xG Giakoumakis: The bargain striker who is leading the Eredivisie Golden Boot race
There are many players that start to impress at a very young age, scoring double figures and playing pivotal roles for their teams. There are also players who have been out of the spotlight for so long that they chase every opportunity and take advantage of their chances. Players who don’t take anything for granted and wait for the perfect opportunity to shine.
Georgios Giakoumakis falls in the second category. After a few years of wandering around a few Greek clubs and a short spell at Górnik Zabrze in Poland, he wasn’t able to show his abilities. Then, the light in the tunnel appeared with VVV-Venlo’s interest in him, which landed him at the Covebo Stadion – De Koel for €325k and provided him with an opportunity to prove himself.
With only three goals in 33 games in the 2019/20 season, it seemed like the attacker was on the verge of another failure. It is now a few months later and he turned the tables by displaying consistency, explosiveness and efficiency as VVV-Venlo’s regular centre-forward. Not only does he carry out most of the team’s duties in attack but he is also the leading goalscorer in the Eredivisie with 24 goals in 25 games in the time of writing. The leaders Ajax, for example, don’t have a contender in the top five.
This is a result of him never playing it safe and striving for better results, providing a direct threat through his qualities. This scout report in the form of a tactical analysis examines his main traits, how he fits the team’s tactics and what made him a Golden Boot contender.
Although his story shows how hard work and the right approach can do wonders, it might not have the happy ending that all hope for. VVV-Venlo are currently among the worst performers in the league and despite Giakoumakis’ outstanding performance, the team struggle to get out of the relegation zone. This means that for the first time in history the team holding the top goalscorer in the competition might get relegated.
Despite performing well in attack, their defensive actions often throw their efforts to waste with the team having the worst defence in the league with 72 goals conceded. The team are unable to structure well defensively, have poor organization during transitions and do fail in their positioning in their defensive third too. Despite his huge responsibilities upfront, Giakoumakis is often forced to drop back and assist with defensive actions.
In possession, the team often use direct play for bypassing the press and delivering the ball to the advanced areas as soon as possible, that’s why the Greek’s presence is very important. His positioning, aerial presence and confidence in 1vs1 situations make him the perfect option in the box and increase the team’s efficiency in front of the goal. He is also the perfect target for their frequent crossing attempts thanks to his positioning and decision-making.
Positioning and off the ball movement
The 26-year-old’s positioning is very important for the team’s successful attacking actions. Despite being a centre-forward he doesn’t limit himself to moving only in and around the box. He usually strolls back to the central line to pick up the ball and help with ball progression.
He occupies the half-spaces too, providing passing options on both sides due to the team’s tendency to play with width. It is the central areas though that he exploits perfectly well so he can move in a goalscoring position.
His off the ball runs allow the team to break through defences either by taking on his markers and creating opportunities or by dragging them out of position, creating space for himself and his teammates. He constantly follows the ball and moves around the penalty area to provide a good passing option which will also allow him to shoot from a quality position.
Despite his central position in 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 formations, he often moves out to the flanks and then cuts back inside to provide more options in their build-up and help them with finishing the attacks. He wouldn’t contribute with a lot of passing but more so use his positioning to create and exploit spaces and threaten the goal.
Aerial presence, headed attempts and set-piece threat
One of Giakoumakis’ significant strengths is his aerial presence. Moving into a goalscoring position is often supported by his aerial contribution. Being that efficient in attack is often a result of his success in aerial duels and hold up play. He dives into 9.01 aerials on average per game, winning half of them, which often helps him in outplaying his opponents and retaining possession of the ball.
He wouldn’t only try to keep the possession but also do headed attempts outjumping the defenders and creating goalscoring opportunities. He combines his positioning in the box and his aerial actions quite well which makes him a perfect indirect set-piece threat. The team have scored eight goals from set-plays so far and Giakoumakis’ contribution is noticeable.
His actions in the penalty area are crucial for the team’s successful attacking performance. He doesn’t only contribute to the set-pieces with his aerial presence. The opposition often play aggressively against him and he gets fouled often, leading to great opportunities. He is the main penalty taker and has scored eight penalties this term so far making him an even more important part of the team set-up.
Confidence, balance and decision-making
The Greek’s mentality is what makes him that efficient in front of the goal. He does have the technical skills but what results in that many successful attempts is his confidence, balance and decision-making. He wouldn’t hesitate to occupy overcrowded areas and go out in 2vs1 situations against the opposition defenders. His confidence on the ball affects his work under pressure and helps him in holding on to the ball even when tightly covered.
His strong decision-making allows him to hold on to the ball and score from difficult angles which makes him very beneficial no matter what attacking strategy the team have adapted. His efficiency is also a result of his right judgement. He tends to do flick-ons quite frequently passing through defenders and goalkeepers and making it impossible for them to defend against it.
With his 4.06 touches in the box, he is often able to create great chances for his team. Averaging 2.96 shots per 90 with more than 50% of them being on target he turned into the main creator of the team. Unfortunately, his efforts might not be enough for them to stay in the first tier after this season.
At 26 years of age, Georgios Giakoumakis was able to prove his qualities thanks to the support of his teammates and the freedom he has. He plays with confidence and awareness which results in fantastic results in each game. His ability to outplay his markers allows the team to create chances even against overcrowded defensive blocks.
The Greek’s decision-making and finishing make him a great attacking addition. He is reliable and efficient which make him a good team player who could step up and take the responsibility upfront. Having in mind his performance and the possible team relegation, it won’t be a surprise if his future hides somewhere in Bundesliga , Ligue 1 or La Liga.