The final at Euro 2022 will be played between England and Germany. Whilst there have been many articles focusing on the English players in English media, there haven’t been many on German players. I wanted to change that and write about one of my favourite players.
Lena Oberdorf might be one of the players of the tournament and is impressive that she’s recognised as such, considering her age and her role on the pitch. She can be considered as one who does all the dirty work, so that others can thrive.
In this scout report I will go into detail about her 2021/2022 Frauen-Bundesliga season, concentrating on the following aspects:
- Seasonal stats
- Defensive qualities
- Ball progression
- Key passing
- Comparison with Frauen-Bundesliga peers
- Final thoughts
- Name: Lena Sophie Oberdorf
- Date of birth: 19–12–2001
- Nationality: Germany
- Position: Defensive midfielder, central midfielder
- Contract expires: 30–6–2025
- Current club: VfL Wolfsburg
- Previous clubs: SGS Essen
- Current international: Germany
- Soccer Donna market value: €275.000,-
Lena Oberdorf is a fantastic player because of a variety of reasons. She is strong and fast, and she uses that to bully her opponents and recover the ball. Her physical presence, fitness, and stamina make her a real terror for the opposition — as we have seen in the games against Spain, Austria, and France. She is absolutely everywhere and encapsulates the gegenpress from Germany in an excellent way and doesn’t shy away from tackles.
She doesn’t have a weaker foot as she can progress the ball via her passing from the defensive/middle third to the attacking third. She uses pace and tempo to make sure the wingers are set in motion, while also keeping pressure on the opposition. She can play long balls from the middle, but also knows when to play it back in a short/medium pass — all to keep it stable for the defenders.
She is strong on the ball as said, but her defensive actions do define her in her role. She blocks passes and shots, goes in the way of passing lanes and doesn’t shy away from a challenge or tackle. If she can’t do that in the midfield or needs to cover for another player, she will track down the opponents and tackle her where and when she can.
Mentally she is strong, although sometimes can get frustrated when teammates lack the energy or will to battle through difficult games. She has a winner’s mentality and that also shines through in her movement on the pitch.
Season stats — Frauen-Bundesliga
In the image above you can see the absolute data of the midfielder profile of Lena Oberdorf. Her data for a midfielder is compared to other defensive midfielders and central midfielers in the league or midfielders that have played in the defensive midfield/central midfield during the 2021/2022 Frauen-Bundesliga season.
As you can see Oberdorf is an high above-average defensive midfielder according to her data and only does under average in the metrics of xA per 90, and deep completions per 90. In all of the other data she scores way above average
But how does she fully compare to her peers in terms of data? You can see that in the graph below.
When we look at her season stats, we can see a few interesting things with Oberdorf. In the graph above you can see a percentile radar of Oberdorf based on a defensive/central midfielder template. It shows us how well Oberdorf is doing in a certain data metric compared to her Bundesliga peers in the 2021/2022 season.
We will go into details for the specific stats later for the absolute data, but in this part, we will look at how well she is doing in certain metrics and what that tells us about her playing style.
She is an exceptional physical presence in the defensive midfield, what we can see in the data for defensive dues and aerial duels — scoring way above the 90th percentile in both metrics. While we look at the possession-adjusted metrics we can see that he scores very high on both tackles and interceptions. She scores in the 99th percentile for interceptions and 91st percentile for tackles, making her slighlty more a proactive player.
In terms of passing, we see that she scores poor on the expected assists metric and just above average on the passes into the penalty area — but she does exceptionaly well in the passes to the final third metric, which tells us he wants to get the ball there. Her through passes are high in comparison with her peers too
This is also backed up by the fact that his progression stats are very good, as she scores in the 87th percentile for progressive runs and in the 99th percentile for progressive passes.
Oberdorf is famed for her presence in aerial and ground duels and in the possession-adjusted metrics. So how high does she score when looking at the defensive/central midfielders in the league? You can see that in the scatterplot below.
In the image above you can see Lena Oberdorf in the defensive duels and the aerial duels. As you can see Oberdorf scores exceptionally high, which corresponds with the pizza plot above — she is the best in the league considering these metrics.
In the scatterplot above you can see how well she performs in terms of the PAdj metrics of sliding tackles and interceptions.
She scores in the 99th percentile — and is the best in PAdj interceptions. In the PAdj sliding tackles, she doesn’t score the highest, but is in the top 10% of the league.
In the video above you see a compilation of her defensive actions with Wolfsburg and the German national team in several games. They light her ball recovering ability, her strength in defensive duels, and in the defensive awareness of Oberdorf.
The modern defensive midfielder isn’t only concerned with defending and producing defensive actions — but he/she also needs to be comfortable on the ball and progress play from it.
In the scatterplot above you can see the progressive metrics of progressive passes per 90 and progressive runs per 90. Oberdorf does really well here as he scores above average in both metrics. She scores very high and is the top right corner — which is very good.
Ball progression can have via different aspects of the game, but I wanted to look at her abilities on the long ball. Shecan use it to connect with the attacking third or to get out the press of the opposition.
In doing so, Oberdorf not only proves his defensive worth — but also manages to show the worth she has in terms of the progression of the attack and connecting the defensive lines to the attacking third.
Every player makes passes in a game, but which passes actively contribute to the progression and construction of an attack? You can see some of these metrics in the beeswarmplot below.
As you can see in the graph above, Oberdorf scores in the high average in the most metrics, but there are outliers. She doesn’t do as well in the xA and assists metrics but does very well in the passes to the final third metrics.
What’s interesting is how she makes through passes. She scores in the high average, but the intent of his through passes does tell a lot about how she can help in an attack.
When Oberdorf comes higher up the pitch, she can be the player with the through pass that is a pre-assist/second assist. She opens up the play with her through passes. Yes, shedoes need the passing to be simple, but she is capable of complex passes and helping the attack.
Comparison with peers
Now we have looked at the individual qualities of Oberdorf, I would like to compare her to two defensive midfielders from rivals.
First a player from the main rival, Bayern München. In terms of expected assists per 90 — Zadrazil is better, but in all other metrics, Oberdorf is superior to her rival.
If we look at her rivalry with Nüsken from Eintracht Frankfurt, we can see that the two are very much alike and look both very good. Nüsken is better in the PAdj sliding tackles, shots blocked, xA, Passes to box, through passes and deep completions. Oberdorf is better in Aerial duels, duels, PAdj interceptions, passes to final third, progressive runs and progressive passes.
Lena Oberdorf is only 20 years old, but she can be considered as one of the best midfielders in the world already. Being at serial winners Wolfsburg, she can only progresss more and with a talented German squad — they have a real shot of winning the Euros on Sunday. Her game can only grow at this point and if she manages to get her defensive positioning a bit better, there’s no reason why she wouldn’t go all the way to the top.