Italian striker Ciro Immobile has been one of the most lethal goal scorers in world football over the last five years, yet still does not get the full recognition that he deserves as one of Europe’s top strikers. So far in 2019-20, only Polish striker Robert Lewandowski has scored more goals than Immobile in Europe’s top five leagues, and many consider Lewandowski to be the best centre-forward in the world. 14 goals in 12 Serie A matches is more than just an impressive feat, it’s something absolutely outstanding, particularly as part of a team where he doesn’t have the same level of service or team possession that someone like a Lewandowski or Lionel Messi would have. After failed spells at Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla, Immobile completely revitalized his career with Lazio back in 2016-17 and now at the age of 29, is on pace to set his most impressive goal return of his career. But how does the Italian striker play and what makes him so unique as a centre forward? This is The Mastermind‘s Tactical Analysis of Ciro Immobile.
ONE-TOUCH PLAY & FINISHINGEmbed from Getty Images
Ciro Immobile is one of the most clinical goal scorers in the world. One reason for his goal scoring success is down to his ability to shoot from anywhere on the field, with power and accuracy as equal contributing factors to his technique and ability. Many of the goals he scores are one-touch finishes. This is a particularly useful skill to deploy because it gives the goalkeeper less time to set their feet and gives less time to the defenders to react and pounce on the ball. By taking a one-touch shot, Immobile gives the defenders and the goalkeepers no time to react. This is something the Italian striker carries over into other areas of his game, such as his link-up play, where layoffs and short one-two passes are extremely important to his role. It’s not as though Immobile is incapable of holding on to the ball for longer periods of time, in fact quite the contrary. Both his on-the-ball and off-the-ball presence are equally strong. However, the Italian is extremely wise in picking and choosing his moments to shoot, pass or dribble and has a keen eye for when to take shots on without first taking a touch.
Many of Immobile’s shots are also with the side of his foot, but this never seems to take away from the power he is able to get on the end of them.
SPEED AND OFF-THE-BALL MOVEMENTEmbed from Getty Images
What seems to be a practically essential characteristic for any striker to have these days, Immobile is incredibly…as his name suggests…mobile! His speed in behind is quite incredible and this often sets him up for 1on1 situations with the goalkeeper. With his movement off the ball he is often looking for spaces in between the gaps of defenders to receive. When he’s able to go 1v1 against a goalkeeper, his success rate at either scoring or winning a penalty is incredibly high.
Another strength to the Italian’s off the ball movement is in creating space for himself in the box. Many of Immobile’s goals are with his head in and around the eighteen yard box and he is often looking for the exact right moment (just before the cross comes in) to lose his markers. He takes advantage of any opportunity when the defender is caught ball-watching and pounces on the ball before the defender can even react. Immobile also wisely never allows the defender to get touch-tight to him, often lurking in behind at the back-post and disguising himself to the point where the defender is completely unaware that he is even there. This has led to many headed goals not only this season, but throughout his career.
LINK-UP PLAYEmbed from Getty Images
The final essential component to Immobile’s game is his fantastic link-up play with those around him. Not only has the 29-year old netted 14 goals in 12 matches this season, he’s also notched 5 assists. In 2017-18 when he finished as Serie A’s top scorer with 29 goals, he also achieved 9 assists. His ability to see through balls for his teammates and also play with his back to goal has made the Italian the perfect striker for Lazio’s quick counter attacking style. Lazio primarily deploy a 3-5-2 system, in which Immobile links up with Argentinean striker Joaquin Correa. Correa plays with a very similar, non-stop running style of play. As such, the timing of their runs and ensuring they are able to constantly provide balance with another one becomes incredibly important to Lazio’s success, particularly on the counter. At times the Italian is also often the focal point of the attack, with a ‘number 10’ directly in behind him like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic or Luis Alberto. In specific examples like this, Immobile looks to play with his back to goal more often in getting those talented midfielders on the ball more often. Regardless of who is around him, Immobile has developed a great understanding with his teammates, turning him into more than just a goal-scoring centre-forward, but something of a complete striker too.
CONCLUSIONEmbed from Getty Images
So there it is! A tactical analysis of Serie A’s league leading goal-scorer Ciro Immobile. Immobile has been one of Europe’s top scorers for quite some time now, but still does not get the recognition he deserves as one of the very best in the world. Maybe soon, fans of the beautiful game will start talking about the mobile Immobile as one of the very top strikers in the world. For now, he remains an interesting case study of a striker who is doing all the right things, can’t stop scoring, but doesn’t get the respect he undoubtedly deserves. Thanks for reading and see you soon!
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