Alia Guagni is an experienced international Italian player who used to play for Serie A Women’s Fiorentina Women and who has just moved to Spain in order to play for Atlético Madrid in La Liga Women. The ex-Fiorentina captain represents a big addition for Atlético Madrid both on the tactical side and on players’ attitude on and off the pitch since she was a real leader at Firenze.
In this tactical analysis written in the form of a scout report, we will explore Guagni’s positional and tactical awareness, her striking individual skills and how she can fit into Atlético Madrid’s tactics. This article will provide an analysis of her previous performances in different positions and her impact on the game during these last few years.
Position and role at Atlético Madrid
Knowing that Atlético Madrid’s manager Daniel González alternated between four different formations during last season, Guagni’s role may be either be the same in all formations or changeable with each formation.
González can play Guagni as a right full-back no matter what formation he will choose in the future season(s). However, and mainly because Guagni has already played as a left attacking midfielder, her new team’s manager can also use her positional flexibility in the best possible way. He can use her in a position in which she can perform with ease to help the team challenge clubs like Barcelona women and Athletic Bilbao women.
To confirm her flexibility in changing positions, one can argue that it is not that simple to play as a left attacking midfielder or as a left-winger and then switch to playing as a right-back who has mainly defensive duties but also more demanding physical strength.
In this regard, González has got plenty of options for Guagni’s positions mainly in the 4-4-2 formation since this main Atlético formation is suitable for Guagni as a right full-back, left-winger, or even right-winger.
And for the 4-1-3-2, 4-3-3, 4-1-4-1 formations that González uses but with less frequency than the 4-4-2, Guagni will also have no issues since she can excel as a right-back and as a left or right winger as well.
As the following picture shows, Guagni’s movements are very frequent on the right flank since she played the largest part of her matches there, yet when looking closely, it is also worth mentioning that she has had an experience on the left flank as well and she covered it all whether in defence or in attack.
This will help Atlético since she can be effective in all phases of the game.
Defensive maturity and physical strength
In terms of defence, Guagni is not the kind of player you find easily these days. She is a brave, smart and especially strong right-back who knows how to cover the ball with her body perfectly and usually takes the right decisions especially when she confronts attacking players and needs to stop them or steal the ball.
And for that, she is a very unique player in Italy who matches between pure talent, physical strength and smart decision-making.
As you can see below in the UEFA Champions League game against Wolfsburg, Guagni covers her ball and keeps it at her feet despite the disturbing movements and pressure of her opponent. Her experience in dealing with such situations kept on improving throughout the years and now she is definitely a complete defender with some excellent defending skills.
In fact, this defensive side of Guagni is what in a large part made her the target of big clubs since all clubs look for right-backs who are good with the ball at their feet, able to run fast and accelerate past defenders to help in the attacking phase, but more importantly, these clubs always seek guarantees in defence and want to have players who sacrifice for the sake of securing their goal.
Since nowadays many clubs rely on high pressure to disturb and ultimately win the ball back from defenders, the defenders are asked to pass smartly, be aware of the danger of losing the ball just in front of their goal and dribble accurately when needed in order to escape pressure.
In this regard, Guagni appears to be one of the smart players who are always aware of their surrounding players and especially of the movements of the opponents before even receiving the ball in order to win some seconds and anticipate the pressure.
You can notice here in this example how Guagni receives the ball from the goalkeeper while the opposition attacker runs directly towards her. And since Guagni looked at her and saw her movement before receiving the ball, she decided to make a move to keep the ball away from the opponent and run away from her just with one touch as the picture shows.
Accurate passing and attacking skills
In addition to her strong and smart defensive prowess, Guagni does also shine when she supports the attack or when she plays in an advanced position on the field. The 32-year old player has made a lot of assists to her teammates both from the right and the left flanks by crosses and passes, while also, she has scored many goals in her career either by scoring penalties, free-kicks and headers when she happens to position herself inside the box.
Guagni is, in fact, a versatile player who has also scored forward-like types of goals such as receiving the ball inside the box, dribbling past defenders and shooting accurately to find the net. Moreover, scoring 68 goals in 202 Serie A match starts is a huge number for a right/left-winger who played many times as a right-back. In the 2018/2019 season, for instance, she scored 10 goals in 19 games.
Another impressive characteristic of Guagni is her key passing. With a 93% key pass accuracy this season, Guagni has the ability to launch perfect long-balls behind defenders, cross from the flanks or make decisive short passes.
In the example below, you can see how easily and smartly Guagni makes this cross look since she provides Valentina Bergamaschi with a pinpointed long-ball making her face the opposition goalkeeper in a one-on-one opportunity.
Another good example of Guagni’s smart and accurate long-passes can be found in this match when she noticed the possibility of creating danger directly by crossing the ball to the team’s striker who although was marked, she was able to pass it by a header to the left-winger to create an attacking action from scratch.
In addition, Guagni’s physical condition and continuous attacking support when she plays as a right-back are strikingly important because not all right-backs support the attack continuously and especially when the team is already winning and in the last minutes of the game.
However, Guagni helps the team without hesitation even in the last minutes of a winning game, which shows her winning mentality and her continuous willingness to help her team win in all possible ways while not letting that affect her defensive duties.
Also, she helps her team’s attacking players even when pressing on defenders high on the pitch in an attempt to disturb them and win the ball back. It is clear in the picture below that Guagni creates numerical superiority and presses in a way that not only puts the defender in danger but also limits her passing options by covering the opposing player who is behind her.
It is worth saying that Atlético have secured a very important signing with one of Europe’s best right-backs. Guagni will not only be an addition on the field but also an example to follow even in the dressing room and off the field since she has the experience, the right mentality and attitude as well as the determination to win.
As mentioned above, the club will be able to use Guagni in different positions and fill the existing gaps in the best possible manner since this player can effectively play as a right-back, right winger or left winger and will definitely help the team reach better positions in the Women’s Primera División and in UEFA Women’s Champions League.