FC Goa have roped in Igor Angulo as the talisman for the upcoming Indian Super League season. The Spaniard has the enormous task of replacing the two times Indian Super League Golden Boot winner, Ferrán Corominas, and 55 goals. The 36-year-old striker does not fall far behind as the Basque born lad has racked up a humongous 63 goals in the Polish top division for Górnik Zabrze in the last three seasons.
In this scout report, we will delve upon Igor Angulo’s playing style and discuss if his age will become a hindrance for the Gaurs.
Igor Angulo is a left-footed, 5’11” striker who creates havoc through his shrewd movements and crafty passing ability. The Basque-born striker is capable of playing in both the two-striker system as well as a lone striker. However, he excels when he is given the sole responsibility of shouldering the attack.
Angulo’s heat map of last season shows his willingness to operate inside the 18-yard-box, almost as a poacher. He might not be a complete forward but the Spaniard is crafty is his passes and links up when necessary. The bright spot in the middle of the pitch is due to Angulo’s positioning out of possession and during counter attacks.
When a player is signed for a short tenure, it becomes extremely important that he fits right into the system. Igor Angulo has played as a lone striker in the 4-2-3-1 system at Górnik Zabrze which the FC Goa gaffer, Juan Ferrando, likes to operate in (which we did an analysis on recently). Just going by the formation, it’s safe to say that the transition won’t be difficult for Igor Angulo. However, different coaches have different philosophies and he might have to adapt to Ferrando’s tactics but the major responsibility remains the same.
Off the ball movement
The Spaniard is a genius when it comes to this aspect of the game. The strikers who have a knack of getting into the box frequently and have excelled in it have often been blessed with out of the world off ball movements and Angulo is sure one of them. The Basque-born player likes to receive the ball facing the goal and his instant burst of pace helps in his movement. He plays with the opposition defender’s mind and waits for the right opportunity to play his cards.
The former Athletic Bilbao striker likes to occupy the space between the centre-back and the full-back or stay completely blindside to the full-back and makes diagonal runs from the blindside of the defender to the front of him through diagonal runs. His movement depends upon the positioning and action of the defender. It’s almost impossible for a defender to track the ball as well as his immediate opposition at once. Gary Neville, a former Manchester United player, calls it the “one second rule” which basically says that “you cannot look at the ball or the man for more than one second”. This might sound easy but it’s really hard to execute and the best have failed in it time and again.
Angulo picks his run when the defender focuses on the ball. This ensures he gains a foot ahead of his immediate defender since he starts his run early as well as his instant burst of pace makes it very hard for the defender to keep in pace with him.
This sequence would vividly describe the most common element of Angulo’s game. The former Athletic player stays blindside of the centre-back. The Legia Warsaw centre-back is now completely focussed on the Spaniard.
The centre-back observing the position of Angulo, feels safe. The moment he turns his head from the Spaniard and shifts his focus on the ball, Angulo starts his run. His instant burst of pace ensures he stays ahead of his defender through a diagonal run. Angulo failed to score from this opportunity but this diagonal run of Angulo has made the opponents look silly quite often.
Angulo’s game revolves around his clever movements. As stated, he waits for the defenders to make their movement and then plots his own move.
In the image below, the ball was wide to the left flank (from Gornik’s perspective). Naturally, the Raków Częstochowa defensive line shifted towards their right which eventually opened up a few yards of space between the Raków centre-backs as Angulo indirectly pinned the immediate centre-back. When this kind of situation occurs, Angulo stays close to his immediate defender and initiates his run as soon as the centre-back shifts his focus on the ball.
The aspect of him sticking to one centre-back and staying away from the other opened up a huge amount of space for his crosser to deliver the ball into the 18-yard-box. Even if the other centre-back focusses on Angulo, he can’t track Angulo’s run as he is too far from him and there is a lot of space to cover. This is one reason Angulo gets a lot of free headers.
A similar movement can be seen in the image below, in the middle third. However, in this image, he also exploits the mistake of the opposition defender.
He stays close to his immediate opposition centre-back and initiates his run when the other centre-back completely focuses on the ball and the ball-carrier and stays horizontal. The difference between positioning horizontally and staying diagonal (the body orientation of the defender close to Angulo) is that if the opposition striker makes his run behind him, it takes a second more for him to turn and meet his runner, which gives the runner one second advantage. Although the centre-back close to Angulo is in a diagonal position, he can’t get ahead of Angulo as the Spaniard has already taken a head start and he is not a slow customer.
