Age: 19 (17.06.2001)
Club: Slavia Praha
Goals & Assists: 15 ⚽️ 4 🎯
Slavia Praha is currently competing on 3 fronts with Quarterfinals in both the Czech Cup & Europa League as well as being 16 points clear in the race to be crowned Champions for the 7th time. On their way through the competitions, Slavia employs a high intensity tactic favouring a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation with a fluid interchanging of positions amongst the attackers.
Sima is having a breakthrough season for Slavia Praha in which he has shown very good form in both the Fortuna Liga & Europa League. His form has seen the Senegalese national team calling him up to the squad for the Africa Cup of Nations qualification matches against Congo & Eswatini. To date, Sima has made a single International appearance entering the field of play from the bench to complete his debut against Congo replacing Metz young starlet Pape Sarr.
Defensively when the press is initiated in the opposition half Sima looks to push high & with pace onto the opposition CB & FB. His objective is to close down the passing lanes applying pressure on the ball carrier attempting to force mistakes, slowing the attack or turn the play backwards. When the play develops into the channels Sima will move back into a covering position to protect his FB to ensure that there are limited opportunities for the opposition to create 2v1 situations. Where the opposition can create overlapping/underlapping opportunities Sima demonstrates a good level of determination & awareness to track the attacker close down the available space.
An example of his high press can be found below in the game against Rangers where Sima finds himself in the CF position. As the CAM for Slavia presses the Rangers deep lying CM, Sima acknowledges the press has been initiated & presses the Rangers CB. Sima anticipates that the CB is looking to turn back to goal & pass back to the GK for a reset on the attack, but the CB miscalculates the pace at which Sima is pressing
Due to the miscalculation, Sima can press the CB effectively & block the passing lane resulting in a turnover of the ball for Slavia. Due to the high press, this puts both Sima & Slavia in an advantageous position as he is left with space to not only retrieve the ball but attack down the channel & drive into the box. Unfortunately for Slavia, after Sima was able to round the defender & get into the box the pressure applied in contact he was unable to keep his balance. Subsequently, Rangers defence was able to recover their positions & possession of the ball clearing the danger.
When Slavia decide to sit deeper Sima drops back to support his FB & track runs from deep which may threaten the defence in behind. As per the example below; Sima drops into the defensive line after tracking the run of the attacker & adjudges the flight of the ball correctly to clear the ball from the area. As Ranger collect & recycle the 2nd ball they draw the Slavia FB & CM across creating space in the channel. The attacker produces an underlapping run to receive a pass into the channel, but Sima is tactically aware of his position & the situation tracking the run.
Initially, Sima slows down the attack as he reduces the space in the channel to attack & positions himself to challenge the attacker should he attack towards the byline. Sima does well in the situation by not diving into the tackle & backs himself to match the attacker for pace ultimately blocking the cross attempt. Sima demonstrates his defensive awareness & discipline to manage the situation when out of position preventing the creation of a scoring opportunity then clearing the danger too.
What’s encouraging is that when Sima makes a mistake in possession he will attempt to regain the ball or get back into shape to support his teammates. In the game against Rangers Sima misjudges his header into the path of his teammate & heads the ball directly to an unmarked opponent in the Slavia half. The attacker is aware of space in the channel as Sima sprints in to apply pressure, & passes to the overlapping FB. This leads Sima to change direction closing down space in the channel.
Unfortunately, Sima moves into position in the channel but doesn’t have the presence of mind to mediate his pace & get caught with too much speed leading to him being unbalanced. As the FB brings the ball inside Sima is unbalanced resulting in a poorly executed tackle attempt leaving him out of position. Fortunately for Slavia, although the final defensive effort from Sima left him beaten easily with space in behind the channel Rangers were unable to take advantage of the situation.
Sima can improve on his timing in the tackle as well as regulating his pace as he moves into pressure the opposition. The output of this more measured & calculated approach to defensive situations would see a great output in these situations. That being said his pace is a valuable asset when tracking runners or in a flat race against the attacker in open play.
Sima is a confident player on the ball happy to travel at pace whilst in possession where he demonstrates good balance & control in contact with decent strength. Sima’s good balance & agility enables him while moving at pace to decrease his speed rapidly before changing direction quickly causing the defender to lose balance. The ability to turn sharply ensures that the defender is unable to effectively centre themselves before turning, which in turn can lead them to be out of position in the challenge.
Primarily Sima dribbles with the ball down the channels using his pace to exploit any space behind the defensive line as he looks to link play or operate on the shoulder of the defender. Sima’s dribbling style is very direct & looks to attack the defensive line & commit the opposition. Whilst travelling with the ball Sima is not the type to try many skills or feints against the opponent & favours utilising his pace to expose his opponent.
The games against Rangers illustrates this preference to be more direct in his running with the ball. In the below, Sima drops deep to receive the ball in the channel between the FB & CB drawing the CB across to create space centrally. Once he receives the ball Sima plays a 1-2 with his teammate in the RW position, taking advantage of the space behind the FB.
