It seems that France has an endless supply of outstanding talent. Every year a group of young players appear and shine in the various French leagues. Some of them perform well for the French national team while some when playing for the African teams, especially Algeria and Morocco.
In this scout report, we will look at another talent, Ilyas Chouaref who is an essential part of the Châteauroux team this season.
Ilyas Chouaref is considered an excellent player possessing high speed, excellent dribbling, and good ball control. I think he has what it takes to develop and play at a high level. It is clear that he lacks some experience, and this slightly affects his performance on the field, such as poor positional awareness and decision-making. However, it does not prevent us from saying that Chouaref is an excellent talent and a bright future awaits him, whether with the French national team or the Algerian national team.
Chouaref is the best dribbler in Ligue2, doing 9.3 dribbles per match with a success rate of 54.55%. His body helped him a lot in achieving these figures, as he is 175 cm tall and weighs 65 kg. This gives him a low centre of gravity and agility.
These attributes allow him to be able to move and change the direction of movement quickly. This way, he will be able to outrun opponents and dribble past them.
For example, in the image below, Chouaref deceived the opposing player by drawing him down the line. When the player caught up, Ilyas used his low centre of gravity and agility to change direction and dribble past the player.
This is important and helps his team break the pressure applied by the opponents, especially if there is an empty space close to Chouaref because the Châteauroux winger is bad in physical duels.
In this example, Ilyas was able to dribble two players and was able to pass the ball to his free teammate, in this way destroying the pressure applied by the opponent.
This is a similar example, although the two opponent’s players are close to each other and the distance between them is very narrow, but Ilyas managed to pass them and helped his team maintain possession.
This is a dribble map of Chouaref, showing that the player’s dribbles help Châteauroux a lot in maintaining possession.
There is a beautiful trick that Chouaref uses to take advantage of his agility and good ball control, as he tries to disturb the defender with his body and block his vision. After receiving the ball, he uses his agility and ball control to escape from duels, because he is weak in physical battles.
For example, in this picture, Chouaref places his body in front of the opponent’s defender directly, in this way it will block his vision, and when the ball reaches him, he will use his agility and good control of the ball to escape from the physical battle.
Chouaref is a speedy player, and his speed helps him dribble past defenders, especially if there is a large area behind them, and since he is a winger who finds these spaces many times during the match.
For example, in this picture, Chouaref uses his speed to dribble past the full-back and break through the empty space.
When you focus on Chouaref’s dribbles, you will find that he tries a lot to cut inside, and most of his dribbles use them to cut inside.
This picture shows that Chouaref’s dribbles are in the final third, using them to cut inside, whether on the right or left side.
The reason for this is the weakness of the left foot of the player, and this we will explain in the next section. Chouaref always uses his right foot, and with a low centre of gravity and ball control, he can cut inside easily.
For example, in this picture, Chouaref deceives the defender that he will advance the ball forward and face him, and when he approaches him, he uses his agility and changes his direction towards the depth.
Weaknesses in Dribbling
Chouaref is a good dribbler, but he has some weaknesses in this aspect, and he must work to fix these problems in order to be able to play in Ligue1 next season.
The most important point that Chouaref should fix as quickly as possible is his left foot. Chouaref never uses his left foot. This causes him many problems. When the opponent can press his right foot (the strong foot), the player becomes useless.
In this picture, if Chouaref had been good at playing with his left foot, he would have been able to reach the empty space. Unfortunately, he could not play with his left foot, so he was forced to continue advancing with the touchline, and the opponent was able to block him.
In addition to this, his use of one foot makes him exposed to opposing players, and they can anticipate what he will do, and in this way, they can counter and control him.
In this example, Jonathan Pitroipa knew that Chouaref does not use his left foot, so he moved quickly and pressed his right foot, in this way Chouaref could not use his good control of the ball and his agility to dribble past the player.
Another negative point Chouaref suffers from is excessive dribbling and ball retention. This may be normal since he is still a teenager, but he must quickly fix this point because it hurts his team a lot, especially in the offensive phase.
For example, in this picture, instead of passing to his teammate and putting him in a 1v1 situation, Chouaref preferred dribbling and going deep, in this way killing his team’s attack.
Here too, instead of playing quickly from the full-back, he preferred to keep the ball, that way the attack of his teams was disrupted and the opponent’s players were able to return to their defensive structure.
As I mentioned above, Chouaref is a fast and good dribbling player, and it is very difficult to stop him if he has an empty space. These two features made coach Nicolas Usaï exploit him in counter-attacks.
This picture shows that his speed and dribbling help him a lot in counter-attacks, and he also depends heavily on these two features.
Most of the time, Chouaref remains the last player on his team in the defensive phase, especially in set pieces. He stays away from the box and waits for his teammates to pass the ball to him, like this picture.
Then he will try to use his speed to beat the opponent’s players and attack empty spaces. For example, in this picture, he pushed the ball into an empty space and then used his speed to catch up. In this way, he was able to defeat the opposition and leads the counter-attack.
His speed of moving without a ball is also essential and helps his team to continue the counterattack. For example, in this picture, Chouaref uses his speed to reach the empty space and receive the ball in a position that helps him continue the counter-attack.
