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Manuela Giugliano: The Italian Jess Fishlock

Manuela Giugliano is one of Italy’s best midfielders and one of Roma Women’s most impactful players. She’s regularly played with the Italian national team, as she participated in numerous international competitions like the 2017 UEFA Women’s Euro and the 2019 FIFA World Cup, during which she made some excellent performances despite not reaching the final stages of the tournament. 

At 24 years old, Giugliano has got plenty of time to develop her playing style even further and improve many aspects while getting the opportunity to shine in international tournaments as well as in Serie A Women with her team, Roma.

The focus of this scout report and tactical analysis will be on Giugliano’s main characteristics, roles on the pitch and playmaking abilities. As mentioned in the title, this analysis will show how Giugliano resembles Wales and OL Reign star, Jessica Fishlock, in terms of playing style, physical abilities and more which we will explore below. 

Roles and positions

Giugliano is mainly a midfielder who has no difficulties in playing as a defensive midfielder, central midfielder or even as an advanced playmaker: a role which she excels at given her excellent vision and passing skills, as well as her agility and quick dribbling skills. This leads us to conclude that Giugliano can play, and has already played, in several midfield positions. Nevertheless, she excels mainly as a defensive midfielder with Roma even though her team’s tactics mainly require her to initiate attacks, serving the attacking players to win some time through long passes between the lines and making sure that the ball goes to the opponent’s half without problems. 

Giugliano’s great vision and accurate passing help her a lot in executing these roles, as she finds no issues with alternating between spreading the ball to the right or left wingers when she notices free space in front of them. Her passing accuracy of passes to the final third is 57.3% while her general passing accuracy is 74.2%. These statistics can be improved, but as a player who is positioned mainly as a defensive midfielder, these are rather very good averages. Such vision and passing accuracy permit the whole team to rely on her playmaking skills while being sure that she will make the most adequate passing choice at the right time. 

Therefore, we can consider Giugliano as a modern defensive midfielder whose creativity and playmaking skills are predominant when compared to her defensive skills. This, however, does not mean that she does not have defensive roles. Being positioned just in front of defence surely obliges Giugliano to make extra pressure on the attacking players while trying to intercept passes or commit tactical fouls to prevent opponents from reaching the box on certain occasions.   

Manuela Giugliano at Roma 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Playmaking and passing skills

Giugliano is a player who is strong in physical duels despite not being a tall player. Just like Fishlock, both players are excellent in duels as well as in passing. Giugliano’s passes are often powerful because she knows very well that if she sends slow-paced passes they are more likely to be intercepted. So, unlike numerous midfield players, she usually passes the ball with power, limiting almost all risks of interceptions while making sure that the pass will reach the desired destination or player. 

Moreover, when she does not have the ball, Giugliano is a dynamic player who moves a lot and advances to support the attacks and give an extra passing option upfront. Her advancement towards the final third often brings good results as she makes quick, and most of the time, excellent decisions whenever she is put in complex situations. As you can see in this example, Giugliano was surrounded by almost four defenders in this action and was still able to provide her teammate with an accurate through pass allowing her to be in front of the opposing goalkeeper and without any marking defender.

Manuela Giugliano at Roma 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

In addition to that, Giugliano’s first-time crosses and long passes often cause a lot of danger for opposing defences, especially when bearing in mind that she usually takes the decision beforehand in these situations and prepares herself while receiving the pass. Identifying where to cross and what’s the ideal free space to exploit helps a lot in making her long passes even more crucial as it gives her teammates enough time to advance and get an advantage over their opponents. Succeeding in such passes steadily changes the perception of her teammates to her profile and builds a lot of trust regarding her passes. That’s exactly what happened with Giugliano at Roma, and to a lesser degree, at the Italian national team.

Here’s an example of those first time long passes that can break defensive lines and create goalscoring situations in a blink of an eye if her teammates effectively exploit the pass. 

