Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Mika Mármol

Mika Mármol of Las Palmas is a 22-year-old, exciting ball-playing left-footed center-back. Here are the positives and negatives I took from his performance against Barcelona.

Figure 1.1 - Mika Mármol lunges at the ball.
Figure 1.2 - Squares hips to defender bending back.
Figure 1.3 - Leaning back off the front foot allows the ball carrier to get a step ahead and shoot.

He is 181cm and 71kg; not short but not tall, and on the slimmer side. He’s agile and quick like a half-back but deceptively strong, tall enough to be a center-back in my opinion.

He is a very solid tackler, normally patient, waiting for the correct time to attempt a tackle, but he has a tendency to lunge at the ball at the wrong time in the box. He panics a bit, throwing off his body.

Figure 2.1 - Sergi Roberto receives the ball from the air and Mika Mármol attempts to win the ball.
Figure 2.2 - Mika Mármol lunges but misses the ball as Sergi Roberto redirects it to Ferran Torres.
Figure 2.3 - Mika Mármol lunges at Ferran Torres to block his shot on goal, for the goal.

Here he attempts to win back the ball when it drops to Sergi Roberto but he’s hesitant, not wanting to make a mistake and bring Sergi down.

The positive is that when Ferran Torres takes the shot, he purposely lifts his foot to cover the shot high. The goalkeeper covers the shot low, he covers the shot to the top corner.

Figure 3.1 - Mika Mármol assertive tackle in the box.

But most of the time, he makes timely tackles like this one—firm and accurate.

Figure 4.1 - Ball is played square across the ground.
Figure 4.2 - Mika Mármol stretches behind himself to direct the ball wide.
Figure 4.3 - Ball goes out of play.

He’s fast and has great awareness. Las Palmas play a high-line offside trap, so he has to remain vigilant about where to place himself to intercept passes like this one. You can rely on him to cover passing lanes in transition and win back the ball.

Figure 5.1 - Ball bounces off the ground towards Robert Lewandowski.
Figure 5.2 - Mika Mármol sees the opportunity to block Robert Lewandowski off from the header.
Figure 5.3 - Mika Mármol uses his back to force Robert Lewandowski to miss the header. The ball rolls back to his teammate.

He’s an intelligent player without the ball. He noticed here he could get away with using his body to shield the ball from Lewandowski as it fell, to easily win back possession for his team.

Figure 6.1 - Mika Mármol intercepts a cross and heads the ball out of the box.
Figure 6.2 - Trajectory of the header.

A weakness is his heading power. He’s strong, like I said, but his headers are somewhat weak. In this instance, he heads it out, which is good position-wise, but he doesn’t get a lot of power on the header out. It lands to a Barcelona player on the edge of the box for a shot.

Figure 7.1 - Mika Mármol heads the ball down from an attacking corner with Arajuo on his back.
Figure 7.2 - Ball bounces wide of the goal.

Here he wins a header from a cross on an attacking corner against Araujo, one of the strongest center-backs in Europe, but he doesn’t get a lot of power on the header, and it goes marginally wide of the goal.

Figure 8.1 - Las Palmas offside trap, ball is played to Raphinha.
Figure 8.2 - Mika Mármol calls for offside but continues to pursue the ball.
Figure 8.3 - Tackle.
Figure 8.4 - Wins back the ball.

When you mix both his intelligence and tackling ability together, you get a sequence like this. He holds with the high line but doesn’t give up on the play. He moves with the ball and quickly dispatches Raphinha shortly after he receives the ball.

Figure 9.1 - Mika Mármol surveys the field waiting for a pass.

A lot of Las Palmas play runs through Mármol on the left side and goalkeeper Alvaro Vallés. Mármol is a technical player, great with his feet, never unsure when receiving the ball. Never rushed when he has the ball. He’ll let the play develop.

Figure 10.1 - Mika Mármol receives the ball.
Figure 10.2 - Simple pass wide.

He acts as an extra midfielder at the back. I’d feel comfortable having him in the midfield. His chipped passes forward into the midfield down the wing were well-weighted and accurate.

He didn’t play many remarkable passes this match but only had one memorable error when he attempted a back-pass. He didn’t get enough power on it, and Vitor Roque nearly beat Alvaro Vallés to the ball.

They don’t make a lot of center-backs like him that are left-footed, mobile, a great tackler, quick, and able to dribble and pass with relative ease. One to watch.

Match: Las Palmas 1-2 Barcelona, 4 January 2024

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