Angulo is not a complete forward where he makes himself always available for his teammates for a pass in the opposition half or helps in the build-up massively. When the ball is circulated on the flank of one vertical half, it is often seen that he positions himself at the far end of the other vertical half, blindside of the opposition full-back, and makes himself available only when there is an opportunity for him to alter the scoreline of the game.
In the image above, the ball was circulated on the right flank of Górnik Zabrze. Angulo positioned himself on the far left, blindside of the opposition right-back. As soon as the opportunity arrived for him to affect the game directly, he initiated his run and took a fraction of a second head start. Even though the defender was aware of Angulo’s run, the Spaniard’s instant acceleration and pace helped him to outrun his defender. However, the defender was true to his task and blocked the tap in from Angulo.
The responsibility of creating and maintaining the height for a lone striker is much more compared to the strikers who play in a two-striker system. He has the responsibility of indirectly creating space for his teammates and directly for himself by creating a certain height (the position of the most advanced player).
In the image above, Angulo first creates a height (where you can see Wisła Płock’s last line of defence) and then drops deep in a completely unhindered space. The defender most immediate to him can’t drop deep to mark the Spaniard as it will completely disrupt Wisła Płock’s defensive shape and Angulo’s teammate in the 18-yard-box can exploit the space.
In the image below, you can see how Angulo increased the height to create a humongous space for his teammate.
It looks like Angulo wanted to get at the end of the ball and he could have scored from a tap in too but we won’t know if he wanted to get at the end of the ball or wanted to create space for his teammate (#10) by increasing the height and thus dragging away the opposition defender along with him.
Angulo is a great communicator and a space predator. It is often seen in Górnik Zabrze, he does not overpopulate an area, communicates well with his teammates, and positions himself according to it.
The Spaniard’s shrewd movement and instant burst of pace amalgamated with clever creation of height enable him to take high quality shots.
The shot map vividly demonstrates the kind of position, the Spaniard likes to take his shots from. Most of the shots of Angulo’s are from inside the 18-yard-box and around the penalty spot.
This is one aspect of his game Igor Angulo is not much known for. As stated previously, Igor Angulo is not a complete forward and does not always make himself available to his teammates. The Spaniard received a mere 10.15 passes per 90 last season. To add a bit more context to it, Coro had received 18.67 passes per 90 last season.
When the Spaniard is in line with the opposition’s last line of defence, he mostly likes to beat his defenders through his shrewd movement and receive the ball facing the goal. However, on some occasions, he maintains the height and then instantly drops deep in between the lines and plays a one touch pass to his immediate teammate.
In the screenshot above, Angulo fixes the height, observes the space in between the lines, drops deep, and opens up a passing lane for the ball-carrier. His dropping deep also drags out the opposition centre-back from his defensive line along with him. He plays a one touch lateral pass to his immediate teammate and moves behind the defender to exploit the space.
Angulo does this quite often in a game. Most of his passes are these sort of one touch passes. He hardly takes more than one touch when his back is facing the goal.
However, on certain occasions, when he is given an ample amount of time by the opposition, he takes a few extra touches and loves to play crosses in the 18-yard-box.
In the screenshot above, Raków Częstochowa left too much space in the left half space. Angulo drops down to the half space and produces a brilliant cross in the 18-yard-box.
This is one of his patent moves when not pressed by the opposition. He drops in between the lines or in a space left vacated by the opposition and delivers crosses to the 18-yard-box (mainly from the left half space). He completed 0.58 deep crosses per 90, which ranked him 2nd among the strikers who played more than 1000 minutes in the Polish top division, last season. It is to be noted that the player that led the chart ahead of Angulo, occasionally played as a winger.
A menace in counter attacks
Igor Angulo was the primary focus when it came to counter attacks for Górnik Zabrze. The Spaniard shows his complete set of skills when it comes to this phase of the game. Angulo is so devastating in counters that he is not asked to defend his team’s corners (amalgamated with him being poor in the air). His instant acceleration, pace, amazing passing ability, and his ability to dribble past players makes him a perfect man to lead his team in counter attacks.
He positions himself at the edge of his own half and when his teammates recover the ball in the final third or in the 18-yard box, he makes a run past the opposition defenders towards the left flank.
As soon as his teammate recovered the ball in the middle third, Angulo started to make his run in between the two defenders towards the left-flank.
