Enzo Fernandez at River Plate 2021/22

Enzo Fernandez is probably not a name that most of you are familiar with unless you are a South American reader. That looks like that could change this summer as Real Madrid, AC Milan, Manchester City and Manchester United are all reportedly interested in the River Plate midfielder. Fernandez, 21, has played little in the first team but he is still attracting the attention of Europe’s elite and could leave Argentina this summer alongside team-mate Julian Alvarez. South America has always offered a wealth of talent to Europe’s wealthier clubs, and some of the hottest talent in world football began their careers in South America. Players like Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Darwin Nunez started out in South American leagues, achieved minutes in the first team before crossing over to European football.

Enzo Fernandez has performed well in the Copa De Liga Professional and Copa Libertadores so far this season with nine goals and five assists after returning from loan spells at Defensa y Justicia, while also impressing with his overall contribution to River Plate.

This scout report and tactical analysis will take a look at the skills and attributes Fernandez brings to his team and what attracts so many elite clubs. While he also touches on all the areas where Fernandez needs to improve if he wants to take the next step at Real Madrid.

position

Fernandez is a versatile midfielder who can best be described as a number eight. He currently plays on the right side of River Plate’s 4-3-3 tactic. River Plate, under Marcelo Gallardo, is a tactically diverse team, so Fernandez is comfortable taking on different roles and responsibilities. Fernandez is equally effective on and off ball possession. His contribution to possession is multi-faceted with the ability to get into the box and score goals, but also to drop deeper and help break down low blocks. Defensively, he excels at interception and counter-pressing, which we’ll explore in more detail in this analysis. Below is a heatmap of Fernandez, highlighting the areas and positions on the pitch that he regularly occupies.

Enzo Fernandez at River Plate 2021/22 - Scout reports on tactical analysis tactics

attack contribution

With Fernandez taking on the role of number eight for River Plate, he needs to instill a variety of ball possession skills in the team. As mentioned in the introduction, Fernandez has been in great form this season and he has the ability to get into the box and put himself in scoring positions. However, many of Fernandez’s goals come from penalties and long shots. Both inflate Fernandez’s goal-scoring ability, as it’s often difficult to land long shots from low XG areas. That means that despite a good goal record this season, that may not be the case for the rest of Fernandez’s career. The chart below shows Fernandez’s Xg per 90 at 0.21 and non-penalty goals at 0.16.

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Enzo Fernandez at River Plate 2021.22 - Scout Report and Tactical Analysis Tactics

Now Fernandez likes to go forward and shoot and that means he sometimes scores some miracle goals, but it can also be wasteful. The shot card below shows Fernandez’s last 75 shots and as you can see most of them are outside the box and off target.

Enzo Fernandez at River Plate 2021.22 - Scout Report and Tactical Analysis Tactics

This is what Fernandez needs to iron out of his game at the next level as wasting the ball so frequently in the last third is inefficient and damaging for the team.

Another aspect of a midfielder’s attacking contribution is his chance to create something that Fernandez excels at. In and around the box, Fernandez has great balance and quality to find teammates and create quality chances. This can be confirmed by the following data showing how Fernandez performs on Assists per 90 and XA per 90. The data tells us that Fernandez is averaging 0.16 assists per 90 from an expected assist of 0.11, among the top performers in the sample.Enzo Fernandez at River Plate 2021.22 - Scout Report and Tactical Analysis Tactics

Another set of data metrics that can help measure a player’s creative quality are key passes per 90 and smart passes per 90 (a key pass is a pass that results in a scoring opportunity and a smart pass is a pass that tries to penetrate the line of defense).

Enzo Fernandez at River Plate 2021.22 - Scout Report and Tactical Analysis Tactics

As the data above shows, this is one of the strengths of Fernandez’s game, managing 0.56 key passes per 90 and 1.68 smart passes per 90, well above average. Below are a few examples of Fernandez making these passes. Here you can see Fernandez on the ball while the opponent sits in a deep defensive block. Fernandez raises his head and plays a pass behind the defensive line for the running River Plate attacker. The pass shows a great view of the game to see the runner but also to identify the place in the box to play the pass. Fernandez also manages to execute the pass brilliantly.

