Romano Schmid 2019/20 – scout report
Shon Weissman is clearly in this season the shooting star of the Wolsfberger AC as he is currently the top goal scorer of the league with 22 goals. The team of the new head coach Ferdinand Feldhofer sit after the opening 22 games of the season in the comfortable fourth place and showed in this season several good performances.
However, besides the Israeli Weissman, the second player who received quite some attention in this season is the 20-years-old central midfielder Romano Schmid who is on loan from Bundesliga club Werder Bremen. The young Austrian is clearly one of the greatest talents we have in Austria in the central midfield position and plays a decent campaign.
Because of that, we’ll look in this tactical analysis in the form of a scout report on Schmid’s abilities and show why he can become one of the best central midfielders Austria has seen in the last few years.
Positioning and movement
Gerhard Struber implemented the 4-3-1-2 formation at Wolfsberg before he joined in November 2019 Barnsley and left the Austrian side. However, neither the interim manager Mohamed Sahli nor the new head coach Feldhofer switched the system. Considering this, the Wolfsberger AC are one of the very few clubs in Austria’s top-flight which used the same formation throughout the season.
During the first part of the season, the starting XI looked mostly the same and especially the midfield four consisted mainly out of the same four players with Mario Leitgeb as the defensive midfielder in the centre, Schmid on the right side, Marcel Ritzmaier on the left and Michael Liendl behind the two strikers. Since Ritzmaier followed Struber and joined Barnsley in the winter transfer window, Wolfsberg bought Miloš Jojić to replace him. Now, Jojić played in the last few games after the winter break on the right side which meant that Schmid would have to go to the left. This also explains why the heatmap shows that he mainly played on the right side and that he isn’t that often on the left. That’s logical as he made 17 appearances on the right side in the first part of the season, and after the winter break four on the left side.
However, what we also can clearly see is that he seems to be quite flexible as he occupies the wide-areas, but also the half-spaces and a bit of the centre too. Since you have no real wingers in a 4-3-1-2, this formation can be extremely fluid as sometimes the full-backs provide the width and in other moments the midfielder or even the striker drift to the outside. We will look at Schmid’s movements and tactics during Wolfsberg’s possession phases in the following sections of this tactical analysis, but in the image below we can see his positioning when the opposition are on the ball. As one of the two outer midfielders, the 20-year-old has to stay in the half-spaces, so he can quickly move to the wing if necessary, but also being near the centre. In the situation below his good positioning and anticipation help him to intercept the pass.
Now, we have a closer look at Schmid’s positioning during the build-up of WAC and how he acts when they are able to enter the final third. So, basically, before we even get into detail, you have to make clear that the young Austrian has a lot of freedom and this aspect helps him massively as he is pretty good in looking for free spaces and positioning in them to open up passing lanes.
As we already saw in his heatmap, he likes to position himself in the half-space. He does this especially in situations when the left-back (in almost every game, it has been Lukas Schmitz) stays wide and provides width. We can see in the example below the formation of the Wolfsberger AC during the first phase of the build-up and Schmid is in the left half-space while the left striker is out of the frame.
Now, since the left-back Schmitz isn’t permanently positioned wide and high up the pitch, it’s sometimes also Schmid who drifts to the outside to occupy this certain area. This was also during the first part of the season the same way on the right wing with Schmid and the right-back. In the shot below we can see a situation in which the 20-year-old occupies the left wing to receive a long ball.
In some situations, we can also see that Schmid drops deeper to help the centre-backs and Leitgeb during the build-up in the deeper areas but this clearly only happens when both full-backs pushed forward since otherwise they would have way too many bodies in the deepest line and the progression of the ball would not work.
Anyways, as soon as they can get forward and enter the final third, Schmid’s movements and positions are again really flexible. Sometimes he positions between the lines to receive the ball in this area while in other moments he drops a bit deeper to position out of the opposition’s block. This gives him more time when he receives the ball and also earns him some yards to pick up speed if he decides to start a dribble. We can watch such positioning in the situation below.
Build-up and creation of chances
In this section of this tactical analysis in the form of a scout report, we’ll talk about Schmid’s passing abilities which are surely among his greatest strengths. With 44.08 passes per 90 minutes, he’s one of the most important players of Wolfsberg during the periods of possession. His accuracy of 73.2% would tell you that he’s not such a good passer of the ball, but you have to clearly say that the main reason for that is that he often looks for the special and final pass which aren’t easy, but we’ll look at this in a few.
