The winter transfer window went well for Sevilla, who are fighting for a top-three place in La Liga this season. They put an end to the Alejandro Gómez – Atalanta saga and signed the 32-year-old attacking midfielder as an additional option for their forward ventures.
While the team’s actions up front have been satisfying, mainly thanks to their top goal scorer Youssef En-Nesyri, some more creativity in the advanced areas is always welcome. Gómez was a key figure in Atalanta’s successful last few years and had a pivotal role in their distinguished attacking playing style.
He is definitely a player who could provide versatility where needed and increase a team’s efficiency both on and off the ball.
In this tactical analysis in the form of scout report, we will suggest how Papu Gómez could increase Sevilla’s attacking prowess and could he fit into their tactics well enough to earn a starting spot and boost their top three chances.
Playing style and role
The Argentine is a versatile attacking midfielder who could be used both in the centre and in the wide areas. His style of play is based on his strong movement off the ball, creative passing and abilities on the ball. In his seven years’ spell as an Atalanta player in Serie A, he transformed into the club’s talisman and had a pivotal role in Gian Piero Gasperini’s recognisable attacking approach.
Being keen to help in different areas resulted in his complex skills which could be useful for each team not only in their final third actions but also throughout their build-up and during defensive transitions.
Of course, while his versatility makes him a very complete player, he has an area where he is the most efficient at – the advanced areas. His affinity to occupy the half-spaces while also moving out wide and cutting back inside has made him that efficient in his attacking actions, which is the reason why he was the main figure for Atalanta.
He doesn’t have any struggles breaking through defences thanks to his intelligent positioning, which brings the best out of his teammates and helps the team in exploiting the free spaces most efficiently. His link-up-play was something very beneficial for the Bergamo team, and now he immediately demonstrated it in his debut game for Copa Del Rey vs Almeria.
From dropping down and helping with ball progression to opening spaces in the advanced areas and also contributing defensively with pressing high, his role was very complex
With 59 goals and 71 assists in 252 games, he added a lot of value to Atalanta’s performance and helped them reach their first-ever UEFA Champions League contribution.
What are Sevilla’s main traits?
Julen Lopetegui sets the team up in 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 and employs slightly different strategies with both formations. In their 4-3-3 the team are most frequently highly positioned, and the full-backs moving around the central line, but while playing in 4-2-3-1 they sit closer to their defensive third. He usually relied on a defensive midfielder to sit deeper and help with ball progression from the back.
The team rely on long balls frequently, trying to bypass the opposition press and provide through balls directly to the attacking players.
The team prefer controlling the game and having more time on the ball which results in their average possession of 60.4%.
Although they do try to use all channels, the team most frequently rely on building up and attacking through the flanks. Both of their full-backs tend to join the advanced areas and focus on ball progression and crossing. The Sevilla players use link-up-play in the wide areas for breaking through the oppositions’ pressing systems and advance the ball
The Rojiblancos currently have one of the best defensive records in the league outperforming their xGA of 22.35 by conceding only 16 goals by the time of writing. Their defensive performance is a result of successful 1vs1 actions with the team winning 59% of their defensive duels and 50.8% of their aerials. That helps them in securing the goal, although they do often struggle in defending long shots.
In the following sections in our analysis, we will focus on how Gómez could fit their tactics and help them improve.
Bringing build-up balance
The 32-year-old’s outstanding trait is his positioning. By using his impressive spatial awareness Gómez manages to easily exploit gaps and use them either for advancing the ball or for creating goalscoring opportunity. He moves around the central areas a lot, but he’s most frequently trying to provide a passing option in the half-spaces in efforts to progress the ball and break through the opposition’s marking.
What makes him that versatile is that despite his left-narrowed position he doesn’t hesitate to stroll towards the right flank too and form attacking combinations with his teammates. His movement off the ball combined with his passing abilities make him the perfect asset for ball progression.
