Many at the start of the season believed Serie A was going to be a two-horse race for the title between Conte’s Inter and Sarri’s Juventus which for the begin of the season was an accurate prediction. After a poor run of results, Inter has found themselves replaced by Inzaghi’s Lazio as the second contender in the race for the title. Conte may not lift silverware at the end of the season but nonetheless has brought remarkable progress to Inter and undoubtedly brought the best out of his Strikers including Martinez, who is the individual that is the subject of this tactical analysis.
The basis of this analysis will be to review how well Martinez compares to the best strikers in the world by reviewing statistical evidence in combination with video analysis to build a profile of Martinez traits as well as qualities.
What seems a reasonable place to start when assessing a striker would be their proficiency in front of goal. Three of the key metrics we would want to be assessed in this context would be Goals, Expected Goals and the player’s Conversion Rate which is represented by the size of the circle in the graph below. On all the graphics in this piece I have annotated Martinez with a red circle, he is also annotated as the only red pint in all the graphs.
For all the graphs I have used a sample of strikers from the ‘Top 5 Leagues’ who have already scored at least 10 goals this season. This gives us the ability to visualise how good Martinez is in comparison to the best in his position in the world, of course, we must also be aware of this context when drawing conclusions.
Martinez is a strong goal scorer. He is able to get himself into good positions as he is able to generate an above-average Expected goals value of 0.59 per 90 while he is scoring 0.51 goals per 90 which could suggest his has either been unlucky not to covert a few more shots to goals or been slightly wasteful in his finishing. This size of the circles on this graph represents a player’s conversion rate which for Martinez is below average which is likely to be expected but not guaranteed when a player is scoring less than their Expected Goals.
In this situation Martinez demonstrates good instincts as he assesses the situation quickly, Slavia Prague has strong numbers back making it impossible for Lukaku to cross the ball in early. Martinez makes his run directly into the box to force the defence deep before pulling off the centre back and finding the space behind him, with a good finish at the near post, firing it into the roof of the net to beat the keeper.
Again, Martinez is aware of his surroundings and times his run well to expose the Dortmund defender who has failed to check back into the defensive line. Capitalizing on the mistakes gives Martinez time to bring the ball down with his chest and finish past the on running keeper. Martinez constantly finding areas of space in oppositions defence and ability to get on the end of dangerous attacks.
In Conte’s tactics at Inter, Martinez needs to be able to help connect the midfield to Lukaku so often drops deeper of Lukaku to help join up the midfield, this position is often very isolated it’s hard for Martinez to create a wealth of chances.
This is potentially why on the graph below he ranks below average in key passes and forward pass accuracy on the graph above. The third measure on this graph is ‘Expected Assists per 90’ which is the number of assists we would expect Martinez to register given the chances he creates; Martinez is not performing at a high level in this metric either.
Martinez does have merits to his chance creation and is something that has improved over time with very promising signs for the future. Here Martinez receives the ball with his back to goal this time he uses his chest to cushion the ball down to a midfielder running into the space Martinez has created, the pass allows Brozović to strike the ball with his first touch. Martinez showed this ability to bring create space around him while setting up the players running into this space for a shot with multiple players in the Inter team as well as demonstrating this ability at times for Argentina.
Lukaku wins the header and Martinez has positioned himself well in the box to shield the ball from the defender, he brings the ball down well and lays it off to Brozović who places his effort at goal directly at the keeper.
In this scout report, Martinez for the majority has been heavily praised but for him to progress from being one of the best strikers in the league to one of the best in Europe he will need to improve his ability to link up with teammates.
Martinez does well to use his body to block Ramsey from the ball and his first reaction is to drive forward this decision means Martinez quickly becomes isolated with Lukaku his only option. The situation is easy for Juventus to defend and quickly force Martinez into a rushed pass and possession is lost, Martinez needs to develop his decision making and not always be so determined to immediately move the ball forward.
In this example, there are two very good options to quickly start a counter before Torino can recover their positions. Martinez acts hastily and passes straight into the group of players in front of him preventing Inter a great opportunity.
