Central Attacking Midfield & Centre Forward

The attacking central midfielder in the Reggina line-up is set up to attack, designed to permeate the box, confuse defenders, and find space with their runs with a goal-scoring focus. Playing in behind a sole striker, a complete forward, link up play is important to make quick plays and progressions.

Belgian international, Wim Janssen, joined the club at the start of the 2031-32 season from the unlikely destination of Tigres, the Mexican club. Tigres has picked up Janssen from K Racing Club Genk for his minimum fee release clause of £14.75m and after two years in Mexico, Reggina swooped in to pick him up for £27.5m – again, his minimum fee release clause – after thirty-one appearances and seventeen goals for the Liga MX club. Possessing very technical skills, and the player traits ‘gets into the opposition area’, ‘gets forward whenever possible’ and ‘plays one-twos’, he is the ideal player for this role.

Wim Janssen

Paulo Oliveira, the Portuguese attacking midfielder, has been with Reggina since the beginning of the 2027-28 season. Having started his career at Portimonense Sporting Club, Oliveira scored twenty-three goals in sixty-one league appearances for the Portuguese side, attracting the Reggina scouts to his abilities. Oliveria has largely been a back-up option, though a productive one, with forty-seven goals in ninety-seven games.

Paulo Oliveria

Wim Janssen was handed the primary starting birth in the attacking central midfield slot, with the role set as attacking midfield on attack to provide runs into the box and help support the lone striker. The more experienced Oliveira was a highly capable back-up option throughout the season, filling in for Janssen when required, typically filling in against weaker opposition and coming on off the bench to replace Janssen if he was having a poor game.

Attacking Central Midfield

Given the deep block/defensive nature of most teams in Serie A against a strong Reggina side, whomever plays in this role is often tightly marked/surrounded by defensive midfield players during slower build up play, so this role isn’t expected to contribute tonnes of passes nor deliver key creative blows to cut open opposing defences. This is especially the case given that they have two playmaking players in behind them. This is borne out in their metrics – with both Oliveira and Janssen being far from stand-out players in these areas.

Instead, where they excel is in their shots/90mins and their high level of shots on target/90mins. Oliveira (ranked first – 4.48 Shots/90mins) and Janssen (fifth – 4.15 Shots/90mins) both provide an attacking threat through their penetrative runs off the striker through link up play, or through arriving in the box, moving quickly between the lines of midfield and attack to avoid being picked up. This helps to explain why both rank highly on the Shots on Target/90mins metric, with Oliveira topping the metric with 2.60 shots on target/90mins and Janssen dropping down to sixth. These stats could have been somewhat skewed due to Oliveira being one of the players responsible for taking penalties. Yet on closer inspection, Oliveira only scored one goal from a penalty over the season, so it appears to have had very little impact upon the data. Of those players that took fifty shots or more over the course of the season, Oliveira and Janssen rank fourth (20.98%) and sixth (16.10%) in shot-to-goal conversion, with only the two most frequently used strikers (Quinteros and Muñoz, both analysed below) and Barca having superior conversion rates.

Their goal and assists/90mins metric see them placed fifth (Oliveira – 1.37 G/A/90mins) and sixth (Janssen – 1.11 G/A/90mins) in the overall charts, with only the strikers and left wingers offering goal involvement over the course of a game. This stat underlines their critical link in the Reggina set-up – offering goals but also, if possible, providing assists. Janssen provided the second most assists, fifteen over the season (0.44 assists/90mins) and although Oliveira provided just six, he did so over considerably fewer minutes played, giving him a metric of 0.43 assists/90mins. Neither player looks special when it comes to assists/90mins – though this is largely on the back of Mainz’s incredible 0.91 assists/90mins – but given their lack of space and their primary focus upon attacking spaces rather thanbeing a creative force, this metric shouldn’t be ignored in terms of the significance to the overall performance of the team and their link up with the centre forward. As mentioned above, Janssen’s player preferred moves of ‘gets into opposition area’, ‘gets forward whenever possible’ and plays one-twos’ make him an ideal attacking midfielder who can provide the link up play and then rip an opponent’s defence apart with his quick feet (acceleration 18 and pace 16) and movement off the ball (16) to deliver a decisive blow.

