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Gonçalo Ramos: Benfica’s UEFA Youth League ace

After scoring nine goals in eight appearances for Benfica in the 2019/20 UEFA Youth League, including two in the Round of 16 versus Liverpool, two in the quarter-finals against Dinamo Zagreb and two in his side’s narrow 3-2 loss to Real Madrid in the final of the competition, Goncalo Ramos has gone on to enjoy a very positive start to the 2020/21 campaign, scoring an impressive total of seven goals in four appearances for Benfica B in Portugal’s second tier.

The 19-year-old centre forward has evidently drawn plenty of attention to himself thanks to his impressive performances in front of goal for Benfica’s youth sides and their B team. In this tactical analysis piece, in the form of a scout report, we will take a close look at some of the key aspects to the Portugal U20 international’s game.

We will provide a tactical analysis of Ramos’ strengths and weaknesses as a player and we will attempt to determine how he might be best used within a team’s tactics to get the absolute most out of him as a player.


To kick off this tactical analysis piece, we will take a look at the young attacker’s finishing quality, which stands out as being one of the most impressive aspects of his game.

It is evident by his goalscoring record, both in this season’s Liga Pro – Portugal’s equivalent to the EFL Championship – and in last season’s UEFA Youth League, that Ramos is prolific in front of goal.

In addition to that, as per Wyscout’s data on the player, he has outperformed his xG throughout his young career, scoring 0.55 goals per game with an xG of 0.49 goals per game, indicating that he has generally displayed efficiency in front of goal.

Benfica's UEFA Youth League ace: Gonçalo Ramos scout report - tactical analysis -tactics

In the image above, we can see an example of the kind of position that the attacker often likes to get himself into inside the penalty box.

As we will discuss at greater length when discussing his movement, Ramos is effective at finding space for himself inside the box, in between opposition players, from where he can then become a dangerous passing option for his teammates.

Additionally, he tends to make runs to the post nearest to his teammate in possession, to then receive the ball and shoot across goal, though he is also comfortable and proficient at finishing at the near post. He is also right-footed, though comfortable at finishing with his left.

The main thing to note with regards to Ramos and his finishing is that he likes to hit first-time shots. He generally takes, at most, just one touch before taking a shot. According to Wyscout, he takes an average of 3.38 touches in the penalty area per game which backs up the point that he doesn’t spend a great deal of time on the ball, especially when you consider that he takes an average of 2.59 shots per game.

He thrives in these types of situations where his teammate runs to the byline before performing a cross as these situations allow him to find space inside of the box so that his teammate can find him and to quickly get his shot off once the ball reaches him.

If he is not being very tightly marked, his clinical first-time finishing, combined with his intelligent movement which allows him to find space, make him a major threat inside the box.

Benfica's UEFA Youth League ace: Gonçalo Ramos scout report - tactical analysis -tactics

In addition to being comfortable at finishing with either foot, 184cm (6’0”) tall Ramos represents an aerial threat for the opposition. As per Wyscout, he has engaged in 4.83 aerial duels per game, on average, in his career, winning 43.1% of those duels.

Once again, his movement helps him to be a threat from these types of situations, as he is capable of finding space inside of the box which allows him to get onto the end of a teammates’ cross.

The image above shows us the kind of position that Ramos can pick up in between two opposition centre-backs which, on this occasion, helps him to enjoy plenty of space from where he can jump freely and direct a header towards goal.

Again, from crossing scenarios, it’s clear that Ramos requires tight marking as he is capable of slipping away from defenders via some subtle movement inside of the box.

If he is then found in space, he is capable of pulling off a clinical finish in the air and he has shown powerful heading ability, meaning he performs well in these types of situations.

Off the ball movement

As we have touched on, Ramos’ off the ball movement is a major part of his game which goes hand-in-hand with his clinical finishing ability, to make him a major threat in the final third.

Ramos doesn’t generally spend a lot of time on the ball before attempting a shot and this places great importance on his off the ball movement inside of the final third in terms of getting himself into a threatening goal scoring position.

