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This post originally featured on our world football analysis sister site, totalfootballanalysis.com.

At the turn of the New Year, LA Galaxy announced Guillermo Barros Schelotto as their new manager. He joins Frank de Boer as one of the most high profile managerial signings this offseason. Schelotto joins Galaxy after losing out in that famous 2018 Copa Libertadores final vs River Plate.

Despite that disappointment, the MLS legend’s appointment should excite LA Galaxy fans. we’ll tell you why in this tactical analysis.

Managerial history

Schelotto is a young but experienced manager. The 45-year-old began managing in 2012, a year after retiring. His first job came at Lanus from a midtable club to one which finished in the top four in all but one of the seasons he was there. With LA Galaxy missing out on the MLS play-offs for two straight years, this experience could be vital in taking them back up the Western Conference.

After problems off the field meant he would only be Palermo manager for a month, he returned to Boca Juniors, where he spent ten years as a player.

Even though he left Boca in heartbreak last month, his time there as a manager was successful. In his first two seasons at the club, he handled the pressure well and won back-to-back league titles. However, it didn’t look like that would be the case this season as Boca remain outside the top four.

Furthermore, what makes Schelotto a significant acquisition is that he has MLS experience. From 2007-2010, he played under the late LA Galaxy manager Sigi Schmit. In those three years, Schelotto was instrumental to the side, winning the MLS Supporters Shield twice as winning the MLS Cup and MLS MVP in 2008. So it’s clear that he knows how to win in this league.

Style of play: Attacking

Coming from Boca, Schelotto’s style is attacking, yet quite old school in the freedom he gives his forward players. Typically they aren’t forced into specific roles, however, there is a recognisable style.

In his two-and-a-half seasons at Boca, Schelotto primarily set them out in a 4-3-3. In his two full seasons, Schelotto used a 4-3-3, 46% of the time in 2016/17 and 42% in 2017/18 according to wyscout.

The midfield was made of two attacking midfielders anchored by a holding midfielder. The frontline consisted of a striker and unpredictable wingers who could cut in and play the traditional role. This allowed Boca to cut through teams centrally before exposing them out wide. A move that is demonstrated below.

MLS 2019: Guillermo Barros Schelotto LA Galaxy Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here, we see Boca’s 4-3-3 shape as explained before. However, the key is the two advanced midfielders. They occupy the half-space together which leaves their opponents vulnerable.
MLS 2019: Guillermo Barros Schelotto LA Galaxy Tactical Analysis Statistics
The ball is played in between the lines. With Boca’s central positioning, their opponents are forced to close in on the ball. This creates space for Boca’s frontline as seen above.
MLS 2019: Guillermo Barros Schelotto LA Galaxy Tactical Analysis Statistics
Now that Boca’s striker’s feet, their opponent’s backline is incredibly narrow. This leaves their right winger in acres of space.
MLS 2019: Guillermo Barros Schelotto LA Galaxy Tactical Analysis Statistics
The winger has time and space to fire home. However, with the defence horribly out of shape, it’s important to note that this gave the winger two options. The shot or the square ball to his onrushing striker.

Here, we see how incisive Boca could be under Schelotto. This is where they were able to attack at their best. When attacking like this, they were able to progress upfield naturally. Furthermore, there was always an available option. This is something they lacked against River Plate in the Copa Libertadores where a lot of their play was through the wings.

Style of play: Defending

However, as everyone knows, its what’s done off the ball that counts. Last season despite having Zlatan Ibrahimovic star up front, the Galaxy’s defence let them down. In a season where playoffs are a must, it’s imperative they improve defensively.

This is something that Schelotto, a man who has rebuilt teams and won titles, should be able to do. The best way he could go about this is by using a mixture of a press and a mid-block. This can be seen below from his Boca side.

MLS 2019: Guillermo Barros Schelotto LA Galaxy Tactical Analysis Statistics
Here, Cruzeiro are looking to build from the back. Boca’s striker goes to press. A regular sight in modern football. However, although the advanced centre midfielders push up, they hold their positions.
MLS 2019: Guillermo Barros Schelotto LA Galaxy Tactical Analysis Statistics
This changes their 4-3-3 into a 4-1-4-1. Now, Boca are able to set up traps. They don’t mark tightly, but close enough that if the ball is played in, they can anticipate it and apply pressure in the middle third.
MLS 2019: Guillermo Barros Schelotto LA Galaxy Tactical Analysis Statistics
The player on the ball sees this and tries to pass long. However, Boca’s right back intercepts and puts Schelotto’s side on the front foot.
MLS 2019: Guillermo Barros Schelotto LA Galaxy Tactical Analysis Statistics
The freedom we discussed earlier is then evident here. The right-back lays the ball off but continues his run. He finds himself in the frontline where he is utilised as seen in the image above.

With the challenges the MLS brings, this could be a very effective tactic. Especially when looking at the heat levels games are played at as well as the travel they get through. Rather than implementing a full press which we saw drain New York Red Bulls in the 2018 playoffs, this could be much more efficient.

How will that fit with LA Galaxy?

There is no guarantee that Schelotto’s 4-3-3 will be the perfect fit. Although people have highlighted it could free players like Romain Allessendrini, it has also brought debate as to whether Ibrahimovic or Ola Kamara would take the lead up front.

However, I see this system as something Kamara can shine in whether he is central or wide. It’s most likely that Ibrahimovic will play centrally but Kamara is quick and decisive enough to play on the wings.

Defensively should be a simpler transition. This doesn’t require specific skill sets, just the ability to carry out a task.

Youth development

Another reason that LA Galaxy fans should be encouraged by Schelotto’s arrival is youth development. This is where his previous MLS experience helps alongside his managerial experience.

Spending three years in the league, he’ll have a good knowledge of how the draft works. Also, he will know what it takes for a young player to break into MLS.

Furthermore, as a manager, he already has a good track record with developing youth. In his final season at Lanus, he signed Miguel Almiron. A player who has since gone on to take the MLS by storm.

However, at Boca, he showed over a period of time that he can trust young players and allow them to flourish. The main example of this is Christian Pavon. The 22-year-old, established himself as one of Schelotto’s men very early on, playing 30 games, scoring nine and assisting nine goals in the manager’s first season. He has since gone on to impress further and featured at last summer’s World Cup.

Should Schelotto find a young talent he likes at LA Galaxy, don’t be surprised to see him get some MLS minutes.


Overall, this looks to be a very astute signing by LA Galaxy. In Schelotto they have a manager who knows how to win, knows how to build teams and is able to nurture homegrown talent. With the club having gone through a difficult few years, he could be the man to help them challenge again.

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