The role of centre forward for Reggina has been established as a complete forward on attack for some time. Offering an all-round body of play as part of the tip of the attacking force is essential given that they are leading the line, nominally, on their own. The forward must possess the technical abilities and be sufficiently strong enough to be able to hold up the ball to then link play with on-rushing teammates, playing in passes as they are overlapped but also being clinical in their finishing, either with their head/feet from crosses or have the composure when left one-on-one with a goalkeeper. The role also results in them trying to find space when out of possession, often drifting into the channels to provide an outlet, stretching defences and creating holes as they do so.

Wladimir Quinteros, the curiously named Ecuadorian centre forward has been with Reggina for nine seasons. Signed for only £2.8m from Club Social y Deportivo Independiente, after having started his career at Imbabura Sporting Club, Quinteros has made his name known around the world. Quinteros joined Reggina shortly after making his international debut for his home country for whom he has scored thirty-seven goals in eight-five appearances. Given his length of stay at Reggina, Quinteros is considered a leader in the dressing room.

Wladimir Quinteros

Ander Muñoz, a 19-year-old Spanish international, is a true wonderkid. With attributes beyond his young years, this player has shot to fame since arriving at Reggina two years ago from Athletic Club for a release fee of £1.8m. Having been capped by Spain twice already, the striker has a keen eye for goal, with incredible attributes that enable him to play in others around him, as well as finish chances off. Muñoz will almost undoubtedly be the main sole striker when 30-year-old Quinteros’s abilities start to decline (depending upon the future of out on loan Julio Cesar).

Ander Muñoz

Andrea Bagnoli is the last of the home-grown talent to have made it into the first-team at Reggina. His player development path has been somewhat blocked by the sheer ability and form of Quinteros and the rising talent that is Muñoz, but he still shows some signs that he is an out-and-out goal scorer given the chance. With forty-eight goals in eight-four appearances so far for his home club, and five goals in eight international appearances for the Azzurri, Bagnoli’s capabilities in front of goal are clear to see, despite being only 21-years old – which has led to the European Golden Boy title having already been bestowed upon him. In fact, his first goal for Amaranto’s first-team was scored against Inter Milan in Serie A, when Bagnoli was aged just 15. In the next season, he topped the scoring charts for Reggina, following a long injury lay-off for Quinteros, marking him as a child prodigy.

Andrea Bagnoli
Centre Forward Metrics

Spearheading the attacking line, it’s unsurprising that Quinteros and Muñoz are towards the top of the ratings for shots/90mins and shots on target/90mins. Quinteros scored thirty-six goals in thirty-six appearances, including three off the bench. Muñoz scored eighteen goals in nineteen appearances, coming in at 1.24 goals/90mins, topping this metric ahead of Quinteros’s 1.10 goals/90mins. Both have impressive shot conversion ratios – 25.35% for Quinteros and 28.56% for Muñoz. This makes them deadly in and around the box, scoring a goal every four shots. Quinteros’s link up play was superior to Muñoz over the 2031-32 season, with Quinteros chipping in with nineteen assists, 0.58 assists/90mins. Quinteros also ranked second for the number of key passes, with 77, 2.34 key passes per 90mins (sixth) compared to Muñoz’s 1.72 kp/90mins (eleventh).

It is logical therefore that Quinteros tops the charts for goal involvement/90mins, with 1.68 goals or assists/90mins. Muñoz is not far behind with 1.45/90mins, ranking him fourth in the squad. By dropping back to allow runners to run through the defensive line, or by drifting out wide to pull the defence out of position, this role provides a great deal of chances for their teammates. Quinteros’s player traits of ‘moves into channels’ is also in the complete forward player instruction, but it is clear to see that by being exceptional off the ball and having a sound reading of play as it develops, this allows him to open up space to play others in. Whilst Bagnoli tops the key passes/90mins, chances created/90mins and cross completion/attempted crosses metrics, he played less than four hundred minutes across the whole season, so should be disregarded on the basis of such a comparatively small sample size. However, the chances created by Quinteros put him fourth on the overall list when Bagnoli’s numbers are ignored. This is ahead of any playmaking midfielder in the central midfield, except for box-to-box midfielder, Stanciu.