Enzo Fernandez at River Plate 2021/22 - Scout reports on tactical analysis tactics

The running River Plate attacker is then tripped in the penalty area, resulting in a River Plate penalty. The next example shows again the quality and composure that Fernandez can offer in and around the penalty area. Julian Alvarez plays the ball into the field to Fernandez, who drifted into a central gap.

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Enzo Fernandez at River Plate 2021/22 - Scout reports on tactical analysis tactics

After receiving the ball, Fernandez carries the ball forward to the edge of the box before slowing down and playing a high pass over the opponent’s defensive line to Alvarez, who ran into the box from the right.

Enzo Fernandez at River Plate 2021/22 - Scout reports on tactical analysis tactics

Again, Fernandez’s vision of seeing the pass when the majority of players would play, or maybe shoot, a much easier pass forward to other River Plate attackers is impressive. The pass is also executed with great quality to place the ball perfectly in front of Alvarez so he can run on it and score.

Another important aspect of Fernandez’s attacking contribution is his ball development. Fernandez uses a combination of progressive runs and progressive passes to get the ball up, as you can see from the data below, which shows progressive passes per 90 and progressive runs per 90. Fernandez is making 10.49 progressive passes per 90 and 1.62 progressive runs per 90, making him one of the top ball progressors in the sample.

Enzo Fernandez at River Plate 2021.22 - Scout Report and Tactical Analysis Tactics

The example below shows the types of passes Fernandez makes to get the ball up the field. After flipping the ball in their half, Fernandez receives the ball and immediately raises his head trying to move the ball forward. Realizing that Alvarez is on the shoulder of the defensive line, he plays a pass across the line into space behind the defensive line.

Enzo Fernandez at River Plate 2021/22 - Scout reports on tactical analysis tactics

Alvarez manages to collect the ball in the opponent’s final third and now River Plate is in a dangerous area to create an attack thanks to Fernandez’s progressive pass.

The offensive contribution Fernandez makes is enormous, with the ability to score goals (maybe not at the same pace in the future) and create chances for his team. Fernandez also has a great ability to find spaces and then use them to create chances or get the ball on the field, this is reflected in the examples shown. These attributes are confirmed both in the data and in traditional scouting, as confirmed in this section of the Scout report.

defensive contribution

Midfielders are required to influence the game not only with the ball, but also with their defensive skills. River Plate is a side known for their counter-pressing and it is an important tactical principle of Marcelo Gallardo’s team. If the ball is lost, the team immediately tries to win it back, it’s an impressive aspect of Fernandez’s game. Below you can see Defensive Duels per 90 and Defensive Duel Win %, telling us that Fernandez is above average on both metrics.

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Enzo Fernandez at River Plate 2021.22 - Scout Report and Tactical Analysis Tactics

The ability to fight many duels, but also to win those duels, is an area of ​​Fernandez’s game that will catch the attention of admirers. A consequence of River Plate’s counter-pressing is that Fernandez regularly manages to win the ball in the opponent’s half. This will be music to the ears of managers like Pep Guardiola, who likes to see his teams press high on the field to turn the ball around in the opposition half.

Conclusion

Hopefully this scout report and tactical analysis have given you a better insight into Enzo Fernandez and some of the attributes that attract some of Europe’s biggest clubs. In possession, Fernandez excels with a wide range of passing skills and qualities that make him one of Argentina’s most effective players. His quality on the ball is evident and helps us understand why Fernandez is so highly regarded. Fernandez isn’t quite as good off the ball as he is on the ball, but his familiarity with counterpressing and pressing opponents high up the field will help him transition to similar styles in Europe while still allowing him to make an impact take game.

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