Blog: Tactical Analysis – Strikers don’t only score goals

This season has seen Mattia Destro receive a lot of criticism (often for missing easy chances) and the game against Sassuolo this past weekend possibly saw the highest level of criticism so far. Sure, Destro was guilty of wasting a good chance to to score when he put a header narrowly wide in the first half but it was his movement in the build up to Roma’s equaliser that enabled Adem Ljajic to find so much space.

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In the above image, Destro has just taken the ball down by managing to control it despite Missiroli pressuring him. Destro then turns and sets off on the counter attack with Gervinho and Florenzi to his right and the eventual goalscorer Ljajic on the left.

Destro lays the ball off to Gervinho will a simple pass in order to keep up the pace of the counter. So far, there’s been nothing special from the Italian striker but it is his movement in the following pictures that create all the space for Ljajic.

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Having laid the ball off to Gervinho (who is now sitting on it, waiting for the run of Florenzi) Destro now begins to position himself in between Vrsaljiko and Cannavaro as he anticipates a future cross from Florenzi.

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The genius of Destro really comes to the fore in the above picture. Although he might have been able to position himself in front of Cannavaro and anticipate a ball to the near post for an easy tap in, he instead gets in between Vrsaljko and Cannavro. This is important because Vrsaljko begins to doubt that Cannavaro will deal with the cross (and Destro) and so the Croatian tracks Destro in the hope of preventing him from tapping in at the far post.

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The final image above shows that Destro has successfully dragged both Cannavaro and Vrsaljko with him and this allows a rather easy finish for Ljajic who received the ball from a clever Florenzi cut back cross.

Destro’s movement is the best part of his game and although it may be hard to spot all the time, we need to stop putting so much emphasis on him scoring 30 goals a season and rather analyse whether he makes us more effective in front of goal on the whole, which I think he does. The above images aims to show the less obvious way in which Destro is able to make us more lethal and effective in the penalty area.


With thanks to Daniele Manusia (@DManusia) for the images and tactical discussions.