Muñoz does not look to be too far behind Quinteros and is at least showing promise that he can match the goal threat that Quinteros brings to the side. His reading of the game should only improve given more game time and his metrics in chances created/90mins and number of assists ought to build on this season’s figures as a result. His goal output is remarkable given his young age – it can only be hoped that this is sustained going into future seasons and that his player progress does not stagnate.

Below you can see the full metrics available for players in the centre forward and attacking midfield position for your own comparison/conclusions:


Winger Metric Analysis

The attacking flanks of the Reggina side are a key fulcrum to their tactical style of play. Providing width and a pincer movement when attacking the opposition area, the create and score goals.

The right-sided winger is set to support, taking up a slightly deeper role than his counter-part. This twin attack, with the full back on his flank set to make attacking runs down the Reggina right creates an overload for wing backs or full backs in opposition teams, allowing these players to complete a high number of crosses into the box.

Nicola Patané is another home-grown player from Reggina and is the oldest Amaranto academy graduate at the club. Finding his pathway initially blocked, Patané enjoyed a series of loans to fellow Italian clubs, including Perugia and Bari which aided his development. Patané’s successful loans led to him offering initially a back-up role within the Reggina squad, but after the sale of Pereira last season to Manchester City, Patané has made his promotion to first choice count.

Nicola Patané

23-year old Thibault Renard also found his player progression pathway impeded, but rather than going out on-loan to Serie A clubs, the Belgian instead opted to go to Atlético Madrid initially and then Watford the following season. He remained with Amaranto over the 2031-32 season to provide back-up support for Patané, as evidenced by his comparative lack of minutes..

Thibault Renard

Kenneth Bjerknæs is an 18-year-old Danish wonderkid. Convinced to join the Calabrian side by fellow national, Ulrik Marcussen, his professional personality and mental attributes are remarkable for a player of his age – Bjerknæs looks to have a great footballing future ahead of him. Signed from Marcussen’s club of FC København for a paltry £2m three seasons ago, he’s already been capped for Denmark. It is believed that he will be given more opportunities for first-team football going forwards and won’t be heading out on loan, unlike his inter-squad positional rivals did in the development stage of their careers.

Kenneth Bjerknæs
Right-side wingers

Being set to support, this sees the right winger track play in both directions, and helps to explain the taxing distances per 90mins that is expected of these players. Patané and Bjerknæs are ranked one and two respectively for the distance covered per 90mins, with Patané averaging 14.5km/90mins. His acceleration, pace and flair help to, at first, trick opponents before then running beyond them to deliver a cross into the box, especially when combined with his player traits of ‘knocks ball past opponent’, ‘runs with ball down the right’ and ‘gets forward whenever possible’.

Patané and Bjerknæs have both completed 18% of all crosses they attempt, leading to a goal/assist contribution per 90mins of 0.66 and 0.88 – with Renard completing 12% of his crosses and a more impressive G&A/90mins of 0.86. Renard’s seven assists in only 839 minutes is impressive, though his shots/90mins are lower, as is his shots on target/90mins, than his rivals for this position. Yet these later two aren’t the be-all-and-end-all metrics for this position. Whilst players in this role do find themselves in the box forming a loose front three if play develops down the left side, or is slow to build, this role is set so that it looks to interlink play more, offering a wide outlet and then a run at defenders rather than driving all the time into the box without fail, even without the ball at feet. Far more important metrics to this role are the frequency and quality of chances they create and aforementioned G&A/90mins, with more weighting desired towards the assist’s aspect of that metric.

Left-sided attacking midfielders are largely set to play as wingers with an attacking mind-set, except for home-grown Reggina starlet, Barca, who plays as a raumdeuter.

Alfonso Barca came from the Reggina academy alongside fellow forward Bagnoli, in what can easily be described as the best generation to ever come out of Amaranto’s youth set up. Re-trained from a pure striker to this wide role, Barca’s work rate, determination and teamwork are all outstanding features of his play, despite being only 21 years old. Barca has already been capped four times by the Azzurri and looks set for many more in the future, despite missing out on being selected for the 2032 European Championships.

