When we think of Uruguayan strikers, we often focus on the greats such as Luis Suárez, Edinson Cavani, or Diego Forlán. Last year not many people would have heard of Uruguayan youngster Federico Vinas. He was at his boyhood club, Juventud in the Uruguayan Primera División. A decent young prospect but unlikely to set the world alight in the near future. However, Liga MX giants, Club América saw something in Viñas and decided to bring him in on loan, with a view to buy option.
Despite the cancellation of the Liga MX, last week Club America announced they had made Viñas’ move permanent. With eight goals in 15 appearances, in the Liga MX this season, it’s clear to see why Club América forked out the reported £1.5 million. At 21 years old, Viñas certainly has the ability to keep improving on the impressive first season he has had. Former Man United and Atletico Madrid striker Diego Forlán, has praised Viñas a lot, saying he hopes he can be the man to replace Suárez and Cavani when their stand is over. It would appear Club América and the nation of Uruguay have big expectations of the 21-year-old.
This tactical analysis, in the form of a scout report, will look to evaluate why Club América handed a five-year contract to the youngster Federico Viñas. Using statistics and analysis of tactics, we will aim to see why Viñas was so successful in his first year and how he can keep improving to become a Liga MX great.
The heat map above gives a good indication of the type of player Viñas is. Firstly, we see that Viñas does not stick to one position. His average position varies across the attacking half of the pitch, suggesting he is often involved in the build-up play. Whilst a majority of the time he stays in and around the box, we also see at times when he drifts out wide.
A key finding from this heat map is Viñas’ involvement within the penalty area. Viñas averages 2.71 touches in the opposition box per 90, which in comparison is not extremely high compared to his counterparts. However, as we dive further into the type of player Viñas is we will see why this may not be a bad thing.
Clinical in front of goal
When discussing strikers, we often hear terms such as ‘fox in the box’ or ‘ruthless in front of goal’. Well in this instance, both of these apply to Viñas. As mentioned earlier Viñas has eight goals in 15 appearances for Club América, in the Liga MX. Game time has been limited for Viñas, so these statistics are very impressive.
However, as we look further into the analysis, Viñas appears to be somewhat of a phenomenon this season. In a previous analysis, we looked to evaluate all the strikers in Liga MX. The findings from that analysis highlighted how clinical Viñas is in front of the goal. Viñas had eight goals last season, however, his expected goals (xG) was only 3.46. Viñas was the only player to score two times his expected goals.
Above we see further evidence to support Viñas’ claim. Viñas averages around 1.99 shots per 90, however, his conversion rate is an astonishing 36%. The chart above shows Viñas is way out on his own in this category and is clearly one of the most clinical strikers in Liga MX.
Whilst these statistics are very impressive, it would be good to have a greater understanding of how and why Viñas is so clinical.
This xG bucket distribution graphic above allows us to get a first insight as to why Viñas has such impressive statistics. The graphic above does also contain goals from U20 and international levels. Above, we see that Viñas attempts a high number of low xG shots, surprising due to his impressive conversion %.
With this graphic, we would expect to see Viñas have a low conversion %, as a lot of his shots are unlikely to result in goals. However, we also see that a large number of Viñas’ goals come from these low xG attempts. He is clearly very competent at scoring difficult chances and explains why he has eight goals from an expected 3.46. Now we know that Viñas scores a lot of his goals from low xG attempts, it would be useful to analyse some of these goals.
Above is a perfect example of Viñas scoring an unlikely goal. This goal is from Club América’s Apertura final vs Monterrey. Club América were currently down 2-1 on aggregate after the first leg. In only the fifth minute, Viñas finds himself in the opportunity above. Now, at his age and with the importance of the game many would expect Viñas to lay the ball off to his team-mate on the edge of the box. Viñas has several defenders, circled in blue, around him. His team-mate on the edge has a lot more space for a shot and would appear to be the best option.
Whilst Viñas is on his strong foot, he is moving away from goal and has several defenders in front of him. However, Viñas showcases his ability to score difficult goals by rifling the ball into the bottom corner. This attempt would most certainly have a low xG value, however, Viñas is able to score from it.
Another really impressive goal, was Viñas’ against Morelia, in the quarter-finals of the Liguilla. We can see above how the goal came about and again how Viñas was able to defy the odds and put Club América 2-0 up. Morelia are set up very well, they are marking tightly and have a good number of players back. However, this goal highlighted how Viñas is creating his own goals, regardless of their probability. This goal is another example of Viñas converting a low xG attempt.
As mentioned, Morelia are set up well defensively, however, they are unable to stop the cross. The cross from Roger Martinez is quite poor. The cross bounces right in front of Viñas and looks almost impossible to score. Viñas uses his pace and intelligence to get in front of the Morelia defender to give himself the opportunity. However, even after this he still has a lot to do. Viñas is able to use a diving header to glance the ball into the far corner. A somewhat seemingly impossible finish made to look easy by the youngster.
