Following his summer loan move to Spanish Segunda Division side AD Alcorcon in July 2019, Samuel Sosa has become the latest prospect to be dubbed as a major talent in the long line of South American talents. Despite an underwhelming loan spell in Spain on his return to parent club Talleres, this tactical analysis outlines his unlocked potential and why he can still make a name for himself.

Player profile

Standing at 5’8, Sosa has a relatively small frame for a left-winger. The Venezuelan initially made his mark through the youth ranks at Deportivo Táchira, before making his mark for the first-team in 2016 with 36 appearances.  He then joined Argentine outfit CA Talleres in 2018 in the hope of progressing his career but was handed a loan move and spent the 2019/20 season playing for AD Alcorcon.

Sosa, who played a vital part in the Venezuela under-20’s run to the final of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup by scoring two goals, made his senior debut for Venezuela in 2019 in a friendly against Ecuador. The winger, who can also operate as a left-back, made 26 appearances for Los Alfareros this season, scoring one goal and creating one goal in the process.

Attacking role

In this part of the analysis, we’re going to take a look at Sosa’s role in a 4-4-2 system. Alcorcon’s head-coach Francisco Fernández likes to set up as an attacking outfit, with a flat back four and midfield four supporting two strikers up-front. As you can see here in their 2019/20 season opener tactics against Girona, Los Alfareros come wide to make the pitch as wide as possible, subsequently stretching the shape of Girona to close down the ball and win back possession.

Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Girona overload on the left side with a compact defensive shape, allowing Sosa to switch the play and relieve pressure.

The image above outlines Sosa’s ability to read the game, an important skill that world-class wingers such as Real Madrid‘s Eden Hazard and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling have in their armoury. Despite being surrounded by two opponents, he has the ability to switch the play and relieve the pressure. This is a testament to his passing accuracy in this game, completing 21 of his 25 passes in the game – a passing completion rate of 84%.

As you can see from the image below, Fernández encouraged the Venezuelan to stay as wide as possible and stretch the play, especially with Girona’s narrow defensive shape. This is where Sosa was allowed to provide a telling contribution on the game with time to produce with his accurate left foot, winning six out of his 12 attacking duels.

Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
The overlapping runs of both full-backs provide extra space for the wingers either side.

Alcorcon’s attacking set-up complements luxury players like Sosa to express their capabilities. The tendencies of both full-backs pressing high up the pitch to provide a passing option/overlapping run allow the wide players to come slightly narrower and provide crosses for the aerial threat of Fran Sandaza. Ernesto Gomez acts more of a pivot behind Sandaza, typically operating between the midfield and defensive line to provide support for both wingers either side.

Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sandaza acts as the ball carrier and Barandiarar (bottom) supports with an overlapping run.

Versatility

Despite Sosa mainly being known for a left-sided player, he can also play on the right of the midfield three. On some occasions this season, Fernández has moved him to the right-hand side to play as a right-winger or right-attacking midfield, showcasing his ability to play on either flank.

Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Samuel Sosa’s 2019/20 heat-map.

The Venezuelan’s heat-map highlights his tendency to hug the touchline and stay wide, rarely coming central due to concerns over his physicality in the middle of the pitch. Though, his pace allows him to operate on either flank and rotate with the right-sided winger.

Sosa was also trialled at left-wing back this season in Alcorcon’s outing against table-toppers SD Huesca, showing that he also has some good defensive skills in his armoury. Despite coming on as a substitute, Sosa handled the pacey and direct threat of Jordi Mboula relatively well and managed to provide additional attacking impetus behind Malaga loanee Álex Mula.

Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sosa releases the ball under pressure, with Mula coming central to provide a passing option.

The image above outlines the Venezuelan’s calmness under pressure. Huesca naturally drops deep in the effort to protect their lead but provide a triangular press to close down the ball carrier. Sosa offloads to Fernandez who then finds Mula unmarked to progress up the pitch with the ball.

A pure example of Sosa’s versatility and attacking capabilities was his performance against Elche CF, arguably his best performance in an Alcorcon shirt. The Venezuelan performed 77 actions and completed 27 of them, more than any other in a single game all season. He also provided the assist for Carlos Rayo’s equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Manuel Martínez Valero.

Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sosa spots the intelligent overlapping run of Rayo, with the latter going on to score.