Alfonso Barca

César Mainz, plucked from Rayo Vallencano for his minimum fee release clause of £4.4m, has also taken the loan route to his development process. Espanyol and Atalanta temporarily employed his services, before he found his way into the Reggina first-team. After impressive spells with both clubs, Mainz has been a real goalscoring threat, cutting in from the left to provide a finish to a number of crosses coming in from the right. His 6’2” frame, 17 jumping reach and 16 strength make him a real force in the box.

César Mainz

Jakub Broniszewski, a 21-year-old German international, began his career in Stuggart’s youth team before progressing through into their first team, representing them twenty-six times in the Bundesliga. His minimum fee release clause of £7.5m was triggered to initially act as back-up. A loan spell back Germany at Herta BSC aided his development, where he played thirty-three games, scoring nine goals, proving he was ready to take the next step. His similar physical make-up to Mainz, being 6’4” and 17 strength makes him a real weapon for crosses into the far post.

Jakub Broniszewski
Left-sided wingers

Each player in this slot has been given an opportunity to develop with a relatively even distribution of minutes – crucial given their respective ages. When Mazin and Broniszewski, the out-and-out wingers, play they adopt an advanced position, more often than not choosing to stay further upfield when the opposition are launching an attack. This can act as an out ball for defenders and midfielders who do track back to play out to when the ball is won back – with the winger then looking to use his pace and explosive acceleration to stretch play and hit the opposition on the counter, driving at the oposing full/wing backs. This helps to explain their lower distance covered/90mins than their wing counterparts and why left wingers top the dribbles/game metrics. Fellow left winger, Dejan Lesjak, another hot prospect wonderkid, tops the metric but is not included within this analysis with only very few minutes being played over the course of the season – just 654 minutes. Mainz (6.51 dribbles/90mins) comes second, troubling his opponent with his pace, strength and technical ability, typically looking to take advantage of being one-on-one when the game is in a more unstructured open phase of play, which can lead to him creating a situation where he is through onto goal to take an angled shot.

In fact, all three have impressive shots on target percentages, with Broniszewski (60%) topping the charts and Mainz and Barca joint eighth (54%). Between them, they score with ~20% shots taken – a total of thirty-two goals. When play does develop down the right, both Mainz and Broniszewski look to arrive late in the box at the far post, stretching the oppositions backline, receiving the diagonal balls over the top. Mainz’s shots/90mins (4.33), shots on target/90mins (2.35) and goals/90mins (0.76) are stand out. Whilst he has played fewer minutes than either Barca or Broniszewski, his goal tally of thirteen goals in eighteen starts and six substitute appearances shows his high ceiling. When combined with his thirteen assists in competitive football this season, his goal and assists/90mins metric stands at a remarkable 1.67/90mins – bettered only by complete forward, Quinteros. His ability to dominate the opposing full backs in the air, Mainz wins 4.03 headers/90mins – or 65% of headers attempted.

The three players also have very similar cross completion percentages of ~10-11%. This is notably lower than the right wingers analysed above, in fact, 4% lower than both Pantané and Bjerknæs. This metric could be a result of the opposing winger taking a less attacking stance so arriving later in the box and not getting onto the end of the cross; poor cross selection/accuracy or a higher number of crosses being blocked at source.

Barca, in his space exploring ‘raumdeuter’ role is, as expected, far freer in his positioning. Looking to take advantage of gaps in vertical and horizontal half-spaces between opponent’s defensive set-ups, Barca needs to be a master of reading the game in terms of its development of plays, arriving at the right time to provide a key pass or provide a finish. Barca creates 1.64 chances/90mins, 0.20 more than Mainz – though has only one extra assist in over 350 more minutes. Accordingly, Barca falls 0.17 behind Mainz’s exception 1.67 G&A involvement per 90mins. Clearly, with better, more clinical finishing of the chances he provides, this metric has room to grow. Indeed, his key passing metric, 2.45 KP/game, ranks him fourth on the squad list indicating the significance of his playmaking abilities within the spaces he takes, with forty-two key passes in total.

The right-sided wingers are the workhorses of the formation, offering their support to both attacking and defensive situations, whereas the left wingers are closer to being, if not the assassin, then the weapon smith capable of delivering a cut-throat slit himself.

