Just before the closure of the transfer window, RB Leipzig signed Czech striking talent Patrik Schick from AS Roma on loan. Since attacker Jean-Kévin Augustin joined AS Monaco, Leipzig were in need of a further player for their attacking department.
The following scout report on Patrik Schick will outline his strengths and weaknesses. With a look at Schick’s time at Sampdoria and Roma as well as their systems, we attempt to evaluate whether he can fit in at RB Leipzig in our tactical analysis.
Schick’s style of play
In general, Patrik Schick is a complete forward. He possesses good technical abilities. His stronger left foot allows Schick to score from inside as well as from outside the box as can be seen in the shot graphic below.
It is not a secret that RB Leipzig lay emphasis on pace when it comes to scouting. And despite a height of 1.86 m, Schick seems very agile and fast when it comes to acceleration. Especially in counter-attacks, Schick utilises this and often threatens the space behind the opposition back line with dribbles or deep runs to receive.
With the help of both, his technical and physical abilities, Schick is capable of dribbling past defenders in different situations as well. Instead of shielding the ball, Schick rather prefers to use body feints to turn and outplay his direct opponent.
Furthermore, Schick is also an aerial threat. Due to good positioning as well as timing, he can win aerial duels and therewith be a real threat for crosses within the box. With an average of 7.25 aerial duels per game, Schick has been a target man at his former clubs.
Last but not least, he can contribute to the chance creation of his team. Schick seems very creative and is able to find different solutions for certain scenarios which makes him unpredictable. The Czech frequently surprises the opposition defence with chipped balls over the defensive line as displayed below or back-heel flicks when turned backwards to the goal.
Schick at Sampdoria
In his first Serie A season in 2016/17, Schick played in a two-striker system at Sampdoria. This season, the Czech attacker scored 11 goals and made 3 assists in 32 games.
Playing for Sampdoria, Schick took over a fluid role in front of a centrally focused midfield and drifted towards the wing occasionally.
The 4-3-1-2 setup of Sampdoria allowed Schick freedom in his movement as the narrow formation offered space in wide areas. Often he received the ball on the right wing and cut inside to finish with his stronger left foot.
Depicting Sampdoria’s attacking tactics from the 2016/17 season one can find some similarities with Leipzig’s offensive approach. Not only the fact that both sides bank on two attackers, but also the focus central areas during the attacking phase is a commonality of either team.
Schick’s dip in form at Roma
Schick’s following move to Roma did not turn out to be ideal. At Roma, the Czech attacker was lined up as a centre-forward. In his two seasons at Roma, Schick only scored 5 goals without a single assist in 46 appearances.
AS Roma played most of their matches utilising a one-striker system with two wingers. Patrik Schick was lined up either as the right-winger or the single striker up front.
Schick’s biggest weakness was missing efficiency in front of the goal. The 23-year-old underperformed according to xG and xA statistics as the following graphic shows.
One possible reason for the underperformance of the Czech might be his role within Roma’s system. Within the penalty area, Patrik Schick prefers to stay between the opposition defenders and midfielders to finish with the first touch. In Roma’s system, however, Schick was often directly marked by opposition central defenders as he was in focus due to being the only nominal striker shown in the next image.
As a target man for crosses, the attacker was supposed to provide depth and to stay in central areas most of the time. But turned back to the opposition goal and without space behind the defensive line to dribble into, the Czech struggled to shield the ball or finish the attacks successfully.
Another possible reason for his underperformance in terms of xG and xA might be his shot selection. The Czech sometimes took shots although there were many opposition defenders blocking the goal. The situation below, for instance, shows Schick taking a shot despite the opportunity to lay the ball off to his teammate who is in a better position.
But whether these aspects were the key factors for Schick’s dip in form cannot be completely proven. There also seemed to be mental reasons for his poor form at Roma as he stated:
“The pressure I played under made me feel trapped.” (Patrik Schick)
RB Leipzig usually attack with two strikers up front. Although new head-coach Julian Nagelsmann is very flexible in terms of formations, Leipzig set up with two attackers exceptionless under his reigns so far.
Timo Werner and Yussuf Poulsen are set within Leipzig’s starting-eleven. Both of them act as a striking duo and while Werner is responsible for participating in the short pass combination play, Poulsen acts as a target man for long balls but can also threaten the space behind the opposition defence with his pace.
In addition to their centrally focused attacking system, Leipzig are known for their intense pressing style. They allow their opposition less than ten passes per defensive action (PPDA=9.79). That offers counter-attacking opportunities which might suit Schick as he is capable of using his pace and dribbling quality.
And the high press could also be advantageous to Schick since the number of his recoveries with 2.28 per game is just between Werner’s (1.93) and Poulsen’s (2.97) value.
The aim behind the Schick transfer will probably be to spread the workload in view of playing Champions League during the week and Bundesliga games at the weekends. Schick will be a sensible option in the attack to replace Poulsen with his aerial ability but also Werner as he also likes to be fluid between opposition lines and drift towards the wing.
That being said, Schick might even be the player with the broadest skill set in the Leipzig attack. However, as Werner and Poulsen chime together, he will have to wait in line for his opportunities.
With the signing of Patrik Schick, RB Leipzig have further strengthened their squad. The qualities of Patrik Schick are uncontested. The challenge for Leipzig will be to solve his recent performance struggles.
But the similarities of Sampdoria’s and Leipzig’s systems displayed in our analysis promise to be a good foundation for Schick’s further development. And if Schick succeeds to perform at Leipzig, this might be another sign that he was a misfit in Roma’s system.
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