Sassuolo has strengthened the midfield more by buying Pedro Obiang. The Italian side made another good reinforcement as the team paid the amount of eight million euros to West Ham for the 27-year-old central midfielder.

Obiang is a player that can help the team in defensive and offensive tactics and this tactical analysis will explain the style of play of the midfield from Equatorial Guinea. He is a player who has to work more on his offensive style of play, which has more weaknesses than his defensive one.

He spent four seasons in the Premier League playing for West Ham and made a lot of good performances, which is why Sassuolo’s technical staff sent some people to the United Kingdom and after seeing some matches of Obiang, compiled the positive analysis and scout report which was what lead to them finally deciding to acquire him.

Player profile

Pedro Obiang is a central midfielder who can also play as a defensive midfielder. He is a player with great defensive abilities, good marking, and passing, and is capable of playing forward passes into the final third. He is a player who likes to play a lot in the midfield, runs a lot of kilometres in the matches, steal the ball and win the defensive aerial duels.

As you can notice in the heat map below, you will see that Obiang can cover all the area in the midfield. He likes to keep his position, mainly in the defensive style of play, and play in the middle third of the pitch.

Pedro Obiang 2019/20 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
Obiang keeps his position in the midfield, covering all the area in the middle third of the pitch. He is marking opponents, stealing balls and helping his teammates recover the ball.

We also need to notice that Pedro Obiang is a player who cannot be used as an attacking midfielder because he doesn’t have the technique, ball control, nor the dribbling skills to create dangerous situations in the opposition box. That’s why he doesn’t score often and isn’t so good in the offensive tactics, but that doesn’t mean that he cannot compete in the offensive style of play, in the movement of the ball or make some key passes. And that’s what you are going to see in the analysis below.

Defensive abilities and stats

Pedro Obiang is a player whose defensive abilities are great, as he was one of the best midfielders in Premier League in some categories. Obiang has a 68% in defensive duels won and 47% in aerial duels won. He is making an average of 3.7 interceptions in his matches and also 1 clearance per match. From those stats, we can see that he is competing and helping in the defensive style of play. In four seasons of the Premier League, he was booked only 14 times and he didn’t get any red cards. He is also committing one foul per match which means that he doesn’t like to make fouls and instead tries get the ball from the opponents without them.

Pedro Obiang 2019/20 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
Pedro Obiang runs towards his opponent to block the shot.
Pedro Obiang 2019/20 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
Obiang takes a perfect position and blocks the opponent’s shot.

Finally, he is making about seven recoveries per match and the three of them are in the opposition half. That can help his team create dangerous situations by creating counter-attacks during which he can provide some assists or key-passes to his teammates.

Pedro Obiang 2019/20 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
Pedro Obiang dispossesses his opponent- he has the ability to recover the ball and then make a key pass to a free teammate, which helps his team to create a counter-attack.

Offensive style of play and his weaknesses

Pedro Obiang is a player that likes to move in the middle third of the pitch. His first pass after he gains possession is successful most of the time and he often tries to pass the ball close to him. He doesn’t try long balls, instead he tries to create a key pass or provide an assist.

Pedro Obiang 2019/20 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
Obiang sees the space in the opponent’s defence and makes the key-pass to Aranutovic.

Another thing that we can observe is that Obiang has the ability to read the opponent’s game and find the space in the box where he likes to move as a secondary striker, even though he doesn’t score often. He also likes to create space as well as dangerous situations or shoot opportunities from outside from the box.

Pedro Obiang 2019/20 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
While Arnauotovic has the ball, Obiang moves into the box as a secondary striker.
Pedro Obiang 2019/20 – scout report tactical analysis tactics
Obiang creates space by himself in the pitch and waits for the pass from his teammate. After that, he shoots.

However, we need to mention the weaknesses of Pedro Obiang in the offensive style of play. During four years in the Premier League, he scored just four goals and assisted three. He makes one shot per two matches and the crosses he attempts are successful 1/3 of the time. He makes 1.3 dribbles per match, of which 0.9 are successful (96/191), and only 0.2 touches in the box- this means that Obiang has possession in the opposition’s box once every five matches. On the other hand, he wins two of every four offensive duels and he wins one foul per match.

From these statistics, it’s clear Obiang’s defensive style of play is better than the offensive. He needs to work on the offensive tactics and improve, because playing mostly as a central midfielder or as a box-to-box, the coaches need goals, assists, key-passes and more participation in the movement of the ball and the offensive tactics from those players.


The coach of Sassuolo, Roberto Di Zerbi, wanted an experienced midfielder who can fit in the offensive 4-3-3 tactics he chooses. As we have mentioned before, Pedro Obiang can play as a defensive or central midfielder and he will perfectly fit in Sassuolo’s line-up. He has the defensive abilities that are missing from Sassuolo’s current midfielders and his first pass after he gains possession is often right. The season starts in a couple of days and we will likely see Obiang play as a defensive midfielder with Duncan and Bourabia as central midfielders. Alternatively, we could see him next to Duncan and Magnanelli would be the defensive midfielder instead.

We are waiting to see him in the line-up in the first match of the season against Torino on Sunday and Di Zerbi will probably use him as a defensive midfielder since Magnanelli has a one-match suspension.

Artwork by @chapulana

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