You can see the full range of metrics available for the above players below:

Central Midfield Metric Analysis

Central midfield is where the heartbeat lies within Reggina’s side. Great emphasis is placed upon the passing and vision attributes, looking to unpick the locks of deep-lying defensive tactics that opposition managers utilise to try to nullify their attacking strength. Whilst the Reggina style of play involves fast attacks, countering quickly with players encouraged to express themselves and run at the defence, this is not always possible. Where possession is slower, which can often be the case against the defensive tactics employed by other Serie A teams against them, the central midfield pairing are key components in the tactical set-up.

Ulrik Marcussen is a Danish maestro, signed from FC København. He was loaned out to develop whilst other central midfielders impeded his player development path at Reggina. After heading out on loans at Udinese and Burnley designed to provide him with first team action, the latter loan was cut short after an injury to a senior player at Reggina. Marcussen found his chance and he hasn’t looked back since. Subject to a recent £140m bid from Man City, a would-be world record fee, Marcussen is a truly all-round gifted player.

Ulrik Marcussen

Eugênio joined Reggina three years ago, coming in from Porto for a minimum fee release clause of £48m. Unable to be registered in his first year due to non-EU player limits, Eugênio looks to be making up for lost time in stamping his abilities upon Serie A and for his home country, Brazil. Manchester United have been rumoured to be interested in signing the ex-Fortaleza player ever since he arrived at Amaranto’s Stadio Simone Giacchetta Park.


Raúl Mugabure, an Argentinian international, has been with Reggina for only two years, also fell foul of the non-EU player limits in his first season – leading to a short-term loan to Bundesliga side, RB Leipzig, to prevent stagnation and risking him becoming unhappy. A Club Atlético River Plate graduate, he made a solid start to his River career, making 162 league appearances before joining Amaranto, and has represented his country twenty-three times. An £86m offer is on the table from Manchester City and looks likely to be accepted to make space in the squad for younger prospects to be registered for the League.

Raúl Mugabure

The right-side of the central pairing is set as a deep-lying playmaker on defend, regardless of player selection. This role offers solidity and balance to the right-hand flank, as the full back on that side looks to drive forwards and create overloads. Hanging back in space away from the attack also means that ball recycled if a teammate is unable to see an incisive pass or a cross isn’t on. They look to allow teammates on the flanks do the running, with Marcussen (0.51 dribbles/game) and Eugênio (0.53 dribbles/game) covering their >13km/90m by finding space and tracking back and forth as the play transpires around them.

Centre Midfield – right-hand side

Simple, short passes are typically the order of the day, despite these three players possessing top-level passing and vision attributes and the team’s instructions to pass into space. This is most recognisable in their high passing completion stats, with all players who have played in this role having a pass completion percentage equal to a remarkable 92%. Given the short nature of these passes, they aren’t defence-splitting/key passes, and so their assist numbers are very low – with only two assists, both claimed by Marcussen, who is listed as a corner taker, in a cumulative 4,599 minutes across all three players.

Instead, greater emphasis is placed upon their defensive capabilities, looking for them to win interceptions with their reading of the game and complete tackles to disrupt the play of the opposition. Dropping deeper, acting as a shield for the defence when in possession, allows the player to be ready to act when the opposition win the ball back and either look to launch a quick counter or clear the ball long. Its telling that their respective tackle completions per game are above that of any central defender, with Eugênio (4.08 tackles/match) and Marcussen (4.06 t/m) ranking third and fourth behind only the left full back pairing of Werner and Pasquale (Mugabure is seventh with 2.52). With this role breaking up opponents play before it reaches the final line of defence helps to explain why Reggina only conceded thirty-seven goals throughout the fifty-four game season.

Contrastingly, the left-hand side of the pairing is not locked in terms of player role. Vegard Løndal, a Norwegian master player-maker, slots into the team as an advanced playmaker on support to provide a more advanced creative role, to dribble at opponents exploiting his pace and acceleration to panic them and then look to exploit the gaps that are opened up with a well-judged pass to a teammate. Signed for a meagre £2.8m from Rosenborg, the world-class midfielder has remained with Reggina ever since – his player pathway left open for him to come through after his predecessors were sold on. With every key attribute for the advanced playmaker position being above 15, Løndal is almost peerless in world football.

