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Carlos Martin 2023/24 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics

Carlos Martín 2023/24: Why Atlético Madrid’s loaned out starlet could be a Griezmann heir – scout report

Carlos Martín is off to a scintillating start for Mirandés.

A loanee from Atlético Madrid, the 21-year-old leads La Liga 2 in goals scored and has a goal contribution rate of 67% for Mirandés. After scoring 18 goals for Atlético Madrid B in the RFEF Segunda B, he is continuing to produce in the Spanish second division.

This scout report will take a look at his season at Mirandés and evaluate the essential qualities he’s showing. But we want to go further than that. Since he is only on loan for the season, we also want to evaluate opportunities at his parent club. Through tactical analysis, we will see if Martín has the potential to step into Antoine Griezmann’s role once the Frenchman is out of the equation.

Operating as a second striker

Mirandés typically play a 4-2-3-1 with Martín in the #10 role. He plays the position more like a classic #10, so he’s very tightly connected to his centre-forward, giving Martín a secondary striker function. He operates well moving off of his strike partner and shows good awareness of opportunities as they arise.

Martín is a player who finds pockets of space centrally and moves into those spaces well. Watching Mirandés, there were similarities to Atlético Madrid’s approach. In possession, Martín was able to find pockets of space in the same way Griezmann would. He took up positions that connected him with his teammates and made it easier to link up.

For an Atlético Madrid youth, quality movement and transition is also vital. That’s something we see from Martín on film. He responds very quickly in attacking transitions and shows a good awareness of which spaces to attack. His early recognition of transitional moments allows him to gain additional meters on his opponents. That was a valuable asset in his opening goal against Alcorcon. As soon as Martín saw his teammate poke the ball free, he quickly got forward and created a 3v2.

Martín saw the right centreback drifting too close to the ball as the attacking sequence veered into the right half-space. Once that gap emerged centrally, he timed his run to perfection to receive and score.

Martín would return for a second goal later in the game. Again, it’s a nice transitional moment with a fantastic pass from his teammate, Gabri Martínez. Martín does well to remain outside of his defender’s line of vision and maintain good spacing throughout the sequence.

He’s a constant threat to run in behind the back line. We’ve mentioned Griezmann by name already in this scout report, but there are strong similarities between the two players. Both are comfortable dropping in between the lines to facilitate play. Both are comfortable stretching the back line, whether with a decoy run or offering that passing option behind the back line.

He received the pass in the sequence against Andorra, presenting a dangerous run into the box. Though he didn’t score in this instance, the run gives you an idea of his movement patterns.

Looking specifically at his movement in the box, Martín has shown tremendous quality. He drifts off of defenders’ shoulders really well and finds excellent pockets of space. Even better, he seems to have a knack for understanding where the ball will end up, be it off of a rebound or as his teammates look to serve a ball in.

Martín trained with Atlético Madrid in pre-season. That includes a second-half appearance against the K-League All-Stars. He played out of position that game, featuring as the right-wing back, limiting his impact in the match, but he still managed to walk away with a goal. Ángel Correa’s delivery found him at the far post for a tap-in.

Looking at his shot selection for the current season, he does tend to shoot from distance from the left side of the pitch and from closer range on the right half. He is a right-footed player, so those shots from distance largely represent cutting in on his right foot from the wing. As Mirandés pushes higher up the pitch, he does tend to move to the right side of the central channel or even into the right half space to receive and shoot, which fits each of the examples from his host club.

Martín has a strong history of goal-scoring in the professional ranks. His movement of the ball in quick reactions and transition are critical to that success. Whether playing as a second striker and a two-man front line or underneath as a true #10, Martín has a nose for goal and tailors his movements to maximize his chance of success.

Playmaking from deep

Even though his preference is to push into the highest line and offer a threat in the box, Martín is a guy who can drop deeper into midfield and contribute to his side’s earlier attacking phases. He doesn’t have the work rate to play a box-to-box role in a Diego Simeone-style system. Still, he does have the quality and understanding to offer a dynamic positional rotation and help the team out of the back or connect the lines.

In terms of his passing, Martín is more of a creative. He does possess excellent vision and is keen to use it. There’s a degree of risk that he’s willing to take on winning possession of the ball, making him more suited to play higher up the pitch.

