FM22 Analytics, tactics and soccernomics
We left off in mid-January – the midway point in the season – where we sat at the top of La Liga 2, 6 points clear of second placed Huesca… who along with Real Sporting, were the only teams to beat us so far.
We’d also managed to bolster our already stingy defence with the signing of free agent, Joris Gnagnon.
Would we continue our fine form? or capitulate under the pressure?
Cup adventures, deadline day and sublime narrative!
Picking back up in mid-January, we faced Ibiza twice in 4 days, thanks to the Copa Del Rey, where a 3-2 victory put us up against the mighty Atletico Madrid – a very good test for our 3-5-2 tactic which is designed to play on the back-foot against tougher teams in La Liga.
As it happened, the tactic worked well. We managed to secure a 1-1 draw, where Bustos scored a 92nd minute equaliser to cancel out Griezmann’s goal mid-way through the second half. This took us to penalties which we won 5-4 thanks to our ‘keeper Juan Carlos saving a penalty from Herrera.
In fairness, when I say “we managed to secure a 1-1 draw” we should’ve won. We looked excellent in the first half and should’ve scored 2 or 3, but unfortunately couldn’t make our chances count.
We laboured to a 1-1 draw against former giants Real Zaragoza and then had the excitement of Transfer Deadline Day!
Not much happened. I wanted another striker as a different option off the bench, so we cancelled the loan of the scarcely used Dario Sarmiento (£7.5k p/w) and snapped up the quick, hardworking Sekou Koita on loan from RB Salzburg for £4.6k per week.
The Copa Del Rey fifth round tie saw us host another La Liga team, Granada. As per the Atletico game, we absolutely dominated them for the first half but tired legs, due to 8 games in January, meant we were unable to make our chances count and we lost 1-0.
As the stats show, it was our game for the taking.
We finished off February with four wins before facing a resurgent Almeria team who were all over us the entire 90 minutes and ended up deserved 1-0 winner.
I had made a note that we weren’t scoring enough goals and to monitor what could be the cause… but we then won the next four games and scored 12 goals. I hadn’t made any tactical tweaks so it’s possibly just the extra rest from not being in the cup anymore.
We even scored another 2 in the next game, however Eibar scored 3. As per the Almeria game, I can’t complain as they were much the better team restricting us to only 33% possession.
Real Sociedad B gave us another really hard game, for a team who’ve been in the bottom 3 most of the season before we thrashed 8th placed Tenerife 4-0 to bring us to the end of April.
We have 6 games left in the season and have a 12 point lead over the now second placed, Real Valladolid.
A nice twist to the tale
As a nice extra narrative to add to the tale, the man we’re looking to emulate in this save, and who’s tactical stylings we’ve adopted, Pablo Machin, has left his management role in Saudi Arabia to join promotion rivals Huesca.
He’s been in charge for 6 games and has picked up 2 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses.
We play them in the final game of the season. Hopefully we’ve secured promotion before then as I can definitely see fate playing a hand!
But if things are already sorted, and they need a win to get into the playoffs, I’ll definitely play a weakened team as the extra layer of narrative of him getting promoted as well is too good to turn down.
After covering how we can tell how effective our players were at counter-pressing, I wanted to quickly revisit the stats to see how the defensive actions per 90 minutes had changed for my players, if at all.
We can see we have a very mixed bag, with even amounts of red and green. As a whole we’ve regressed slightly (53.5 d/a per 90 previously, compared to 52.2 now) but this can be potentially explained by the following:
- In our preparation for potential La Liga football, I’ve been testing out a few different formations, where player roles have obviously changed.
- We’ve had quite a few injuries and as our depth isn’t great, a lot of players had to finish out games very tired (and 8 games in January didn’t help!)
We’re still not getting enough from the strikers though, which is something I’ll continue to look at.
After the last blog were we looked at the stats of some strikers in the division, I was keen to keep tabs on their performances, especially those massively outscoring their xG. The saying goes that all stats revert back to the mean… so let’s see if it’s true.
The good sign initially is that Bustos has become a more clinical striker as the season has progressed. Not only is he now outscoring his xG at a healthy level, but his shooting accuracy has improved, as shown by his shots on target % and his shots per goal ratio.
Naranjo is still out-scoring his xG, even though his other stats have declined, as is Bautista, who is still 2 goals ahead.
Soldano, Munoz and Sol are both massively outperforming their expected goals stats, with Munoz getting better as the season goes on.
Again, Bustos is doing well but is he earning his £25k per week…?
We had a good youth intake with quite a few players on 4 or 3.5 star potential. I won’t clog up space with images of them all though as they are all way off first team football.
Hopefully, they’ll develop nicely and can be introduced when the time arrives, OR when I do a review of the U19 or B-Team…. as I DO have plans…
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to give me a follow on twitter @fm_throwing