Matheus Pereira, the 23-year-old Brazilian who has been lighting up the Hawthorns. He signed on a loan deal in the summer just gone past, with an option of an £8.25 million buyout clause at the end of the season. The likelihood of him being signed up permanently is becoming greater as he impresses as the games go by. He has already established himself as a fan favourite with the baggies faithful, even if the cut-throat celebration at QPR did not go down well with the authorities. His arrival into the West Brom team has been exciting and significantly impactful in their hopes of promotion, as his goals and assists have contributed to the fact that West Brom currently sit pretty at the top of the Championship.
The baggies have an array of attacking talent, moreover, many inside the club feel Pereira can be the one to find them and enhance their goal-scoring opportunities. West Brom legend Ally Robertson, who made over 600 appearances for the club claims, “For the other players, he must be a joy to play with. They know when he is on the ball he can not only spot a pass, but he can also deliver it. It’s great for Grady Diangana, Matt Phillips and Charlie Austin to know – if they make a run– there is every chance Pereira will deliver the ball exactly where they want it.” This is a great indication as to the impact that Pereira has made thus far in his West Brom career and with time he is sure to get even better.
This tactical analysis will attempt to highlight the attributes that show how Matheus Pereira has settled in so well to the West Brom side and English football. It will also look at ways in which tactics can help him enhance as a player. The scout report will also allow us to have a much deeper analysis of his abilities.
The most important aspect of Matheus Pereira’s game is his ability to find a pass at exactly the right moment. This attribute may seem easy and something many players can do, however, this would be heavily misguided and finding a pass in the right moment is something very few players have the ability to do. As mentioned earlier, West Brom have significant attacking force with the likes of Charlie Austin, Grady Diangana and Matt Phillips. All these players are very good at making runs in behind, which have been found in regular fashion by Pereira. This has led to him having the highest number of assists in the Championship thus far with 5. This highlights his creative spark, and the way he has been able to influence the high number of goals West Brom have been scoring.
In terms of statistics, Pereira has been excellent in terms of his passing. He averages 2.2 key passes per game which is the highest in the West Brom squad. He further averages 32.9 passes per game, which is considerably high. Furthermore, Pereira’s average passing success is around 83% which once again is very high. These statistics further highlight how Pereira’s vision is one of his strongest attributes. His passing accuracy and the rate in which he is able to find his teammates successfully is excellent, as seen with these statistics.
An example of Pereira’s creative spark can be seen in the image below. He picks up the ball in a central position and has the awareness to pick the right pass. He could have easily played the ball to his right whereby there were two West Brom attackers looking to get in behind. Instead, he played this pass in behind through the left side of the central defence for Nathan Ferguson to run in behind and have a shot on target. This highlights how Pereira has been able to find the right pass in given situations In order for attacking players to run into and potentially score. His decision making must also be heavily praised in this situation also, as this is key to getting a through ball right.
Furthermore, another example of this creative spark can be seen in the image below. In this game vs Cardiff, Pereira once again finds himself in a great position to be able to play the ball in behind. Romaine Sawyers makes an excellent vertical run into the space which Pereira can find which allows West Brom to score. Once again, he could have rolled the ball across. However, the vision that Pereira possesses means that he knows which pass is right for the given situation. These types of passes into attacking players are common and can be seen as the main reason as to why he has the most assists thus far in the competition.
The most important part of having such vision is being able to take the pass on and not play it easy. This is something which separates Pereira from other attacking midfielders. Having the ability to make the pass without the ball being intercepted in such situations is vital. Below is a perfect example of this. West Brom were 1-0 down at Derby and needed to find a goal. The image below shows Pereira in a deeper position with various options which are unmarked. Instead of playing a simple side pass into the full-back, he takes the route of playing a more dangerous pass into Filip Krovinović who is on the half turn. This pass gives West Brom a great opportunity to score once again and it comes from Pereira having the vision and execution of the pass.
Playing in the central attacking role really helps Pereira to create these sorts of chances. This is due to the fact that the horizontal runs made in behind the defensive line in attacking transitions are easier to be found than from a wider position. Below is an example of a direct run which is found by an outstanding pass by Pereira. This is another example of why playing him in a more central position is much more effective.
Another aspect of Pereira’s game which has been excellent thus far is his ability to find space in key areas of the pitch. Finding space is a key aspect of his game, as it allows him to be in positions whereby, he is able to find a pass with more space to do it in. This is once again an underrated aspect of his game. It is also vital for the system that Slaven Bilić wants to play, a progressive and possession-based game. For this to work, it is important that the defenders have options when in possession of the ball. This is something which Pereira is excellent at.
Furthermore, it is an aspect of his game which he has always been strong in as seen in the image below. This was taken from a game when he was still playing for Sporting Lisbon and it highlights his quality significantly. We can see him demanding the ball as he has found space whereby no one is picking him up. This sort of positional play has been apparent throughout his playing career.
