Igor Paixão 2022: A hidden gem in Brazil – scout report
Although four matches is a relatively small sample size, there have been some promising players breaking through in the 2022 Brasileiro. After being relegated in 2020, Coritiba are back in the topflight with an exciting start to the season. They won the Paraná state championship and currently sit fifth in the Brasileiro. One of their star players is 21-year-old Igor Paixão. A product of their academy, Igor is having a breakthrough season with a very impressive attacking output.
Igor has 0.32 goals per 90 and 0.32 assists per 90 in the 2022 season so far. Although he is right-footed, he plays as an inverted winger on the left wing. As seen through his numbers, Igor is a threat both passing and scoring-wise. Additionally, he is able to constantly create and get in dangerous areas through his dribbling. Overall, he is a well-rounded dynamic talent. However, Igor is still rather raw with areas to improve, as we will explore in this analysis.
Igor Paixão is predominantly right-footed and plays on the left side. Cutting inside from the left-wing, he poses a very dangerous threat in the final third. As Coritiba progress closer to the opposition goal, Igor will drift more inside. Many of his goals have come from being in the right place at the right time. He enters the box quite often, finding spaces and being effective in the attack. In earlier phases, Igor provides width and attacks the depth from the left-hand side. Although he mostly plays on the left wing, he has occasionally played on the right wing if needed. Below is his heatmap for 2022.
A statistical overview allows us to see how effective he has been in the 2022 Brasileiro. Although only four matches have been played, Coritiba have faced some very strong opposition in Santos, Fluminense, and Atlético Mineiro. Igor has been able to maintain his form from the state championship, averaging impressive numbers in key metrics. Most notably, he averages 0.9 key passes per 90, 3.38 shots per 90, 0.45 assists per 90, and 7.89 dribbles per 90. We will now look at these strengths more in-depth.
There is no doubt that goal-scoring is a key part of Igor Paixão’s game. In 2022, he has 0.32 goals per 90 from an xG of 0.33 per 90. Not only has he consistently produced in the final third, but he is expected to continue to do so based on the xG model. Igor has been able to constantly find himself in very good positions to finish chances. This successful output stems from various factors. While he gets into very good spaces, especially in the box, his finishing is fairly dynamic and effective.
Igor’s late equaliser in the Paraná championship illustrates his finishing ability. Now operating on the right side, he is able to score a beautiful goal from a very tough angle. Although taking a shot with such a low-scoring probability is not the best decision, his finishing often sees him getting away with it.
In the box, Igor has also demonstrated great composure. He is able to get on the end of chances due to great positioning and movement. Whether from arriving late or simply holding his run, cutbacks have been very successful for him. Against Maringá, he snatches the winner in a similar fashion. Playing on the left wing, he slowly drifts inside as the play progresses on the right wing. As his teammate enters the box, he makes himself available for a cutback cross and finishes with ease by placing it in the far corner.
Despite being short at 167cm, Igor is still able to pose a threat from headers. He has scored a few headers in his career, usually by losing the defender with his movement. Against Avaí, he scored the equaliser from a deep cross. He was able to get off the ground really well, but most importantly lose his defender and jump for the header uncontested.
Although his finishing ability is fairly impressive, his shot selection and decision making must improve. While his xG per 90 is good and almost exactly the same as his goals per 90, it could be even better. There are a few factors we must look at in order to further understand this. Igor averages 2.94 shots per 90 in the 2022 season. His 15 total shots in the Brasileiro is the second-highest in the league. A common characteristic of Brazilian youngsters is the risk-taking and aggressiveness they possess. While this can certainly be good and desirable, it may lead him to make poor decisions, especially shooting-wise. He will take shots from poor locations with a very low xG. As he takes a lot of shots, these will add up and sometimes mislead his xG figure. His finishing is very good and has allowed him to make up for this, but as he looks to progress to the next level, he should look to improve his shot selection.
Igor’s shot map below illustrates the locations of his shots. Those on either side of the box have very poor angles and should rarely be taken. Furthermore, there are far too many shots from very long-distance areas. Essentially, he should look to compress these shots into the middle section of the box, or the ‘golden zone’.
A very good example of this took place against Santos. Igor gets the ball with a lot of time and space just outside the box on the left-hand side. Despite having five teammates near the goal, he takes a very poor shot into the near post. In this scenario, a cross would have been the optimal decision rather than shooting.
Another example of his poor decision-making took place just a few minutes later. Igor advances centrally, just outside the box. As he gets closer to the goal, Santos’ right-back drifts inside to pressure him. By doing so, he leaves an incredible amount of space for Coritiba’s player. The optimal decision, in this case, would have been playing it wide rather than taking the long-distance shot. There are various instances like this that highlight the need for Igor to improve his decision-making.