This could be very beneficial for Sevilla’s possession football since he would help them in opening the passing lanes and progressing the ball using his link-up-play. They tend to use the right flank in their build-up and attacking actions, and his presence could bring balance by offering them option both for the central areas and the left-hand side.
He could help in building up through the central channels because of his flair for a nice pass. Using his ability to hold on to the ball centrally while the full-backs advance of the ball and then using his passing skills to spread out wide to them could be a successful strategy, especially having in mind their usual reliance on crossing.
He could also be extremely useful for creating more opportunities from the left, making Sevilla’s both flanks efficient during build-up and increasing their attacking flexibility.
The Argentine could also fit well to their long-ball strategy. His spatial awareness allows him to provide well-measured long balls who can immediately dismiss the opposition and create chances for the team.
Next, there’s an example of his central positioning, spatial awareness and long ball abilities. Seeing the staggered central areas he immediately realised it would be difficult for the team to break through there or through the right flank where there was coverage. He then noticed the space occurred on the left side and delivered the ball there allowing the team to reach the final third easily.
Increasing the creativity in the advanced areas
The next benefit of signing Gómez is his creativity in attack. With a lot of experience from Atalanta, he can be one of the best assets in the advanced areas. That’s mainly thanks to his positioning and flair. Occupying the half-spaces and offering passing options both to the central players and the wide players is something that increases the creativity and a team’s efficiency in the final third.
His passing and movement could be beneficial for Sevilla in a few areas due to his versatility. He could be used as a sole attacking midfielder, as a left attacking midfielder or as a left wing forward. His partnership with the wide players could be key for creating opportunities for the team.
Gómez could go out wide and help with crossing himself, which would allow the wide players time and space for movement and allow them to cut inside to the box whenever they have the opportunity. This occupation of the half-spaces could be also useful for creating overloads in and around the box. By creating attacking triangles and spreading out to the full-back, he allows the winger to occupy the key areas while he also moves off the ball, providing even more options in front of the goal.
Even if he stays in the central areas, he could be perfect for playing a one-two with his fellow attackers and exploiting well-structured low blocks where the spaces are limited. His through ball ability would allow the team more freedom in the final third.
Improving their efficiency in front of the goal
Sevilla usually create enough chances in front of the goal thanks to Ocampos, En-Nesyri and Suso. They send 10.9 shots on average per 90 which places them fourth in the league in terms of shots per 90. What takes off of their efforts though is their low efficiency. The team are second to last in terms of shot accuracy with only 31.9% of their shots being on target with the average for the league being 37.14%.
Although the wingers have contributed to their goalscoring record too, the key responsible for converting the chances into goals is En-Nesyri. His shot accuracy of 54.29% is the main reason for the team being successful in front of the goal.
Having Gómez in the starting XI could increase their goalscoring efficiency too. As mentioned, he is a great option for creating opportunities for his teammates, but the Argentine could also provide a direct threat. His spatial awareness allows him to place well between the opposition’s defensive structures and escape his markers easily. His dribbling skills and ability to hold on to the ball make him perfect for taking on defenders and shooting. These qualities help him in providing a threat from distance, which was proved by his outstanding goal for Sevilla in his LaLiga debut.
Adding value on a counter and during attacking set-pieces
Gómez could also fit their counter-attacking actions well. With his positioning and long balls, he could be very helpful during transitions and support the team by starting counter and spreading out to the forward players. He could increase their chances on a counter and help them outplay their average of 2.77 counter attacks per game with 31.8% of them ending with shots.
The Argentine could also be a set-piece threat and could help them in converting their free-kicks and corners into goals, making them a lot more versatile in attack than now. They have currently scored only three goals from their set-plays
Papu Gómez could fit well to Sevilla’s strategy and be a great option both as a starter and as a substitution. Lopetegui could use him in the starting XI without straying away from his usual approach, while he could also rely on him as an additional option should the things in attack not go well, and they need a quick boost in creativity.
With his experience and explicit skills, bringing him to the squad in January was a very smart move, which will increase their top three chances.