Vegard Løndal

Nazareno Cabrera also adopts the central advanced playmaker role, but prefers to be more attacking in his play, taking up a more progressive position. The £9.5m signing from Rosario Central, Cabrera played a key role in the Champions League win, providing an impressive five assists in five games. Being naturally left-footed and playing on the left, Cabrera enjoys linking up with the winger outside of him or playing passes through to the attacking midfielder or compete forward.

Nazareno Cabrera

Romanian, Silviu Stanciu provides a back-up option to Løndal and Cabrera. His physicality is a major proponent of his game and helps to explain the switch in the role to box-to-box midfielder when he takes to the field. Providing dangerous penetrating runs into the opposition box, Stanciu has the ability to unlock opposition defences before laying off the final pass for an on-running forward to slot home. An £8.5m signing from FC Vitorul, Stanciu is ready to come off the bench to use his combination of his physical attributes and technical ability.

Silviu Stanciu
Centre Midfield – left-hand side

The differing roles that these players fulfil on the left-hand side can easily be identified, especially with Stanciu attempting/completing fewer passes. Yet all cover the same distance/90mins – a remarkable 14km/game, with only one player topping this metric ahead of them. None of these players are goal scorers, with just three goals between them (one apiece – more detail on this in below) and together they fill the top three places for the passes attempted/90mins metric.

The lack of goals from this position in the team merits further investigation – all players in this position shoot too frequently given their poor pay-off returns in terms of goal/shot. Løndal (3.41 shots/90mins), Cabrera (2.05 sh/90mins) and Stanciu (3.14 sh/90mins) all have poor shot accuracy – 0.82, 0.33 and 0.66 shots on target/90mins respectively. When assessed alongside their goals/90mins, all players have below 0.08 goals/match. Deeper analysis of Londal’s metrics show that of the eighty-three shots he attempted over the course of the 2031-32 season, he scored just 1.20% of them – one goal – a truly damning metric. This clearly demonstrates he, and others in this position should look to use the ball more efficiently, instead creating chances later on in the phase of play through maintaining possession, rather than shooting from distance when an initial attacking phase has stalled. These metrics are also rather curious given that, for both Cabrera and Løndal, the advanced playmaker role come with shoot less often and that the team are instructed to work the ball into the box.

The starkest of the metric analysis here, if the above metric isn’t disastrous enough, focusses again on Løndal. One would expect Løndal, anointed playmaker-in-chief, to be contributing more key passes/90mins, especially given his ‘tries killer balls often’ player trait and high level passing and vision attributes. Yet, Løndal’s key passes/90mins is markedly lower than his two inter-squad rivals for that position. His 1.52 KP/90mins is one whole key pass per 90mins lower than both Cabrera and Stanciu. This is both equally surprising and concerning. Løndal’s lower assists/90mins – 0.29 A/90mins against 0.79 A/90mins and 0.41 A/90mins – could partially be understood through Løndal playing in ‘tougher’ Serie A games where Reggina see lower possession figures, but to have a metric this markedly different to others is alarmingly startling. This helps to explain why later in the season Cabrera became the go-to-selection – weighing in with thirteen assists in only sixteen starts (ten appearances more from the bench). Cabrera’s corner taking in the Reggina side may skew the metrics, so this requires more detailed assessment to strip out set-piece contributions, but this is something to keep an eye on in future, should Løndal remain with Reggina.

The constituents of Løndal’s player traits ‘runs with ball often’ and ‘knocks ball past opponents’ is highlighted by his high dribbles per game metric – successfully completing 3.2 per game, with only wingers outstripping his efforts. However, if he isn’t delivering passes successfully into goal-creating areas, then this means very little. Progressions in the form of dribbles which are destructive aren’t especially useful if they end up in a turn over or long shot with a low xG and shot accuracy likelihood.

Perhaps his impressive attributes could be better utilised playing under a different role going forwards, so that his dribbling prowess and ability to progress the ball in this way can be better utilised to unlock defences with movement around him from other roles. This may require further investigation into the 2032/33 season.

