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By The Atlas Lions, Nov 12 2018 09:48AM

Achraf Hakimi vs Bayern Munich:

All eyes were glued on “Der Klassiker” as the blockbuster match up in the Bundesliga. Borussia Dortmund have started the season on fire, and going into the match led Bayern Munich by four points at the top of the table. Lucien Farve has done a nice job rotating the full backs and found himself with a selection headache heading into the match. Four quality options for two spots: Achraf, Schmelzer, Guerro, and Piszczek. Of those four, Achraf seems to be the undisputed starter and his versatility has only aided his ability to gobble up minutes, easily interchanging between left and right back. Against Bayern, Achraf was deployed as a left back— the same position that saw him produce a hat trick of assists against Atletico Madrid.


The first half, Borussia Dortmund were underwhelming with Lucien Farve making the strange decision to start Mario Gotze as a false nine and give Julien Weigl the nod over Delaney, who has started the season spectacularly. Bayern dominated possession in the opening half, but Dortmund found their way through Kovac’s men via the counter on a number of occasions. Defensively, Bayern Munich were a shambles all night long. Though, with Bayern’s strong possession game, Achraf had to be tuned in defensively. Franck Ribery was having a field day playing against Piszczek, which meant Achraf had to be prepared to defend from the weak side. This season, that has been one of Achraf’s best attributes; time and time again Achraf was well positioned on the weak side to intercept a cross or track an incisive run. Given their early dominance, Bayern did find a way to goal. Robert Lewandowski scored a free diving header after Serge Gnarby was given too much time and space by Achraf to curl in a cross, while young center back, Dan Axel-Zagadou, was caught ball watching, rather than tracking Lewandowski who had peeled off him to create separation and nod the ball home.


It must have been some team talk at half-time from Lucien Farve, as Dortmund shed their reserved style and attacked Bayern from all fronts. Achraf, who was quiet on the offensive end in the first half, exploded into life in the second half. He constantly bombed down the flank to provide an attacking option for his teammates and help fuel a counter attack with his blazing speed. Unlike Marcelo, Achraf has the speed and the engine to get back and cover the space he leaves behind making him less of a liability defensively, while still being able to maintain the same attacking mindset. Ultimately, Dortmund roared back in the second half, scoring three goal and winning what was a thoroughly entertaining match by a 3-2 score line.


Stats via WhoScored:


Key Passes: 2


Passes: 42 with 71.4% completion rate


Shots: 1


Tackles: 4 (joint top on team)


Clearances: 4


Aerial Duels Won: 2


Touches: 75 (3rd most on team)







By The Atlas Lions, Nov 9 2018 08:02AM

The Belgian outfit were set for a win courtesy the Morocco international's early opener but for a late pair of strikes


Mehdi Carcela scored as Standard Liege were defeated 2-1 by Krasnodar in Thursday's Europa League tie.


Liege started brightly with Carcela giving them a lead courtesy his 19th-minute strike.


However, when it looked like they would leave Russia with a victory, late strikes from Magomed-Shapi Suleymanov and Wanderson turned their fortunes around.


The goal was Carcela's fourth of the season and their loss to Murad Musayev’s men meant they remain unmoved in third place, with six points from four Group J games.



By The Atlas Lions, Nov 8 2018 01:34PM

(Goal.com) The Atlas Lions shot-stopper made his mark as the only player from the Spanish top-flight to feature in this week’s starting XI


Girona goalkeeper Yassine Bounou has been rewarded with a place in the Fifa 19 Ultimate Team of the Week for week 8.


The Morocco international is the only LaLiga player and African player in the star-studded team released on Wednesday.



The 27-year-old helped the Catalonia club defeated Valencia in Saturday's league meeting with key saves at the Estadio de Mestalla.



The former Atletico Madrid and Wydad Casablanca goalkeeper kept a clean sheet in Girona’s 1-0 win and now enjoys an increased overall rating of 81 from 77.

By The Atlas Lions, Oct 31 2018 09:08PM

(Bundesliga.com) Aged just 19 years old, Achraf Hakimi has made an immediate impact in his career at Borussia Dortmund, having already shown that he can shine in a team that now sits three points clear at the top of the table.


The Real Madrid loanee, Bundesliga Rookie of the Month for September, has been involved in a goal every 90 minutes from right-back, assisting two after scoring one on his debut. He followed that up with a stunning hat-trick of assists in the remarkable 4-0 UEFA Champions League win over Atletico Madrid. So who is this new player that has announced his arrival with a bang?


bundesliga.com investigates…


As Dortmund coach, Lucien Favre opted for the experience of veteran Lukasz Piszczek for the opening matches of the season; Hakimi had to wait patiently until Matchday 5 to make his first appearance for his new club. When newly promoted Nuremberg made the trip to the Signal Iduna Park at the end of September, the Swiss tactician rested the Polish right-back in favour of the young Morocco international.