Sima utilises his pace to exploit the space created behind the FB who was drawn to the ball after his layoff. Once Sima reaches the pace he sprints to the edge of the area before altering his pace to slow down the defender before moving to the byline. The decision making from Sima slowing the defender is good as this removes their forward momentum in the duel. Additionally, it provides Sima with the opportunity to use his acceleration & movement against the defender in an attempt to unbalance them with a change of direction or burst of speed.
Sima demonstrates his awareness to understand that there is space in the area to drive into, also that his teammates will attract defenders as they move into the near & far post positions. As Sima pulls the ball back from the byline he unbalances the defender creating the space to move into a dangerous position in the area where he has runners in space arriving late on the edge of the area. Unfortunately, Sima’s pass lacks the accuracy or direction that it should provide his teammates with a shooting opportunity. Instead of passing to the edge of the box for the attacker to run onto the ball, Sima passes too shallow. This pass ensures the Rangers defender can step across cutting out the pass, removing what should have been a dangerous situation & shooting opportunity.
Another example against Rangers can be found (below) in the home leg where Sima receives the ball in the outside left channel as Slavia transitions quickly into attack. Sima could play a simple pass into the path of his teammate on his right shoulder but makes the correct decision to back himself against the defender. Had Sima made the pass the Rangers FB & CDM were in positions to press quickly which could have resulted in a turnover of possession. Sima instead bursts into the open space in the channel showing great pace to accelerate ahead of the FB. He can ride multiple attempts from the FB to unbalance him in contact by using his strength to stand tall & shield the ball as he progresses.
Sima as he progresses to the edge of the area has the foresight to understand he can be pressured in a 2v1 situation if he continues to progress towards the byline. At this point, Sima slows his pace to draw in the chasing FB so that he can attempt to change direction quickly taking advantage of their intent to win the ball & forward momentum. Sima successfully pulls the ball back onto his favoured foot before moving inside. The move inside compacts the Rangers defence to the width of the area & creates space in the channel, opening up multiple passing plus attacking opportunities for the Slavia LB as they receive the ball.
Whilst Sima demonstrates great pace moving with the ball & has the ability to exploit defenders drawn out of position he does still have areas to improve upon. His control in contact & open play is good, but when moving the ball out of his feet his technique can fail him.
As Sima looks to accelerate his preference is to push the ball out from his feet, but has a heavy touch in these situations where there is space to exploit. The result of his heavy touch of the ball means the ball is pushed too far in advance of himself which provides the defence with the opportunity to regain possession.
Slavia plays with a very fluid & dynamic attacking 3 or 4 with inverted forwards to narrow the attacking line to create space in the channels for the advancing FBs. The highly rotational dynamic of the system ensures that the inverted forwards are provided with the freedom to roam infield creating overloads centrally.
Sima is comfortable to drop deep & play with his back to goal taking control of the ball before laying off into either his strike partners, FB or CM to retain possession in attack, before moving into space. As Slavia attack, the front 3 looks to play closely together where possible to create passing triangles so that they can link together in an attempt to support each other & disrupt the defensive line. Sima is a key point within the attacking triangle either as the ball carrier or supporting member.
In the match against Leicester, the attacking triangle was evident & effective in creating spaces for Slavia to attack by narrowing the defensive line. As per the below after a restart, Sima finds himself central with the front 3 creating a tight triangle with the CAM providing an additional option. As the attack is narrowed & concentrated on the right this creates open spaces on the left for Slavia to exploit which Sima is aware of.
Sima utilises the attacking 3 & RB to concentrate the Leicester defence on the right as they draw Leicester towards their area as they look to provide options in front of the defence or between the lines. This creates the space for Sima to move forward centrally & utilise the space he has to his left which is the correct decision as Slavia can exploit the defensive positions. Unfortunately, Sima’s pass has poor control & direction with two players in support of the attack, with the ball played into a position that cuts out both Slavia supporting players. As a consequence, a very promising attack is lost with the Leicester CAM intercepting the poorly placed pass as they track back relieving the pressure by passing to the GK to clear.
Whilst Sima’s overall passing does require improvement he does demonstrate good vision in attacking situations. As per the below Sima moves infield at the restart with the CF dropping deep to collect the ball & the attacking forming a tight triangle. With his back to goal, Sima receives the ball from the CF & controls moving forward to draw the press. The press narrows the defence further which provides Sima to create the space out wide for the RB who he switches the ball out to.
This pass leaves the Leicester LB to sprint into a position to pressure the RB in turn creating a large space between him & the CB. Sima is aware of the space & sprints in behind the Leicester LB linking the play with the Slavia FB stretching the opposition defence. Fortunately for Leicester, the defence was able to track Sima’s run & slow down his progression so that the midfield was able to recover offering support to stifle the dangerous attack.
