Patrik Schick 2019/20: Schick’s striking partnership with Timo Werner – scout report
When Czech striker Patrik Schick joined RB Leipzig at the start of the Bundesliga 2019/20 campaign, it was a mystery to whether the striker on loan from AS Roma would become a regular starter under coach Julian Nagelsmann. Despite having a lot of potential, Schick often struggled with injuries and apart from flashes of brilliance he could not convince in Serie A. At Leipzig, however, Schick is flourishing and taking up a vital role within the attacking department.
In the following tactical analysis, we will take a closer look at how Schick’s skill set suits RB Leipzig’s tactics under Julian Nagelsmann. Furthermore, we are going to analyse the interplay between Timo Werner and Schick at Leipzig.
Schick’s profile and his role at Leipzig
In RB Leipzig’s recent games, Schick and Werner were often lined up together as a striking duo in a 3-5-2 system. In the away game at Schalke, as we can see below, they attacked together with Werner playing on the left side and the left-footed Schick on the right.
Since Werner mostly attacks down the left-wing or half-space, Schick slightly tends to move to the right side of the pitch. By taking a closer look at Schick’s heat map, which is displayed below, one can see what role the Czech striker fulfils. The 24-year-old attacker moves up front with good horizontal movement looking for opportunities to receive and link-up play. Whenever his side reached the final third, Schick occupied the central area within the box the get into a position to finish.
One of Schick’s biggest strengths is his first touch. He rarely controls the ball without an intention. Instead, his first touch already introduces the following action whether it is a dribble, pass or shot. A good first touch also allows him to quickly turn when receiving the ball turned backwards to the opposition goal.
With his aerial abilities, Schick, unlike Werner, is able to ensure that Leipzig retain possession although they are forced to play a long ball during build-up. With Schick acting as the target man up front, similar to Yussuf Poulsen, Leipzig’s midfield can receive lay-offs.
This is an important feature of Leipzig’s attacking style as they seek opportunities for up-back-through combinations. And with Schick playing up front, they can also use chipped balls to progress up the pitch and get the ball into space between the lines for a final through pass.
Combination play & box-movement
Leipzig’s attacking style revolves around quick vertical combinations. Therefore, a commonly used pattern is the up-back-through pattern preferably through the half-spaces or the central lane.
In these situations, Schick functions as the wall player on the last line laying the ball off to Leipzig’s midfielders. From an area between the lines, Leipzig’s midfielder can then look for a possible through pass or chipped ball to break the last line of defence.
Although Leipzig’s first-choice attack is to penetrate the opposition attack with through passes, Nagelsmann’s side also put in crosses from wide areas. In these scenarios, Schick plays a vital role. Schick’s shot map in the Bundesliga 2019/20 season so far illustrates where the Czech international likes to position himself for finishing.
Often, Schick takes up positions between the six-yard box and the penalty spot. Since most central defenders position themselves at the edge of the six-yard box, Schick’s positioning enables him to receive the ball between the centre-backs and central midfielders on their way back. This clever box-movement between the defensive lines makes Schick one of the biggest threats during Leipzig’s wing attacks.
Patrik Schick and Timo Werner
One of the positive side effects of Schick’s rise is the interaction with Leipzig’s attacking star Werner. Werner is linked with a move to Liverpool and has shown why he’s such a sought after asset. When both players are on the pitch, Schick usually plays in a more central role while Werner attacks with a focus on the left side. These roles suit both, Schick as well as Werner. Whereas Schick can win aerial duels, shield the ball and act as a target-man, Werner prefers to attack facing the goal and utilising his pace with diagonal runs or dribblings into space behind the opposition back line.
With Werner’s dribbling, the German international occupies several defenders on the left side. In the meantime, Schick is positioning himself between the opposition central defenders awaiting a possible cross or pass.
With the opposition defensive department mainly focusing on Werner, Schick is given more space within goal near areas.
One of Leipzig’s main principles of play is to overload certain areas. With Schick and Werner both attacking through the same lane, they can outnumber the opposition or isolate other attackers.
In transition moments, Werner and Schick complement each other very well. Contrary to Werner’s preference to receive the ball in space behind the defence, Schick is also capable of utilising the space in front of the opposition back line when receiving the ball at his feet.
From there, the Leipzig striker either looks for an easy through pass or he attempts to get into a finishing position with dribbling. Moreover, when the ball is played to Schick in these moments, a defender is forced to step out. This creates further gaps within the defensive department which can be exploited with Werner’s deep runs.
When both, Schick and Werner are positioned centrally, they use counter-movements to create space for each other. While one starts a deep run, the other provides a short passing option.
By attacking through central areas together, they occupy the opposition back line centrally and allow their wide players to move into the vacated space out wide.
As shown in our analysis, it is not a coincidence that Schick can convince with great performances at Leipzig. Our scout report has proven that the Czech striker does not only benefit from Leipzig’s attacking style which suits his skill set but also takes advantage of Werner’s qualities complementing his very well.
However, it seems that Schick’s successful time at Leipzig has just begun and if he can continue to perform, there will be no doubt that RB Leipzig will aim at buying the AS Roma loan.