Manuela Giugliano at Roma 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

These first-time passes are one of Giugliano’s best traits because she succeeds in executing them with precision while making it difficult for her opponents to identify the destination of the pass or even mark the receiver well. In a different situation to the one above, Giugliano here received a pass on the right wing and decided to cross it without controlling as she spotted some free Italian players coming into the box. Therefore, she instantly launched a pinpoint cross that came to Cristiana Girelli’s head, with which the latter scored the Azzurre’s third goal of their match against Jamaica. 

Manuela Giugliano at Roma 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Apart from first-time passes, Giugliano knows how to deal with pressing and gets out of difficult situations without getting stressed or confused. In her position, it is fundamental to play without pressure, or without letting pressure overcome the feeling of confidence, for example, which may lead to numerous mistakes in delicate areas. 

This, however, does not happen with Giugliano because she is not only a confident player: she is also a player who thinks continuously with or without the ball and who is usually aware of what is happening around her. This can be extremely useful for midfielders, as it gives such players the possibility of being game-changers and becoming impactful whenever they touch the ball. Giugliano has already become one of these reliable, game-changing midfielders who can be crucial at certain moments of matches. 

As you can see below, she got the ball from defence after they intercepted it and Giugliano initiated the counter-attack. She advanced just a little bit while looking at the player to whom she is planning to pass as if she was saying: “start running so that I can give you a suitable through pass behind the defensive line”. That’s what happened after a few seconds and her teammate found herself completely free in front of the goal following Giugliano’s well-timed and accurate ball. 

Manuela Giugliano at Roma 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

These passing skills confirm that Giugliano is a creative midfielder who can be decisive not only as a defensive midfielder but also as an advanced playmaker since she suits this role very well too. That’s why we’ve seen her change her position multiple times before or even during games by playing as a number 10 when needed. 

Here’s a clear example of how effective she can be in the final third. She was successful in making an assist with a pass that cut through all opponents and reached the circled player, putting her in a perfect situation.

Manuela Giugliano at Roma 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Goalscoring, dribbling and interceptions

Giugliano can also score goals using her right or left foot and she is also a free-kick specialist for Roma and the Italian national team. It is true, however, that Giugliano can still improve at finishing and use her shooting capacities more effectively. This will be the role of her coaches who should encourage her and train her to be more crucial when facing the goal or even when finding opportunities for shots from distance. 

Improving this goalscoring aspect, and especially using her long shots more effectively and decisively, will make Giugliano even more important to her teams as it will make her more similar to Fishlock’s playing style since the two players are already similar in almost all the above characteristics.

You can see here how she was able to convert her teammate’s cross into a goal by advancing and putting herself in a suitable scoring position before executing a beautiful volley with her left foot to hit the target. 

Manuela Giugliano at Roma 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Giugliano can also perform very well when facing the goal, even when she is being chased by defenders, and her strong personality prevents her from resorting to easy choices like passing to a teammate in such situations. She prefers to conclude the action relying on her personal abilities and she often succeeds in her mission, especially in counter-attacks.

Manuela Giugliano at Roma 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Despite not focusing a lot on Giugliano’s defensive abilities, it is worth mentioning that she is not an easy player to beat in duels, despite not having great natural abilities. Nevertheless, she is very solid and can disturb any player, especially in Serie A Women. Moreover, she does not rely a lot on aggressivity or on committing fouls; rather, she focuses on stealing the ball intelligently while trying to not commit fouls. Having a good vision and being able to read the game well helps her a lot in this aspect and allows her to win and intercept passes so often. 

Here, she was able to stop the opponent and win the ball without committing an unnecessary foul or getting herself engaged in a physical battle. She focused on the ball and the intention of the opponent while making sure to touch the ball at the right time before the opponent did so. 

Manuela Giugliano at Roma 2021/2022 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics


Manuela Giugliano is one of Italy’s best midfielders who is still in the developmental phase and can reach her peak very soon. It will be fundamental for her to move to bigger clubs in the near future and aim to participate in the UEFA Women’s Champions League to gain more experience and play at the highest level since she has all it takes to do well there. 

She already proved that she can perform well with Italy in different tournaments and against powerful opponents. All that is left now is to succeed at a more competitive club than Roma since the team wasn’t able to compete with Juventus, Milan and Fiorentina for the two top spots over the last few seasons despite winning Coppa Italia last term.