Sosa also rotated, switching to the right which made him difficult to handle all game. Per statistics, the 20-year-old won 30 duels throughout the game. Alcorcon’s 4-1-4-1 formation appeared to suit Sosa more, allowing him to flourish due to extra cover in the midfield. It allowed the Venezuelan to push higher up the pitch in a midfield three without as much defensive responsibility, thus supporting lone-striker Rui Costa.

Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Alcorcon’s 4-1-4-1 set-up against Elche CF.

Talented with unlocked potential

Venezuela have produced their fair share of footballers that have gone on to succeed in Europe: Salomón Rondón, Tomas Rincon & Juan Arango to name a few. Venezuela’s youth teams are often known for the attacking talents they possess and Sosa could certainly be considered in that category. A fairly squat but quick winger, Sosa has the potential to be a crown jewel in a system that suits him. His low centre of gravity allows him to bulldoze past opponents, using a combination of skill and strength to relish physical battles. Sosa tends to rely on his left foot when dribbling and uses this as his attacking outlet, succeeding in three out of his four dribbles attempted against Sporting Gijon earlier this season.

Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sosa uses his body to shield the ball from the defender.

Despite a largely underwhelming loan spell in Spain, it goes without saying that Sosa has the ability – it’s just about how you unlock that. In this part of the analysis, we will analyse his U20 World Cup performances and outline the capabilities he showed and the system that suited him. With doubt being seemingly cast over his future at CA Talleres, it’s important to remember that he is only 20-years-old and has plenty of time to develop as a player.

Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sosa scores a curling free-kick against Uruguay in the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

As you can see from the image above in this scout report, there’s no doubt that Sosa has the technical ability to produce magic. His ability to use both feet made him very difficult to defend against, combining skill with his low centre of gravity. Coming into the match, Venezuela had conceded only one goal and scored the most goals in the tournament, netting an impressive 13 goals in five matches. Sosa came on as a substitute to rubber-stamp his winning qualities on the game, flourishing in a 4-4-2 on the right-hand side with Yeferson Soteldo on the left and Adalberto Peñaranda supporting Jan Hurtado up-front. This allowed him to cut inside with his left foot and vary up his game, rather than appearing too one-dimensional by playing predominantly on the left-hand side.

Take a look at this sequence below, highlighting Sosa’s ability to create chances from tight situations:

Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sosa feints and chops back on his right.
Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sosa (under pressure) produces a cross which Hurtado latches onto, creating a goalscoring opportunity.

Potential issues

Sosa stands at 1.77 metres. This is a fairly small size for a winger. Though, the counter-argument is that even the best players in world football like Lionel Messi aren’t exactly the tallest players. I’m not comparing the two in terms of ability, but Sosa could take a good look at his fellow South American’s playing style and how he could learn from him. Due to his size, he is often out-muscled by his opponent – which results in him losing the ball. For example, in one game against Real Zaragoza, he lost the ball 12 times, despite his side winning 3-0. This is intertwined with the 20-year-old’s decision making. Despite getting into good positions regularly, he often makes an impulsive decision that results in him losing the ball or wasting an opportunity.

Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sosa opts to shoot but could have carried on with the ball and spotted the run of Costa in the penalty area.

Another example below. Sosa is presented with a long-ball and has the athleticism to hook this to Juan Diego Molina Martínez to launch a potential counter-attack, but instead loses possession of the ball.

Samuel Sosa 2019/20 - scout report - tactical analysis tactics
Sosa is presented with a long-ball. But he could have used his athleticism to hook the ball towards Stoichkov in the hope of launching a counter-attack.

Conclusion

As previously stated in the scout report, Sosa is quite capable of winning a duel, it’s just the way he executes it. Despite his height, he is also surprisingly good in the aerially due to having a high spring.

The Venezuelan winger has untapped potential and has the world at his feet. Whether he stays put and persists to breakthrough at Talleres or takes another step on-loan, the next move needs to be right for his development. He is a talented and versatile player, with a good vision, technique and skill. He is also fairly quick over a short distance which will get him past most players and add to his unpredictability.

Despite a frustrating loan spell in Spain, he showed glimpses of how capable he is. Certainly a frustrating player but if he touches up his decision making and ability to keep hold of the ball, there’s no reason why he can’t follow the footsteps of other Venezuelan’s and make a move to the Premier League. Keep your eyes peeled on Sosa, this certainly won’t be the last time you hear of his name.

Dan Woffenden
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