Furthermore, this aspect of his game has transformed into his West Brom playing career. As mentioned previously, this is key for the system Slaven Bilić wants to play in. By having someone who has excellent spatial awareness means that the possession-based system is allowed to flourish. Below we can see a goal that Pereira scored in the game vs Cardiff earlier in the season. A one-two with Grady Diangana allows him to get into space and have a clean strike on goal. This is once again an excellent example of how Pereira can find space in key areas. This is common throughout many of the games he plays in.
Another great example of Pereira picking up the ball in space. This particular image leads to a goal, through a great run by Charlie Austin. However, the key is Pereira being able to find the space to influence the attacking transitions. When this sort of play happens the other attacking players almost use it as a trigger to make direct runs in behind the back four, as they are aware of the excellent vision Pereira possesses.
So far, the emphasis when talking about Pereira’s spatial awareness has been in deeper areas of the pitch. However, another aspect of this awareness comes from him making excellent runs in behind the defensive line. These runs are almost always timed to perfection and allow West Brom another aspect of attacking play.
Running in behind also means that defenders have to be vigilant in not fouling him and making sure the runs he makes are watched. As seen below in the game against Derby he makes an excellent run through a few Derby defenders and is found with the pass. He is then fouled and West Brom get a penalty in which they score from, which means they got a point instead of losing the game. This once again is a credit to his ability to run in behind and picking up positions in which he can create a chance.
Furthermore, the final aspect of Pereira’s spatial awareness is his ability to be in the right position at the back post. Many of times, Charlie Austin will come deep to release the ball to one of the full-backs who will have the chance to put in a cross for an attacker to run onto. Often, Pereira, due to his awareness, will be able to find this space and will be in these positions.
This is once again an excellent quality of his and it further shows why he is so involved in goals that West Brom score. Finding this space in the opposition box is extremely useful in terms of contributing to goals. The service of the full-backs is usually excellent and finding the right cross is rarely a problem. As we can see below, Pereira gets into a position whereby he is free and unmarked in the opposing box and if found has an open goal to score in.
Pressing is so important in the modern game and it is often the blueprint of many teams defensive work. Pereira is no different in this regard and is someone who operates using the press often. This can especially be seen when he is deployed out wide, whereby he presses the opposing full-back into mistakes. His energy in doing this is important, as he is able to do it for the duration of the match.
When analysing this pressing from Pereira, it is once again important to acknowledge that this has been evident throughout his whole career. In the image below we can see him playing in a game against Bayern Munich for 1. FC Nürnberg. We can see him up against David Alaba, one of the most composed footballers in the modern game. However, he is heavily uncomfortable when Pereira operates the press against him. This highlights how this aspect of his game has followed him wherever he plays.
Linking back to the modern-day, we can see this in action when in a West Brom shirt. Pereira will often press the opposing full-back he is playing against as he believes he can win the ball and find a teammate with a pass. In the image below he wins the ball back in a high position in the game against Huddersfield. This picture is very similar to the one above, which highlights how his pressing style has remained constant throughout his career. This puts pressure on the opposing full-back increasing the chances to force a turnover. Slaven Bilić uses this to West Brom’s advantage and in many examples such as the one seen below it works to full effect.
Pereira also has an amazing ability when it comes to set-pieces. Free kicks, in particular, are something in which he takes on brilliantly. This can come to great effect for a team if they have someone with the ability to do this. Pereira has often delivered from set-pieces and created goals for West Brom. Below is the best example of this. Pereira scores a magnificent free-kick, with the red dot representing where the ball went. This is a great example of the technical ability that Pereira possesses in abundance. Again, this is something he has demonstrated his whole career and this ability sets him apart from most in the division when it comes to technical ability.
Statistics also highlight Pereira’s rate with set pieces. In terms of free kicks, he has averaged 1.2 successful free kicks so far this season. This shows that when he takes free kicks they have a higher chance of going in than not. When looking at average cross passes which have come from free-kicks he has averaged 0.8 thus far in the season. And finally, in terms of accurate corner passes he has averaged 0.4 in the current season. What these statistics show is that Pereira is likely to find a teammate or score from a free-kick position. His corners, which he hasn’t taken many of, are also impressive considering he is not the main corner taker. He got an assist against Huddersfield from a corner highlighting he has it in his locker. Overall, it is clear that Pereira is very good at set-pieces which is a huge asset to possess.
To conclude, Matheus Pereira has made an excellent start to his English football career at West Brom. His technical ability means he is able to find passes that others would not be able to and his spatial awareness also allows him to get into excellent positions across the pitch. His pressing is also admirable, and for such a technically gifted individual this is a testament to his attitude to his defensive work. If he is able to maintain this form that has seen him have so much attacking joy, he and West Brom could be looking at a Premier League place for next season.
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