Oscar Rodriguez or simply known as Óscar is the 21-year-old Real Madrid loanee who has been a real bright spark in the struggling Leganés side this season in La Liga. Often forgotten by Madrid in the same fashion as Dani Ceballos (currently at Arsenal) and Co. Óscar has been able to show his talents and suggests that he does deserve some playing time for Los Blancos. However, if those at Madrid still have doubts about his ability, there are still several clubs in La Liga and outside of Spain who would be willing to take Óscar on board.
This tactical analysis of Óscar aims to highlight what he has been able to do so well this season for Leganés through the form of a scout report. Measuring his effectiveness in games and looking at how he performs on a weekly basis will produce a comprehensive analysis of how Óscar is ready for the next level. Whether that may be at Real Madrid or a new club altogether.
Role at Leganés
Usually lining up in a 5-4-1 as seen in the image below, Leganés shape up to play on the counter. Willing to give up possession of the ball in order to hit teams quickly with pace and attack with wingers and full-backs who get crosses into the box. Pragmatic in their approach play, Leganés line up with a solid and disciplined backline and an astute midfield four as the second line of defence.
Through the use of reverse diagonal balls Leganés are able to set up attacks on the counter and allow players to then advance up the pitch, a critical feature of their tactics. However, when these switch balls over the top don’t work, a lack of creativity is increasingly evident as the game continues. Leganés rank joint bottom in goals scored this season with 21 in 27 league matches. An average of 0.7 goals a game.
In a team lacking in creativity, a heavy burden is bestowed upon Óscar for the spark to either create chances or finish them himself. A feat that he has been able to accomplish with some individual success despite the team’s overall failings. In 26 games Óscar has recorded seven goals and two assists. His nine-goal involvements equate to 42.9% of the team’s totals goals illustrating the great importance to the team he possesses.
Referring to his heat map below, Óscar who is mostly deployed on the right-hand side is tasked with getting in behind the opposition full-backs where he can frequently get crosses into the box. However, per Javier Aguirre’s tactics, Óscar does carry some creative license on the field, being able to find pockets on space centrally which sometimes makes him drift over to the left-hand side too.
In these pockets, his direct running and close control allow him to create space for himself and get a shot off, or play the appropriate pass that keeps possession for the team or creates a goal-scoring opportunity.
Set piece maestro
The biggest attribute of Óscar’s suitors and admirers alike is his ability to score goals from set-pieces. With three goals from free-kicks this season, he is on top of the league charts alongside Lionel Messi. Quite the company in any capacity of attacking statistics.
Often using the “knuckleball” technique to get the ball up and over the wall swiftly, Óscar has been able to strike the ball with devastating effect and consistently too.
From varied ranges on the field, he has been able to score directly from free-kicks. What’s most impressive is the confidence and belief he possesses within his ability also. In his free-kick against Real Sociedad in the 93rd minute, facing five in the wall and the other five outfield players on either side of the wall. Óscar is able to strike the ball into the top right-hand corner and win the game from about 30 yards out.
Óscar has been asked to take penalties also. And in similar circumstances to the free-kick above, in a situation where his side are drawing and a goal would put them in an advantageous position of possibly earning all three points. Against Villarreal, away from home in the 69th minute, Óscar has the chance to do this.
With his natural confidence and a boost from his goal earlier in the game, Óscar is able to tuck the ball away whilst sending the keeper in the opposite direction. Which ultimately secured the much-needed win for the Leganés.
Mental fortitude and poise is an intangible quality that cannot be taught, and by the looks of it, Óscar has these attributes in abundance. Leganés can rely on him in the tightest of situations and be confident that he can produce the desired outcome when the club needs him most. Óscar is allowed to thrive in these situations with the license to dictate what is the best decision for himself and the team.
The creative focal point
Carrying the large abundance of goal contributions to the team with nine, Óscar has asserted himself as the team’s focal point when it comes to setting up attacks and bringing the sense of unpredictability that can often win games solely by an individual.
What separates Óscar from the rest of his teammates initially is his willingness to receive the ball no matter the situation. During games, Oscar always wants to affect the play and in order for him to do that he aims to receive the ball to feet as frequently as possible. If he cannot get the ball into feet he will drift into spaces in between the opposition backline where he sees himself being able to affect the game instead, as seen below.
Best operating as a “10” Óscar thrives in central areas where he can receive the ball with his back to goal as seen in the image below, turn and attack at the backline. When picking up the ball in these areas, his vision seems to evolve further than when he is in wide areas.
