After German striker Kevin Volland’s move to AS Monaco was made official a few weeks ago, Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen moved quickly to close the signing of 24 – year old Czech international Patrik Schick from RB Leipzig amid interest from Tottenham Hotspur. The player experienced a real incarnation of sorts at the German club having developed a key strike partnership alongside Timo Werner.
Replacing Volland’s output shouldn’t be a monumental task for the Czech forward; both have in their arsenal very identical numbers in terms of output in the 2019/20 Bundesliga season- 10 goals apiece. This tactical analysis in the form of a scout report would look to analyze Patrick Schick’s player profile, his role at his former club Leipzig and what he would be bringing to the table at Bayer Leverkusen in the upcoming season under manager Peter Bosz’s tactics.
Player profile and role at RB Leipzig
A towering figure manning the offensive lines of his team, Patrik Schick stands at 6 feet 1 inch tall. He is a dynamic and technically astute forward with one of his stands out assets being aerial threat given his huge frame. At Leipzig, the Czech forward was deployed in the traditional 3-5-2 (used 27%) which morphed into a 4-4-2 (used 17%) throughout last season under manager Julian Nagelsmann’s system where he developed a formidable partnership alongside Timo Werner in a two-man attack. Nagelsmann’s inclination to implement a two-pronged reaped benefits; with Werner being the primary forward alongside either Christopher Nkunku, Youssef Poulsen, or Schick as the supporting man. Schick netted 10 times and assisted one goal, second in the team’s scoring charts translating to a 12.1% percentage of total goals scored by the club last season in the Bundesliga and 17th overall in the league.
Schick generally likes to operate in a more central role or to the right-hand side as the Werner moves more in the left half-spaces. A more clear depiction of his role can be explored by looking at his heatmap from the 2019/20 Bundesliga season as shown below.
The 24- year old is seamless in transitions and is able to operate off Werner either just behind him or to his right. He displays good horizontal movement to both receive and link-up play in the final third of the pitch. Another thing one can notice from the heatmap is his ability to drift centrally within the box to have a shot on goal. Schick is tactically flexible on most occasions but prefers to operate in a two-man attack. His other stand out attributes includes space-creation, technical ability, great first touch, and positional awareness. Looking at Lepizig’s average formation from the champions league tie against Tottenham Hotspur, his role can be made more clear. We can see how he likes operating off Werner, placed just behind him with the two fullbacks high up the pitch. In the other picture, Schick is stationed right alongside Werner, showing is usual positioning at Leipzig.
Patrick Schick’s contribution in terms of output like mentioned earlier has been only second best to Timo Werner, both contributing 38 goals out off Leipzig’s 81 total in the Bundesliga last season, close to 47%, meaning that the pair have added just a little short of half the goals scored by the club. With almost 0.69 goals per game, he is ranked 5th in the Bundesliga along with an xG of 4.0, placing him 8th overall. Schick is a very complete forward and loves having the ball to his feet in order to convert the situation into shooting opportunities. He is also ranked 8th in the league for shots per 90 with almost 3.4 shots per game. The below two images show the regions on the pitch from where Schick traditionally places his shots.
One of his biggest assets during an attacking sequence is his first touch and usually follows that up with either a dribble, pass, or a shot depending on where he is situated on the pitch. Schick is a classic target man; he is dominant in the air and is able to score from a range of areas and situations on the pitch. He would rarely choose to drive forward with the ball and prefers to lay it off to either Werner or Sabitzer making vertical runs into the box. His ball control allows for smooth receiving as well. Below we see an occasion that highlights his willingness to create goal-scoring opportunities outside the penalty area. He is known to take up positions between the penalty spot and the edge of the six-yard box, slipping in between the last line of defense and having a shot on goal.
Given his massive frame, Schick proves to be a great asset as an aerial threat, which perhaps sets him apart from Werner. This makes him even more vital on set pieces and as a target man. He is able to retain possession when a long ball is played as part of the build-up and can successfully lay it off to a supporting player in midfield. He averages close to 7.1 aerial duels per game with a success rate of 53.1%.