His ability to dribble is also important and helps him in counter-attacks, for example in this picture, Chouaref used his speed to catch up with the ball, then used his agility and good control of the ball to dribble two players, in this way he can continue the counter-attack.
His role in the build-up phase
Chouaref is an essential cog in the build-up phase at Châteauroux. The abilities enjoyed by Chouaref made his coach use him a lot to deliver the ball to the final third.
Most of the time Chouaref retreats back, in this way he can receive the ball without pressure and then distribute the play or use his speed and ability to dribble.
For example, in this picture, Chouaref heads towards the empty space to receive the ball and help his team build the attack and get the ball to the final third.
By retreating to his half, his team gets a free player and creates an overload on the side, because the full-back of the opponent will not advance directly to him and most of the time he will try to stay in his area.
For example, in this picture, Chouaref is stationed behind the opponent’s wing, now he is free and can receive the ball in a wide area.
If the full-back decides to follow Chouaref and go forward, he will leave much space on the sides where the striker of Châteauroux can move and receive the ball.
He can also use his speed to take advantage of the full-back’s progress forward, for example in this picture; he noticed that the full-back was following him, so he quickly turned around and moved towards the empty space.
Usaï has also devised a set of tactics, which make Chouaref able to use his abilities and assist the team in the build-up phase.
The first idea is to move striker Gilles Sunu towards the side, in this way he can drag the full back of the opponent towards him, after which Chouaref leans on him and moves quickly in the empty space to receive the ball. (Yellow line = Passes / red line = move)
This idea is similar to the first, whereby the striker Sunu distorts the opponent’s full-back, but Chouaref will not be stationed in half of his team, he will be positioned between the full-back and the winger.
This will force one of the opponents’ pivots to head towards the side to confront Chouaref and pressure him, and in this way, one of Châteauroux pivot will be freed.
For example, in this picture, one of Havre’s pivots moved to the side to put pressure on Chouaref, and Opa Sanganté became free. Now Chouaref can use his technical ability to dribble past the opponent and pass to Sanganté.
He can also use these tactics to create a 1v1 situation; for example, in this picture, Ilyas dribbles past the opponent’s pivot and then switches side of the play.
Playing between the lines is not a bad idea either, here, for example, Chouaref cut inside and then plays a pass between the lines towards Guévin Tormin.
Chouaref is not good at crosses, playing 1.83 crosses every 90 minutes, with a success rate of 46.15%. As I said before, he prefers to cut inside, which is difficult for him to play crosses.
However, left full-back Operi is the fourth most player to cross over on the left side in Ligue 2, averaging 4.11 crosses every 90 minutes. Chouaref helped him a lot to reach this number.
I mentioned above that Chouaref prefers to cut inside, this makes the opponent’s winger and full-back focus with him and follow him to prevent him from entering the box, this will make the hall empty, and he can play passes to his teammate Operi. Then Operi can play across without pressure.
We have talked a lot about the offensive contributions made by Chouaref, but the winger is doing a great job in the defensive phase as well.
Usually, Châteauroux defends with a medium block, in this case, Chouaref is stationed between the full-back and the pivot, in this way he can protect the depth and mark on the full-back at the same time.
But you can also rely on him in high pressure, he has a physical fitness that makes him able to apply this system well, and this happened against Paris FC.
Chouaref makes 3.69 interceptions per match, not a very high number but it is acceptable. He is an intelligent player and can anticipate what the opponent’s player will do and then move to stop him.
For example, in this picture, Chouaref expected that the opposing player would pass to the full-back, then use his speed to intercept the ball and launch a counter-attack.
Chouaref, he is a warrior, and he fights over every ball and tries to sacrifice on every ball. For example, in this picture, although Pitroipa is more potent than him physically, Chouaref fought and made a correct tackle.
If there is something that needs to be fixed as quickly as possible is positional awareness. Frankly, the player is terrible at this point and causes many problems to his team due to his poor positional awareness.
His positioning is poor a lot of times, and he also makes a lot of wrong decisions. He is a young and inexperienced player, but this is not enough excuse, and he must work to fix this point in order to be able to play at a higher level.
For example, in this picture, the opponent switched play, Operi moved towards the opponent’s wing to press him, and at the same time, the full-back of the opponent moved to the half-spaces. Chouaref instead of following the full-back moving towards the half-spaces, he moved towards the side and left the opponent’s player free in a dangerous area.
In this example, the ball is on the right side, Léo Leroy moved to the side to create numerical superiority, and Sanganté moved to cover him. But Chouaref did not cover Sanganté and stayed on the side. In this way there became a gap in the depth.
But we must also mention that Châteauroux suffers from a bit of randomness, and this affects Chouaref’s decisions. For example, here Romain Grange left Pitroipa free, and Ilyas was forced to leave the full-back and ticked Pitroipa.
As stated in this analysis, Chouaref is a good winger, he has excellent dribbling abilities and is considered an important player for his team in the build-up phase and counterattacks. However, he has some weaknesses that he must quickly fix.
In conclusion, he is a great talent, and he deserves to be seen at a higher level, I think he will reach that if he continues to work because he has all the characteristics that make him capable of making a great career.