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Player Analysis: Everton Full-Backs vs VfL Wolfsburg

It has been 4 very, very long years but Everton have finally returned to Europe, and what a way to start. The Toffees began there campaign against German side VfL Wolfsburg, trashing them 4-1 with a incredible display from Everton, passing, possession, defending, the lot! VfL Wolfsburg, however, did give Everton a very hard game. After Everton had scored their third, they invited pressure but the Toffees defending was solid. Two players where outstanding for Everton, one was Seamus Coleman and the other was Leighton Baines. Both full-backs where insane on the wings, both scoring and both penetrating the Wolfsburg defence.

Everton Full Backs

Work On The Wings

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We all know Roberto Martinez’s set up at Everton, full-backs press high up the pitch whilst two defensive midfielders cover the full-back positions, and the set up was demonstrated fantastically by Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines. Judging by the heat map (Baines on the top and Coleman on the bottom). Both had very similar heat maps, going forward and covering the same areas of the pitch. The two full-backs where supported by Kevin Mirallas and Aiden McGeady, the two full-backs going on the overlap and either crossing the ball into the area or cutting inside into the penalty area. Everton’s first two goals support this, as you can see Leighton Baines driving into the area.

You can see the Everton full-back charge forward from the middle of the pitch, making a pass to Steven Naismith but Leighton Baines sprints into the area and eventually gets the assist. He charges so far forward that his assist was around 7 yards from goal.

In the second goal, Leighton Baines shows that you don’t need to do the dirty work and you can pounce on any loose ball. The keeper punches Mirallas’ shot, but the full-back is there again to find Seamus Coleman who head the ball into the back of the net. Coleman’s position is also staggering for a full-back. You would expect someone like Romelu Lukaku inside the penalty area (he is but not in a good position to shoot), but Seamus Coleman darts into the area and he has the easiest job and that is to head it from 3 yards out.

Attack More Than Defence?


Leighton Baines’ touches

Both full-backs where dominate in the match, offensively and defensively. 37.01% of Leighton Baines’ touches was in the Wolfsburg half, whilst the other 62.99% was in the Everton’s half. Leighton had 3 touches inside the Wolfsburg box, all of them leading to a goal (2 assists and one penalty). For a defender to have over 35% of your touches inside the opposition half, is very high, so this supports Leighton Baines’ attacking knowledge and ‘know-how’. He was terrific.


Seamus Coleman’s touches

Just like Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman was just as dominant in the Wolfsburg half. The Irish right-back had 49.23% of his touches inside the Wolfsburg half (12.22% more than Leighton Baines had). I said in the last paragraph that having above 35% of your touches in the opposition half is incredible, but to have almost 50% of your touches in the opposition half is amazing for a defender. However it is very risky, but this shows how much work James McCarthy and Gareth Barry have to do to cover the open space left behind.

Amazing Passing – but was sloppy under pressure

Both full-backs are fantastic passers, both of them playing in a passing side, but there was times on Thursday evening which Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines where sloppy in the second-half. Between the two players, Coleman and Baines had a 82% passing accuracy.

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Leighton Baines’ pass map

The English full-back struggled to cope under-pressure with his passing, ending up with a 78% passing success rate. Most of his passes – which failed to find another Everton player – came inside the Everton half. This suggests that he could struggle within the last 30 minutes of the game, if you close him down. However, we saw on Thursday how well he could cope with Kevin De Bruyne, who play most of his game on the right.

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Seamus Coleman pass map

The Irish right-back was much more accurate with his passing than Leighton Baines, with a 89% passing accuracy (11% more than Baines). However, the amount of passes that a red (means that it’s a failed pass) is slightly concerning with the amount in the Everton half. This suggests that Coleman can be poor if you close him down, but Coleman rarely gave the ball away. He was superb on Thursday.


A great night for Evertonians, and certainly for these two is well. Both full-backs where key to the Everton win, offensively and defensively. Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines where the two best Everton outfield players on Thursday evening. Both of them making great runs from their own half and supporting wingers Aiden McGeady and Kevin Mirallas in the final third. It is clear that these two will be very hard to stop this season.

Joel Parker
Joel Parker
Big Evertonian and love writing about Football!!
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