Jennifer Hermoso 2019/20 – Scout Report
This tactical analysis scout report will analyze FC Barcelona Femeni player and current Primera Division de la Liga de Futbol Femenino 2019/20 top goal scorer, Jennifer Hermoso. The system and tactics of Barcelona will be discussed as well as the role and responsibility that Hermoso plays within this. Hermoso, who previously represented Barcelona from 2013-2017, rejoined the club in 2019 after stints at Paris Saint-Germain Feminine and Club Atletico de Madrid Femenino. She is a full Spanish international, with 76 caps and 32 goals.
FC Barcelona Femeni
FC Barcelona Femeni are currently in 1st position of the Primera Division de la Liga de Futbol Femenino. Having won 19 and tied two of the 21 matches, Barcelona are clearly ‘the’ dominant team within the league. This is further reiterated in the +80 actual goal differential and a +55.4 xG difference. The system implemented by Barcelona is a variation of 1-4-3-3 (41.1%)/1-4-1-4-1 (45%).
Barcelona are a possession orientated team (67.3%), averaging a league-high 622.37 passes per game. The tactics implemented include a high emphasis on positional play. Barcelona attempt to create three main superiorities. The first superiority is numerical, which refers to having +1 more players than the opposition in the zone around the ball. If Barcelona are even in numbers, or even numbers down (attacking underload) then they will look to change the angle of attack.
The second superiority is that of positional superiority which is a key tactic of Barcelona. This refers to the positioning of players to be able to receive the ball in order to eliminate the opponents pressing/defensive positioning. The final superiority is that of qualitative superiority, which refers to getting the ‘best’ players of Barcelona in a position to attack against a ‘weaker’ opponent 1v1. The specific area Barcelona target is the wide channels using their wide forwards.
Jennifer Hermoso is a key player for Barcelona, playing a league-high 1908 minutes during the 2019/20 season. One reason for the high number of minutes and impactful play is that she is a very versatile player and can play several roles within the FC Barcelona Femeni system. One specific role is that of the ‘false 9’. The traditional role of a number 9 is as a target player or central forward which is often the most advanced positioned player. Aims of this role include a high number of touches inside the box, finishing from crosses, receiving a through ball, or holding up play after direct passes. A ‘false 9’ refers to a non-traditional style of play for this role, allowing the player more freedom of movement.
Benefits of utilizing a ‘false 9’ include generating overloads in areas that are away from the central defenders. For example, when both teams are implementing a 1-4-3-3 system of play, numerical parity is evident in central midfield (3v3), the ‘false 9’ by moving deeper into a withdrawn position can create numerical superiority and a 4v3 situation. This gives the opposition several problems, either allow the opposition to have +1 player in central midfield or follow the player and move out of a defensively compact shape. If the opposition defender applies pressure to the ‘false 9’, an added benefit of utilizing this role is that it can create space for midfielders running from deeper into higher spaces or using the wide forward with diagonal runs to exploit space.
In the above diagram, Hermoso has rotated from the #9 central forward position into midfield, this has created an overload of 4v3 in the central channel. As a result, Hermoso has been able to receive a pass, unopposed, with the ability to face forward and progress the ball by dribbling. Barcelona have also rotated the #11 infield which has ‘fixed’ the right defender of Athletic Bilbao centrally and created space for the deeper run of #3 into a higher position on the last line of pressure.
In the second example of Hermoso as the ‘false 9’, she has rotated towards the outside left channel. This now creates a 3v2 situation with the #11 & #3 vs. the #2 and #7 of Athletic Bilbao. With numerical superiority on the left side, if any defender is provoked into pressing #11, this will generate a new ‘free player’ & Barcelona can time the pass and exploit the 2v1 situation.
