In this scout report, we analysed Lucas Martínez Quarta. Martínez Quarta is the cornerstone in River Plate’s defence. The 24-year-old Argentinian national player has played 43 of 44 games for River Plate since the beginning of 2019. The right-footed talent has a height of 181 cm and weighs 75 kg.
Martínez Quarta has a contract option to leave the Copa Libertadores finalist for €22 Million. This option makes him interesting for European top clubs, especially in the Corona-Pandemic. This tactical analysis provides some aspects to why Manchester City, Inter and Borussia Dortmund are willing to sign a contract with the centre-back. In this analysis, we show, why he could be a fit for dominating tactics.
Analysis of Martínez Quarta’s positional play
Martínez Quarta wins 65.03 % of his defensive duels in his third of the pitch. The young Argentinian has an average of 8.02 defensive duels per game. He is robust and hard in one-on-ones. As a consequence, Martínez Quarta lost just a few duels with the result of an opponent’s finish. Only 3.76 % of his duels resulted in finishes and none of these was successful. On top of that, Martínez Quarta has 12.44 recoveries per game.
The tactical analysis below demonstrates Martínez Quarta’s understanding of tactics, as well as his clarity in his defensive actions. He anticipated a possible thread and acted two times in a row correctly.
As you can see in the analysis above, CA San Lorenzo played a pass to the inserted winger. The winger stood between River Plate’s lines. He was unmarked, so he could gain space by an opening first touch. Martínez Quarta anticipated this thread. As a consequence, he decided to leave his position in the last line. He left his position because he did not have a direct opposing player. So, Martínez Quarta put pressure on the winger. He closed the gap to the winger, but still, he could turn around.
In the tactical analysis above, Martínez Quarta reduces his speed to come to a standstill. If he would attack the opposing player with his full speed, it would be easy to feint him. Then, the centre-back would be outplayed and would also lack in the last line. But Martínez Quarta slowed down as he came closer to the winger. He reduced the passing angles for San Lorenzo’s player. Also, Martínez Quarta pushed him to the sideline. The winger tried to pass around the young centre-back. He blocked the pass and the ball went out towards the sideline.
The ball jumped into space on the right wing. You can see this situation in the tactical analysis above. An opposing player ran towards the ball. He was unmarked, too. Martínez Quarta acted quickly and went also for the ball. The right-footed was already in a move, so it was easier for him to accelerate.
One could say, that Martínez Quarta plays risk-friendly and courageous. He went in this duel with a sliding tackle. Centre-backs should stay on their feet. If they are not able to clear the ball, they were outplayed as they lay on the ground. But Martínez Quarta was first on the ball and demonstrated his overview. Instead of clearing the ball, he played a forward pass to his unmarked teammate.
This combination of robustness, bravery, anticipation and overview is exact, what coaches like Guardiola could be looking for. A top defender should be able to hold possession, even in high-pressure situations. So, Martínez Quarta has the basic skills to breakthrough at a European top club.
Interceptions around the half-line
After we analysed the Martínez Quarta’s basic defending skills in this scout report, we looked for his further tactics. It is more and more common in Europe to press the opponent highly in his half. So without possession, the centre-back should push the last line forwards. He is responsible to close the space between the lines. Furthermore, the centre-back should anticipate a poor pass, which he could intercept. Martínez Quarta puts this tactic into practice.
In the tactical analysis above, you can see how River Plate stood high. The centre-backs were at the half-line. The opposing team tried to build-up with a long ball to their striker. He should control the ball so that his teammates could close up to him. This is how you can outplay an attacking-pressing team. So it is important to have a centre-back how can intercept this situation.
Martínez Quarta anticipated the wide ball as the opposing defender reached back with his shooting foot. While the striker moved away from the ball to control it with his knee or foot, Martínez Quarta moved towards the ball. Martínez Quarta was in the back of the striker and was also far away. As a consequence, the striker did not expect Martínez Quarta. He pushed himself in front of the striker. The centre-back came on the ball and played it directly forward.
The next tactical analysis shows a similar situation. In this situation, the opposing team tried to build-up with a flat ball. The space between River Plate’s lines was too big. Instead of falling deep, Martínez Quarta decided to attack. If the last four were falling deep, they would have accepted that they would run into a counter-attack. Also in this situation, Martínez Quarta managed to intercept the ball in front of the opponent. By winning the possession back, he converted a disadvantage into an advantage.
The analysis below shows the third situation. In this situation are some differences. Firstly, River Plate’s lines were very close to each other. Secondly, the opponent was already around the half-line.
