FC Köln was loitering in the relegation zone when Markus Gisdol took over as their manager in November 2019. They had only accumulated seven points from 11 games. Jhon Córdoba had only scored one goal in nine Bundesliga appearances.
Fast forward four months and the side have managed to find their way to 10th in the table and are completely safe of relegation; which seemed a real possibility earlier in the season. The side has only lost five games since the appointment of Gisdol, with two of those games being against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Córdoba had nine goals in 12 appearances with a goal every 101 minutes since the management change.
The Columbian striker has been pivotal in FC Köln’s surge up the table. This tactical analysis scout report will be looking at how the tactics implemented by Gisdol has suited Córdoba. It will also use analysis to show the strengths and weaknesses that Córdoba has.
Hold up play and aerial ability
A clear tactic that Gisdol implements are the use of long balls in attacking transition. FC Köln average 51.13 long passes per 90; which is the third-most in the Bundesliga. In order for this to be an effective tactic, they need their striker to be efficient in hold up play and aerial duals. These are some of Córdoba’s best qualities.
The striker is constantly involved in offensive duals, averaging 15.9 per 90 across the season, although, his success rate is not the best at only 38%. Córdoba also has won 50.8% of his aerial duals this season. This shows he has a significant threat in the air; while also being solid at holding the ball up on the floor as well.
Shown above is a clear example of Córdoba’s ability to win the initial header against the centre-back. Not only does he win the header, but he heads towards the open space where the oncoming right-back can pick up the ball and drive forward.
Again, this image above shows Córdoba’s ability to bring others into play when he gets the ball on the floor. A long throw is played to him and he can hold off his marker long enough to find a pass back to the left-back and ensure the team keep possession of the ball.
Córdoba is a solid asset to the side when they are looking to play long to the striker. He can hold up the ball and bring others into play, but he can also run the channels well and has decent pace which he can utilise in running the channels which will be assessed in the scout report; this makes it more difficult for the defender to mark him.
Ability to run in behind
Córdoba can also run in behind the defence for his side, giving a different dynamic to his attacking style. He can either run channels and bring others into play or make runs through the middle to get through on goal or create a chance for his teammates. This season he has averaged 1.35 progressive runs per 90 and can be a good outlet to bring the team into the final third.
In the image above, instead of offering the pass to his feet, Córdoba begins to run towards the right flank where the pass is played in front of him. He gets to the byline and can then play a pass back to the winger who then ultimately wins a corner from an attempted cross.
Another example of Córdoba running the channels is shown above. He makes a curved run to ensure he stays onside and can then play the return pass to the midfielder as he had dragged the centre-back into the wide-area and created space in behind for the midfielder to run into.
The above images show Cordoba making a run behind between the opposition centre-backs. His willingness to run in behind allows the side to get out of a high-pressure situation in the defensive third and still maintain possession of the ball. Córdoba manages to create a good crossing opportunity but the cross is not good enough from Córdoba’s teammate.
Looking at the image on the right, Córdoba’s physical presence attracts three opposition players towards him as he was the primary threat with the ball, but the means his teammates like the one running into the area can be unmarked.
Movement in and around the box
Where Córdoba has impressive mostly this season is through his clinical nature; he has a conversion rate of 21.28% for the season and averages 2.8 shots per game. Taking into consideration his poor form at the beginning of the season where he was goalless in his first eight Bundesliga games, it is a very impressive feat.
Córdoba’s movement in and around the box is a significant factor in the high conversion rate he possesses as his movement can often allow him to be in the best positions to finish his chances.
The image above shows the smart movements Córdoba makes around the box to create space for himself. As the main threat is the shot from the advancing midfielder, the opposition defender is sprinting to get across to block the shot, while Córdoba peels to the left side of the box which leaves him in open space; he receives the pass and has the space to finish past the goalkeeper.
This time, the image above shows a typical attack that FC Köln produce, starting from the flanks. Córdoba’s movement in his run quickly changes as he anticipates the cross. He dashes across his man in order to be goal-side and in a much better position to score, the high intensity that which he makes this movement makes it difficult for the opposition to track his run and leaves him in a poor defensive position. Although the cross is not successful, the movement made by Córdoba makes it clear to see why he has scored many goals in and around the box.
Again, the image above shows another example of the good movement Córdoba makes to create space for himself inside the area. With his winger on the byline with the ball, Córdoba fakes his movement towards the 6-yard-area and drops off a yard. This allows him space in the penalty area to receive a pass and have an easy shot at goal. The ball does not get played in this situation but the image helps show the variety of movement that Córdoba has in and around the box, as he can either make the dashing run across his man or drop off a yard to create the space.
Córdoba’s involvement in the build-up is minimal and this is partly because of his passing, he only averages 15.76 passes per 90 with a relatively low accuracy of 77.3%. With only 2.42 forward passes per 90 and an accuracy of only 64%, it is clear that being involved in deeper areas of play and playing passes into runners is not part of Córdoba’s game.
Shown above, Córdoba has done well to drop off from his marker but the ability nor vision to find the run of his left-winger is there and he plays the pass straight out of play. This is an example of why the striker is not involved in build-up much.
This time, the image above shows the ball played into Córdoba, he holds off the defender really well and has a willing runner on the right. A deft touch of the ball to send it into the opposition half is the pass his teammate wants (red arrow) as he is running as a high pace and would easily get to the ball ahead of the defender who’s body is facing the opposite direction and would have to turn and accelerate. Instead, Córdoba’s pass ends up behind the runner and the potential attack is gone.
At 26-years-old it is unlikely that Córdoba will improve much in his passing ability to be able to be involved in the build-up phases. In the tactics implemented at FC Köln by the manager, Markus Gisdol, it is not a pivotal aspect of the game that Córdoba is expected to play, as his focuses as a striker are to hold the ball up and runs the channels, while also getting into the box and scoring goals.
This tactical analysis scout report has shown the strengths that have helped Jhon Córdoba have a successful season and help FC Köln climb the Bundesliga table. His ability to hold the ball up but then also have the power and pace to run the channels give the forward player different attacking dynamics. His lack of ability in the build-up is unfortunate and will likely not improve much due to his age, but he makes up for this with his movement in and around the box which helps him secure goals.
It is clear through the analysis provided that the tactics implemented at FC Köln suit Córdoba and his strengths. Although it is likely there will be clubs in Europe that are interested in signing the Columbian after his impressive season, he might not be able to perform as well in a side with different tactics, as his ability in the build-up is below average. It would be a good decision for the club to try and extend Córdoba’s contract as it is running out at the end of the 2020/21 season.