Rezart Rama – Player Analysis

After somewhat of a slow start to the 2022 Canadian Premier League season, Forge FC made two revolutionary signings to strengthen their back-line, in the form of Abdulmalik Owolabi-Belewu and Rezart Rama. Since their arrivals a month into the season, Forge have been an unstoppable force at the back, amplifying their aggression in defense, and even their attacking potency in the process. Rama, a former Nottingham Forest U23 player, has been particularly impressive, starting 18 of the 22 matches since he entered the door. The 21-year-old’s remarkable mobility, fast-paced aggression, and incisiveness in the final third make him a jack of all trades from a defensive perspective, punching well above the weight of a Canadian Premier League defender. So with that, we analyze Rama’s remarkable rise this season, and assess just how far he could take his career.

ATTACKING PRINCIPLES

Through his impeccable mobility to advance up the pitch, Rezart Rama stands out in possession of the ball. He’s constantly looking to drive at the opposition, carry the ball into space, and combine down the right wing with David Choinière in close spaces. By this description alone, you’d be right for mistaking him as an up and down wing-back. Instead, Rama’s the more conservative of Forge full-backs, and the one more likely to start from a deeper position.

He frequently receives the ball as part of Forge’s back-three build, where he can then assess moments to venture forward into the attack later in moves. Alessandro Hojabrpour will occasionally cover out wide as Rama shifts forward into the attack, ensuring Forge always maintain that back-three balance in transition, and can immediately compact the wide areas. But such a standout progressor, he’s a common second-pass on goal-kicks, after the incredible Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson. Henry will often start moves by rolling the ball into Jönsson, who will carry the ball to draw the opposition in, before playing in Rama to do the same or find something further ahead.

But Rama’s dynamic carrying manifests differently than any other Forge player, simply as a freight train that does not want to stop. He’s not afraid to bulldoze and steamroll his opposition, imposing that fear factor every time he bursts forward. But as a player so astutely aware and magnificent under pressure, Rama rarely runs into traffic when barring down the tracks. He’s not afraid to have his train ride come to a halt and slow the play down, before allowing someone else to run into space for a ball over the top or a simple pass.

But when in full flow, Rama’s mix of speed and strength makes him extraordinarily difficult to stop. Combine that with a surprising bag of tricks, and you get an accomplished fullback that never stops bamboozling the opposition.

With this vast skillset out from the back, Rama could easily play as a third centre-half in a back-three, or possibly even in a back-two. His body-build naturally makes him look like a centre-half, and he has all the aspects of awareness, aerial prowess and command to make the position his own. But as Forge’s Ben White, he’s just someone that excels on the ball so much that it only makes sense to shift him higher up the pitch and enhance his attacking freedom at right-back.

From this deeper starting position, he can also hit nice clipped balls over the top. He’s not the type to switch play on a diagonal, whether that be instruction or his own perceptions of space. Instead, he looks down his wide area or into the path of Pacius, where the centre-forward waits for the right time to make his move into space.

No player to make more than five appearances has completed more progressive passes (12.92) or passes into the final third per 90 (10.79) than Rezart Rama, showcasing his forward-thinking endeavours.

He’s most likely to link up with Choinière in these long passing moves, again assessing the right moments to play forward into the path of the skillful wing wizard. If space is available, he’s more likely to carry the ball forward and showcase his adept awareness of his own strengths, before playing the ball into Choinière. This in turn creates a dynamic level of variety into his play, where he can overlap, underlap, or simply stay put as a reserved member of their back-three rest-defense.

If I had to nitpick one aspect of Rama’s attacking play, it would be to tone down his craziness in certain moments. It’s one of those blessing and a curse type of situations, and not something you’d want to take away from the over-arching identity of a warrior on the field. That said, Rama is frenetic every time he touches the ball, and that can sometimes manifest in taking shots on from less than advantageous positions, overkilling a pass out from the back, or steamrolling his way into fouls.

As one of the few players left outside the box on corner kicks, Rama needs to correctly asses moments to fire the ball back into toward goal, or mechanisms for injecting some level of patience when the time is right, such as a switch of play to find a new avenue for the cross. He loves to showcase his crazy side and have a lash at goal from time to time, but this needs to be honed in and nurtured.

That aside, Rama seamlessly accomplishes amazing feats in the attack, without really being all that attack-minded in his role. He’s touched the ball 92.6 times per game this season, always remaining an essential figurehead to everything Forge endeavour to accomplish.

DEFENSIVE PRINCIPLES

Speaking of that frenetic energy, Rama goes into absolutely every defensive challenge fully committed, showcasing his heart and desire in every situation. He never gives up a fight, never takes no for an answer and he’s never afraid to make his presence felt and rattle the opposition.

Again, sometimes this leads to negative consequences. He can sometimes be too quick to fly in when pressing, before being easily beaten by an incisive one-two. When he’s racing in at full flight, he will need to ensure he slows his speed down as he approaches the opposition player, with a greater awareness of the spaces he’s vacating in behind. Without this recognition, he requires the support of players like Alessandro Hojabrpour and Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson to consistently cover in behind for him.

Furthermore, his desire to throw himself into challenges can also mean he causes unnecessary fouls. Rama’s suffered 1.8 fouls per game this season, picking up 8 yellow cards in his 18 matches. He needs to hone in his wonderful aggression, ensuring he’s not overzealous in his challenges.

But for the most part, Rama excels in 1v1 duels, timing his challenges to perfection. The former Nottingham man has made 2.9 tackles per game this season, whilst only being dribbled past 1.1 times per game in comparison. He’s an active member of their press, stepping up when the ball makes its way into the wide areas, and exuding his aggressive mentality to limit time and space on the ball.

He’s a beast, and a naturally astute player when it comes to angling and body positioning. But his remarkabilities are far more than just being an aggressive, tough-tackling big man at the back. His acceleration is unrivalled at the back, and he frequently makes up ground from disadvantageous positions through his incredible recovery pace.

As Forge compact in their defense, it is then natural for opposition teams to want to play to their wide areas, thinking they have room to breathe. But Rama immediately shuts those doors by racing and leaping into action, before ushering the opposition away from goal and out of bounds. This facet of his play even extends to starting from a forward-thinking position in defensive transitions, where he’s needing to immediately race back and clear the ball away.

But my favourite feature of Rama’s play is something that I’ve never highlighted about a player before. Rama is remarkable at back-peddling. His quick and decisive footwork means he can cover ground quickly as he back-peddles to defend long passes over the top, or speedy attackers racing down in his path. He will then assess the moment to re-orient his body position and shift wide again, before racing into that wide challenge again.

Then when he wins the ball, you can be sure to see Rama immediately race forward again, bringing that forward-thinking edge to his warrior mentality at every turn.

CONCLUSION

Rezart Rama has quickly made a name for himself inside the Canadian Premier League, as one of the essential figureheads at one of the league’s most dominating sides. He excels in nearly every facet of the game, in large part through a dynamic mobility to venture box-to-box. His strong endurance and vivacious warrior mentality make him one of the mightiest and imposing defenders around, but his surprising skillset on the ball simultaneously ensures he becomes a constant threat in attack. Forge FC will do well to keep hold of the man they paid next to nothing for back in April. But for now, Rama is one of the many imperative assets Forge have at their disposal, as they push for another league championship.


So there it is! A tactical analysis of Forge’s Rezart Rama. Be sure to check out more of our Player Analyses, more on the Canadian Premier League, and follow on social media @mastermindsite. Thanks for reading and see you soon! 👊⚽

-> Rezart Rama – Scouting Report
-> Bobby Smyrniotis – Forge FC – Tactical Analysis

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