Rodolfo Pizarro is one of the most talented Mexican football players. He has been linked with Serie A clubs in the past and he is said to have aims of playing in La Liga and after several years playing in the Liga MX, he decided to start this adventure by playing first in the MLS.
A member of the Mexican National team, he managed to score during his second appearance with the new Inter Miami franchise in a game against DC United.
When he was playing in the Mexican league, the 26-year-old played in several forward positions that have allowed him to show off his versatility and technical skills.
This tactical analysis piece, in the form of a scout report, will try to explain all the skills that could lead Pizarro to become one of the leaders for his new team and the challenges he will encounter in this highly physically demanding league.
Ball control and playmaking
Ball control and playmaking are some of his strongest skills. Keeping the ball “stitched” to his feet, always looking to pass it to the best-positioned teammate.
As we mentioned above, his versatility makes easy for him to play 4-4-2 right/left-wing or as an inside forward in a 4-3-3, threatening an opponent’s box.
There are no questions about his great attacking skills, but also, he contributes in all areas of the field. He can play a ball-winning role at his box and he always displays a great athletic effort.
We will explain how he generates so much participation and the best positions for him to get his maximum potential.
The playmaking and passing skills Rodolfo Pizarro shows every game were developed when he was a junior player. Positioned as a wing-back when he became a professional player, he was ‘moved’ one or two lines ahead, positioned as a right or left-winger.
In this image, from his last match, we observe Pizarro playing on the left side. Taking and handling the ball from his field more than 40 meters, always waiting to find his best-positioned team player against rival defenders. Even though he is not known for great speed, his high technical skills allow him to be a highly creative offensive player.
In the second image, we can observe his skills to set and execute the ‘key’ pass to his team players and give them an advantage when facing the opponent’s goal; in the image we see Robbie Robinson taking the ball.
For this match, coach Diego Alonso lined up a 5-4-1, setting Pizarro as a left-wing, taking advantage of his passing skills.
Control, passing with advantage
Pizarro is always well-positioned to receive the ball, that’s a skill that allows him to show his great quality techniques. In just one movement, he’s able to get the ball and be ready to play it, either to dribble it or pass it through.
In this 2019 image from the Liga MX, we observe how easy it is for him to find out the right place on the field to get the ball in a controlled situation, then turn around to face off against.
As mentioned before, he possesses great skills to drive the football looking at rivals and waiting to pass it to the best-positioned team player.
The talent to find out the right place to pass the ball shows his vision and intelligence. In this image, we observe how the ball is passed over rivals just to the right open spot, allowing his team player to be positioned with great advantage before shooting.
Here, we observe Pizarro finding the open spot to get the ball with advantage, then ready to ‘break’ the defensive line. In this match with the Mexican national team, he played like an inside left defender in a 4-3-3, and his technique allowed him to benefit from these tactics. When he’s ready, having the ball under control and knowing where to move or pass the ball, he’s positioning himself to attack the opponent’s goal.
We previously mentioned in this scout report he’s not a fast player in the long run, but he possesses a powerful short sprint (4 to 5 meters) inside the opponent’s striking area. In this play, with simple ball control, he waits for his team player to arrive at the centre to complete the play.
According to Wyscout, his passing precision rate is above 79.4% effectiveness, translating his passes into a “lethal weapon”.
Pizarro naturally has the skill of being a fast-thinking player. Since he knows where to be at any given time, he attracts rivals to him, allowing his team players to find open spots to get the ball. In this image under, we observe how he pulls 4 DC United players to him, then finding a ‘free’ teammate to pass the football.
His command over time and space increases his skills to show up at the right moment in and out of the striking area and also, in position to dribble the rival’s pressure. Based on Wyscout, he averages 13 offensive matches per game and winning 49.6% of them.
In the opponent’s box
His natural tendency to be an offensive player makes Pizarro a constant presence in the opponent’s box, though his numbers for individual scores each tournament is moderate, his participation with great passes to team players increase the chances to score dramatically.
In this image, we observe Pizarro arriving at the box from the left side, waiting for the moment to be ‘free’ while the two defenders take their attention to the ball. A common move he does to get into the box is to allow his teammates to ‘attract’ rivals toward their goal, then he is left behind, alone facing the goal.
Pizarro has a xG of .23 but a 38.5% of shots on goal. In our analysis, we think he could score 6 to 8 goals at the end of his first season.
Familiar with the long runs from the wing-back, Pizarro understands the needs of modern football, where all players have to play defence. His defensive effort is brilliant, in the opposition’s half of the pitch, he recovers a 53.5% of his balls, so this shows the high pressure that he applies to get it back.
This skill also is displayed when he defends his own part of the field. He’s not a natural ball-winning player, but his good positioning in the field assists in this effort.
In this image, we see Pizarro applying pressure on the defensive line, trying to get the football two or three times.
The first time is over the central defender, who immediately feels such pressure and passes the football to a teammate, then Pizarro moves and applies pressure on that player (right wing-back) forcing him to kick the ball off his box.
In this image, we observe how his efforts as a defensive player take him near his box. He’s not a player known by winning the ball often, but he contributes to generate a better balanced defensive effort.
In the above image, we observe on the map how Pizarro applies a ‘high pressure’ and a constant positioning near his box, then, as a result, he recovers the ball by intercepting it.
Lack of physical strength
One of the main features of the MLS is physical strength. Each ball is highly disputed and the majority of the teams display a vertical system that translates into a very physically demanding game.
This will be a problem for Pizarro, who came from a league where the highly-skilled players are sometimes overprotected.
We have watched after his first two games that his physical build is not ready for the MLS standards, being tackled several times and asking the referee to award a foul.
In the above image, we see what we were talking about. The pass is over the open space, intended for Pizarro, however, the opponent defender is so close to him that both went to get the ball.
From the very first instant and to the moment both collide with a legal shoulder contact, the Los Angeles player won the battle.
Here, we see Pizarro sharing the ball with a centre back, who appears to be slower due to his physical build and position on the field. However, the centre back matches Pizarro and when fighting for the ball wins the duel.
We can see in this tactical analysis that Pizarro possesses a lot of skills and characteristics that will assist him to be an important player for Inter Miami. His skills is impressive for this fast paced league and would help him to become the attack commander if he quickly adapts to all the changes involved when playing in a different environment.
His versatility and tactics are greatly appreciated by coach Diego Alonso, and he will be part of the 4-3-3 line up, playing like an inside-forward or right/left-wing, taking advantage when he plays over the left side.
Once he improves his physical endurance and build, particularly in the strength, he could compete better and thus increase his chances to have a successful first season. No questions about he’s a player to keep your eye on.
- Rodolfo Pizarro 2020 – scout report - May 14, 2020
- MLS 2020: Los Angeles vs Inter Miami – tactical analysis - May 6, 2020