He then waits for his teammates for support or drives the ball forward with his pace and decent dribbling ability.
In a similar instance in a different game, he drives the ball to the final third with his pace. When the defender catches up to him, he uses his decent dribbling ability. He drives at a pace, then slows down which lures in the defender to make a tackle, and when that happens he uses his dribbling ability to beat the defender one on one and then crosses the ball to the 18-yard-box.
Igor Angulo is a brilliant crosser of the ball. His crosses are an amalgamation of both cutbacks as well as the normal lofted crosses, most of which comes from the counter attacks. He delivered 1.47 crosses per 90 last season (ranks fourth) with a brilliant accuracy of 37.74 %, the most accurate in the league.
If the opposition is able to bring the bodies back in time i.e. if the opposition has an amazing rest defence, Angulo shows his brilliant passing ability.
In this instance, Wisła Płock were brilliant in bringing back enough bodies in time. However, the pass that’s shown in the diagram completely opened up the space for Angulo’s teammate to exploit. This is a brilliant pass and it is often seen from Angulo in counters.
The final output
Igor Angulo has been in a goal-scoring spree since Górnik Zabrze was promoted to the Polish top division. The FC Goa striker has scored the second most with 23 goals in 2017/18, the most with 24 goals in 2018/19, and again the second most with 16 goals in the last season.
The graph above demonstrates his non penalty goals per 90 vs non penalty xG per 90 as well as his shot quality. Igor Angulo might have been the second most top scorer but when it comes to per 90 stats his numbers go down a bit. He had scored 0.36 goals non penalty goals per 90 and accumulated a non penalty xG of 0.44, which is a really commendable number. Even though his number for 2018/19 was way better, these figures do not discredit him in any way. However, the one thing to be noticed in these numbers is that he has underperformed his xG by 0.08, which might not be a good sign (we will discuss this later in this analysis).
We have analysed how much he likes to be the fox in the box. His numbers showcases it perfectly. The Spaniard has 4.28 touches per 90 inside the box. He couples it up with three shots per 90 and 40.74 shots on target %.
Angulo scores most of his goals with less than three touches, most have been a two touch shot. One, with his first touch he places the ball perfectly in the position from where he is able to take a perfect shot. The second touch is his shot. A few also have been a first time shot.
The ball was played behind him and the defenders were very narrow. Most of the strikers would have hold up the play or look to pass it back. Angulo’s first touch is impeccable especially when the ball is played to him on the ground. With his first touch, Angulo bifurcates both the defenders. With his second touch, he shoots. Unfortunately, Angulo shoots it wide but the Indian Super League defenders should be wary of his impeccable first touch.
Though most of his goals are from his second touch or the first touch, he has scored some worldly too from long ranger to finding the net from extremely tight angles. The Spaniard is ever ready, when his teammates shoot, instinctive, and always ready for a rebound. Needless to say, with Angulo, the opposition needs to be always on their toes.
Each and every player has negatives. The intelligent players know how to deal with those and the most intelligent know how not to let the negatives affect their game. Igor Angulo is an amalgamation of both.
Igor Angulo is not a complete forward as well as not a target man where he will be holding the play up for others or where he will be used to win aerial balls for his teammates. Angulo knows it perfectly well and he tries to avoid these situations as much as possible.
We have seen how he links up the play when his back is facing the goal. He likes to lay it off to his immediate teammate with his first touch.
But when the defender gets very close to him, most of the time, he loses the ball. Korona Kielce defenders showed this flaw of his explicitly. Whenever he dropped deep or had his back towards the defender or the goal, they stayed very close to him and tried to win back the ball.
However, as you have seen in the ‘link-up play’ section, against Korona Kielce in the same match, the defender tried to get close to him but couldn’t in time which left a dangerous amount of space behind him. Igor Angulo is a clever customer, he fixes the height and then drops deep instantly not giving much time to the opposition defenders to get close to him. But when the defenders manage to stick to him, he ends up losing the ball.
Another evident flaw of his is his struggles in the air. We had given a hint that he is not used in defending corners or used as a dummy in the free-kicks because of his ability in counter attacks but also because of him being poor in the air. To not showcase this flaw of his, he does not go for many aerial duels as you would expect from a lone striker. Igor Angulo had attempted the least number of aerial duels per 90 among the strikers who have played more than 1000 minutes in the Polish top division, last season.
As you can see in the image above, when an aerial ball was played to him, he kept looking at the ball and did not go for the aerial duel. This kind of incident can be seen from Angulo quite often.
