Girona FC – S4,4: Season Review & Planning for Europe

FM22 Analytics, tactics and soccernomics

We had a good season!! After finishing 9th and then 8th the last two seasons, we managed to make the leap up to a 6th placed finish and now have the rather daunting prospect of European football next season to look forward to.

How did we make the leap of 13 extra points whilst spending only £2.7m?

(Ok, I know I also spent £8.25 on Calvin Stengs BUT he was on the team last year as well so let me have this one!!)

Let’s have a look at the data.

Team Stats

Looking at the snapshot you can see we did pretty well across the board:

We outscored our xG, but I think I can explain that one later, we had the 3rd best defence and we managed to get 9 point more than expected. Luck or genius? Let’s delve deeper.

Attacking stats:

Looking at our attacking stats versus last season you can see that, despite me whinging about us struggling offensively, especially after Ganago departed, we didn’t actually do that badly – however I think our front-post corner prowess bailed us out a few times.

We certainly did much better in terms of cross completion, maybe because I had both Nino & Pitta on loan at the club, both of who are great in the air. The pass completion stats are down, but that doesn’t bother me.

What I do find interesting though is that we created less clear cut chances BUT had more shots on target and a higher shots on target ratio AND a better conversion rate.

I think this can be explained two ways:

  • We played with no assigned playmaker for 80% of the season, whose job it is to create clear cut chances
  • Because we were occasionally struggling, I played most of the season in this mode:

Although we’re not a possession-based team, we do have quite a few creative players so they were able to take their time a bit more and pick out the right pass at the right time. Having these creative players is a benefit of playing this 3-5-2 system with a holding midfielder, as it allows them to push forward and take more risks.

And what did our attacking stats the world of good was the tactic which I created with 6 games left in which we generated 2.4 goals per game.

Defensive stats:

Right, on to the interesting stuff! DEEEEFENCE!!

You’ll recall that last pre-season I spent most of my recruiting effort making La Liga’s 6th best defence even better, with the signing of David Martinez from Sassuolo and Eric Bailly from Manchester UFC.

Looking at the stats you can see it was totally worth it. We made improvements across the board, apart from keeping 1 less clean sheet and even managed to allow nearly 100 shots less over the season!! That’s damn good.

Three of my defenders are wanted by other, bigger clubs, so I’m hoping to keep them at bay.

An efficient team:

When it comes to efficiency we’re definitely in the correct quadrants when it comes to attacking (top right) and defending (bottom left).

Player Stats

We’ve had some solid performances this year, although the one with the Player of the Year award will come as no surprise.

Stengs not only won the player of the year, but also scooped the Signing of the Season and the most assists, with an impressive 10. It’s nice to see Felipe Cruz getting in with the Young Player of the Year, most POM’s and the highest average rating. He had a long injury lay-off and took him a while to regain proper match fitness. I’m not expecting to keep hold of him for next season ad the vultures are circling.

Goalkeeping:

Mamardashvili has had another great season. There aren’t many better according to the advanced goalkeeping data hub chart and those that are cost a hell of a lot more than his 22k per week. Atalanta, Lyon, Newcastle and RB Salzburg are all after him but they can take a running jump unless they’re willing to offer WAY more than he’s valued at.

Defending:

We had a very solid year defensively and it’s easy to see why when you look at the aerial chart on the left. Our 5 rotational central defenders (Bernardo, Gnagnon, Bailly, Martinez and Bueno) all had above the league average amount of contested headers per game and all are on, or above the average headers won ratio. WARRIORS!!

They are mostly all doing well when it comes to tackling too. Apart from Gnagnon, who is very – and quite worryingly – low. David Martinez being below average in tackles won % isn’t a worry as I bought him in to be more of a distributor. I think this might change my standpoint if bids come in for Gnagnon… he might be allowed to leave as that’s not good enough.

And yes, look at Bernardo!! An outlier in both charts. He only started 11 games, as he’s now 35, but if that’s not the captain leading by example I don’t know what is!

Midfielders

We played with a 3 man midfield all season, with the usual starters being Arnau Martinez as the DM and Calvin Stengs and Ben Romdhane as the two more attacking CMs. The pocket-rocket, Gonzalez, was the back up DM and youngsters Amine Essahel and Vincente Taboada were the deputies at CM, with Gonzalez stepping in there when a bit of steel was needed.

Stengs is the leader on both charts, for assisting and scoring as he notched up 9 goals and 9 assists in the league, and it’s nice to see 18-year-old Taboada doing well in both. Ben Rhomdane didn’t do as well in the assisting stats as I would’ve guessed, getting only 2 assists all season. He could be a potential upgrade opportunity if the right player comes along.

Attacking:

After Ganago left we had 3 strikers in rotation. All of them on loan.

Here’s their stats:

Kalimuendo did well, especially at the end of the season, and has a £4m option to buy which I’ll definitely take PSG up on if I can’t negotiate to lower. Nino struggled so I won’t be taking up his £13.5m option and Pitta did ok, but I bought him in as a Target Man, and we no longer use that role so despite him doing ok… I don’t think I’ll be picking up his £6.5m option.

Looking forward

Thinking ahead to next season, where we’ll want to at least get out of the Europa League group stages and challenge for the Champions League places in the league I’ll need to make improvements to both the first team AND the strength of depth available.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to put a squad together to achieve both of these goals but we’ll see.

Here’s how things currently stand and doesn’t include any of the youngsters who may force their way into the squad.

I definitely need an advanced forward who can get 15-20 goals, and I need a starting left wingback – Guilherme Montola did well on loan from Benfica, but they won’t accept any less than £13m for him so I’ll need to find someone else.

Our affiliation with Man City might have to be heavily called up on this coming season.

I think I’ll lose Gnagnon (CB), Cruz (RB) and Ben Rhomdhane (CM) as all have multiple team interested and I think if I can get a good amount for any of them I’ll let them go, as I think we’re now at the point where we can attract a better calibre of players and need one or two who can produce some magic and be a gamechanger.

Right, I’m off to build a squad….

3 thoughts on “Girona FC – S4,4: Season Review & Planning for Europe”

      1. Well…. His release clause is around £27m… and his current value is around £27m…. He’s already on big wages and I don’t think I can afford to give him a big rise to extend his contract… so I’m preparing myself for the worst.

        Liked by 1 person

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