Benfica's UEFA Youth League ace: Gonçalo Ramos scout report - tactical analysis -tactics

As we saw previously, Ramos is good at creating space for himself inside of the box via his movement which defenders have found difficult to track.

Additionally, Ramos likes to make runs like the one we can see him making in this image above, where he arrives into the box later than some teammates, often midfielders, who burst ahead, taking opposition defenders with them, while Ramos bides his time before entering the box.

Here, the crosser finds Ramos just inside of the box and the 19-year-old slots the ball away with a powerful header from behind the penalty spot, providing another indication of his ability in the air, but even more so, another example of his intelligent movement off the ball that allowed him to remain relatively free as he entered the box to attack this cross.

Benfica's UEFA Youth League ace: Gonçalo Ramos scout report - tactical analysis -tactics

Additionally, the striker has displayed plenty of alertness, which this next image provides us an example of.

Ramos’ alertness helps him to score goals, as he is often the first to react as balls are parried or rebound off the goalpost. As this happens, his first-time finishing ability, again, comes into play and he often manages to slot the ball away from close-range.

In this particular example, the ball had been crossed in from the right-wing and was subsequently headed clear, however, it was headed back towards goal by the Benfica attacker positioned on the far side of the box here.

As he sent the ball back towards the six-yard box, Ramos was quick to react, following it and subsequently performing a calm and cool volleyed finish to score.

Ramos’ quick reactions provide us with another example of his dangerous off the ball movement and another example of how he is good at freeing himself up inside of the penalty area.

Defensive work-rate

Another positive aspect to Ramos’ game is his defensive contribution. The young attacker is effective at winning the ball back for his team. However, he doesn’t generally use a lot of his energy chasing the ball down and instead, the defensive side of his game has been displayed in how effective he has been at winning the ball back when it is played near to where he is positioned.

On average, the forward has engaged in 6.25 defensive duels per game, winning 51.3% of them. He makes an average of 3.58 recoveries per game, 62.1% of which have come in the opposition’s half of the pitch and he has also made an average of two interceptions per game so far in his career.

Benfica's UEFA Youth League ace: Gonçalo Ramos scout report - tactical analysis -tactics

The image above provides us with an example of the kind of defensive duel that Ramos often engages in. When the opposition are attempting to play out from the back and the ball gets close to him, he seemingly evaluates the situation and judges whether or not this is a ball that he could realistically steal back for his side.

On this particular occasion, he sticks a foot in and successfully performs a tackle. He doesn’t tend to dive into tackles and is generally not an extremely aggressive player on the defensive side of things, however, he is intelligent and quite smooth in terms of how he does manage to successfully steal the ball away from the opposition during plays like this and can often be seen performing tackles like this one where he subtly nicks the ball of the opposition player’s toe.

His quickness, alertness and his defensive work-rate all combine to make this an effective aspect to his game.

Benfica's UEFA Youth League ace: Gonçalo Ramos scout report - tactical analysis -tactics

When his team is defending in a deeper area of the pitch, Ramos does tend to track back and expand a little bit more energy on these occasions.

The image above provides us with an example of Ramos tracking back to nick the ball away from just in front of the opposition player in possession as we saw him do in the previous image, however, on this occasion, he is doing so, clearly, in a deeper part of the pitch and at a higher speed.

However, despite this, he still doesn’t dive in or make a particularly aggressive challenge, performing a similar tackle to the one we saw him perform before, which is, again, effective here in winning the ball back for his side and from here they can start a counter-attack.

Ramos’ work-rate in tracking back and making this tackle was crucial for his side to successfully win the ball back here, as none of his teammates positioned deeper on the pitch had to press and leave gaps higher up the pitch, as Ramos was able to press the ball-carrier from higher up the pitch, indicating, again, how effective his work-rate and quickness can be when out of possession.


