Tactical analysis: Is Ansu Fati the next big thing from La Masia?

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Barcelona found a new pearl from the famed La Masia academy this season after Quique Setién decided to promote the young sensation, Ansu Fati, who played and showcased his exceptional ability to be the next big thing at the big stage.

Ansu Fati has had the supporter’s attention after many of his contribution which won many games for the team while contributing the most in the attacking sense this season besides Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez.

In this tactical analysis, we will try to analyse why Ansu Fati could be the next big thing from La Masia!

Tactical Analysis 1: Attacking strength

Ansu Fati is the fourth best-attacking player in Barcelona statistically, scoring 7 goals and one assist in 23 appearances this season.Only the trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Antoine Griezmann are ahead of him

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Here we can see Ansu Fati using his pace to get the superiority against the defender and get a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper and score the goal.

Ansu Fati scored some decisive goals this season for the team, which have earned the Catalan team decisive points in the league. Besides his ability to bring a difference in the team, he’s a very intelligent player, as we will see in the next few examples. Ansu Fati showcased the ability to control the ball, besides his skills of progressive run as the fourth player in La Liga with 104.5 average progression meters only behind Vinícius Júnior, Lionel Messi and Eden Hazard.

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Here we can see Ansu Fati is positioned behind the right-back (blindside movement) of the Levante team, where he prepared himself to exploit the space between the defensive line and the goalkeeper when the ball was with Lionel Messi in the centre of the pitch.
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Here we can see how he linked with Lionel Messi again to get the direct pass, and open the angle to shoot, his positioning again in the right place makes him an option to receive the ball.

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But his strength lies is his movement off the ball to make himself another option in the attacking third. It’s essential in both possession and attacking transition, as we will see in the next example. Here we can see him moving up towards the opposite penalty area, where the ball is with Messi, to contribute in the numerical superiority in the final third.

Ansu Fati has expected goal (xG) 0.51 per the game. His mobility is an excellent addition in the last third, with a vertical movement toward the opposite goalkeeper, as we will see in the next example.

Certainly playing in Barcelona will help him develop his touches in the penalty area, but his gradual attacking movements strongly indicate his ability to read, play, and get away from his opponents. With a player like Messi in the squad, there is often a gap in the output of the attackers, especially with Suarez leaving the team because of injury.

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Here we can see his awareness to avoid the offside phase and wait for the vertical pass from Jordi Alba to cut inside and face the goal, with receiving pass ability up to 35.19 per game.

As Messi moves centrally between the lines, you’ll often see the defensive line step forward in the middle. Thus a gap appears, exactly what Fati is waiting patiently.

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Here we see intelligence, almost audacity, where he takes the ball, moves horizontally inside the penalty area, deceives the goalkeeper and Raul Albiol, and targets the near-side corner so that the goalkeeper finds it difficult to react.

Ansu Fati possesses offensive skills as represented above where he persists for goals, tenacious movement and mobility with and without the ball.

Tactical Analysis 2: Defensive contribution

Ansu Fati often contributes to Barcelona’s defensive system, especially when the opponent wants to get the ball in the final third, with high-pressure.

Ansu Fati has a tremendous defensive contribution, putting pressure on the opponent in the build-up phase to earn turnovers and make an attacking transition andalso tries to close the passing lane . We can see his defensive positioning in the next examples.

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Here when the ball returned to the defensive third of Celta Vigo, Ansu Fati came forward to press the ball-carrying player to prevent the build-up phase.

Ansu Fati has averaged recoveries in the final third up to 1.01 per game, and it’s good for the young man, with a specific role when his team lost the ball.

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Here, when the Real Valladolid player tried to pass to his teammate, who was with him on the same streak, Ansu Fati was there to prevent that pass and made the defender behind him in the shadow to restore Barcelona the possession and complete the pressure in the opponent’s area.

Ansu Fati is a distinguished player on the sides, whether in the defensive or offensive situation. Still, specifically, in the defensive mode, we can talk about the permanent activity that he has as he presses hard on the ball holder in the opposing team to recover the ball.

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Here we see Ansu Fati’s success in recovering the ball again after making it for the opponent. Because of his diligent activity in the search for the ball, he did not delay re-possessing again.

Although we cannot consider Ansu Fati as an influential player on the defensive side, he is trying to lend a hand to his team; the 18-year-old still has to improve in this facet.

Tactical Analysis 3: Skills that need to be improved

There is no doubt that Ansu Fati will be a player for the future in Barcelona because of his offensive strength, defensive commitment and clear commitment.

However, some points must be improved by the young Spanish player in the near future to impact the team more.

Ansu Fati has accuracy 35% in crosses, which is a small percentage for a player who is active in the wide position.

Besides that, he is not fluent in interceptions, and it will cause a crisis if he doesn’t develop, especially as this makes him succeed in high-pressure situations.

Conclusion

During this analysis, we tried to show some of the potential of the young Ansu Fati, who hogged the limelight from top Barcelona players this season and made a great addition to the offensive side of the team.

After so many youngsters arrived and failed at Barcelona in recent years, Ansu Fati is considered the future of a new era in Catalonia.

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