Atalanta are known for their fluid attacking brand of football. This was clear to everyone in Serie A 2019/20 season, as they scored 98 goals; it is more goals than Juventus (Champions of the 2019/20 Serie A) who scored only 76 goals in Serie A 2019/20 season. This superiority was for several reasons, the most prominent of which is coach Gasperini’s frank offensive thought, their possession of a group of brilliant players at the level of tactical intelligence and an understanding of their roles in the Gasperini system. Among these distinguished players is the 28-year-old Swiss player Remo Freuler, who is the subject of our discussion in this scout report.
In the previous season of Serie A, Remo Freuler managed to prove himself as an important player in the first team of Atalanta. The 28-year-old has managed to prove himself clearly by demonstrating exceptional attacking and professional attributes throughout this season.
Throughout this tactical analysis in the form of a scout report, we will provide an in-depth analysis of Freuler’s role in Atalanta both within and outside the acquisition. We will also highlight his key offensive and defensive attributes and how these attributes help provide greater tactical flexibility and security for Team Atalanta.
Firstly, it is important to have a good understanding of Atalanta’s entire structure. Gasperini puts his squad in a very unique way that requires very specific players to get the best out of the system. The usual structure you’ll see in the Italian uniform is 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-2-1. Below you can see this typical setup, along with each player’s normal moves.
Atalanta is always distinguished by his effective attack, in terms of productivity; his attack has scored 98 goals (17 more than Inter with the second-highest) Gasperini developed a strong attacking structure for his team, which is to preserve the ball as long as possible by passing a lot and rotating the ball between the players by creating offensive diamonds throughout the field, which allows the player who has the ball more options to pass. What helped him in this was the great ability of the midfielders to pass, as Remo Freuler averaged 46.6% as the second most players after his teammate in the middle Marten de Roon, formerly of EFL side Middlesbrough, who averaged 49.4% per game.
Defensively, Atalanta always look to press. They are constantly looking for opportunities to set up pressure traps to regain control when the opponent tries to move forward. That is when the Atalanta players lose the ball; the midfielders join the player who lost the ball in the pressure process to recover the ball quickly, here in this scout report we highlight the role of Remo Freuler in this system.
Remo Freuler has played mostly as a left-sided midfielder this season as part of Atalanta’s 3-4-3 plan and tactics. Below we can see the heat map of Remo Freuler, which illuminates his position on the left side of the field.
One of Freuler’s primary roles in the building-up is to drop into deeper positions when Atalanta have possession and facilitate attacks from these areas. This will often include him taking up a position as a left-back, or even dropping into the space between the left and central centre-halves. In this area, Freuler is able to move away from opposition’s pressing structures in order to be able to find ways to exploit spaces left open. Players such as Gómez and Iličić are consistently moving in these areas to find space to receive passes and look for opportunities towards goal.
Here we find Remo Freuler at the left-back in order for him to receive the ball and have enough space to pass the ball to Gómez, Iličić or Hans Hateboer, (formerly of Eredivisie side FC Groningen) in the back of the Milan defence.
When the ball is in the possession of the Atalanta players in the half of the opponent’s court, Freuler will advance and complete the attacking diamond of the Atalanta players, in order to give the player who has the ball more passing options and then keep the team in constant attack.
For example, in this case, when the team was in an offensive state, Freuler moved to complete the attacking diamond, to be an additional option away from the pressing structures and actually he got the ball and gave it to Iličić, who moved in the depth to create an opportunity to score.
Freuler plays an important role in keeping Atalanta’s team in constant attack. When Atalanta has the ball on the left side towards Gomez, Freuler moves into the space Gomez leaves on the left and gives him a chance to pass, so Atalanta continues to attack.
For example, in this case when Gomez had the ball to the left, Freuler moved in the front left space to give Gomez the choice to pass and thus even give him the ball again in a better position in front of goal.
Here is a clearer example. We can see here that when Gomez received the ball, Freuler moved in the half-spaces between the right-back of Lazio’s squad and the defender to give Gomez an important pass option. Then Gomez moves in the space that Freuler created with his previous move and Gomez is completely alone with the goal.
Defensively, Freuler’s posture and abilities help stop counterattacks as they arise, which is the best way to get the team back into the attack phase once again once possession is lost as quickly and effectively as possible, as the player presses early and works to retrieve the ball from advanced areas of the opponent’s court and return the attack again to his teammates and thus keep the team in case of attack.
Here we see an example of Freuler’s advanced pressure, as he extracted the ball from the Milan players before the ball crossed the midfield line and prevented a counter-attack and returned the ball to the Atalanta players.
While making this pass, Atalanta’s second stage of pressure is triggered, which includes Freuler, he was sitting in front of the defense in this move, waiting for the opportunity to challenge any pass from Paris. When he sees this pass, he jumps forward to pressure Neymar before he gets a chance to dominate possession.
As we mentioned, Freuler turns to the left side to help build and end attacks, he is also stationed on the left side when the team is in defense, waiting for the ball to reach the player who moves towards him and then presses him and retrieves the ball again.
Here is a clear example of this situation, where Freuler is stationed on the left side with the advanced Valencia player from this side waiting for the ball to pass, and then he presses the Valencia player and cuts the ball from him.
Freuler’s effective role in transitions
Under Gasperini, Atalanta is dependent on a positional rotation between players, Gasperini always wanted midfielders and defenders to attack, as through their positional exchanges, they confuse their opponents to create gaps and spaces to attack. The secret to Gasperini’s success is the positional rotation of the players during transitions.
Remo Freuler has a very important and effective role in these transitions, whether in starting the process of transition from defense to offense by taking the ball from the opponent’s players and passing it to the players who switch to the offensive state or even by advancing in front during these transitions and taking space in advanced areas behind defenses of the opposing team.
For example, in this case, and as we said, Freuler takes the ball and prevents the opposing team from completing the attack, and then starts to increase forward and give the ball to the leading player, whatever he is.
Here we see an example of Freuler’s typical move in the transitions, where he moved in the empty space at the back of the full-back, who entered the depth to cover the increase of Atalanta players in the depth. This was after Iličić and Zapata entered the depths, forcing the right-back of the Milan team to enter the depth as well.
After the season ends, Atalanta is finally looking to settle in and move forward again next season. The team ranked third in the league, five points ahead of Juventus.
One of the biggest keys to the Italian side is Remo Freuler. We have seen just how essential the Swiss midfielder is to Gasperini’s side, and what he brings in all phases of the match. Going forward, he will continue to be crucial in any success Atalanta is able to achieve.
Remo Freuler is one of the categories needed by a coach with Gasperini’s ideas. A player who is able to form in situations of attack and high pressure from different areas of the field and retrieve the ball faster and keep the team in a state of constant attack, and also in the defensive situations of the team and spaces that he takes to cover behind the advancing defenders, in addition to its great importance in transitions from defense to attack.