Below shows the full metrics available for all six players analysed above for your own perusal/conclusions:

Continue reading “Central Midfield Metric Analysis”

Full Back Metric Analysis

Welcome to the first blog piece using Football Manager’s available statistics to assess Reggina squad players following their 2031-32 Serie A and Champions League wins. First up, the full backs:

Right backs, Bongiorno and Speri, have both come through the Reggina academy. Bongiorno was identified straight away as a hot prospect and someone likely to start in the first team within a relatively short time frame. Speri too was acknowledge as a clear prospect for the first team going forwards, but to ensure his chance of progression, he was sent out on a series of loans designed to give him playing time at a good level. With the dedicated aim of furthering his progress, which was broader in its required range of attributes and skill sets compared to Bongiorno, these loans allowed him to have a chance at Reggina where there were already two players for his position – with Bongiorno acting as the second/cover for that spot. It’s rare that youth academy prospects ever find a chance to make it through into the first team with the plethora of attractive scout reports that come through with alternative options from other clubs and countries, but given their clear upside/potential, they were given a path for progression, albeit different to one another. To have had both capped for the national side at such relatively young ages underlines their importance for the Azzurri.

Kevin Bongiorno
Andrea Speri

The right-sided full back is a pivotal role within the 4-2-3-1 formation for Reggina. Set to ‘attack’, the team’s tactic looks to create an overload down the right. If the opponents play with a winger, then this either forces them back and nullifies their attacking threat, or it can create a two-versus-one overload if the opposition left winger remains further upfield. If, as is often the case in Serie A, the opposition choose to play a tactic without wingers and opt for one player in the left-sided wingback slot, then the Reggina manager looks to tweak the tactic to switch play down either flanks.

Being set to attack, it is no surprise that both Bongiorno and Speri have covered an incredible amount of ground over the season – 13.9km/90mins and 13.7km/90mins respectively. Going forwards, often to the bi-line of the opposition and then having to track back to prevent counters is tiring work. Whilst they have good stamina and natural fitness to recover from running over a large distance and after games, both have been rotated heavily, with Bongiorno the preferred option of the two, playing in the ‘bigger’ games against stronger opposition. Given their pace and acceleration, both have been trained with the player preferred moves of ‘knocks ball past opponent’ and ‘runs with ball down the right’. This challenges and stretches defences, when matched with the winger on a ‘support’ role down the same flank. If the winger cuts inside, as they often seem to do, then this leaves the right back free to deliver a cross, or if closed down, to look to play the ball back to the deep lying playmaker.

The role demands that they cross the ball regularly into the box. Whilst both have low cross completion statistics, 17% and 16% respectively, these are often challenging crosses for the defending team to deal with. Frequently balls are whipped into the back post for the left-sided winger (set on attack) to arrive at the back post or driven in for the centre forward/attacking midfielder to pounce on in the middle of the six-yard box. Despite neither player having particularly high crossing attributes, both have contributed a number of assists over the season – 13 for Bongiorno and 8 for Speri, with Bongiorno averaging 0.46 Assists/90m and Speri not far behind with 0.37 A/90.

Their high levels of anticipation, concentration and decision-making allow for these players to be attacking in their nature, as they quickly spot potential danger and react accordingly. Playing in a flat back four, their defensive position and reading of the game is just as important as their attacking threat. This ability to read the game is supported by their reasonable positioning attributes, with Bongiorno coming out the stronger of the two in this area. Both have the same attribute rating for their work rate (13), which underlines their willingness and desire to both trackback and to push forwards to assist the attacking players. It’s Bongiorno’s teamwork that really makes him stand out from Speri (19 and 13 respectively). When up against strong opposition in the Serie A and the Champions League, Bongiorno’s work rate really comes to the fore. Six of his thirteen assists came in the Champions League winning campaign, from a total of nine starts.

The fact Bongiorno’s metrics largely outperform Speri’s, given he is first choice for the more difficult fixtures for Reggina, clearly outlines his ability. Perhaps it is to be expected that he will have more complete more tackles in a game (3.70/90min compared to 3.19/90min), given the lower average possession percentages, but to match this with a higher level of assists/90mins and to have very similar pass completion percentage to Speri (82% and 86% respectively) shows the true quality of the player. His Assists/90min metric is beaten only by players who play true playmaking roles (Cabrera) and those in the attacking fulcrum of tactic – putting him seventh on the list. Speri, by comparison, ranks twelfth, perhaps underlying the key duty of this role within the team.

