Raul de Tomas is a Spanish centre-forward that was formed in Real Madrid and spent his last two seasons playing on loan for Rayo Vallecano. This 24-year-old forward has proven to be a lethal finisher and a world-class player, and this scout report and tactical analysis intend to study the marvellous details and features that de Tomás presents. In 2017/18 and 2018/19, de Tomas scored a total amount of 38 goals. But more than the goals he scored, Raul de Tomas is worthy of a detailed analysis due to the features he presents in his style of play and all the quality he can add to any team’s play.
In the summer of 2019, de Tomas signed for Benfica for €20M.
Raul de Tomas’ heat map:
Attacking transition: Ball-seeker
Raul de Tomas may deliver the idea of him being a reference striker who just plays between the two centre-backs and whose main role is to score goals when the ball shows up in the box. However, he has proven to be much more than that. Actually, it is not usual to witness a centre-forward who usually plays alone in the attack evidencing so much mobility and desire to drop and seek the ball
Now that he is in Benfica, that play in 4-4-2, he has been playing as a second forward, a bit like João Félix used to play. Between the two forwards, he is the one who is responsible for dropping in the pitch and seek the ball. Of course, it depends on each team’s tactics, but in this case, this move sometimes happens in the first stage of the attacking transition, if Benfica’s defenders are having trouble performing the transition using the midfielders or if the midfielders themselves are having difficulties in linking the game. In such situations, it is normal to see de Tomas drop and offer a new passing solution, that is intended to offer superiority in the midfield area, piercing through the opposition’s defensive positioning plan and unblocking a “no way out” situation.
Picture 1– Raul de Tomas (in red) moves to the right and drops to seek the ball in an empty space the opposite team has opened, allowing Benfica to execute the offensive transition faster and quickly approach the goal.
Picture 2– We are not able to see the full defence line, only partially, but it is clear the long way de Tomas (in red) has come to offer a passing solution.
Picture 3 – Again, de Tomas (in red) drops to Benfica’s half from the right side in order to collect the ball and participate in the
Counter-attack: clever enough to be the reference
A counter-attack situation is of utmost importance to any team in any championship. We often interpret a counter-attack strategy as serving only the needs of the weaker teams that have less capacity to stand against a big team. It is true that playing mainly through planned offensive transitions, beginning in the goalkeeper and ending in the centre-forward, requires a great deal of quality, training and knowledge that not every player or coach has. However, a counter-attack situation is vital to the big teams as well, because through counter-attacks, big teams can take advantage of the opposition’s less capable defenders, they can decide a match that is being tough to win because it just followed a European-competition match that took place three days ago, and it can even allow a big team to play more down in the field and not require their eleven players to run the whole match in high-speed due to the insane pressure they are used to make.
Raul de Tomas fits perfectly in this 2019/20 Benfica, that enjoy having the ball during most of the game but also trust in the ability of their forwards to score various goals in counter-attacks movements and turn the game in their favour. Firstly, Raúl de Tomás has all the knowledge one can demand from a top player when it comes to offensive positioning, and that includes counter-attacks.
A counter-attack is traditionally a simple move to perform: when the ball is recovered in the team’s own half, the passer must find the passing solution that is in the less crowded attacking area, and in a suitable position to head for the opposite half and box. Once this player receives the ball, it ought to quickly pass it to the other side of the field where one of his teammates must be already appearing. Being delivered the ball, this third player then must decide whether to shoot, if he’s in a good position to do so or to pass/cross the ball to a teammate that may be in a more favourable position. Turning the game quickly by passing the ball from one side to another is crucial for the success of a counter-attack because the adversary’s players are dropping really fast to regain defensive superiority, and obliging them to quickly readjust their positioning in a situation where they are already unbalanced often results in an ill-positioned opposition.
It is curious, however, how many players, often those who enjoy having the ball, dribbling it past the defenders and making other types of art-football moves, manage to hinder lots of counter-attacks due to their lack of objectivity.
Raul de Tomas is able to move to an area where he can receive the ball and progress quickly with it and knows how to choose the exact moment to deliver the ball correctly.
Picture 4– de Tomas (in red) moves away from the area where the defenders are and finds an empty space (in white) to which he dislocates and where he asks for the ball, setting a dangerous counter-attack manoeuvre.
Picture 5 – de Tomas (in red) drives the ball for a bit before finding the right moment to deliver it to a teammate that is approaching from the left side of the pitch. By the time the defenders are able to readjust to this new situation, the player will already be facing the goalkeeper.
Finishing: a fox in the hen-box
Despite his lack of mobility, Raul de Tomas is always in the box whenever he smells a goal. He has the features of a true finisher who never lets a good pass or cross to inside the box go to waste. He is especially keen on seeking the space in the defenders back, where can shoot the ball most at-ease.
Picture 6 – de Tomas (in red) moves to an area outside his marker’s field of vision, appearing from behind him and standing face to face with the goalkeeper, scoring a goal.
Picture 7 – Again, de Tomas (in red) moves to the back of the defender, standing outside his marker’s field of vision. Thus, the defender that should me marking de Tomas isn’t aware of where the Benfica player is, and de Tomás takes advantage of his position.
Picture 8 – de Tomas (in red), as before, positions himself in the space the defenders left empty behind their back, releasing himself from their marking.
Raul de Tomas is a young promising centre-forward who has all the features every world-class forward should possess. Having no room in Real Madrid, he made a good choice moving to Benfica, who will certainly make the most out of him and catapult de Tomas to the best European leagues. He does, however, need to work on his performance regularity. Anyhow, I believe that playing with great players and at the highest level will certainly help him with that.
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