How Gianluca Scamacca is proving his detractors wrong

How Gianluca Scamacca is proving his detractors wrong

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Gianluca Scamacca’s brace against Liverpool at Anfield catapulted him back in to the limelight once again. And the Italian deserves it for the ‘rimonta’ he has had at Atalanta after a torturous spell at West Ham.


By Kaustubh Pandey


At Anfield, something truly stood out about Scamacca’s performance and it wasn’t just the goals. He carried himself with the sort of swagger that one associates him with and he linked up excellently in the final-third, suggesting that comparisons to someone like Zlatan Ibrahimović are perfectly valid. He combined efficiently with the likes of Teun Koopmeiners, Charles de Ketelaere and Mario Pašalić, showing what he truly is as a striker and how complete his profile is.

It was rather fitting that Scamacca’s performance came against an English side just months after his disastrous spell in England at West Ham ended. While it was a reminder that the Italian’s soulless stint in London was a one-off due to many reasons, he has been generally impressive this season at La Dea in many ways.

He has nine Serie A goals and has four assists, as he’s contributing off the ball and when it comes to linking up with his teammates and setting them up. That was visible against the Reds at Anfield but he has been doing that a lot this season and he also did the same at Sassuolo. This version of him at Atalanta is just a version of him that has matured and marries well with his street football identity.

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing under Gasperini. Earlier this season, the Atalanta boss criticised Scamacca for not working hard enough but those comments essentially pushed the striker into getting better.

Gasperini told L’Eco di Bergamo: “He has to run because he isn’t running much. If he is so undynamic he won’t be able to do anything good.”

For some Hammers’ fans, this was a re-establishment of some of Scamacca’s flaws. But there is a different side to the story as well. That would explain why the striker struggled throughout his time in London and couldn’t discover his prolific self.

One reason for the disappointment is the pragmatic playing style under David Moyes which doesn’t benefit strikers like Scamacca and Sébastien Haller. On top of that, Scamacca revealed in an interview with ‘Cronache di spogliatoio’ about how he actually had to play through a meniscus injury, while referencing his childhood.

“I have always known that I have uncommon talents, as well as that I have travelled a more difficult path than the others. Now I was still, in bed, frustrated. I couldn’t accept the injury: the first injury of my career. A few weeks ago I had to confess it, I think I did it to protect myself: I was silent for months, but during the last season I played most of the time with a compromised meniscus.”

During his stint at the Hammers, Scamacca scored three times in the Premier League and played less than 1000 minutes under Moyes, thanks to concerns about his suitability to the playing style and his fitness problems.

A key negative impact of the pragmatic playing style under Moyes is the lack of touches that a proper number nine receives. The same was seen for Scamacca last season, as the Italian could get limited touches inside the final third – 3.88. That is asking too much out of any striker, let alone Scamacca who does have a hammer of a right foot.

He received only a little more than 30 touches per 90 minutes, suggesting that his role was limited to solely being a target man and the system in place never really made use of his ability to link-up with his teammates and potentially take defenders on like a complete striker can.

As was seen at Sassuolo, Scamacca is much better suited to operating in attacking systems where the forward players have more possession and touches. The West Ham move was, in a way, a bad decision and a mismatch for both parties. The same can’t be said for Atalanta, where both parties seem to be operating on the same wavelength.

At La Dea, Scamacca is receiving much more touches in general and a lot more touches inside the box per 90.

The number of touches he is getting inside the box has pretty much doubled and he is, on average, getting 15 more touches of the ball in games. That is leading to him dribbling more and thereby winning more fouls.

Atalanta, after all, love to control games. They operate using wide overloads and rely heavily on shorter and quick passes across the turf instead of longer, riskier balls. They are 11th in the Serie A for longer balls per 90 minutes. That helps Scamacca, who has always been someone who relies on receiving the ball at his feet.

Their approach helps the team, not just individual players, play closer to goal and that is seen in the numbers too. Atalanta are sixth in the league for touches in the opposition’s box, which is another thing that has helped many strikers that they’ve had in their recent era.

That, in turn, helps them create more chances and get more shots away. They are currently fifth in the Serie A for xG generated, closely behind fourth-placed Juventus in this regard.

All of that presents an excellent scenario for a striker like Scamacca, who needed a playing style like that. Inter seemed keen on initially signing him until La Dea trumped them, replacing Rasmus Højlund with the Italian. Duván Zapata had also left and Luis Muriel also departed in January. The season was going to be one for breeding in new blood upfront and Scamacca was going to be a key part of that project. Because of the wise choice he made from a tactical perspective, the ex-West Ham man is reaping the rewards.

The 25-year-old has overperformed on his xG by a solid margin so far, suggesting how good a finisher he is and how lethal he can be in front of goal, making himself a likely candidate to start for Italy at the Euros.

As mentioned before, his charm doesn’t just lie in the goals. His street football background makes him someone who is very good with the ball at his feet and he has completed 1.17 dribbles per 90 minutes, with an accuracy of 60 percent and that is a fairly solid indicator of his quality.

He has created over one chance per 90 minutes but that isn’t where it ends. Gasperini was vocal about his lack of workrate but the Azzurri man has won 0.70 tackles per 90 minutes, which is about 86 percentile. Not just that, he is in the 76 percentile for winning the ball back in the final third and it showcases how he is an effective presser and has perhaps taken criticism well and has reacted efficiently to it.

Fitness issues have held him back this season but Scamacca will always have his Anfield moment and he will treasure it for a long time. If he stays fit over a longer period and plays in setups that suit him, he could definitely be a force to be reckoned with.


(Cover image from IMAGO)


You can follow every Europa League game on FotMob – with deep stats, xG, and players ratings. Download the free app here.