Hermoso is ranked 4th in the league in the number of average key passes per 90 minutes (2.40). She is also ranked 1st in the league in ‘attack contribution’ (2.12 per 90). Wyscout has defined ‘attack contribution as a metric “that assigns the xG value of a shot to every player that made any action in the attack that lead to the shot”. She is a key player in the ‘positional play’ tactics of Barcelona. Positional play refers to the generation and exploitation of superiorities described earlier. A combination of her ability to find and occupy space with technical receiving and awareness skills create situations in which she can receive the ball, unopposed facing forward. Hermoso can then attack the space on the dribble to progress the ball and provoke pressure or play a penetrating pass between the oppositions line of pressure.
In the above diagram, Hermoso has positioned herself between the opposition’s defensive lines of pressure. In this specific example, Rayo Vallecano Femenino have implemented a very deep and compact defensive shape (low block) with limited space. Hermoso has however found space both vertically and horizontally to be able to receive a pass from #5 Mabi. Hermoso’s positioning is in the centre of the ‘box’ created by the four closest Rayo defenders.
By receiving in this space, she will create two potential problems. If Rayo do not pressure, she will be able to turn and attack the goal. If the right (or central) defenders of Rayo do pressure, then the compact shape will become disorganized and space will be available for either #11 Martens or #3 Serrano to exploit.
In this example and the two diagrams above, Barcelona have a 2v2 situation with two Rayo defenders demonstrating good defensive principles of pressure and cover. Barcelona have not generated superiority in this situation. Hermoso recognizes this and moves into a support position to create numerical superiority and a 3v2 situation. With the Rayo defenders unwilling to follow Hermoso and risk losing their compact defensive shape, she has been able to find space to receive the ball facing forward, unopposed.
In the diagram above Hermoso has demonstrated her positional play to find space in the right interior channel to be able to face forward. She has found an attacking pass into #11 Martens between the opposition’s vertical defensive lines, that has eliminated a horizontal line of pressure.
The previous two diagrams demonstrate further the positive positional play of Hermoso. When attacking on the right side of the field, Barcelona have encountered a numerically inferior situation with a 2v4 underload situation. Hermoso recognizes the requirement for Barcelona to change the angle of attack and exploit the space and numerical superiority on the left side of the field. In order to be able to receive the ball she has made a supporting curved run underneath #7, this is a) into space and b) enables her to receive the ball facing forward, unopposed. Hermoso is then able to play a horizontal pass into #6 who can continue the change of angle play.
A player cannot be the top goal scorer in the league and not be an exceptional finisher, but what stands out for Hermoso is her ability to find space inside the penalty area. She has the 4th highest number of touches in the box per 90 (6.49). Of 77 total shots Hermoso has taken, 67 have been inside the penalty area. This shows she aims to be efficient with her finishing and shoot from higher percentage scoring zones.
The following 4 diagrams show examples in which Hermoso has finished from a cross inside the penalty area by making intelligent attacking runs that are specifically in between the opposition’s defenders. The first diagram vs. Rayo Vallecano Femenino, Hermoso as the #10, has made a delayed run between the central and right defenders. She has been able to exploit the space created by a decoy run towards the near post from the central forward, Asisat Oshoala.
The second diagram, of Hermoso’s goal vs. Madrid CFF, shows her movement off the back shoulder of the central defender, again to be able to find space between defenders, inside the penalty area for a one-touch finish on goal. In this example, the defender has made a straight recovery run towards the near post. Hermoso recognizes this, curves her run and moves into the defender’s blind spot. The cross from the right side now has a higher chance of being completed.
The final two diagrams, Vs. Sporting de Huelva and Madrid CFF further emphasize the high percentage scoring zones that Hermoso occupies and shoots from within the penalty area. Both goals are scored from the edge of the six-yard box, central to the goal.
In conclusion to this tactical analysis scout report on the Primera Division de la Liga de Futbol Femenino top goal scorer and current FC Barcelona Femeni player Jennifer Hermoso has highlighted her roles and responsibilities within the positional play tactics of the Barcelona system. Also, her flexibility as a ‘false 9’, her ability to find space and generate superiorities and to find space within the penalty area have been identified as positive characteristics that add up to her being a key player within the team and a dangerous attacking player for any opponent.