Another example of his vision can be found in the below where Sima has moved infield to create an overload centrally & narrowing the defence for potential overlaps outside on the left. Sima spots the space between the lines & moves into a position to offer a passing opportunity to his teammate. As Sima retrieves the ball he has a couple of options available to him such as moving forward with the ball to play out wide, lay off to the CM but both options likely invite pressure onto himself or his teammate with covering defenders.
Sima is aware of the space behind the Leicester defence & opts to chip the ball over the defensive line for the RB to sprint onto. Unfortunately, Sima’s pass isn’t interpreted by the RB who had clear space to exploit unopposed with Leicester defenders preoccupied with the CF in an offside position. Had the pass been successful Slavia would’ve been in behind the defence with a dangerous crossing & shooting opportunity.
Movement & Attack
An example of his movement within the front 4-2-3-1 can be found below where the front 4 moves across to the left with 3 in advance of the LW ball carrier who drives infield. Once again you can see a very tight triangle form between the CF & the inverted wingers. The CAM draws the attention of the CB as they move diagonally to exploit the space between the CBs. This provides Sima the space he needs to slow his movement as the defensive line looks to restructure & cover the spaces between themselves. Once Sima receives the ball he is aware of the space in front of him as the defence backs away to regain their shape.
As the defence back away Sima is aware that options are limited & decides that striking for goal is the best option available to him. In doing so Sima demonstrates he can have good technique when striking the ball, as he hits it cleanly with little to no backlift directly into the bottom corner of the goal.
In attack, Sima does look to create problems for the defence & provide for his teammates by committing the opposition to defensive duels. As per the below, Sima engages the FB moving towards them drawing them in before changing direction & accelerating into space in the channel.
In doing so Sima engages the FB & draws across the CB as he approaches the channel to the left of the area, therefore creating a 2v2 situation in the area for his teammates. Sima is able to release the ball at the right time & find his teammate, but the Rangers LCB is able to contain the CF prevent them from turning for a shot on goal.
Where Sima needs to improve in attack is in his overall decision making, awareness & control which is at a decent level but can see opportunities squandered currently. As in the example below, Sima initially does well in moving across the area drawing his marker, opening up space between the defence & midfield. As he receives the ball he is aware of his marker & uses his body to disguise his intentions by feinting left, but then taking the ball to the right unbalancing his marker. At this point, Sima makes a poor choice by ignoring the pass between the midfield to the CF who in turn had an overlapping FB on the left. There was also a pass infield to the CAM or an option for a deep cross into the far post area with an attacker unmarked. Instead, Sima took a poorly executed shot where he sliced across the ball sending it high & wide to the right with the RB preventing a throw to Rangers.
In the example below Sima once again demonstrates how effective he is playing with his back to goal taking control of possession under pressure from the opposition CB. He does well to roll the challenge & whilst moving at pace beat the pressure from the CDM to advance into the centre circle. This is where Sima makes his miscalculation as to the best course of action as he drives forward concentrating on the space in the inside ride channel, but this is closed off by the LCB & LCDM as they converge on Sima. Had Sima released the ball earlier with a back heel to the supporting Slavia attacker before moving into this area Rangers could have been exposed in the left hand channel due to the overlapping FB.
Abdullah Sima is proving to be an exciting talent turning in performances that belie his age & experience. He has exceeded all expectations in his maiden season in both the Fortuna Liga & Europa League leading the scoring charts for Slavia in both competitions. In turn, his impressive form has seen the Senegal national team recognise his talent & now part of the full national team. His development over this season has been meteoric drawing attention across Europe with the likes of PSG touted. At only 19, Sima is showing signs that whilst he is best suited to an inverted forward position currently he does have the potential to operate more centrally as a focal point in the attack.
Sima currently suits the free roaming flexible role of the inverted forward as it enables him to explore the spaces between the line & channels. The role makes use of his speed to beat the FB & drive Slavia upfield, whilst Sima does have good strength as a central figure could currently struggle against more physically developed defenders. In the inverted forward role his lack of accuracy & precision when passing is compensated as he is afforded more support than when in a lone role. His overall passing & decision making with the ball does need to improve to move onto an elite level of competition as currently, this does result in wasted opportunities in attack.
Sima can find space due to being spatially aware & astute in his movements to drop from his marker or provide a willing run behind the defensive line. Where he excels in the role is in his “predatory” instinct which could see him in time transition to a central role. This has been evident in his clinical finishing throughout the season scoring with either foot or his head in open play & set pieces. His willingness to attack the space or arrive in the opposition area ensures he is presented with plenty of opportunities to shoot. Sima has then demonstrated unerring composure & accuracy when the chance presents itself.
Sima still needs to refine many areas of his game to move to the level of compatriot Sadio Mané but the signs are promising & has a bright future. This summer could be huge for his Sima with a move likely, any destination would need to be offering guaranteeing minutes to continue his development.