bundesliga

Paco Alcacer: A tactical analysis of the Borussia Dortmund striker's two-goal performance against Augsburg

Having scored a remarkable 18 Bundesliga goals from just 11 starts and 15 substitute appearances for Borussia Dortmund, Paco Alcacer's first season in Germany was an unequivocal success.

While pleased with his output, Alcacer, who finished second in the scoring charts, still wasn't happy that he spent more time on the bench than he would've liked.

"I do not like to sit on the bench because I'm a very ambitious person," the 25-year-old Spain international asserted.

"I'm a happy, funny person, but when I'm sitting on the bench, I do not like anything anymore, then I'm a complicated guy, which I do not like."

Considering Alcacer scored the most goals per 90 minutes among players to have accrued at least 1000 minutes (1.26), and ranked in the top five for shots per 90 mins (3.49) and conversion rate (36 per cent), his point of view was understandable.

Paco-man bites again

Determined to make a starting berth his own for the 2019/20 campaign and to help Dortmund become champions after their second-placed finish last time around, Alcacer duly hit the ground running in their season opener.

Scoring a brace and supplying an assist, Alcacer played an instrumental role in his team's scintillating 5-1 win over Augsburg, as he vindicated Lucien Favre's decision to hand him a start.

Putting in a shift that encapsulated what a dangerous forward he is, his quality shone through as the Augsburg backline struggled to come up with solutions to stop him.

Raw instinct

An intelligent mover, the 25-year-old constantly asked questions of his opposition by taking up excellent positions.

Instinctive in and around the box, and a master at reading the play and picking up the ball's trajectory, he timed and directed his runs superbly to provide an option for his teammates, whilst tailoring his runs accordingly to get into promising areas.

By frequently looking up and surveying the pitch, he was also able to readily identify the position of teammates and opponents, as well as any vacant spaces.

Alcacer using head scans effectively - 2019 DFL

Defender's nightmare

In turn, this meant he knew whether to burst forward to get ahead of his man, hold his run as the defence dropped deep or peel off the shoulder of his man.

Crafty positioning to find room to shoot - 2019 DFL

Right place, right time

Indeed, both of his goals are testament to his poaching prowess, with his second particularly impressive in how he hung back so he had the freedom to shoot.

Excellent positioning prior to his second goal - 2019 DFL

One step ahead

The way he exploited the blindside of his man deserves mention, too, for this allowed him to gain an advantage over his more awkwardly oriented marker to latch onto through balls, crosses or cutbacks whilst still facing the opposition goal.

Smart blindside movement in behind - 2019 DFL

Pass and move

Furthermore, when not venturing in behind or into the box, Alcacer showed how competently he can link play with his back to goal.

Picking his moments when to check towards the ball carrier, he found space effectively and provided a good vertical option.

Aside from combining nicely with his fellow attackers using some lovely flicks and one-touch passing, his dropping off also saw him draw a defender out to generate space within the Augsburg backline.

Great job linking play after dropping deep - 2019 DFL

Always on the move

Smart positioning between the lines to help link attacks - 2019 DFL

Focal point

This element of his game served his team well when they were launching counter-attacks as his high positioning saw him act as most advanced outlet - to draw a marker, hold the play up or carry the ball himself.

Alcacer's good movement key to Dortmund's counter attacks - 2019 DFL

The decoy

By pinning and drawing one or more of of opponents, his spatial awareness created openings all over the final third.

Moreover, his subtle interchanges and complementary understanding with the rest of the Dortmund attack persistently altered defenders' reference points to place doubt in their minds as to who they should mark.

Positional nous to pin two markers - 2019 DFL

Defenders in his pocket - again!

Nifty run into the box draws both centre backs to free up Marco Reus - 2019 DFL

Clinical

Supplementing astute movemet with his clinical finishing, the prolific marksman once again made the most of the opportunities presented to him.

Despite only having an Expected Goals (xG) of 0.89, he showcased his uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time by scoring twice.

The first effort saw him respond rapidly to the rebound off Augsburg goalkeeper, Tomas Koubek, to prod the ball home with his left foot following an incisive run into area. For his second, Alcacer's superb finish using the inside of his right foot offered a masterclass in precision and execution.

Wicked reactions and finish for his first goal - 2019 DFL

A precision finisher

Expertly placed finish for his second goal - 2019 DFL

A team player

The Spaniard's assist for Dortmund's third, meanwhile, illustrated his quick thinking and presence of mind. Initially shaping to shoot, he then spotted Marco Reus in his peripheral vision off to his left and laid back a delicate pass into his path.

Alcacer's intuitive assist - 2019 DFL

Off the training ground

Another unheralded way Alcacer impacted proceedings was from set-pieces.

Whenever Dortmund had a corner, he would start in the middle of the box then make runs beyond the front post. The idea behind this was to either draw multiple markers away from the centre to create room for the likes of defenders Mats Hummels and Manuel Akanji to attack or to flick the ball on.

Although this tactic did not directly lead to a goal, it did contribute to numerous promising passages.

Clever runs to the front post from corners - 2019 DFL

Work rate

Some positives could also be drawn from his defensive output, where he performed his duties as part of the first line of pressure well.

Angling his pressing cleverly to use his cover shadow to block passing lanes behind him, he helped BVB stifle up-field routes for their opponents.

Excellent pressing to block off three passing lanes - 2019 DFL

Diligent

When not aggressively harrying, he settled back into Favre's typically compact mid block, where he shifted laterally, responded well to pressing triggers and positioned himself to close off lanes to Augsburg's midfielders.

Good diagonal pressing to block an option - 2019 DFL

Dortmund's first-choice striker?

The statistics further accentuate his accomplished opening-day exertions.

He fired off three shots, enjoyed six touches inside the box, and completed 16 of his 19 attempted passes, five loose ball pick-ups, two tackles and one interception.

By carrying his brilliant form from the previous campaign and pre-season into the 2019/20 Bundesliga opener, the experienced Alcacer emphatically staked his claim as the man to lead the Dortmund attack.

Listening to Reus' comments on his teammate, whom he shares a terrific relationship with, it's clear how highly regarded Alcacer is.

"He works a lot for the team and is clinical in front of goal," explained the Dortmund captain.

"You can see how much confidence he has. I think he just has to enjoy it, take it all in, keep working hard and stay cool in front of goal."

Uniquely skilled and one of the finest movers and finishers inside the box in Europe, Alcacer looks primed to brush off the tag of 'super-sub' to become Dortmund's undisputed first-choice striker this season.

Edward Stratman