Perhaps Igor’s most notable strength is his dribbling. In the 2022 Brasileiro, Igor has the most total dribbles so far at 35. Additionally, he ranks eighth for dribble success rate, at 65.71%. Not only does he look to take players on with frequency, but he is very successful in doing so. There are a number of factors and characteristics to his dribbling that make it so effective. To begin with, he does not have the most flair. Rather than performing fancy skills moves, he likes to be very direct and effective with his dribbling. His dribbling is also dangerous due to quick changes of direction and speed. His acceleration and reaction allow him to perform these moves with success.
Igor Paixão has a very traditional stop-and-start characteristic to his dribbling. Similar to Messi, Igor will constantly change the speed and direction of his dribbling in order to get the defender to react. This is very effective in sending defenders the wrong way in addition to getting past them.
Against Atlético Mineiro, he was incredibly successful going up against Mariano. In this match, he had eight dribbles and was successful in six of them. One of the first examples took place in the fourth minute during an offensive transition. Igor is a very good outlet for counterattacks, and this was a prime example of why. In a 1v1 situation against Mariano, Igor starts to dribble forward. As Mariano approaches, he quickly stops and does a body feint inside. Thinking he will cut inside to his preferred right foot, Mariano falls for it. This quick move allowed him to get past Mariano and attack the space behind.
A similar scenario took place 20 minutes later. This time in the box, the quick stop allowed him to get past Mariano once again. After stopping, he performs body feints to get Mariano in the weakest position. Once Mariano is flat-footed and unbalanced, Igor quickly accelerates down the line.
Igor’s ball control also allows him to be very effective in his dribbling. In this situation, he takes two players on at the same time. With a quick change of direction and tight ball-control, he cuts between both of them into a very dangerous space.
Later in the second half, another example took place against Mariano. In the image, we are able to see how he waits for the perfect moment before knocking the ball down the line. Mariano attempts to win the ball and has his leg extended. Igor quickly reacts and puts the ball past him.
After getting past Mariano, Atlético’s centre-back provides cover and closes Igor down. With a quick touch, he completely stops himself and the ball. The centre-back does not react and stop fast enough, allowing Igor to get inside.
Against Santos, Igor took on two defenders again. In a very similar fashion, he got in between them and cut inside. He pretends to take it down the line and cuts inside before quickly taking another touch in between them. If the second defender is not careful enough, he could easily commit a foul. Igor performs this move relatively often.
Another key strength of Igor’s game is his passing. The stereotypical Brazilian winger has tremendous flair yet underwhelming passing abilities. However, Igor is the opposite. Despite being young, Igor is very effective and possesses a very creative passing ability, often missed in this type of player.
In the 2022 Brasileiro, Igor has two assists in four matches. In all of 2022, he has averaged 0.32 assists per 90. Further passing metrics indicate just what a creative player Igor is. In the Brasileiro so far, he has averaged 1.35 smart passes per 90 and 0.9 key passes per 90. In the final third specifically, Igor is a tremendous creative threat.
As we have seen, his dribbling allows him to get into very dangerous spaces, often inside the box. Against Atlético, he beats Mariano and is able to find his teammate for the equalising tap-in. He is able to play the pass in between the opposition player’s legs and just in front of his teammate.
Against Goiás, Igor’s quick change of direction allowed him to get past the defender with ease. He stops, threatens to cut inside, then takes it further down the line.
After doing so, he has time to pick out a perfect low cross to his teammate near the penalty spot. Although the goalkeeper saved the shot, it was a very good chance created by Igor.
Igor’s crosses are also very good, but he does not perform them with a high frequency. This is mainly due to the fact that he plays on the left, making it harder to cross with his right. He also drifts inside very often, so passes to the box tend to be much closer and with a higher completion probability.
At any rate, he has displayed an effective and intelligent crossing ability. Against Santos, for instance, he notices the space in the back post and places it there for the centre-forward. Although the keeper was able to intercept it, his intelligence and awareness was on display.
Now against Remo, he performs a very similar cross. He puts it in the back post for his centre-forward who headers it uncontested for a goal.
A good portion of Igor’s assists tends to come from set pieces as well. He takes corners for Coritiba and is able to play very dangerous balls into the box. Below is an example where he assists his teammate by perfectly finding him in the first post.
Against Atlético, Igor displayed an impressive ability with this pass near halftime. As Coritiba looked to start a counterattack, Igor plays an outside-the-foot long ball to the centre-forward. Not only does he get the perfect curve on it, but he weighs it very well to find his teammate in front of the opposition.
While still raw in some aspects, Igor Paixão is a very interesting talent to watch for 2022. He was able to carry his form onto the Brasileiro and is having a breakthrough season. His dribbling and creation are very impressive and effective. While his shot selection needs work, he is still able to get in very good positions and score with a high frequency. Overall, Igor is a very dynamic and exciting talent.
Coming out of a ‘smaller’ club in Brazil, his market value of €800K is fairly low for his ability. A less known talent, Igor may prove a bargain to many European or even bigger Brazilian clubs.