Looking at his pass map, he does tend to slide into the left side of the pitch and distribute from there. Looking at the directions of the lines, a significant percentage are either straight passes or on a slight diagonal. Intermediate and long-range diagonals are very uncommon. He’s a player who likes to link up with his immediate network and combine around opponents or slip teammates behind lines.

With the freedom to roam while playing as a #10, Martín finds excellent pockets of space that allow him to get into forward-facing positions and pick out teammates’ runs. He also shows good security in possession, rarely losing the ball in the dribble. That press resistance allows him to spin away from opponents and buy his teammates time and space to move off Martín.

Below, Martín’s dribbling in the wing allowed his strike partner to see a passing lane behind the opposition lines. Martín cleverly used the dribble to open the passing lane and play his teammate into the box.

Martín is a player who’s equally comfortable passing or dribbling forward. We noted that he likes to drop between the lines and receive. When the pass is on, he’ll play it, but much like Griezmann, Martín enjoys running at the opposition’s backline.

He offers a nice blend of incisive passing and penetrating carries. The map below gives us the starting and endpoints of his penetrating carries. This is through five games and shows how active Martín has been in progressing the attack through the dribble.

Between his goal-scoring, vision and dribbling ability, Martín has quickly established himself as one of the most watched players in La Liga 2. With performances like this, he’ll hopefully jump into La Liga next season, ideally with Atlético Madrid.

Is Martín a future Griezmann replacement?

Ideally, at Atlético Madrid…sounds cautiously optimistic. There is the thought that if Griezmann does leave the club next summer, Martín offers a like-for-like replacement in the squad. That’s not to say he would provide the same calibre of play as Griezmann, but there is the suggestion that the two players have a similar style of play.

But is the youngster ready to face the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona and compete in the Champions League? Martín did spend time with the Atlético Madrid first team during pre-season, but it’s difficult to say what his future with the club looks like.

From a positional standpoint, he does offer similar qualities to a player like Antoine Griezmann. Martín’s heat map shows a definite preference for the left half space or the central channel; we’ve already seen his movements and positioning in context in this tactical analysis.

Here’s a player who clearly prefers to station himself in a high-central area. During that pre-season game against the K-League All-Stars, we saw Martín in the wings. He never looked settled in the position and struggled to impact the game. It’s not that he played poorly; he just had a limited impact.

Decision-making was a bit of an issue in the wings. When central players push out wide, one of the significant adjustments is the restriction of options. There’s a 180° view of potential options when carrying the ball forward centrally. If nothing’s available forward, the player can turn around and have a new view of 180°.

On the right wing, Martín found himself caught a couple of times, taking extra touches in tight spaces. In the instance below, he initially dribbled into a 1v3 before realizing he was out of options, which forced him to cut the ball back and try to play to one of his negative outlets. However, his two teammates were shadow-marked, and his pass was poor, leading to a turnover and counterattack.

Later in the game, he showed a lack of understanding of using the wing to continue progressing the ball up the pitch. Initially, he had space to drive into the wing and run at the All Stars left back, but he delayed the attack, drew another defender into the wings and then tried to cut inside. By cutting inside, he was taking himself into a 2v4 scenario with little space to receive.

Had he upped the tempo and connected with his teammate earlier, a 2v1 or 2v2 was available. The odds of winning that matchup and getting into the box are far greater, but his tendency to play centrally drew him inside.

If Martín forces his way into the Atlético Madrid squad, it’s best for him and the club that he does so centrally. Playing as the second forward in Simeone’s system is the ideal fit, but there’s plenty of competition for that gig. A loan to another La Liga squad is likely the best stepping stone for Martín next season. One additional year to develop and earn minutes within La Liga will help him acclimate to the league’s demands. At that point, the next hurdle will be adapting to the demands of Simeone’s tactics when Martín does get his chance with Atleti.

Conclusion

Martín leads La Liga 2 in goals and goal contributions through the first six rounds. He’s one of the players to watch this season.

If he does get that breakout campaign, he’s positioned himself to compete for a spot with Atlético Madrid next season. From the perspective of timing, that may coincide with Griezmann’s departure. If the stars do align for Martín and he gets this opportunity next year, it’ll be off the back of a fantastic campaign in 2023/24.