Uruguay has a very rich footballing history when it comes to developing world-class talent. One of its biggest and most decorated clubs, Peñarol, is a regular contributor. Los Carboneros are the only club in the country to have a player represent them on the national team in every Uruguayan World Cup campaign. The most recent players to have left the Aurinegros are Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde and LAFC’s Brian Rodriguez.
Led by former La Liga player Diego Forlan, Peñarol has had a new talent emerge from their academy. Having recently made his professional debut in August, Facundo Pellistri was given his first start in September and scored his first senior goal in November. Since the Clausura tournament in Uruguay, he has quickly become one of the first names on the team sheet.
In this tactical analysis, we will look at why Facundo Pellistri is being scouted by a host of clubs from around the world.
Positioning and Attacking Tendencies
Forlan has typically deployed Pellistri as a winger. The Uruguayan is usually found on the right flank, although there are times where he starts out on the left. There have also been times where Pellistri lines up as an attacking midfielder. Analyzing his heat map, we see that he is tactically versatile even though he is used more on the right.
We also see on the heat map that he has spent some time in the half-spaces. This is due to Peñarol’s tactics. If a full-back or midfielder is occupying the flank, Pellistri rotates and moves into the half-spaces.
Another way the young attacker occupies the half-space is shown below. In Peñarol’s match against Fénix, we see the Aurinegros are attacking from the left into the middle. Pellistri has come in from a wide position and places himself in the defender’s blind spot.
Offensively Pellistri was beginning to find his feet. He registered 31 shots during the Clausura tournament, scoring twice with 1 assist.
As an attacker, the Uruguayan’s strengths lie in his passing and dribbling ability. In the next part of the scout report, we will look into both.
Pellistri ranks highly in Uruguay’s Primera División when it comes to dribbling. His 8 dribbles a game is sixth-best in the league. He also has one of the higher success rates in the league with 47.8%. Pellistri’s 13 offensive duels per game also rank in the top 15 in the league.
Taking a look at the analysis of his dribbles in the final third, we see that Pellistri was almost even on both sides. The Uruguayan took on left-backs 26 times, and right backs 18 times with over 55% success rate for each.
The Uruguayan averaged 25 passes per game, with a 78% completion rate. These numbers rank him among the best in the league. Within the final third, he attempted 21 passes to the penalty area. 8 of those deliveries were key passes. Using the analysis below, we can see the different ways that Pellistri attacked the penalty area.
As a natural winger, he is inclined to attempt crosses. Peñarol’s tactics give him the ability to attempt 3.84 crosses per game. This places him at the top of the league’s attackers when it comes to crossing the ball. Analyzing his crosses, we see the majority came from the right. We also see that he varied his delivery.
Of his 33 attempted crosses, 19 were done so on the ground. Knowing that he is adept at taking defenders 1 v 1 this should not come as a surprise. In this example from their match against Cerro, we see Pellistri dribbling towards the end line.
After he shrugs off the first defender’s challenge, he cuts hard to his left, leaving the second defender flat-footed. This then frees the young attacker to pass to his teammate for the go-ahead goal.
While Facundo Pellistri is a solid attacker, he also does not shy away from his defensive duties. Some teams’ tactics allow their wingers to stay high, but Peñarol prefers to defend with theirs. In this section of the scout report, we will look at his defensive contributions.
In last year’s Clausura tournament Pellistri had a total of 24 recoveries. Using his recoveries in the final third as a reference, we see exactly where he regained possession for Peñarol.
Although he is a winger, Pellistri was able to win the ball back 13 times in Zone 14. This shows that if he dribbled towards the middle from the outside and lost the ball, he was eager to win it back.
Pellistri is also quite industrious for Los Carboneros in the defensive third. As an attacking player, he won 5.94 defensive duels per game, with a 57% success rate. We see in the analysis below that the majority of his success came on the right, he also contributed to defending in the centre and the left.
He is also incredibly tough to beat in the back. The Uruguayan only lost 8 defensive duels with one leading to a goal. This type of defensive bite is expected from Uruguayan’s players across the board, and Pellistri is no different.
Areas of Improvement
Facundo Pellistri is by no means a finished product. There are some things he does that give away his youth and inexperience. One of the things he will no doubt continue to work is his accuracy in the final third.
Although he has a solid passing success rate, Pellistri is less accurate in the area he should be most dangerous in. Below is an analysis of his passing in key areas, and we can see where that area is specifically.
As is the case for most attacking wingers, Pellistri also had 128 losses in the final third. Using his losses chart as a reference, we see that the losses were either failed crosses or dribbles. If we take a look at both the graphs in this section, it further highlights his inaccuracies in the final third.
Using this instance against Cerro, Pellistri has begun to dribble inwards from the right-hand side. As the defenders begin to shift to his dribbling, the Uruguayan spots a passing opportunity. He disguises the pass and ends up splitting the three defenders as his teammate runs onto the ball.
The pass ends up being overhit and collected by the goalkeeper, but it highlights that Pellistri is still learning his trade. As he continues to develop as a player, that type pass will be placed perfectly for his teammates.
The best part about the Peñarol youngster is that he continues to experiment even when he’s failed a certain action. This not only shows Diego Forlan’s patience and faith in him but also a strong mental game from Pellistri.
Although Facundo Pellistri has recently broken onto the professional scene, he is on track to go big places. Most likely to debut for the national team, he could add to a midfield that includes Flamengo’s Giorgian de Arrascaeta, Federico Valverde, Juve’s Rodrigo Bentancur, and Inter’s Matías Vecino. Peñarol’s young winger has an incredibly bright future ahead of him, and he is definitely one to watch for.