It has been a stellar start to the campaign for Will Still’s Reims, who have scored in every single match this season and who sit fourth in Ligue 1, one point above Lille, three behind Monaco, four behind PSG and five behind Nice. One player who has proven crucial in the center of the pitch for Reims is 27-year-old midfielder Marshall Nyasha Munetsi.
Munetsi, who is a Zimbabwean International was signed by South African National First Division side Cape Town in July 2015. The team released a statement saying that he was “…in the mold of a typical Yaya Toure. Big‚ strong‚ mobile and a good passer of the ball.” He made his professional debut on 26 September 2015 during a 3–1 loss to Black Leopards and scored his first goal in a derby match against Milano United on 16 April 2016, where it ended up being the winning goal in a 1–0 game. He attended trials with the Orlando Pirates, in December 2015.
On 11 June 2019, Munetsi signed for Ligue 1 club Stade De Reims on a four-year deal and is currently enjoying his best season for them in terms of output where he is currently registering 0.51 xG + xAG per 90 which is higher than he has been able to manage during his previous years in France.
Good Timing Of Runs Into Penalty Box
Marshall plays as an attacking midfielder in Reims’ 4–2–3–1 formation and as such, has license to make long-bursting runs into the opposition’s penalty box. He has an incredible knack for arriving in the box at the right time and in the right space to get on the end of goal-scoring opportunities or to lay the ball off for teammates.
Munetsi has an incredible hunger for pressing the opposition from the front. When Reims decide to press the opponent very high, they do so in a 4–4–2 with the Zimbabwean forming part of the front 2. He has a very good tactical understanding of the zones to cover for the exact ways to press that will unsettle whoever is on the ball, forcing a long pass or a mistake. He does this by bending his runs and blocking the easy out-ball for the player on the ball.
Munetsi never stops running and grafting for the team. Whenever his teammates are on the ball, he is always positive with his runs. Reims usually set up in a 4–2–3–1 formation or 4–3–3, where he plays as the #10 in the former and the RCM in the latter, and in both systems, he is given the most freedom of the midfielders to roam and find space wherever possible to get on the ball in the opposition half.
Finding Space In Between The Lines
In the opposition half, whenever Marshall smells danger, he comes alive, mixing his intelligent movement with his positive running to get into a very good space wherein his team can exploit the opposition. He makes sure to take full advantage of this mixture of attributes to constantly run and switch positions all across the opposition half, trying his best to find pockets of space to receive the ball in. Marshall has 3.57 progressive passes received per 90, which ranks him in the 77th percentile as compared to other Ligue 1 midfielders.
Marshall has an incredible ability to finish, be it with his left foot, right foot or his head, capable of hitting the ball hard and true into the bottom corner with his instep.
Too Safe On The Ball
Marshall tends to be too safe on the ball, not trying to make things happen, but rather waiting for his teammates to create a bit of magic. He’s not very adventurous with his passing. (2.90 progressive passes/90 and 1.04 key passes/90 which rank in the 33rd and 13th percentile respectively when compared to Ligue 1 attacking midfielders.)
Lack Of Awareness Of Defensive Danger
Marshall never seems to really sense dangerous situations in his own defensive third well enough and as a result, tends to not completely follow up on his defensive duties well enough, doesn’t fully track back and leaves open space for opposition to possibly attack as a result.
Marshall is 6 ‘2 and as such is a very tall player without a low center of gravity so it’s hard for him to twist and turn at the speed with which a smaller player would. As a result of this, he is usually beaten in midfield with pace as he can’t keep up with the opposing player or a simple quick change of direction because of how tall he is.
Absent In Build-Up
When Reims are building up, Marshall tends to move far away from the ball, staying behind an opposition player, practically rendering himself of no use to his teammates. He tends to move into occupied zones and point to other teammates to receive the ball instead of taking responsibly himself, and on the occasions when he does show for the ball, he always manages to call the attention of an opposition player to mark him which makes it extremely difficult for him to receive the ball or for his teammates to pass to him.
Lack Of Defensive Concentration
Munetsi tends to often show a lack of concentration in his own defensive third, making it easy for him to lose his runners or not follow their runs.
Not Very Good At Protecting The Ball
As a result of his on-ball limitation, Marshall is not very good at protecting the ball especially when put under pressure. He tends to get easily hurried and hassled off the ball, either making wrong passes or taking poor touches on the ball.
At the moment Marshall Munetsi is enjoying a great start to the 23/24 Ligue 1 season together with Reims, scoring 2 goals and 4 assists, managing to participate in all 8 of Reims’ first 8 league goals, starting 7 of them and coming off the bench once. He has played in all but one of their matches, missing out on a 1-0 win against Nantes at the weekend, and it remains to be seen if he will be available for Saturday’s match against PSG.
Marshall is one of the best midfielders in the world at picking the right time to burst into the box from midfield to get on the end of chances and score, having a wide array of finishes. He really comes alive during dangerous attacking situations when he senses something could be on for his team. However, if he is to develop into one of the best in his position, he will have to work on his defensive off-ball work(tracking runners, covering defensive spaces in his own third) as well as his on-ball abilities to help him make more of an impact in games where he’s not able to score or assist.
This is part of a series of player and opposition Video scouting reports. If you’re looking to source my video scouting expertise for your club or organization you can reach out to me at email@example.com or on Twitter @_tomlinsin_.
By: Tomisin Lai-Oke / @_tomlinsin_
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Francois Nascimbeni / AFP