Martínez Quarta anticipated this pass, too. Afterwards he held possession. There is a transparent pattern. The young Argentinian does not mark his opponents directly. After the ball is played, he intercepts it as he moves in front of the opposing player. All in all, Martínez Quarta recovers 5.65 balls per 90 minutes with his counter-pressing tactics.
Tactical analysis of Martínez Quarta’s headers
Therefore that his team can press highly, Martínez Quarta has to defend long balls. He can bring off the complete tactic to gain space via long balls due to his heading. Despite his hight of only 181 cm, he wins 57.1 % of his aerial duels in total. Within the penalty box, he even wins 58.6 % of his aerial duels. These values underline his robustness in contrast to his height. Due to his positional play, Martínez Quarta is especially strong at long balls. Another benefit of him, which makes him more attractive to teams like Dortmund.
In the image below you can see how the opposing team played a clearing ball. Martínez Quarta’s teammate Javier Pinola was closer to the ball. But Martínez Quarta is stronger in headers. So, the young centre-back moved forward to manage the heading duel. Pinola dropped deep to ensure Martínez Quarta.
As you see, Martínez Quarta was in a worse position than his opponent. But compared to the opponent Martínez Quarta had better timing. He jumped in front of his opponent and played again a fine pass into space to his left full-back.
The next tactical analysis shows another header of Martínez Quarta. The pass is 30+ metres long into River Plate’s penalty box.
Martínez Quarta covered Boca Junior’s striker. Boca’s right-winger inserted behind Martínez Quarta’s back. Now Martínez Quarta demonstrated his positional play. Instead of staying with his opponent, he freed himself and made a few steps backwards. Due to his good positional play, he cleared the ball into touch.
Next to his heading, Martínez Quarta is also strong with the ball at his feet. This is also in the interest of clubs like Dortmund, Inter or Man City. The young national player can switch the game between the defence and the offence when he wins possession. Also, he plays safe diagonal passes to shift the game to the other side. His success rate for passes accounts for 85.93 %. Martínez Quarta even outscores this number for his passes between 30 and 40 metres. Here he has a success rate of 92.3 %.
In the analysis above, you can see how Martínez Quarta had the ball. River Plate’s squad realised, that there is no space anywhere on the left wing. The opposing team closed the spaces as they shifted to this side. As Martínez Quarta got the ball, he controlled it with his weaker left foot. He did not stop the ball but assisted himself for a cross-field pass. The centre-back crossed the field and assisted a cross due to his technique for long balls.
Martínez Quarta intercepted a ball in the tactical analysis above. Again, he cut the passing line, as he crossed the route of the striker. As you can see, he has three passing options within a circle of ten metres. But instead of playing the safe pass, he demonstrated his overview. The right-footed extended the unorganised formation of the opposing team.
AS you can see above, Martínez Quarta played a through ball between the opposing centre-back and the right fullback. The 24-year-old provided an assist from an attack against River Plate within two touches at the ball. Martínez Quarta is quick in making a decision. This reinforces his passing rate as he is not only playing diagonal passes.
Lack of acceleration
Martínez Quarta is a complete central defender. He is in his prime and plays in Argentina for one of the best teams. So why is not already signed by a European top club? Maybe, it is because of his lack of acceleration. Finally, it is getting more popular having a pacey centre-back. An example could be David Alaba or Raphaël Varane.
In the image above, you can see, how Martínez Quarta covered his opponent correctly. He offered the opponent the gap away from the centre of the goal to the right corner. The opposing striker took this offer, but he was quicker than Martínez Quarta. So, he could cross the defender’s route.
The centre-back would in Europe now only have the option to foul his opponent. But as you can see above, the opposing striker did not have the best touch. To be fair, this small mistake was enough for Martínez Quarta to stop this attack. He made a sliding tackle and played the ball to the corner without fouling the opponent. He smoothed his lack of acceleration out due to his defensive education.
But acceleration is difficult to train and could be a disadvantage against pacey strikers. On the other hand, if Martínez Quarta plays in a well organised highly pressing tactic, this lack of acceleration might not be that important.
Lucas Martínez Quarta is a well-educated centre-back, who involves a lot of attributes for a modern defender. The 24-year-old is also strong, has a good overview and can have the ball at his feet. In this scout report, we showed his ability to take off especially long balls and the switch between defence and offence over the halfway-line.
Skills that are interesting for Manchester City, as the play with a high standing formation. His contract situation makes him even more interesting, as his contract duration is until summer 2021. Due to the financial pressure, River Plate could be open to discussions for the transfer fee.