Breel Embolo outshone Gareth Bale with his goal for Switzerland in their UEFA Euro 2020 opening draw with Wales. bundesliga.com has the lowdown on the Borussia Mönchengladbach forward...
Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Country: Switzerland (46 caps/ six goals)
At 6'1", 186 pounds and able to move that block of muscle at speeds of up to 21 miles per hour, Embolo is a formidable opposition. Schalke even made the Cameroon-born forward their record signing in summer 2016 when he swapped Basel - the Swiss city where he grew up - for Gelsenkirchen. The step up to the Bundesliga was supposed to be the making of Embolo, but the first chapter of the story did not have a happy ending. After scoring his first Bundesliga goal one week, he broke an ankle and lower leg the next, sidelining him for nearly a year and brutally slamming the brakes on a career that had enjoyed a jet-propelled trajectory over the two preceding seasons.
Embolo registered 31 goals and 22 assists in 90 competitive appearances for Basel between 2014 and 2016, winning three Swiss Super League titles whilst making his senior international debut for Switzerland. He opened his national team account in Euro 2016 qualifying, contributing a goal and four assists in six appearances on the road to France. Despite playing at the Euro 2016 and 2018 FIFA World Cup finals, his strike against Wales on 12 June 2020 was his first at a major tournament. It came hot on the heels of a six-goal, six-assist season at Gladbach. He tallied eight in each category the previous campaign.
When fit, Embolo is averaging a Bundesliga goal or assist every 2.14 games, measured over 107 appearances, but he is so much more than a taker and maker of chances. The right-footed striker covers a mean 6.5 miles per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga, and wins 44 percent of his attempted challenges. His overall FIFA 21 rating is 78, albeit with a turbo-charged 91 for sprint speed, 85 for strength and 82 for shot power.
Plays a bit like: Mario Balotelli
Embolo's dribbling ability, raw power and composed finishing have drawn favourable comparisons with a young Mario Balotelli, the Italian striker who won the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League with Inter Milan and 2011/12 English Premier League with Manchester City. Able to operate across the attack, he also uses his lightning turn of pace to prey on opposition defenders' positional limitations in the final third.
Watch: Breel Embolo scored two and made another in Gladbach's 5-0 rout of Arminia Bielefeld in 2020/21
Did you know?
Embolo is well in with the Switzerland faithful. So much so that they've given him his own song, recited to the melody of The Lion King's 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight'. It goes a little something like this: "Oh Embolo, oh Embolo, oh Embolo, oh Embolo - I de Nati, de Schwiizer Nati, isch de Breel diehi."
It's a fitting adaptation for a player who might have represented Cameroon - aka The Indomitable Lions - in different circumstances.
What they're saying
"I've coached Josip Drmic and Admir Mehmedi, and with Ricardo Rodriguez you could already see in the U15s that he was going to have a huge career. Ricci also had this nonchalance, only with Breel it seems to me that it’s all a step higher." - Embolo's former Basel coach Urs Fischer
"He's a player who runs enough up front for three. That means we don't expect a goal a game from him." - former Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel
"My heart cheers when I see him playing." - former Basel captain Marco Streller
"I love everything about him." - former Borussia Dortmund midfielder and UEFA Champions League winner Paulo Sousa