut, but Wanyama spurned a golden chance by firing over an open goal from five yards.
A money-spinning Wembley date was looming ever closer for Rochdale, and Done did his bit by heading off the line when Erik Lamela’s deflected shot looped towards the net.
But Alli was just took quick for Harrison McGahey, who hacked him down, and Kane’s confident penalty looked to have secured Tottenham victory only for Davies to engineer the most unlikely of finishes.
Premier League leaders City travel to the DW Stadium in a repeat of the 2013 final, which was famously won by Wigan.
Latics also stunned City in the 2014 quarter-finals and, even though they have since slipped to League One, Guardiola is braced for a tough challenge.
Paul Cook’s Wigan, who are enjoying a fine season and on course for promotion, have already beaten two top-flight sides in Bournemouth and West Ham this season.
“They are going to start so so so so hard because they are so intense, so aggressive without the ball and we have to be ready,” said Guardiola.
“When you play at home it’s one issue but when you play away in tough conditions in January and February teams like Wigan, who showed in the games against Bournemouth that anything can happen in one game – you could have a sending off, can win if you are not ready.”
City continue to fight on four fronts and Guardiola is pleased his squad’s injury list is easing.
Fabian Delph, David Silva and Leroy Sane all returned to action in the midweek Champions League win at Basel and Gabriel Jesus is also back in training.
Guardiola said: “We have a (strong) squad when everyone is fit. Ten days ago we had seven injured but now most have recovered – Silva and Delph and other players – so of course we are going to take it seriously.”
Claudio Bravo could also start in goal if Guardiola maintains his policy of playing the Chilean in place of Ederson in domestic cup matches.