Edu Expósito 2019/20 - Scout Report - tactical analysis tactics analysis

Eduardo Expósito Jaén, better known as Edu Exposito, is a Spanish central midfielder that plays for Eibar. Las Azulgranas signed Expósito from fellow Spanish side Deportivo La Coruña this summer after he impressed in Deportivo’s Segunda División campaign. This scout report will function as a tactical analysis, looking at Expósito’s technical and tactical profile. It will investigate his fit within Eibar’s tactics. 

It will become clear that Expósito’s transition from Deportivo’s tactics to those of Eibar should be fairly straightforward. Furthermore, given his technical and tactical profile, this analysis will indicate that Eibar’s style may even suit Expósito even better than that of Deportivo.

Player profile

Expósito is a technically gifted central midfielder. He has spent almost his entire career in a double pivot. Capable of utilising both feet effectively, he has the ability to play on either side of the midfield and was used accordingly at Deportivo. In 2018/19, Expósito played 1211 minutes as a left central midfielder and 1661 minutes as a right central midfielder.

Edu Expósito 2019/20 - Scout Report - tactical analysis tactics analysis
Edu Expósito heat map (wyscout.com)

His quality with either foot also lends itself well to the demands placed on the modern-day central midfielder. Expósito’s ability to manipulate the ball effectively with either foot ensures he is an unpredictable player to defend against. Though predominantly used as a deeper-lying playmaker, Expósito also has the quality of pass as well as the dribbling ability to impact the game higher up the field.

Deep lying playmaker

Expósito currently looks most comfortable as a deep-lying playmaker. He is willing to drop to become either a pseudo-single pivot player or outside the centre backs to pick up the ball, before quickly moving it accurately onto a teammate. One key feature of Expósito’s play is his ability to find pockets of space. Complementing this is the decisiveness of his decision making. Rarely does he dwell on the ball in possession.

Edu Expósito 2019/20 - Scout Report - tactical analysis tactics analysis
Expósito finds space between four opponents to receive the ball. He then quickly moves it to his fullback to launch the attack. A good chance followed shortly after.

This ability stems largely from Expósito’s impressive spatial awareness. He is constantly checking his surroundings and moving into spaces to show as an option for teammates. His understanding of rotational movements is clear. Expósito was even a threat to create something straight after receiving from throw-ins: when all the other players were on auto-pilot, he was still finding dangerous positions and looking to move the ball on.

His two-footedness ensures he is reasonably press-resistant. Nevertheless, when pressured he often takes the safe option of playing backwards rather than looking to beat the presser. When there is the option to continue to play forwards however, he will take it. 

Edu Expósito 2019/20 - Scout Report - tactical analysis tactics analysis
Expósito knows his opponent is pressing him aggressively from behind. He also knows his teammate is dropping to support him. He flicks it round the corner first time before then moving to receive the return ball on the run. This breaks the opposition press.

Furthermore, his two-footedness coupled with his understanding of when to let the ball run across his body to his back foot or take it early gives him versatility with how he receives the ball. He is capable of controlling the ball instantly with either foot in tight spaces and moving it quickly.

Expósito is also a talented long passer, recording a 61.5% long pass completion percentage last season. When given time to pick his pass, he can release wingers and full-backs effectively. In addition, he can play deep passes into the penalty area with impressive accuracy. Eibar are likely going to utilise this aspect of Expósito’s skillset more than his former side did. Deportivo played 47.32 long passes per 90 last season; Eibar played 66.

Edu Expósito 2019/20 - Scout Report - tactical analysis tactics analysis
Expósito receives the ball and quickly recognises Mallorca have shifted across. This leaves the Eibar right back alone on the right-wing. Expósito hits an accurate cross-field pass.

Extremely early in his Eibar career, the evidence is that Expósito will remain predominantly a deep-lying midfielder. Much like his previous side often did, Las Azulgranas utilise a double pivot in midfield. They ask those players to recycle possession & play an important role in the build up. In his first La Liga action for his new side, Expósito recorded an 89% pass completion percentage. He already appears to be the most accurate passer in the team and his historical pass accuracy numbers compare favourably to his new teammates’.

Impact in the attacking third

Though predominantly a deep-lying midfielder, Expósito has demonstrated that he has the potential to have a greater impact in the attacking third. His passing accuracy in deeper areas translates to effectiveness in picking out his teammates in attacking positions. He also shows a willingness to play aggressive balls between tightly packed defenders.

Edu Expósito 2019/20 - Scout Report - tactical analysis tactics analysis
Though there is only a couple of yards between the defenders, Expósito makes the most of the time afforded to him in order to thread an accurate pass between the defenders to his onrushing winger.

His spatial awareness and intelligence coupled with his understanding of rotational movements when deep also translate higher up the field. He has shown the decision-making ability to make runs into dangerous areas in the penalty area. Expósito is also capable of shooting with either foot.

Edu Expósito 2019/20 - Scout Report - tactical analysis tactics analysis
Expósito recognises the enormous space in the defence and runs into it. He receives the ball in an extremely dangerous area.

As a result of Eibar being a more aggressive attacking side than Deportivo, making 75.47 passes into the final third per 90 compared to 58.11, we could see more of this side of Expósito. That may be dependent on whether they release him from the more conservative role he played in his first game, however.

Defensive ability

Expósito is certainly more talented on the ball than he is off it. However, he is a willing and active defender. Moreover, the spatial awareness and in-game intelligence that makes him effective on the ball also helps him defensively. He generally adopts good positions in front of his backline and clearly communicates regularly with his midfield partner, whom he covers well.

Edu Expósito 2019/20 - Scout Report - tactical analysis tactics analysis
Expósito feels the run being made behind him and shifts across. He successfully intercepts the pass with the rest of the defence badly out of position.

One on one tackling against an opponent running at him is certainly not a strength of Expósito. He has a tendency to be caught too square to his opponent as well as setting his feet. Nevertheless, he is a far more competent tackler when able to run alongside his opponent or when his opponent is static.

A strength of his game that may well be accentuated for his new side is his ability to recognise situations to win the ball in the opposition half. He shows good awareness of the ball carrier’s options and has sufficient quickness to cover the ground to challenge for the ball. With Eibar adopting a zonal high-press, Expósito looks a good fit due to this ability. Eibar made more recoveries/90, interceptions/90 and challenges/90 than Deportivo last season, despite also having more of the ball.

Edu Expósito 2019/20 - Scout Report - tactical analysis tactics analysis
Expósito recognises that his teammate is pressuring the ball carrier and that the ball carrier only has one option to pass the ball. Understanding that the player behind him is no longer a threat, he moves up. He successfully intercepts the ball before it reaches the left-back.
Edu Expósito 2019/20 - Scout Report - tactical analysis tactics analysis
As his Eibar team counter-press, Expósito recognises the likely recipient of the pass and moves to press him. He successfully won the ball and initiated a counter-attack.

Conclusion

Edu Expósito is certainly a talented footballer. Likely signed due to his on-ball quality, he should offer an upgrade in this area for Eibar. His experience in a double pivot (Eibar’s preferred tactic) means he is capable of getting into their team immediately. Furthermore, the same spatial awareness and intelligence that make him effective as a deep-lying playmaker also help him as a ball recoverer in high areas. Eibar’s tactics demand this and we will likely see Expósito impress in this area. It will be interesting to see if their tactics also allow him to express his quality in the attacking third.


Artwork by @chapulana

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Scott Geelan

Scott is an avid sports fan and follower of both football and its American cousin. He tries to write about both of them.
Scott Geelan