The young forward is capable of utilizing both his physical and technical attributes and is known for his quick acceleration and agility, which comes as a surprise given his height. He exploits this to the fullest during counterattacks; he can drive forward with the ball threatening the defensive lines or even make an incisive run inside the box when receiving a ball providing for effective combinational play too. As alluded to above, he attempts 2.85 dribbles per match and completes 1.39 of those with just under a 50% accuracy.
Nagelsmann’s offensive system focuses majorly on the forward-thinking players like Sabitzer, Poulsen/Nkunku, Forsberg, and building play around the center forward – Timo Werner. This involves combination play, quick vertical runs, and switches in play usually in the half-spaces and the central lanes.
As mentioned earlier, Schick would usually play off of Werner; meaning that he would often assume a more central role acts to act as the linker of an attack between midfielders and the outlet- Werner who is positioned on the left in the last line of defense. He is equally suited to be able to drop deep and combine play with the midfielders and ultimately be on the receiving end of through passes from his teammates. RB Leipzig mainly rely on penetrating the opposition blocks with through passes and sometimes the occasional cross from wide areas. In both these cases, Schick proves to be a crucial player.
Finding space and playing quick passes was a major part of the system used at RB Leipzig, and it played to Schick’s strengths. He averages 0.9 Passes into the final third with an accuracy of 68% per 90 minutes. Further, he completes 1.25 key passes as well as 0.42 passes into the penalty area per game. These are fair indications that Schick is capable of breaking stubborn defensive lines as well.
As alluded to earlier on in this section, Schick thrives in the presence of Werner in an attacking duo and would be able to show his best colours in this setup. Let’s take a closer look at how the attacking pair benefit Nagelsmann’s attack and how Werner compliments Schick so efficiently. With both on the pitch, Timo Werner prefers to attack the defense with from the left-hand side making use of his pace and dribbling ability, with an aim to run in behind the backline. This occupies a number of defenders on the left, which leaves ample space for Schick positioned centrally to make a smart run behind the opposition line, and ultimately drill in a potential cross or pass. This set up has done tremendous good for the 24-year old forward.
Schick at Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen under Peter Bosz have shown their tactical flexibility and a solid sense of discipline in their structure throughout last season. Something that would play to Schick’s strengths at his new club is the fact that Bosz allows his players varying levels of freedom to operate in their own space and venture outside of it. For instance, a central midfielder sometimes advances forward, wingers such as Bailey or Diabey can be made to stay wide to complement a two-man attack alongside Schick to allow him to regain his role as a target man and score from crosses and passes played inside the box. It remains to be seen what role Bosz would allow Schick to operate in – either a sole striker, a target man, or in a duo.
Leverkusen prefer choking their opponents with quick switches in play, one-twos and a large amount of through balls in the center and half spaces predominantly when progressing into the final third. This largely boils down to the great passing range of their players and would suit Schick brilliantly. His height would allow him to lay off the ball at times when a vertical ball is aimed at him, continuing play.
The Czech is however brought in for one primary task – as a replacement for Kevin Volland that departed to Monaco and provide competition with Lucas Alario, the other number 9. Statistically speaking, there isn’t much to take away from both the players in terms of their output last season – both having netted 10 times with Volland providing 6 assists as opposed to Schick’s 1.
Bayer Leverkusen are an intense pressing side and their pressing game is very unorganized at times, so it remains to be seen how Schick would fit in that regard- his pressing game still has a huge scope of improvement and at RB Leipzig this was more left for the likes of Werner and the others. Another cause for concern is how well he would take to a system change if Bosz opts for his a sole striker, i.e something against his preference to play in a two. Schick isn’t the very best at controlling the ball either, he prefers to either shoot or head the ball depending on the situation at play, so making him involved more in build-up where he is required to dribble is liable to be counterproductive. Likewise, his finishing and conversion rate also has a huge scope for improvement.
Patrik Schick has been a great addition to the squad for Bayer Leverkusen coming in as a direct replacement for Kevin Volland. Still only 24, the young Czech has much to learn and progress in his game if he wants to make it at the very top and this analysis has proven that he does possess a solid mold of a striker that can flourish under Peter Bosz’s all attacking system if utilized well. Schick’s breakout season at Sampdoria earned him a move to Serie A rivals AS Roma but proved to be an underwhelming stint for the striker. With the recent reincarnation at RB Leipzig behind him, the way is only upwards now for Schick in the near future.