On the other flank, the left full back is set to have a more supporting duty, getting forwards when they see an opportunity to get involved with play, but only when safe to do so. Given the attacking nature of the right hand-sided full back, this is far less frequent, perhaps best highlighted by the lower distance/90mins figures that both Werner and Pasquale post compared to their teammates (12.7km and 12.5km/90mins respectively). Both are world-class left-backs, with the Swede Werner repeatedly rumoured to be leaving for the Premier League.

Werner and Pasquale were identified early on in their careers by the Reggina scouting network. Werner started out at AIK and made a series of league appearances in the Swedish Allsvenskan before being picked up for £1.3m some ten years ago. It is perhaps no surprise that Reggina won their first Serie A the year that Werner arrived and have won the title every year since. The fact that Reggina have been able to hold on to such a player is testament to their ability to keep the player happy through repeatedly winning Serie A and competing in the final stages of the Champions League on a regular basis. Considered a team leader in the squad, Werner has been a stalwart for the first-team since arrival.

Dennis Werner

Pasquale is probably unlucky not have made more starts in his professional career. The 29-year old Argentinian began his career at Racing Club, but going out on loan to Sevilla, Sao Paulo and Atalanta. It was at Atalanta that scouts picked up on Pasquale’s ability and he was quickly acquired by Reggina for £9.25m following his successful season in Serie A at the Bergamo-based club. Pasquale has also had significant interest in his services from Premier League giants, but as yet he has chosen not to leave for pastures new, despite the likely lure of guaranteed first team football.

Victor Pasquale

The left back role is notably far less creative than the right-back in the Reggina set-up. With only three assists between the two players, their role is far more defensive-minded. The lack of key passes and chances created per 90mins is indicative of this in the metrics. This is largely explained by not just their role but also the overall tactical approach. On the right wing, the winger is set to support, so will not constantly push to arrive late in the box when the play is developing unlike his left-sided compatriot, who operates on a more attacking role, or even as a raumdeuter.

The role of the player in front of them also helps to explain the volume of tackles that the left full-back has to put in. With the left-back finding themselves without someone immediately in front of them to act as a shield, opponents can often look to take advantage of the space down the left-hand side. Werner and Pasquale’s abilities in the tackle (15 and 17 respectively) and their concentration and decision-making attributes (17 and 17, 14 and 15 respectively) help to make up for the fact that they are so frequently isolated. Werner averages 4.76 tackles/game with Pasquale not far short of this statistic, on 4.70 tackles/game. This puts them first and second at the club for this metric. However, Werner does have a relatively high number of mistakes/90mins, coming out on 1.82 mistakes/90mins, compared to 0.96 mistakes/90mins for Pasquale – yet neither player made any mistakes which led to a goal over the course of the season. Again, Werner is often the preferred option for the ‘tougher’ fixtures having made eleven Champions League starts during the 2031/32 season, so this can perhaps be explained away, especially given that stronger teams will look to take advantage of the aforementioned space in front of him. His positioning, tackling and marking attributes make him stand out from Pasquale to start these games, and his stamina and work rate helps him to maintain this late on into matches. Both have pass accuracy figures of 85% within Serie A, indicative that they look to play relatively simple passes to play-making opponents ahead of them but will clear the ball away when required.

The balance across these two roles give balance to the side, helping to provide both an overload to the attack and to support to the defence, preventing the two centre backs from being overrun by marauding attackers. Before looking forwards to explain the large number of goals this Reggina side create, it is important to understand why they concede so few and how their defence can be flipped into an attacking threat whilst maintain a stable base from which to work. Supplementing home-grown talent with two of the strongest, most complete full-backs in world football has taken Reggina forwards in European football, resulting in two Champions League titles in three years, and a Serie A ‘la decimo’.

Below you can see the full metric analysis for these players to draw your own comparisons and conclusions from the provided data:

Continue reading “Full Back Metric Analysis”