The analysis of these two goals highlights two important traits of Viñas. Firstly, he is extremely strong in converting low xG attempts. The statistics suggested this beforehand, with eight goals from an expected 3.46. Whilst Viñas takes a number of shots, he is extremely clinical as displayed by his impressive conversion % (36%). Secondly, we see that Viñas is not simply getting ‘lucky’. At a young age, he is displaying intelligence to beat defenders and give himself the best opportunity to score.
When watching Viñas, goal-scoring is clearly his best trait. However, other aspects of his game are seriously impressive. No more so than his ability to hold defenders off and turn on them to gain opportunities. Viñas has several instances of this and the analysis below will evaluate these.
The above example is from a game against Pumas. The skill of turning a defender is often referred to as ‘rolling the defender’. Attacking players use their body to shield the ball and quickly turn the defender to create an extra yard of space. Viñas is extremely good at this as exampled above. Now, Viñas is not a big striker who will spend his majority of time pinning defenders back and acting as a pivot forward. However, his acceleration and intelligence allow him to master this skill.
As we can see above, the ball is thrown towards Viñas, as he holds the defender off. The Pumas defender does not want to try and get ahead of Viñas as he risks allowing him to have a free run on goal. Therefore, Viñas knows he will always have the defender behind him and uses this to his advantage. We can see that Viñas and the defender are fairly isolated, there aren’t many Club América players around, so Viñas has limited options. In these cases, we would often see a player hold the ball for as long as possible until a team-mate can provide an option.
However, Viñas is no ordinary player and decides to create an opportunity himself. He keeps backing into the defender until he suddenly decides to ‘roll’ the defender and shifts the ball to his right. The defender is so tight to Viñas that when he shifts the ball to the right, he is unable to react to the movement and therefore Viñas creates an extra yard of space. In this instance, the Pumas defender does well to get back and prevent Viñas from having a clear chance on goal. Regardless, this shows how easily Viñas can make defenders think he is planning to play away from goal and suddenly turn on them to create an opportunity.
The analysis above is an even better example of how Viñas utilises this skill. This is a very similar scenario to the analysis above, where Viñas receives the ball from a throw-in. The first mistake the Atlas defenders make is to allow Viñas to have space in front of him to receive the ball. Again, the defender will not want to commit to the ball, as doing so will allow Viñas the opportunity to run at goal.
This example gives us a much better understanding of how Viñas uses this skill. Viñas completely blocks the defender’s view of the ball by backing into them. Once he has received the ball and the defender is unaware of its location, he decides to take action. Using a similar method, Viñas shifts the ball to the right and manages to get around the defender. The defender is again unable to react to the quick movement by Viñas as he delivers the ball for a team-mate.
Whilst, this skill may not seem like a major part of the game it makes Viñas very unpredictable for defenders. Defenders are unsure of whether to mark him tightly or give him some space so he can’t turn them as easily. Viñas seems to adapt to either scenario as we saw earlier with his goal against Monterrey. In that instance, he was given space and capitalised by firing the ball into the bottom corner. Turning a defender is not a skill we often see, so this is something that sets Viñas apart from the rest.
Lack of creation
A striker’s main role is to score goals, and that’s how football has always been. However, the role of the striker is adapting and there is now a focus on being a creator and someone who brings others into the game.
This creation element is not yet something Viñas has showcased. In the Liga MX, last season, Viñas had 0 assists and only had an expected assist (xA) value of 0.1. This isn’t to say that Viñas has no regard for helping his team-mates, as shown below.
This above graphic shows all of Viñas’ deliveries into the penalty area. Firstly, we see that he is a player who likes to carry the ball into the box, as opposed to crossing or passing. Viñas is a very accomplished dribbler with a 64% success rate, one of the highest in the league for strikers.
Therefore, it’s not surprising to see this trend. However, it seems to be the next phase that Viñas struggles with. With that many carries into a box and 0 assists, it would suggest Viñas doesn’t have that final ball for his team-mates.
The above graphic might suggest that maybe Viñas doesn’t have an issue with finding his team-mates, but actually looks to find the goal himself. A number of his dribbles into the final third result in a shot, with two of them resulting in goals.
If Viñas is going to continue scoring goals at the rate he does, Club América may not mind too much. However, Club América boss, Miguel Herrera, will be hoping Viñas can showcase he’s able to create as well as finish, as his development continues.
This tactical analysis certainly shows why Club América decided to make Viñas’ move permanent. At only 21, he is showing he has a lot of potential for the future but is also able to make an impact in the present. His clinical approach in front of goal and ability to produce goals out of nothing is a very rare trait in players.
Game time was limited last season, however, Viñas will now be hoping he will be the man to guide Club América forward. Viñas has expressed his interest of playing in Europe in the future, much like ex- Club América striker Raúl Jiménez who had stints in La Liga and now the Premier League. If Viñas continues to play as he does, Club América may have a hard time keeping hold of him.