Malcom Tactical Analysis

It’s not often nowadays that we see a bidding war as we saw between AS Roma and Barcelona, but if there’s one thing that’s certain, its that it’ll be for a reason.

That reason is Malcom, a player who was heavily linked to Arsenal in January, Everton a few days ago, seemingly signed with Roma yesterday but is now a Barcelona player after the Spanish giants swooped in at the 11th hour?

The X Factor

Its fair to say that if Barcelona are going to go in for a player in this manner, they must have ‘The X Factor’ and that’s something that Malcom certainly has.

Playing on the right wing for Bordeaux last season, the 21-year-old Brazilian was their star player, racking up 12 goals and seven assists (more than any other Bordeaux player). Although this still could be considered a modest return, the way he went about it did suggest that he could survive at a club like Barcelona.

What Barcelona possess are players who can produce special moments at the drop of a hat and that is exactly what Malcom can do. Five of his goals last season came from outside of the box so he will bring the element of spectacular surprise to get those at the Camp Nou off their feet.

However, more than just ‘The X Factor’ is needed to truly make your mark at Barcelona and Malcom has shown he has the extra-curricular aspects in his game could help him do that.

Awareness

As a winger, many would expect him to take on his full-backs with ease and he does, having completed 80% of his dribbles last season. He also topped the Bordeaux list for dribbles with 92.

But taking the step up to Barcelona he’ll also have to know when to do that. Rather than take on his opposite number at every opportunity he’ll have to work more smartly to contribute to a style of play that is proven to work. Here’s how he already does this.

Here, Malcom receives the pass in a very familiar position on the right wing. He’s being pressed by two PSG players. Many wingers would be expected to take the ball down the wing, however, with that press, this could be difficult.
Instead, Malcom adjusts his body to open up the pitch as he receives. This gives him many more options, forcing the more central player to vacate the highlighted space. Malcom dribbles through the space and passes into midfield as Bordeaux retain possession and move to a less crowded area of the pitch.

This is important as, although he will still be able to take players on, this type of play will be more evident at Barcelona. In a more patient style, he’s shown that he can fit in and easily beat presses when required, opening up spaces for others around the pitch.

Discipline, Determination & Intelligence

Another key to the way Barcelona play is how they win back possession once they’ve lost it. Most of the time, when they can, they try to regain possession high up the pitch and in order to do this, their players have to be very disciplined and relentless in how they hunt down the ball.

Bordeaux usually set up in a 4-3-3, similar to Barcelona, but out of possession, that turns in a 4-5-1 as the wingers drop. Here we can see that in action, but also the way Malcom has started to peel out to close the passing lane out wide, his teammates follow suit.
This meant the player on the ball had to come inside where he was outnumbered and offloaded the ball. The Lyon midfielder then tries to move the ball quickly from the danger zone but having tucked in, Malcom is ready to press the receiver.
Malcom is successful in winning the ball back cleanly and is even able to get back to his feet, dribble on and win a foul for his troubles. That would’ve been a familiar feeling as he was fouled more times than any Bordeaux player last season (92 times).

What this shows is not just Malcom’s discipline when out of possession but also his determination and intelligence. Having pressed the player, he executed his tackle perfectly meaning that he could keep the ball and get his team on the attack.

With 71.7% of Malcom’s recoveries coming in the opposition half last season, this is something that if he does end up at Barcelona, will take him very far. Proving that he can fit in that system already should be a very encouraging sign and hopefully lead to even more goals and assists in 2018/19.

Summary

Many players have made this step up but simply haven’t produced as they were expected, so even though Malcom undoubtedly has ‘The X Factor’, it’ll be those small details that determine whether his stay in Barcelona is a long one.

However, coming in as a right winger, he may have to bide his time as it’ll be interesting to see where Messi lines up this season. This may mean that we might not see the same numbers from Malcom as we did this year and he’ll have to absolutely make the most of every chance he gets.

On the other hand, if had gone to Roma he could’ve became the main man on their right wing and a real force in Italy and Europe. With that being said though, who can turn down a move to Barcelona?