Signed in the summer from Olympique Marseille, Lucas Ocampos has turned out to be one of the revelations of the season in La Liga for Sevilla. Leading the way in Julen Lopetegui’s attack, he is the team’s joint-top goalscorer and has been their stand-out performer in his first few months at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjúan.
This scout report will provide a tactical analysis of Ocampos’ performances in Andalusia. By looking into this analysis of his tactics and statistics, we can understand the role that Ocampos plays for Sevilla, and Argentina, as he continues to improve his game and show his ability to play at the highest level after years of question marks over whether he would reach the heights once expected of him.
Ocampos plays in a varied role for Sevilla. He very rarely plays in the same position or in the same role for a full 90 minutes and nor does he start games in the same role consistently. Instead, he regularly switches and swaps, going from a deeper midfield role to being part of an attacking trident or front line.
At times he can be found in a central role, but it is not a regular role for Ocampos as he usually tends to stick to the wide areas and then cut inside from the flanks as he brings the ball forward, rather than drifting into central areas when not on the ball.
One key element is how he links up with Jesús Navas on the overlap. As the ball switches sides, he will often be found alongside the front line as Navas brings the ball forwards. Ocampos will drift out wide, dragging a full-back with him and creating space for Navas to cut inside or play a one-two to create more space and freedom. With the wing-back role that Navas plays, it is an essential part of how Lopetegui looks to allow Navas the ability to get forwards without forcing Ocampos into a central role.
Between him and Navas, they have provided 152 crosses this season, more than half of Sevilla’s total for the season and more than three La Liga teams. With such strength down the right, Sevilla have a real weapon on their hands. When teams look to overload their left in order to prevent this attacking system, Ocampos can easily switch flank and link up similarly with Sergio Reguilón on the left.
Ocampos is an essential cog in Lopetegui’s system when it comes to bringing the ball forwards and into attack. One of the key ways in which he contributes is in the transition, bringing the ball into the final third with his dribbling and progressive runs which help him to spark the next phase of attacking play. In fact, he leads the way in La Liga for players making such runs.
No player has recorded more than Ocampos’ 126 dribbles, over 10.3 per game on average, whilst only three other men have surpassed 8.3 on average. It’s essential as his ball progression per run ranks as the 11th highest in La Liga, surpassing 90m in total, showing just how important he is to bringing the ball forwards for Lopetegui’s team.
By bringing so many players onto him, as many opposition teams look to press him and pen him in, he can also create space for others. This was the case in the Seville derby, where Rubi’s Real Betis would press him with two or three players applying pressure to Ocampos to look to prevent him from carrying the ball into more advanced positions, instead creating space for an overlapping full-back or centre forwards looking to find gaps in between central defenders and full-backs.
Ocampos takes up a very advanced position, but his major influence comes in his movement once he enters the final third. In fact, despite not being an out and out forward, only Karim Benzema has surpassed his 50 touches in the box this season, reflecting just how offensive his movement can be. What’s more, he can show a real poachers’ instinct, as can be seen in his goal against Valencia.
Even deep into injury time, he was alert enough to pull off as both Valencia defenders and Sevilla attackers were caught ball watching and dropped off in order to provide an alternative, going on to score from that position with his newfound space. Such movement reflects why he is on the scoresheet so often, allowing the centre-forwards to take up more advanced positions while he provides a threat with his late runs and movement in the box.
However, his movement outside of the box is also impressive, particularly on the counter-attack. As can be seen here, as Sevilla’s free-flowing system allows forwards greater freedom to move wide, Ocampos will often start his runs from deep and then exploit the space that they create by dragging defenders wide into space. In the below example against Eibar, it led to his only assist of the season as he made a great run to exploit Ivan Ramis’ poor positioning which created acres of space for the Argentinian to exploit.
With such intelligence off the ball, Ocampos plays a key role in Lopetegui’s system which is hard to predict thanks to the movement of the front line. Ocampos’ influence here cannot be underrated and it is easy to see why Lopetegui has been reluctant to rest him or rotate him. This, combined with his flexibility on both flanks, means that the former Real Madrid boss has the ability to mix things up regularly throughout a full 90 minutes to unsettle opposition defences.
Ocampos has immediately become a key player for Sevilla since joining in the summer. Lopetegui has looked to develop his attacking play around him as he provides the connection between midfield and attack and between the wide areas and the central areas. That connection cannot be underrated in a team with the free flowing style that Lopetegui prefers, highlighting the importance of Ocampos. By offering such a solution whilst also being La Liga’s best dribbler, Sevilla have found just what they were after. All that his team are missing is the clinical striker that Ocampos could prove to be the perfect companion for to really get the best out of him and make him one of the most dangerous attackers in Spain.
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