How to get the best out of Lisandro Martinez

by | Jun 16, 2024

In this article I will cover:
– Licha’s strengths, weaknesses & traits
– Suitable tactical roles in & out of possession
– Pros & cons of each

Lisandro’s strengths

  1. Build up ability – Positioning sense to show or create lanes for others + close control to recieve, turn & carry
  2. Progression – Passing range & technique to progress into attacking half
  3. Duels once locked – Pressing, intensity & physicality esp on ground

Lisandro’s weaknesses

  1. Defensive coverage – Low span, agility & speed to defend across large distances
  2. Aerial duels – Avoidance of aerial duels & failure when attempted
  3. Aggression – Tendency to lunge, over-press or over-commit to try & win proactively to paper coverage issue

I think strengths are obvious to anyone seeing Licha regularly but let’s talk a bit on weaknesses. His short stature & lack of burst make wide or channel defending a struggle – a reason ETH doesn’t isolate Licha wide at LCB vs opponent attackers by committing our LB to the high press.

Which is why when there are large distances to cover or dribbling attackers to stop, Licha often goes to ground or overcommits in a bid to win the ball proactively & not get forced into a turn-and-run race towards his own goal. It works many times but at other times, it’s costly.

With this understanding of Licha’s profile, I have 2 suggestions for how he can be used long-term to bring out his strengths & limit his weaknesses. The good news is that ETH’s usages of Licha at Ajax & Man Utd also indicate both options. Let’s go over them with match examples.

1. Lisandro as central CB in possession

ETH has many build up patterns but back 3 is common to reach desired 3-1-6 shape. Licha as CCB can avoid channel defending, dictate build up & find attackers via short & long passes. Only issue – defending central transitions/crosses.

Between a LB who tucks in (Blind at Ajax, Shaw here) & a RCB who defends channels, Licha has the cushion to progress the game from CCB. His speed of thought & execution on the ball usually means he’s the one to get us out of our half with a sharp pass even against pressing teams.

Whether it’s incisive ground passes between the lines to CM/CF or switches to winger/FB, Licha has the range to dictate from CCB. But needs composure & positioning to not lunge when oppo dribbler runs at him in transition + handle target men CFs aerially. Which brings me to…

2. Lisandro stepping up to pivot in possession

He has the press-resistance & playmaking power to dictate from midfield. This move also keeps him away from the back 3 in the 3-2 rest defence. His ground duel prowess, pressing & intensity might even be a better fit for pivot 2.

We saw this tried in pre-season like vs Madrid. Licha stepping into pivot makes good use of his ability to carry, switch or play vertical passes to the attackers. It also reduces the pressure to defend channels & aerials. Might even suit Licha’s proactive pressing & ball-winning.

But this has a few issues like the 3 below. Demands a lot from rest of the team to be setup suitably, needs Licha to be composed anyway, requires a suitable DM partner & will require both FBs to tuck in. Might need time, coaching & recruitment to perfect.

I’m expecting “What about inverted LB?” Might work in possession since its similar to 2nd option of dictating from pivot, but out of possession, places Licha at LB vs pacey/dribbley RWs. Inverted FBs like Zinchenko, Dalot, Cancelo & Udogie have the pace for that. Licha doesn’t.

In summary, I think ETH already has the right idea to limit Licha’s gaps & use his strengths in central areas. CCB role is consistent while CB->CM was also attempted in pre-season & game 1 vs Wolves. As better conditions emerge (fitness, buys, confidence) we might see more of it.

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