Schmid is one of the players who are responsible for the circulation of the ball during the first phase of the attack and meanwhile also has the task to progress the ball further up the pitch whenever the opportunity occurs. In the shot below we can see a typical situation during the build-up which he easily solves with two touches as he is aware that St. Pölten try to put pressure on him.
Even though the young Austrian midfielder always looks for the through pass to penetrate the opposition, he already has decent decision-making and mostly knows when it is time to play forward and when his team need to be more patient.
Also, at this point of this tactical analysis, it should be noted that Schmid’s vision is in several situations incredible. Like in the situation below he is really fast in recognising movements of teammates and opponents and detects free spaces and possible passing lanes play penetrating through passes.
Also, what is possibly even more outstanding is the fact that he also stays calm and knows to play when which pass even though there is hardly any space and time as the opponents are so close to him. Such situations logically often occur in higher lines as most of Wolfsberg’s opponents focus pretty much on defending deep against Feldhofer’s squad. WAC have on average 58.5% possession and a PPDA (passes per defensive actions) against value of 10.93. Both are the second-highest values of the Austrian Bundesliga and in both categories, only RB Salzburg have a higher one. So, these numbers already clearly show that Wolfsberg often face narrow and deep defending oppositions.
However, it seems as Schmid would still always know a way how to break down the defensive system of the opposition. In the example below, we can see how narrow and compact Mattersburg try to defend against Wolfsberg, but the 20-years-old midfielder is still able to find Anderson Niangbo with a through ball to create a dangerous situation.
Also, Schmid has besides the offensive midfielder and captain Liendl the second-highest value for through passes in the squad of Feldhofer with 2.3 what already shows that he is permanently looking for these penetrating passes.
Also, Schmid is with 1.53 crosses per game the player with the fifth-highest value in the team of Wolfsberg. Only the full-backs Schmitz and Michael Novak, his former partner in the central midfielder Ritzmaier and Liendl have attempted on average more crosses per game in this season.
So, this once more shows that Schmid is quite often positioned in the wide-areas from where he can deliver crosses. In these situations, he makes once more use of his decent vision and his technical abilities to find his teammates with good balls into the penalty box. In the shot below we can see one of Schmid’s five assists in this season as he delivered a perfect cross for Niangbo who converted the ball into a goal.
Trying something special and defensive work
In this final and last section of this tactical analysis, we’ll take a short look at the dribbling abilities of Schmid and what makes him so strong in these moments to then also mention his defensive abilities.
We mentioned in this tactical analysis not yet that Schmid is extremely explosive and has a great acceleration which often helps him to beat the opponents to the ball and also when he wants to start a dribble. He dribbles on average 6.24 times per game with a success rate of 58.2% which is solid but not too outstanding. The reason for this success rate is that Schmid has an incredible technique on the ball, but often looks for something special. Considering this, the value could be way higher and probably among the best values of the whole Austrian Bundesliga, but this would mean that he doesn’t try something special like in the situation below as he dribbles through two defenders.
In these moments once more his decision-making helps him massively as you can be sure that he doesn’t start a dribble if there is a more effective passing option. However, these dribbles can create a completely new situation as you can expect always something special from Schmid like in the example below when he nutmegs his opponent to then deliver a cross which led to the opening goal of this magical game of Wolfsberg against Gladbach.
As the very last point of this tactical analysis in the form of a scout report, we’ll show that Schmid is also important for his team in the work against the ball. As we already saw in the opening section, Schmid mostly positions in the half-space, so he can quickly shift to the outside but also to the central area if necessary.
However, Wolfsberg is one of the teams in the Austrian Bundesliga with the highest and most aggressive pressing. They have behind RB Salzburg and LASK Linz who lost last week against Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League the third-lowest PPDA value with 6.55 of all teams in Austria’s top-flight.
Schmid is also vital for these defending tactics as he is quite strong in defensive duels. He makes on average 7.93 recoveries per game and 55.5% of them are in the opposition’s half. Considering these values, he is a central part of Wolfsberg’s pressing and what makes him even more important is the fact how fast he then wants to create something dangerous. The situation below is a perfect example as he wins the ball high up the pitch to deliver seconds later great cross, but Niangbo can’t score.
All in all, Schmid is clearly one of the most promising central midfielders we had within the last years in Austria. Due to his flexibility on the pitch, he perfectly fits into the system of the Wolfsberger AC and so he can make the most out of his qualities.
It will be interesting to watch if he gets a chance at Werder Bremen in the next season when he returns from his loan. Hopefully, he will get some appearances and probably he will show what a great allrounder he is to become a regular starter for the German side.