Rather than looking for a cross, he can play the through balls that are necessary to break down defences and create goal-scoring opportunities. The following image shows that even when surrounded by two Alaves players he can see the pass and use the right technique to execute the pass into the path of the striker, presenting a goalscoring opportunity for Leganes.
Looking at his smart passes distribution, the majority of which come within the final third of the pitch. His constant movement in and around the spaces between the opposition’s midfield and defence means that he is often picking up the ball in spaces close to the penalty area.
As a result, Óscar is attempting 2.86 passes into the penalty area per 90 with a 46.4% success rate. Only 0.20 less than Luka Modrić in a Real Madrid side that averages over 300 more passes than this Leganés side. Showing that should Óscar be deployed in a team and system that has the majority of the ball, his effectiveness in receiving the ball and distributing it in dangerous areas may only increase as he is allowed more of a licence to do so.
Always on the attack
Amongst finding spaces in between the lines and deciding to run at the defence with the ball, or utilise his vision to create chances for teammates; another aspect of Óscar’s game is his relentlessness to score himself and willingness to get shots off. His eye for goal is a huge impetus of his seven league goals this season. Coupled with his ability from dead-ball situations. Óscar has arguably scored the goal of the season this year, more than once. Not including his free kicks.
Averaging 2.3 shots in a team that usually takes around 10.64 per 90, Óscar is not afraid to shoot and more importantly not afraid to shoot from outside the penalty area. Leganés are a side that set up to play on the counter, so opportunities don’t always come often during the game. When the opportunity does present itself for Óscar to take on a shot where others are most likely to pass, he takes it without hesitation.
The acceptance of this from his teammates suggests that they know Óscar is capable of hitting the target in these situations as the goals against Villarreal exemplify. Allowing the ball to fall and run across his body, with the option to relay the ball onto his teammate (19) Óscar took the chance upon himself to volley the ball into the top left-hand corner to equalize the game, see below.
Óscar has become so effective in the game by acting as the single forward in attack where he can fill in the spaces left behind by the opposition who are in two minds about whether to pick him up tightly or to sit back and allow him to advance on to them.
In these situations, Oscar is a predator and being a threat from outside the box only aids him in his desire to score. If the opponent decides to drop off he can get a shot off as seen in the image below. Alternatively, he can continue with his dribble, something he engages in often with 4.96 per 90 with a 46.4% success rate, and progress up the pitch and pick up fouls (1.43 per 90) in areas which he’s so adept at scoring from.
Future at Madrid
One of the hardest clubs to break into because of their limitless resources and desire for the world’s biggest stars. Real Madrid is often under scrutiny for failing their younger players. Some manage to break through, the likes of Ernesto Valverde and Marco Asensio who was the beneficiary of the loan system. So, this begs the question of where Óscar ranks in regards to young Real Madrid prospects who may reach the first team.
The glaring hole that Óscar would fill is set-pieces. Madrid has not scored directly from a free kick in over a year and with the players at their disposal, this is an alarming stat. Óscar would instantly fill that role should he be on the pitch for Los Blancos. With the calibre of players who can win the ball high up the pitch; Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale, Vinicus Jr. this would present opportunities for Óscar to score or create goals from set-pieces.
On the other hand, competing against the likes of Isco for example who would be the direct competition. Óscar’s involvement in the game would have to see a remarkable increase in terms of accuracy and volume. In limited games, this season Isco produces more dribbles 5.21 at a better success rate than Óscar, as well as more touches in the penalty area (2.9), and progressive runs (2.7).
That being said, the fact that Óscar is playing for a team that is 19th in the league and that sets up to play the majority of the game without the ball, his numbers are impressive. In regards to end-product, Oscar only has six fewer goals than their entire midfield and it can be assumed with the ball at his feet more often he could develop into a more effective and consistent player for Madrid.
As the season nears its conclusion, remaining in the league doesn’t seem to be in Leganés’ favour. However, what does seem to be clear in this scout report is that providing a talent like Óscar game time is pivotal in getting the best out of him. He has been able to contribute to almost half the side’s attacks, a department in which they are severely lacking.
He is the link between the midfield and the attack and is a leader through example, taking the game by the scruff of the neck and having a direct impact on its result. Given playing time within a team whose main focus is centred around dominating possession of the ball, Óscar Rodriguez is bound to thrive.
Whether that is at Madrid remains to be seen, as aesthetically pleasing as that may be for both himself and the fan base. The likelihood is that Óscar will have to follow the footsteps of Dani Ceballos and continue to impress elsewhere to really be taken seriously.