FC Paços de Ferreira gained promotion to the first tier of Portuguese football last year and were crowned as the champions of the Segunda Liga, after being relegated to the division the year before. Bruno Santos has been a regular starter for Paços since 2016/17 and is running out of his contract next summer. In total, the Brazilian has already played 82 matches at the highest level of Portugal.
This scout report will provide a tactical analysis on the role that Bruno Santos performs at FC Paços de Ferreira and what his strengths and weaknesses are.
Bruno Santos is a right-footed defender who most of the times plays as a right-back in a 4-2-3-1 formation. We can see in the heatmap that the Brazilian defender likes to drive forward often and he is given the license to do so by Pepa. It can also be seen that Bruno Santos takes up a central position in defence. This will be explained later in this scout report by using the tactics of Pepa.
In possession, Paços like to play with three defenders which include one full-back and two central defenders. This means that either Bruno Santos or the left-back of Paços need to play as a third centre-back and that the other full-back has to position himself high up the pitch. Santos mostly fulfils the latter role and he can be found high up the pitch often.
There are two variants to this. The first one is that Santos sticks close to the sideline while the right-winger of Paços positions himself in the halfspace. In this situation, the right-back is often completely free and he has the space to receive the pass. Most of the times, this results in a good first touch and a pass to the right-winger, right centre-midfielder or right centre-back.
The second variant is when the right-winger of Paços sticks close to the sideline while Bruno Santos is tucked inside and plays as an inverted right-back. In the image down below can be seen that the right-back makes a run to create space for a pass to the right-winger of Paços. When the right-winger of Paços receives the ball, Bruno Santos often chooses for a run in-behind which results in a cross most of the times.
As already mentioned before, Paços like to play with three central defenders in possession. Bruno Santos rarely plays as a third central defender and can mostly be found high up the pitch. Taking up a high position on the pitch can bring some risks into play, as possession loss means that there often is no-one to take over the position on the right and that Bruno Santos should be back in defence very quickly.
However, Santos can be lazy when it comes to defending and he walks back most of the times which leave huge gaps on the right side of the pitch. In the images down below can be seen how the laziness of the Brazilian right-back leads to a big chance for the opponent. This season, there have been many examples of chances that have been given away because Santos does not come back to defend.
As already mentioned, Bruno Santos is an attacking-minded right-back who positions himself high up the pitch. This leads to the fact that he gave more passes on the opposites half than he did on his half (735 vs 656). Besides that, the Brazilian right-back gave more passes forward than backwards (784 vs 651). These numbers are not saying that much, so let’s dive deeper in these stats. It must be said beforehand that the tactics of Pepa are to play the possession game when it is possible. However, they are often being put under high pressure and average 47.5% possession per game.
Passing accuracy is only interesting when speaking about passes on the opposites half and forward passes, as a certain player could boost his stats by giving a lot of passes backwards and/or choose the safe option most of the times. When an analysis is being made about the success rate of his passes on the opposites half, 86.8% of the 735 passes were accurate. Considering that Paços is being put under high pressure often, these numbers are relatively good.
Speaking about forward passes given by Santos, it can be seen that the right-back gave 784 forward passes this season. Again, Santos’ 84.6% is relatively good because Paços often is being put under high pressure. Besides that, 30 of the 44 passes to the box were accurate.
The 26-year-old right-back is able to spot gaps in the opposites’ defence and has a good eye for space. This will be explained with the help of two situations. In the first image, there is space to dribble down the wing, but there is as you can see also a lot of space in the centre of the field. In this situation, he plays a one-two pass with the right-winger of Paços and has acres of space to take a shot on goal.
In the second situation, Santos spots that the player of Paços is planning to give a cross and that he has lots of space to dive into. He makes a good run to the box and he receives the ball. Bruno Santos composes himself very well and passes it back to the penalty spot. The chance is converted by Paços and Bruno Santos gave the assist.
Bruno Santos very often does well to spot his teammates and he rarely gives a blind pass. This is not different when it comes to crossing. The Brazilian right-back always looks over the ball to see if there are any teammates in space and if this is not the case, he will pass it back. In the image down below can be seen that Santos sees the striker making a run to the six-yard-box and he gives a very good cross. The defenders of Vitória FC did well to defend this cross, but it was a good cross by Santos whatsoever.
However, only 29% of his crosses are accurate. He always does well to see where his teammates are but the cross itself is not always that good and this is something that he needs to improve.
Heading, aerial duels and dribbling
As already mentioned in the previous paragraph, Santos rarely gives a blind pass and he always tries to spot a teammate. In the image down below can be seen that the goalkeeper has given an inaccurate long pass and that Santos can head the ball clear. Before he heads the ball, he looks up to see if there are any teammates in freedom. This particular situation is not that spectacular, it is just one of the many examples.
The 26-year-old is a physical player who is very strong in both ground duels and aerial duels. Taking a look at his statistics in aerial duels, the right-back has 4.7 aerial duels per 90 minutes. In total, the 1.83m Brazilian wins 59.8% of his aerial duels. Even against players that are taller than him, he wins more aerial duels on average.
As already mentioned before, Bruno Santos is a physically strong player. When dribbling, he combines his strength, pace and skills to get past the opponent. Per 90 minutes, Santos has 3.1 dribbles. 63.8% of his dribbles are successful, which is very good. However, sometimes he tries to pass his opponent in the defensive third of Paços, which leads to dangerous situations as well as he does not always pass his opponent. 13.8% of Bruno Santos’ dribbles are in the defensive third of Paços.
In defence, Bruno Santos uses his strength, pace, aggression and sharpness. The right-back makes 7.42 interceptions per 90 minutes mainly because of his aggression and sharpness. The opponent does not get time to touch the ball and he immediately puts pressure trying to force his opponent back. This also has a downside to it, as skilful opponents can play themselves out of Bruno Santos’ pressure and pass him which results in Bruno Santos making a foul. The Brazilian already got booked five times this season in 15 matches.
The Brazilian right-back has 9.39 defensive duels per 90 minutes and won only 24.2% of them while 31.8% had a neutral outcome. A neutral outcome happens when for example Bruno Santos touches the ball but it goes out of play. When it comes to 1-on-1 defending, Bruno Santos wins 29.7% of his 3.87 1-on-1 duels per 90 minutes. However, he does not get dribbled past that often (0.5 per game).
In the image down below can be seen that Santos stays very close to his opponent and he uses his strength very well to recover possession.
The Brazilian right-back is good going forward as he provides depth and he can spot space very well. Besides that, he does very well in aerial duels and he has a good dribble. However, he needs to track back more frequently, improve his crossing and defending. This being said, Bruno Santos would fit well in a formation with five defenders where he is given the license to go forward more without having the restriction to come back to defend.
This piece was originally published on Football Bloody Hell.