One potential area of improvement for Ramos is in the area of dribbling. We have established that his movement off the ball and his first-time finishing ability are key positives to his game, however, his technical ability on the ball could potentially do with some improvement.

During his career, he has made an average of 1.87 dribbles per game, with just 42.1% of them being completed successfully, which is less than one dribble per game and an indication that this is evidently not a major positive to his game.

Ramos is much happier receiving the ball inside of the penalty box in an area that he can shoot from and letting his teammates carry the responsibility of getting the ball to him in that position. He is much less effective when given the ball in an area where he has to carry it forward into a more threatening position himself.

Benfica's UEFA Youth League ace: Gonçalo Ramos scout report - tactical analysis -tactics

This image above shows us an example of Ramos in possession of the ball just inside of the penalty box, in the process of turning and attempting to dribble between two opposition defenders to try and get into a position where he has a clear shot at goal.

Benfica's UEFA Youth League ace: Gonçalo Ramos scout report - tactical analysis -tactics

As play moves on, we can see that Ramos was unsuccessful in his attempt to dribble through the opposition defence, as he was successfully stopped in his tracks, with an opposition defender stealing the ball away from him and ending this dribble, preventing him from getting into a shooting position.

Ramos, in particular, seems to struggle when turning on the ball at pace during his dribbles, which may indicate that he lacks the agility required to be an effective dribbler.

As a result, he is much more effective off the ball inside of the penalty area than he is on the ball.

Link-up play and playmaking

There may also be some room for improvement for Ramos in terms of his passing ability and his link-up play. This will show us another example of why the 19-year-old is far happier receiving the ball when facing the goal, in a position to shoot, than he is when receiving the ball with his back to goal and helping the team build up an attack into the opposition box.

Benfica's UEFA Youth League ace: Gonçalo Ramos scout report - tactical analysis -tactics

Firstly, Ramos is comfortable with dropping into deeper areas of the pitch, like the position we can see him occupying here, to help his side to progress the ball forward.

Just prior to this image being taken, the central midfielder passed him the ball and he drops to offer him a progressive passing option before laying it off to the full-back, turning and then darting forward along with his teammates to try and hit the opposition on the counter.

However, when being marked tightly or when there isn’t a clear passing option available to him in this type of situation, Ramos can struggle, as he doesn’t possess a great deal of dribbling ability to beat players on his own and his first-touch, in these types of situations, can also let him down at times, resulting in a turnover.

Additionally, Ramos is comfortable with dropping into these types of positions to find teammates behind him or beside him who can then progress the ball forwards, however, he is not, himself, adept at progressing the ball forward and as a result, when given time and space in these deep areas to turn and try to pick out a forward pass, he can often give the ball away with a poor pass.

Benfica's UEFA Youth League ace: Gonçalo Ramos scout report - tactical analysis -tactics

This next image shows us another example of Ramos occupying a slightly deeper position than we are used to seeing him, however, on this particular occasion his team are in a slightly more advanced stage of the attack than they were in the previous image and we can see him turning on the ball to face the opposition box.

Benfica's UEFA Youth League ace: Gonçalo Ramos scout report - tactical analysis -tactics

As he turns, he attempts to play through a teammate who he spots making a run into the channel between the two opposition centre-backs, however, as we discussed, he is not a great playmaker and this pass is played with too much weight on it and it misses its intended target and is cleaned up by the opposition defender without much trouble.

Ramos is a long-shot threat and if given time and space to turn too close to the box, he can punish the opposition, however, in these deeper areas of the pitch, he isn’t extremely effective.


To conclude this tactical analysis piece in the form of a scout report, it’s clear that Ramos excels off the ball inside of the final third and excels as a first-time finisher. He possesses intelligent movement on and off the ball with which he can hurt the opposition.

However, he isn’t the finished article and there are some clear areas of improvement in his game on the ball, notably in terms of his dribbling and his passing.

We feel he can be very effective in a system that allows him to roam about the final third off the ball when the team is in possession and highlights his finishing quality, while also minimising his role on the ball, in the build-up.