Alejandro Pozo, the youngster of Sevilla team who played on loan at Real Mallorca in the second half of the season, showcased some fantastic performances in the right-back position in La Liga, although it’s not his natural role on the pitch.
Coach Vicente Moreno repositioned the young Spanish in the right-back as a defensive man even though used to play in the attacking wing positions when he was in the youth teams in Sevilla at the first half of season, both on the left and the right side.
Through this tactical analysis, we will try to review what the Spanish player has provided tactically and some statistical improvement with his team this season.
Pozo is an energetic full-back with great intensity, especially when taken into consideration that he participates both as a winger and right-back.
The Spanish young man moves forward to make his attacking role in the tactics of a 4-2-3-1 or 5-4-1 formations with some differences, where the full-backs must be a solution to making a play from flanks and stretch the pitch in the possession phase.
Pozo moves vertically continuously on the right side, and this can be seen in the player’s heatmap, where this aggressive role is clear due to his original position as an offensive winger.
Here, we notice that he moves significantly in the middle and last third, perhaps by the same amount, especially when he has the ball as he uses the space behind the opposing full-back.
With that formation which Vicente Moreno used at Real Mallorca, we can notice the positioning of the defensive line as more compact alongside the midfield players and as a full-back, Pozo must be in contact with the right-winger so they can support each other.
Here we can see his positioning off the ball in the defensive shape of Mallorca as a right-back who connects with Takefusa Kubo, the right-winger, on the same line to double-up with marking the left-winger of Villarreal Santi Cazorla.
Pozo, although of a very young age, played well defensively in the team’s system by marking the wing who played on his side and pressing the ball-carrier.
Pozo is a man with a good qualification in the defensive system for his team because of his ability to press on the ball-carrier where he can prevent dangerous passes toward his team’s penalty area. Besides that, his awareness of positioning without the ball is also quite good as well.
We can notice his strength at pressing on the ball-carrier from the opponent’s team especially in the defensive third, where he applied the direct press 306 times this season in LaLiga, and 166 in the first third.
The pressing is the most important concept with defenders these days and because of that, he could fit into any formation his coach wants to use. And that is what Pozo always does exceptionally well, as we will notice in the next example.
Here we can see his pressing on Koke, where he made him decide on a back-pass instead of spinning and passing to Marcos Llorente or even crossing it into the penalty area, and that’s because of Pozo’s movement and immediate pressure towards the Atlético Madrid player.
Although he doesn’t have much experience, specifically in the right-back position, we can see great potential as a man in the defensive shape of the team, and that will help him in the next step of career.
Pozo was successful in defensive duels with a 62.96% success rate, which is great for him and his team since he can watch the ball progress and take care of the space behind him as the next example.
Here was the ball with Carrasco, Pozo notices him while also keeping an eye on the left-back Manu Sánchez on the flank to cut the passing lane or move horizontally to press.
Pozo succeeded at cutting the ball and won the duel with Sánchez, and that was because of his quick reaction to the through pass to regain possession again for Real Mallorca.
The young man tries to be more aware of the passing lanes to cut them before they create dangerous chances for the opponent and he has an average of recoveries up to 7.29 per game. We can see an example in the following image.
Here we can see his ability to recover the ball after the pass from Saúl Ñíguez towards Carrasco and go on a counter-attack, because of his good movements with the ball.
His defensive ability doesn’t stop here and we can see another advantage of Pozo’s style of play in the team’s defensive tactics, and that is the coverage he offers horizontally when tracking back.
Pozo’s coverage horizontally
Covering his team horizontally when tracking back is one of the important things for a full-back especially when the team plays a back-four in a 4-2-3-1 at Mallorca where he has the responsibility to cover the space and gaps left by his teammates.
And Pozo can do that with his great speed and awareness of the space where he positions himself well and notices the gap between his teammates in the defensive line, as we can see in the next example.
Here we can notice the ball with Llorente on the right flank with an unorganised defensive line from Mallorca, and Pozo moving horizontally to face Carrasco who is moving up toward the danger area to exploit this space.
Here Pozo succeeded in intercepting the ball from Carrasco inside the penalty area and this is due to his great focus and flexibility, which is nice in the defensive contribution.
Pozo who has defensive duels in his own third 88 times this season in the Spanish league. Not only that but he managed to get the ball back to his team 11 times from the penalty area.
Going inside the penalty area of his team horizontally with sharpness towards the ball and the opponent makes him a great asset, as we can see in the next example.
Here we can observe that he entered the penalty area to monitor Carrasco and make it difficult to shoot by closing the corner and filling the void left by the middle defender.
Pozo doesn’t only have defensive abilities, but he also has a lot of offensive skills due to his background as a winger.
Pozo has been one of the most important pieces in the offensive tactics of Real Mallorca this season, and we will try to explain this in our analysis.
The presence of the 20-year-old on the right side in the second half of Mallorca’s season formed the most prominent force point on the offensive level, challenging his counterpart alongside Kubo, the young Japanese loanee from Real Madrid.
Regardless of any statistics, his vertical movement towards the opponent’s penalty area or even in the area on the borders of the penalty area makes him an influential player in the last third, as we will see.
Here we notice his movement towards the space inside the penalty area of Celta Vigo, with communication between him and Kubo to pass the ball to him and take advantage of his creation of space around zone 14.
Here we see his distinction in using both feet as he shot with his left foot while showing very ingenious technical abilities in controlling the ball, and this is done in order not to take a lot of time to prepare and give the opponent a chance to put pressure on him.
He also has distinguished abilities in crossing the balls, as he has a success rate of 37% during matches, and this is with a team that does not depend on possession as a basic idea.
Here is Pozo making the decision to play a cross against Cucho Hernández on the far post, standing behind the opponent’s right-back.
Overlapping is necessary to make an additional option to the teammate who is playing as a winger and Pozo makes it good.
The young player here provided the night support to get into a 2vs1, with his speed at which he came from behind allowed him to penetrate the space behind the back.
Sure, if Pozo continues at the right-back, he will become a great solution, whether for Sevilla or other clubs, but he has some potential problems that he must improve on.
His potential issue
Despite his great capabilities in defence, whether in individual situations or his role within the system as a whole and his brilliance in providing attacking support, Pozo has a problem, which is a loss of focus, and that makes positioning lacking at times.
Pozo’s mistakes become clear when his positioning breaks the offside trap or leaves the full-back or the wing in lots of space behind him.
Here we see Pozo concentrating on the ball while it is in the possession of Lionel Messi and leaving Jordi Alba in the space behind him during the clash against Barcelona and does not care about the position of his teammates in the defence line.
This caused his team to concede a goal, but the most important thing was the loss of concentration for him in moments that made him position himself suboptimally.
There is another thing about losing focus, which is the timing of decision-making, as it makes him lose some vertical conflicts at hand which wouldn’t have happened if he was focusing as we will notice in the next example.
Here, after a long ball from Sevilla’s defence towards striker Youssef En-Nesyri, and while Pozo matched him for pace, his timing was bad as he decided to put pressure on his opponent to unbalance him. But this also meant that En-Nesyri could just touch the ball to put it around his body and score the goal.
Pozo, despite losing his focus, is still a young player with a lot of experience still to gain, and he will certainly become a solution to the formation of Sevilla if coach Julen Lopetegui wants to keep him as a substitute for the old Jesús Navas.
In this scout report, we tried to explain Pozo’s defensive and offensive development in the second half of the season when he was on loan at Mallorca along with some potential problems he has to resolve.