It is impossible to look at the meteoric rise of Atalanta in the past two seasons, and overlook the contributions of Alejandro Gómez. This scout report is a tactical analysis of how the 32-year-old has played a pivotal role in Atalanta’s rise in the Serie A. The Argentine professional moved from Metalist Kharkiv in 2014, and has become an integral part of the side. Gian Piero Gasperini’s tactics have Atalanta performing beyond all expectations and this analysis looks at how crucial have Gómez’s contributions been to the side. Setting aside the “floss” dance celebration that he made famous; the scout report is an analysis of the 2931 minutes he’s played for La Dea this season.
Style of play
Gian Piero Gasperini has set up his side in different tactics and formations this season. Mostly favouring his 3-4-1-2 (56%), followed by a 3-4-2-1 (22.8%) and sometimes setting up a 3-4-3 (14.8%). Although seemingly similar in terms of the number of players in each third, the tactics and style of play varied in each. And it is this ability of Gómez that makes him such a versatile player. He has played across different positions in the front-line for La Dea. For the most part, he’s played as an attacking midfielder (AMF) as a part of a 3-4-1-2 or a 3-4-2-1. Below is an image from Torino vs Atalanta, where he played as an AMF.
The below image is of his territorial coverage each game he played as an AMF. It is fair to say that he has covered nearly every inch of grass on the pitch. It can also be noticed there’s an ever so slight preference to move to the left of the pitch.
His next most played position this season was that of a secondary striker (CF) as a part of a 3-4-1-2. Below is an image of the starting line-up from the game Roma vs Atalanta.
The territorial coverage shows that as a CF, he covers a lot of ground on either flank in the final third. But what stands out is his flank presence in his own third, indicating his focus on defensive duties as well.
Another line-up image, further demonstrating his versatility, is from the game Atalanta vs Udinese. As a part of a 3-4-3, he played as a Left Wing Forward (LWF). No surprise with the territorial coverage showing heavy movement on the Left.
Before we get into further detail of the analysis, below are just some statistics about Gómez this season:
Third most number of assists this season (7).
Second in number of key passes per ninety minutes (2.79).
Third in number of deep completions per ninety minutes (2.88).
Seventh on the list of most attack contribution per ninety minutes (1.01).
First in most number of progressive runs per ninety minutes (5.63).
The next sections of the scout report do an in-depth tactical analysis of the skills that Gómez possesses, which make him so crucial for Atalanta.
As mentioned earlier, Gómez has played mainly in three formations this season. He’s played a different role and in a different position in each of the three formations. Where most players would find it difficult to find their rhythm, Gómez has had match-winning contributions in all of the formations and roles. And it isn’t just the versatility but also some great movement off the ball to create the angles and spaces that has made him so effective. Gómez has assisted 7 goals this season and is only led by Lorenzo Pellegrini (8) and Luis Alberto (10). It isn’t just the number of assists but also the manner in which they have come which highlight the genius of Gómez.
For instance, in the below play from Torino vs Atalanta, he plays the first pass and asks for the second, so he can make the third to assist the scorer. He made space with the first two passes and then cut the back-line with a beautiful pass to assist the scorer.
Another instance of his movement leading to a goal came in the game Atalanta vs Parma. In the play with Remo Freuler – Gómez moved into the gap between the Parma midfield and defence on the edge of the box, received the ball from Freuler, held-up the ball and then laid it off for an incoming Freuler to set him free on goal. While both players showed sublime movement, Gómez was the one who called for it and initiated it. The images below depict the goal and the movement, scene after scene.
The above picture brings out the genius in Gómez. He moves into the space between the Parma midfield and defence and receives the ball. This play would have fallen apart if it were not for the movement made by Gómez, as it created a small pocket of space for him to receive the ball, and also created space for Freuler to move into with the midfield now tailing Gómez. He holds up the play momentarily and waits for Freuler to run into the same space between the lines. As soon as Freuler arrives, he lays the ball off to set him free on goal. All of this while the opposition players are still trying to figure out how they can close the space created by Gómez.
Freuler drove the ball a couple of steps forward and scored the goal. If it were not for Gómez and his subsequent creation of space, the chance would never have been created.
A similar instance occurred in the game Atalanta vs Udinese. The goal was again created by a quick one-two and some brilliant movement from Gómez. Gómez played a pass to Iličić and called for a quick one-two. He then made a brilliant run around two opposition defenders to receive the ball from Iličić. He continued his run to the inner edge of the penalty area and put in a short volley for Luis Muriel to put into the net. And Luis Muriel did. The below pictures depict the play.
The analysis shows that his brilliant movement has been crucial to so many such plays for Atalanta and their tactics this season. Another of his strong points is his ability to exert influence on the game from all the different positions and roles he’s played in. His influence in terms of opening up scoring chances by putting in some brilliant passes for his teammates to finish.
Gómez is an incredible passer of the ball. Sure, lots of players make passes in the game, some with flamboyance, some simple passers, and some with both. But we’re not talking about those kinds of passes with Gómez. He could do that, yes, but what he does is even better – he makes purposeful passes. He passes knowing fully the possibilities that the pass could open up for the receiver. And to think he’s done this from all the three different positions he’s played in highlights his versatility and the impact he can have (and has had) on the game.
Take for instance his play down the left in the game Atalanta vs Manchester City when he played as a secondary striker. In a devastating counter-attack, he makes a run to receive the ball down on the left. Once the ball is at his feet, he pushes further up from the middle of the pitch to the final third keeping the ball at his feet. Once in position, he puts in a pinpoint cross with his left foot for the running in Mario Pašalić.
There’s a lot of players who could make such pinpoint crosses, but very few who can do it with either foot, while playing in different formations and different roles week-in and week-out. Below is an instance from the game Atalanta vs Lecce when Gómez played as an attacking midfielder. He receives the ball in the final third on the right flank and moves towards the box to cut the angle. Once in position, he puts in a sublime cross with his right foot for Duván Zapata. If it were not for a magical right-footed cross from Gómez, the play would never have materialised. The below pictures depict the play.
The analysis of the next instance demonstrates his range of passing, and also his vision and drive to move the ball forward. From the game Atalanta vs Lecce, Gómez received the ball on the left of the pitch. Despite having multiple options available to him within a ten-foot radius, he chose to call Zapata for forward play. And didn’t just call for it but also successfully played a brilliant through ball straight into the opposition penalty box. The below pictures depict the play.
This particular instance displays multiple facets of his game, which have led to him being so crucial to Atalanta tactics – his passing range, his vision, his ability to command play on the field, and his ability to execute it all with incredible efficiency.
The scout report clearly brings out the abilities that Alejandro Gómez possesses, which makes him an integral member of the Atalanta squad. His versatility to be able to play across positions, coupled with his outstanding movement, vision, and passing range makes him a force to reckon with. As if this was not enough, the analysis also shows how he is comfortable taking the ball and playing it with either foot.
This is further reiterated by the fact that from the six goals he has scored this season, he’s scored three from either foot. The tactical analysis further indicates how his ability to call for plays has resulted in creating clear chances for Atalanta to break the opposition. It comes as a surprise that he has made this debut in the UEFA Champions League just this year, given his undoubted ability which saw him linked with Liverpool a couple of seasons ago. If the season were not suspended indefinitely, Alejandro Papu Gómez would definitely be a worthy contender for the Serie A player of the year.