Partnership with Lukaku
This season, Inter tactics have been to play a 3-5-2 for the vast majority, this formation has provided the ideal conditions for Martinez to form a very formidable partnership with Lukaku as they both offer contrasting roles.
Martinez’s position is slightly deeper than Lukaku’s while he operates mainly on the left and Lukaku on the right, as you can see in the corresponding heat map.
The pair formed a good relationship and understanding off each other’s qualities that have allowed them to both flourish in this system.
In this scenario, Martinez positions himself well to pin back the Lecce Defenders. This allows him to receive the ball and pass it into Lukaku onto his favoured foot where he can hit the ball first time. The pair combined well to get a good effort at goal which unfortunately went just wide off the far post.
Here, Martinez has his back to goal so plays the ball to Lukaku as he is in a far better position and body orientation to shot or dribble with the ball. Martinez continues to provide support by looking to capitalise on the dangerous space left in between the far side Centre back and Full back. In this instance, Lukaku is not able to find the run and the move comes to nothing – but it shows a good understanding between the two strikers.
On this occasion the pair are far more successful, Martinez immediately plays the ball to Lukaku and makes the run in between the Centre backs Lukaku sees this run and plays him through. After briefly battling with the opposition player Martinez wins the ball and uses his acceleration to get past him. The chance is efficiently converted through the keeper’s legs, a goal that would have made Conte very happy and is testament to the pair’s understanding.
Off the ball
Martinez has exceptional work rates and is incredibly involved in the defensive phase of play; this ability is incredibly valuable to a team that aggressively presses the opposition looking to capitalise on opponents’ mistakes.
The graph above illustrates the number of recoveries an attacker makes per 90 and unsurprisingly Martinez performs admirably, it is an area of his game where he is one of the best in the world. There is also a third variable on this graph which represents ‘Defensive Duels which according to Wyscout is when the player is 1 vs. 1 and tries to stop the opposing player dribbling forward, Martinez does well in this metric as he has a very bullish play style which also helps him win 42% of his loose ball duels.
This is a great example of Martinez using various defensive techniques to force the opposition into an error. In the first phase, Martinez closely marks one player while using his cover shadow to remove another option, forcing the ball backwards. Once the ball is played backwards Martinez quickly pressures the Goalkeeper into clearing the ball out of play.
As mentioned before Martinez role is very isolated in the system and will, as a result, need to be comfortable carrying the ball forward it’s therefore unsurprising that in the graph below Martinez makes above the average amount of dribbles per 90 although he is slightly below average in his success rate. Given the positions Martinez often finds himself in the numbers he is currently registering are very good, especially in the context mentioned earlier where the sample we are comparing him to is only strikers who have already scored ten goals this season in ‘Europe’s Top Five leagues’.
The size of the rings in this graph represents offensive duels which Wyscout describes as situations when the player has possession and is able to bypass an oppositions player in a 1 vs. 1 scenario, this is another metric which Martinez performs above-average completing 11.92 per 90 furthering illustrating his ability to aggressively move the ball forward at his feet.
The Torino defence has a lot of numbers back in defence and has the midfield runner well-marked preventing him from being an option. Martinez quickly turns into space and carries the ball forward drawing in the players to his position, he is then able to produce a
Martinez has found form in Europe and developed a strong relationship with his strike partner Lukaku and has been able to profit off it on the pitch. While Martinez has all the instincts needed for a striker to thrive in the box there are still over aspects of his game that are currently lacking all bit it made harder by the system and role he is playing in. to be regarded as one of the best forwards in Europe undoubtedly Martinez will need to improve his ability to dribble and take on an opposition player but most of all his creativity and increase both the quantity and quality of chances he creates for his teammates.
There is most definitely a very talented player in Martinez who is unsurprisingly being linked to the likes of Manchester City, Barcelona and Chelsea for what is rumoured to be a very heavy sum. While there might not be a consensus on where people think Martinez future maybe most will agree his future is promising