The Eredivisie starts this weekend and for PSV, this is the season where they wanted to win the title. Last year they were in the driving seat for a long time, but ultimately Ajax‘s successful season made an end to the championship dream the team from Eindhoven had. This season they want to get control and get that championship in the Eredivisie. A new player who can add to that dream is the Spanish left-back Toni Lato, as this tactical analysis will show in this scout report.
Toni Lato came to Eindhoven after a bit of a transfer drama. The promising player was eventually loaned out by his parent club Valencia and gave PSV what they needed: a new left-back. In this tactical analysis, we will look at how Toni Lato can fit into this PSV team’s tactics in defence, his attacking abilities and we will look at some key statistics.
In the 2018/2019 season, Lato played 13 competitive games for Valencia with the majority of the games coming in Valencia’s Europa League campaign. In those 13 matches, the left-back had 721 passes with a success rate of 82,9%.
The left-back played in a team with an attacking style of play and wants to play forward. He occupies the left side of the pitch as can be seen in the image above. This translates be in the number of forward passes Lato sent in the last season. 270 of the 721 passes were forward passes, with a success rate of 76,7%.
Toni Lato often makes a run down the line and when he does, he wants to give the attack the best possible option to succeed. Typically, he passes the ball to the left-winger who then would dribble or cross the ball into the box.
While his back passes are good with 94,4% success rate, his long balls need work. The success rate on the 76 long balls he played last season was 55,3%. There were two games where he managed to get above 60%, against Getafe in the Copa del Rey (60%) and in the game against Barcelona in the Primera Division (63,6%).
Vital in this tactical analysis is defensive positioning. Lato is quick on his feet and in his thinking. The Spaniard knows when to trail back and his defensive positioning is an example of why he is regarded as a top talent and why PSV eagerly wanted to have him. In his first test for PSV against VfL Wolfsburg, his defensive positioning could be seen.
In the image above you can see that Wolfsburg regain possession of the ball and want to break on the counter-attack. PSV wing-backs Lato and Denzel Dumfries play high on their own half but need to trail back. The ball goes to the left in this instance, but the spatial awareness of Lato is important in this situation.
While Luckassen and Viergever, the central defenders, are aware of the attack – it is Lato who marks the striker and neutralises the threat posed by Weghorst. Lato covered for his teammates in the game against Wolfsburg, with the PSV players posing to attack a lot. This can also be seen in another attack on the break.
Luckassen is out of position and Viergever leaves his position as a left centre-back to cover for Luckassen. Lato anticipates the situation and goes to play as a left centre-back momentarily. The thing that really comes to mind is that Lato really anticipates well on the transitioning from the attacking phase to the defending phase.
Another example of his defensive positioning can be found in the 33rd minute of PSV’s game against Wolfsburg. As soon as the opponent gets the ball, Lato makes his way back to the defensive line and assist Viergever in marking the striker.
His defensive positioning is what makes him capable of covering a lot of ground in defence, which is needed as he is a left-back with an urge to go forward. This is something we will touch upon later on in this tactical analysis of the young Spaniard.
Toni Lato is quite effective in 1v1 defending from his left-back position. This was evident when PSV played Wolfsburg. His 1v1 defending can be seen on two different occassions in the first half when two different approaches were used by Lato in defending the right-winger.
The first approach was to force the winger to go through the middle instead of making a run down the line. This can be seen in the image below.
The winger wants to make a run down the line and produce a cross for the strikers to attack. Lato does not allow this and presses in a way that makes the winger look for another option down the middle. This direct approach by Lato was quite effective in the game against Wolfsburg.
The second approach had also to do with forcing his direct opponent. But in this approach, the winger is forced to go to the right side.
Lato drives the winger to the touchline and forces him to cross the ball. The press by Lato is of such a force that the winger cannot be accurate and the cross creates no threat from Wolfsburg in this attack.
The Spaniard does not shy from having a defensive duel in a 1v1 situation. He was part of 141 duels in the last season, of which 49,6% were won. His tackles are not his stronger side, as he only made 5 of them and with no success. If we look at his numbers of fouls, they are not extremely high with 23 fouls. But it is important to state that he got four yellow cards and that indicated that he does take risks with his defensive duels.
Attacking style of play
Toni Lato will not only add to the defensive duties while at loan at PSV, but he is also known for his attacking style of play with Valencia. As we have touched upon earlier while talking about passing, Lato passes the ball to the left-winger on numerous occasions. After he has done that he often chooses to trail back, but on a few occasions he does move forward and tries to get himself in a good position in front of the goal.
Lato makes sure he gets in the box and is free to do so as the Villareal defenders do not know who is marking him. As you can see in the image below, Lato is free to have a shot at goal.
Lato made his run into the box and got the cross. He had different options going forward with three Valencia players also being in the box, but he chose to shoot in this instance. With success, because this meant the 0-1 for Valencia being scored.
The defender can add that same attacking state of mind to PSV this season and demonstrated that in the friendly against Wolfsburg.
Lato moves forward and goes to make the combination with Bruma. After he passes the ball to Bruma, he goes into the space between the full-backs and right wing-back of Wolfsburg – as you can see in the image below.
Lato moves in that space because he anticipates getting the ball from Bruma and is looking to cross the ball.
Lato did add to the attacking style of play of Valencia in 2018/2019 and is expected to do the same at PSV this season. Let’s have a look at some attacking statistics. In 2018/2019 he had an expected goal ratio of 0,43 and an expected assists ratio of 1,15. He scored two goals and had two assists in the last season, with four shots in total. When he will play more games than he did last season, those numbers might be higher on loan at PSV.
Toni Lato is a promising Spanish defensive talent who needs to play a lot of games in this stage of his career. PSV needed a wing-back who can think offensively and add to their attack, as well as neutralise the threat early on in the transition phase. His passing is attacking minded, but he has to work on his accuracy of crosses and long balls, to be more effective in those attacks. However, with Lato in their ranks, PSV could be a serious contender for the Eredivisie title in the 2019/2020 season as we have seen in this analysis.
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