As we head into final week of the regular MLS season, play-off places are still up for grabs. LA Galaxy can leapfrog Real Salt Lake in the west, whereas, in the east, Columbus Crew will be looking for a win that keeps Montreal Impact out of the top six.
Although they had a tough start to 2018, Montreal’s form improved dramatically. Very much thanks to Ignacio Piatti.
Since moving to the Impact in 2014, Piatti has proved to be indispensable and that continued to be the case this season. Scoring 16 and assisting 11 goals so far this season, the 33-year-old left winger is simply a cut above.
But what makes him so different and how can he take Montreal to the play-offs this weekend? This tactical analysis of his game aims to tell you just that.
Energy and Endeavour
With those aforementioned figures, it’s easy to say that’s all he brings to Remi Garde’s side. However, when you watch Piatti play, it’s clear that he isn’t just the club captain because he’s so prolific in attack.
When out of possession, he goes to great efforts to pressurise the opposition, win the ball back for his team and kill opposition attacks.
This was on show when Montreal hosted fellow countrymen Toronto FC on the weekend:
This aspect of Piatti’s game can be overshadowed by his goal contributions, but it shouldn’t be. This could be the difference between whether Montreal’s season ends this weekend or not. Also, with him setting the example, it gives those around him an incentive to follow suit, especially with him being 33-years-old.
Awareness & Clinical Finishing
However, being the joint-fifth top scorer in MLS this season, Piatti’s goals are also very important.
Whether they’re from the spot, off his right or left foot, he has an incredible scoring rate for a player of his age. What gets the Argentinian so many goals is his intelligence and awareness when his team is attacking.
Rather than being the most direct player on the pitch, many of his goals come from taking up good spaces, as seen against the current Supporters Shield leaders Atlanta United:
However, many players in this position under pressure from three defenders may not cope as well, so his technical ability and concentration should be commended highly.
What is also notable is that this goal was scored off his so-called weaker foot. That two-footedness can go a long way in keeping defences guessing and has taken far already this season, but it’ll be even better for the Canadian’s if he showcases that against New England this weekend.
With 11 assists this season, Piatti is a threat on all fronts in attack. However, the threat he poses is varied which is also very important.
Although he’s positioned mostly on the left wing, he’s allowed to roam which pays its dividends as seen below:
This intricacy is a great aspect of Piatti’s play. Not only is it incredibly hard to defend but it opens up spaces for his teammates to take advantage of.
Creativity: The ‘Quarter Back’
It’s not just in the box where Piatti excels, however. An intelligent player, he also understands when to drop back and affect the game from deep.
This aspect of Piatti’s game, his work off the ball when his team are in possession, goes very much under the radar. With this, we see how much of a forward thinker he is and how that sets him apart from other players.
This is something we’ve seen with older players like Steven Gerrard at Liverpool. Rather than bombing forward all the time, they look to control the game from further back where they have more options and time on the ball.
With Piatti being a winger, it’ll also be hard for him to be picked up so this could be a real method of attack that Montreal could consider.
What makes the difference with Ignacio Piatti is the variety in his game. Yes, he’s a great attacking outlet but he offers a lot more than just goals.
When out of possession his pressing can help prevent goals but also set Montreal on attacks when successful. The variation in his creative play is also a great asset. Making him very unpredictable, this is key for attacking players across the world.
Over the course of this season, Piatti has been Montreal’s main man. Whether that’ll continue this weekend, so they clinch an MLS Cup Play-off place, we’ll just have to wait and see.