Favre’s faith was repaid handsomely in the 49th minute when Hakimi collected a cross-field pass from captain Marco Reus and slotted the ball neatly into the bottom right corner. His first goal from his first shot in his first match opened the floodgates as Dortmund ran riot in a 7-0 rout.


"He played very well," Favre admitted. "You can tell that he likes to get forward. He's very young, only 19, but he's worked very well. He's quick, a talented dribbler and comfortable with one-on-ones. He has a big future ahead of him and a huge amount of untapped potential."


Hakimi has played every Bundesliga minute since. He has provided more than adequate cover at right-back when Piszczek was sidelined by muscle complaints. In wins over Bayer Leverkusen and Augsburg, Hakimi played the role of creator for Paco Alcacer and Mario Götze, respectively. When Piszczek returned to the starting line-up, rather than dropping to the bench, the new signing demonstrated his versatility and swapped flanks to take up the left-back berth.


Such flexibility will come as no surprise to any who paid attention to the young footballer’s career prior to his arrival in Germany. Born in Madrid to Moroccan parents, Hakimi put pen to paper in summer 2018 on a two-year loan deal from Real Madrid after playing every minute, at left-back, for Morocco at the World Cup in Russia. While his signing may have got lost among the Axel Witsel, Abdou Diallo, and Thomas Delaney-shaped influx of talent at BVB, Dortmund hailed Hakimi as “a young, very dynamic full-back who has played at the highest level.”


That dynamism has shone through in performances at right-back; in his three appearances in the position, Hakimi has made a league-leading 32 sprints per 90 minutes and achieved an impressive top speed of 21.5 miles per hour. He has additionally demonstrated a willingness to get involved in the play, making an average of 99.3 touches per match, second only to Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich in the position (103.9). His more experienced Dortmund colleague Piszczek has come close to Hakimi’s top speed, reaching 21.1 mph in 30.5 sprints himself, but only gets on the ball an average of 79 times per 90 minutes.


Perhaps most impressive are the numbers Hakimi has put up as an attacking threat. In his three Bundesliga appearances at right-back, the Moroccan has been involved in three goals, the most of any player in his position, despite having played the fewest minutes (270).


And what to say about his sensational Champions League outing against Atletico? It wasn't Hakimi's debut in the competition - he played both group games for Real against Tottenham last term - but this performance was on another level, as the young international set up Witsel, Raphael Guerreiro and Jadon Sancho on his way to a hat-trick of assists. His efforts will have delighted Favre, and no doubt raised a smile or two back at his parent club.


"Achraf is extremely important out wide, in the way he runs up and down the touchline," Reus declared. "It helps us a lot. He's very quick, and we needed that today, he played really well. The young players are enjoying themselves and we have enough experienced players as well. There's a very good mix in the team."


"Most of the time, Juanfran didn't know where he was," added former Bayern midfielder Dietmar Hamann, now a pundit for Sky Germany. "He was simply too quick and too good for him today."


When setting up goals, his favoured weapon is his right boot, which he uses to deliver inch-perfect crosses to teammates waiting in the box. While he may only be 19, Hakimi’s statistics also show a footballing intelligence and composure more common among old hands; with a pass completion rate of 90.5 per cent, only Kimmich again posts better numbers (90.8 per cent).


However, a further look into the figures shows that the Moroccan still has room for improvement. While he doesn’t shy away from a tackle, Hakimi has emerged the victor in only 42.9 per cent of the duels he has contested. In the air, this figure drops to zero. In comparison, the assurance provided by an experienced player like Piszczek becomes apparent. The Polish defender has been successful with 56.2 per cent of his tackles, and won over 60 per cent of his aerial duels. Additionally, he covers more ground per 90 minutes (7.03 miles on average) than his younger teammate (6.66 miles on average).


Nevertheless, for a player not even out of his teenage years, and yet to reach double-digit appearances in the league, Hakimi has hit the ground running and can stake a strong claim to be considered the top right-back of the 2018/2019 Bundesliga season. Come the end of his two-year loan deal in June 2020, Dortmund might be champing at the bit for the chance to make their emerging star a permanent fixture at the Signal Iduna Park.


Source: https://www.bundesliga.com/en/news/Bundesliga/is-achraf-hakimi-the-bundesliga-s-best-right-back-borussia-dortmund-515672.jsp?smartformat=true%26utm_source%3Dsmartformat%26utm_medium%3Dproducts%26utm_term%3Denglish%26utm_content%3Darticle&fbclid=IwAR0HKdFFK_75EcsksEkHYg3Dj-9H6lHfXOxRA79vzYYt3jLT9kadbCfpxjM

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