Górnik Zabrze always played long balls from their goalkeeper and he was never used for the aerial balls. The wingers and the attacking midfielder would always go for the aerial duels and he would position himself in order to win the second balls.
With each passing year, his numbers for aerial duels attempted has gone down. In the Polish top division, he attempted 4.2 aerial duels per 90 with 29.5 % accuracy in 2017/18, 4.01 with 34.4% accuracy in 2018/19, and 2.52 with 37.5% accuracy. With the decrease in his attempted aerial duels, his accuracy of winning the aerial duels has gone up every passing year which may indicate that with every passing year he goes for the aerial duels when he is more sure about it. It might depend on the league he plays too. When he played for Platanias in the Greece league he attempted 6.75 aerial duels per 90 with a 40.6 % accuracy. So, the league might also be a factor in his poor showing in this department.
Since Juan Ferrando, mostly uses short passes to build-up, FC Goa might not have to deal with this negative impact of Igor Angulo mostly. However, there will be some occasions, where he does need to vie for the aerial balls. I would be very keen to observe what Angulo does in Indian Super League when it comes to winning aerial battles.
We have discussed the type of player Igor Angulo is. We have showcased his abilities as well as shed some light on his struggles. Below is a dashboard that will give Igor Angulo’s overall game style in a nutshell and how he performed compared to other strikers who have played more than 1000 minutes in the Polish top division, last season.
His percentile for almost all the parameters in the attacking department is more than 50. He has been a tremendous scorer for Górnik Zabrze and that shows in the dashboard. However, the last year, he has underperformed his xG by 0.08 for the first time in his Górnik Zabrze career, which is well indicated by his shots on target %. He had a mere 40.74 shot on target % which ranks him below 40 percentile. It might boil down to the fact that he is over-relied on his left-foot and hardly uses the right foot. He is not much of a dribbler. His dribbling ability is seen mostly during counter attacks and he performs it quite well.
We have discussed, Angulo is not a complete forward and does not make himself available all the time in the opposition half which can be seen by the number of passes he makes. Still, he is better than 90 % of the strikers in xA. The answer to it is the crosses he makes from the half space or the cutbacks he produces during the counter attacks. He is a great crosser of the ball and his crossing accuracy speaks for himself. But what sets him apart is that he is great at crossing from the deep half spaces too (which we have seen before in this tactical analysis). He does not play many deep completed passes but he is one of the leaders when it comes to playing deep crosses. The opposition should be wary of this and should not leave him with enough time and space for him to deliver the ball in the 18-yard-box from the deep half spaces.
At Górnik Zabrze he was not required to perform defensive duties extensively. Górnik Zabrze pressed in a midblock and Angulo was instructed to just maintain his position, rather than pressing the opposition. Angulo is less than 20 percentile in almost all the departments when it comes to defensive contributions. But the telling stats is Angulo ranks the lowest when it comes to aerial duels attempted and we have seen the reason why.
Is Igor Angulo in decline?
Angulo’s age is a concern for many. Even though he has scored more than 60 goals in the Polish top division for the last three years, the 36 beside the leading striker’s age is bound to keep the fans concerned. It’s better we see the trend of the output he produced in the last three seasons for Górnik Zabrze to have a slight idea of his struggles (maybe).
The graph above tries to produce the answer to the conundrum. We can see he is in a state of decline in terms of goals. However, in 2017/18 and 2018/19 he overperformed his xG by a handsome amount. It’s only the last year, he has faltered in this aspect. So, it would be absolutely wrong to suggest he is in a decline as one year of underperforming xG doesn’t really give any conclusion. It would be more wrong to say he is in a decline owing to his brilliant xG. The more the xG, it means the player is finding himself in a better goal scoring position more often. Angulo has managed to find himself in a better goal scoring position every passing year. However, the steady decline in shots on target % in successive seasons demonstrates his decline in terms of efficiency of scoring.
To conclude if he is in a decline, yes, he has lost a bit of touch in front of the goal. However, his shrewd movement, first touch, crossing, and ability to read the game has only gone from better to better. Angulo is like a fine wine, just like his fellow Athletic Club compatriot, Aritz Aduriz, who has become better with age.
Juan Ferrando would be over the moon to get a striker who can choke the opponent with his shrewd movements and impeccable counter attack ability. However, he needs quality ball fed to him as he is not a player who likes to create a shot for himself through dribbling or other means.