After Zlatan Ibrahimović’s departure to Milan, LA Galaxy’s quest for acquiring a quality number 9 has finally landed them Javier “Chicharito” Hernández. Mexico’s all-time top scorer comes to the MLS after a brief spell at Sevilla and has clearly signalled he’s here for good. Having played for Manchester United and Real Madrid in his career, the Mexican bagged six goals in 19 appearances for Los Palanganas in his brief spell.
In this scout report, we’ll be giving a tactical analysis of Chicharito’s role under Guillermo Barros Schelotto’s tactics, how his attributes will facilitate LA Galaxy and how the structure that LA Galaxy have will utilise Chicharito’s playing style.
Throughout his career, Chicharito has played as a striker or a second forward for both Manchester United and Real Madrid. LA Galaxy, who prefer to go with either 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 have an edge here as the 31-year old has spent most of his career playing in these two schemes.
He is likely to start in a 3-man forward line, accompanying Cristian Pavón and Ethan Zubak as the central striker. In a 4-2-3-1, Schelotto can place the 31-year old as the lone forward, just in front of Pavón, Lletget, and Zubak under his tactics.
Movement and Finishing
The presence of players like Pavón and Zubak will enable Hernández to have a relatively mobile role, where he’ll be expected to be involved in link-ups and draw defences. Provided that he often finds the ball inside the box and looks to finish from the box, he’ll be a contemporary number nine in a 4-2-3-1, always looking for a chance to put it in the back of the net.
The striker has been able to take 90.8% of his total shots from inside the box, meaning he can position himself to find spaces between the centre-backs. Similarly, LA Galaxy seem to mobilise their wingers to free-up their striker, which will mean occasional diagonal runs will be common for Chicharito as well as him getting involved in the link-up play.
As mentioned, Chicharito will be the man to bag goals for LA Galaxy. The Mexican will be looking to improve his tally of 2.08 shots per 90 and getting a go at the opposition post frequently.
The picture shows an instance of Chicharito positioning himself according to the run that’s being made by the winger. In this case, Chicharito opts to utilize the space between the centre-backs to result in a really dangerous position inside the box.
Another facility that Chicharito possesses is the ability to contest in attacking duels, convert them into chances for his own benefit. This is the result of his poaching abilities, as he relies on his teammates’ blocked shots and crosses to score on the rebound.
In the instance above, Chicharito is seen contesting in an aerial duel, with the aim to get something out of his attacking partner, Arnautovic. The move ultimately ends in Chicharito poaching the rebound, to score for his team.
LA Galaxy’s attackers, including Ethan Zuback and Pavon will be crucial to unleash the scoring side of Chihcarito with their regualr attacking ability in the final third.
Chicharito, however, will be looking to work on his shot accuracy, as only 44.8% of the total shots he has taken have hit the target. With a conversion rate of 21.8%, LA Galaxy will be expecting him to better his individual stats. Surprisingly, however, Chicharito boasts an accuracy of 52.9% with his headers, which might prove handy in crossing situations.
Unlike their previous striker, LA Galaxy will have a player that will be involved in the playmaking process more often. The former Sevilla man averages 17.2 passes per 90, with an accuracy of 82.9%. LA Galaxy will be facilitated by this feature that Chicharito possesses, as he’ll be seen frequently receiving the ball from attacking midfielder (Lenglet in this case) and converting them to result in dangerous situations.
Chicharito occasionally opts to drop deep to increase passing options when his team is in possession. In the instance shown by the picture, Chicharito receives the ball from the defence and circulates it to the wide player who’s about to make a run into space. The move resulted in a lethal attack, with Chicharito in the middle of the process.
Two players who will be directly benefited by this feature will be Zubak and Pavón, who will have opportunities to cash-in the link-ups created by the forward. LA Galaxy will see a healthy ball circulation in the final third, with Chicharito comfortable in creating chances and ball circulation. His ability to detect passing channels and spaces makes him avail of solid playmaking prowess.
In the instance shown, Chicharito draws his marker and an extra player, then eventually spots the void created by his move. He then passes it to the space shown and the winger receives the ball in a dangerous position.
Similarly, LA Galaxy will see changes in their passing structure with the inclusion of Chicharito in their squad. The pass map, that heavily looked to end at the striker and had little horizontal occupation will look a little more lateral, thanks to Chicharito’s ability to make passes to the final third.
Chicharito averages 1.1 crosses per 90 with 33.3% accuracy, which can be beneficial against sides that prefer to stay central and compact in defence. The player is seen making occasional involvements in long passes, in case of emergency clearances.
Off the ball movement and Individual attributes
Chicharito possesses some impressive off-the-ball movement skills that he has demonstrated at his previous clubs for the benefit of his fellow teammates. Chicharito likes to draw defenders along with him, to create spaces for the adjacent player that is most likely to receive the ball as a result of the possession.
His ability to burst between the centre-backs to receive a through ball from the wide will be a common sight, with the wingers or the full-backs responsible to feed him. He can create these situations with a quick one-two, which only means a plus for this Galaxy side.
Chicharito regularly demonstrates a useful trait that modern strikers have in their arsenal: attracting the opposition defence with taunting off-the-ball movement, as shown in the picture. The space created usually results in the making of a series of events that trouble defenders.
After dropping deep to spread the play towards his wingers, the number 14 looks to trouble defenders with runs from the back of his marker too. Chicharito has an impressive 1 vs 1 dribbling success rate of 72.7% and can use them in the aftermath of getting rid of his man-marker.
This analysis shows that overall, Chicharito looks to be a player that will bring a new dimension to the LA Galaxy attack force post-Ibrahimović. As this scout report presents, Chicharito will be a dynamic centre-forward that looks promising not just for the team, but for the league overall. It’s up to Guillermo Barros Schelotto to use him however he wants him, whether to continue working on his powers or to make him adapt to add a new flavour to his playing style. Every bit of excitement that Chicharito’s transfer has invited will officially be met when LA Galaxy will kick off their MLS campaign against new side Inter Miami CF.
As Chicharito said in his LA Galaxy presentation, he’s come here to win and compete, not to retire. After all the experience in the world gained from playing for two of the elite sides in Europe, the Mexican looks to colour LA Galaxy with his impressive goalscoring and final third presence.