How Gianluca Scamacca is proving his detractors wrong

Gianluca Scamacca’s brace against Liverpool at Anfield catapulted him back in to the limelight once again. And the Italian deserves it for the ‘rimonta’ he has had at Atalanta after a torturous spell at West Ham.


By Kaustubh Pandey


At Anfield, something truly stood out about Scamacca’s performance and it wasn’t just the goals. He carried himself with the sort of swagger that one associates him with and he linked up excellently in the final-third, suggesting that comparisons to someone like Zlatan Ibrahimović are perfectly valid. He combined efficiently with the likes of Teun Koopmeiners, Charles de Ketelaere and Mario Pašalić, showing what he truly is as a striker and how complete his profile is.

It was rather fitting that Scamacca’s performance came against an English side just months after his disastrous spell in England at West Ham ended. While it was a reminder that the Italian’s soulless stint in London was a one-off due to many reasons, he has been generally impressive this season at La Dea in many ways.

He has nine Serie A goals and has four assists, as he’s contributing off the ball and when it comes to linking up with his teammates and setting them up. That was visible against the Reds at Anfield but he has been doing that a lot this season and he also did the same at Sassuolo. This version of him at Atalanta is just a version of him that has matured and marries well with his street football identity.

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing under Gasperini. Earlier this season, the Atalanta boss criticised Scamacca for not working hard enough but those comments essentially pushed the striker into getting better.

Gasperini told L’Eco di Bergamo: “He has to run because he isn’t running much. If he is so undynamic he won’t be able to do anything good.”

For some Hammers’ fans, this was a re-establishment of some of Scamacca’s flaws. But there is a different side to the story as well. That would explain why the striker struggled throughout his time in London and couldn’t discover his prolific self.

One reason for the disappointment is the pragmatic playing style under David Moyes which doesn’t benefit strikers like Scamacca and Sébastien Haller. On top of that, Scamacca revealed in an interview with ‘Cronache di spogliatoio’ about how he actually had to play through a meniscus injury, while referencing his childhood.

“I have always known that I have uncommon talents, as well as that I have travelled a more difficult path than the others. Now I was still, in bed, frustrated. I couldn’t accept the injury: the first injury of my career. A few weeks ago I had to confess it, I think I did it to protect myself: I was silent for months, but during the last season I played most of the time with a compromised meniscus.”

During his stint at the Hammers, Scamacca scored three times in the Premier League and played less than 1000 minutes under Moyes, thanks to concerns about his suitability to the playing style and his fitness problems.

A key negative impact of the pragmatic playing style under Moyes is the lack of touches that a proper number nine receives. The same was seen for Scamacca last season, as the Italian could get limited touches inside the final third – 3.88. That is asking too much out of any striker, let alone Scamacca who does have a hammer of a right foot.

He received only a little more than 30 touches per 90 minutes, suggesting that his role was limited to solely being a target man and the system in place never really made use of his ability to link-up with his teammates and potentially take defenders on like a complete striker can.

As was seen at Sassuolo, Scamacca is much better suited to operating in attacking systems where the forward players have more possession and touches. The West Ham move was, in a way, a bad decision and a mismatch for both parties. The same can’t be said for Atalanta, where both parties seem to be operating on the same wavelength.

At La Dea, Scamacca is receiving much more touches in general and a lot more touches inside the box per 90.

The number of touches he is getting inside the box has pretty much doubled and he is, on average, getting 15 more touches of the ball in games. That is leading to him dribbling more and thereby winning more fouls.

Atalanta, after all, love to control games. They operate using wide overloads and rely heavily on shorter and quick passes across the turf instead of longer, riskier balls. They are 11th in the Serie A for longer balls per 90 minutes. That helps Scamacca, who has always been someone who relies on receiving the ball at his feet.

Their approach helps the team, not just individual players, play closer to goal and that is seen in the numbers too. Atalanta are sixth in the league for touches in the opposition’s box, which is another thing that has helped many strikers that they’ve had in their recent era.

That, in turn, helps them create more chances and get more shots away. They are currently fifth in the Serie A for xG generated, closely behind fourth-placed Juventus in this regard.

All of that presents an excellent scenario for a striker like Scamacca, who needed a playing style like that. Inter seemed keen on initially signing him until La Dea trumped them, replacing Rasmus Højlund with the Italian. Duván Zapata had also left and Luis Muriel also departed in January. The season was going to be one for breeding in new blood upfront and Scamacca was going to be a key part of that project. Because of the wise choice he made from a tactical perspective, the ex-West Ham man is reaping the rewards.

The 25-year-old has overperformed on his xG by a solid margin so far, suggesting how good a finisher he is and how lethal he can be in front of goal, making himself a likely candidate to start for Italy at the Euros.

As mentioned before, his charm doesn’t just lie in the goals. His street football background makes him someone who is very good with the ball at his feet and he has completed 1.17 dribbles per 90 minutes, with an accuracy of 60 percent and that is a fairly solid indicator of his quality.

He has created over one chance per 90 minutes but that isn’t where it ends. Gasperini was vocal about his lack of workrate but the Azzurri man has won 0.70 tackles per 90 minutes, which is about 86 percentile. Not just that, he is in the 76 percentile for winning the ball back in the final third and it showcases how he is an effective presser and has perhaps taken criticism well and has reacted efficiently to it.

Fitness issues have held him back this season but Scamacca will always have his Anfield moment and he will treasure it for a long time. If he stays fit over a longer period and plays in setups that suit him, he could definitely be a force to be reckoned with.


(Cover image from IMAGO)


You can follow every Europa League game on FotMob – with deep stats, xG, and players ratings. Download the free app here.