Bruno Fornaroli joined Melbourne City in the 2015/16 season with a not-so-glowing reputation from the Uruguayan club Danubio. He went on to score 51 goals in 73 games for City in four seasons. Fornaroli also won the Hyundai A-League Golden Boot with City in 2015/16 with 23 goals in 27 matches. The marksman completed a switch from City to Perth Glory in May 2019 after cancelling his contract with City. The former Serie A striker is widely acknowledged as one of Hyundai A-League’s greatest ever imports. Fornaroli has also represented the U-17 Uruguay team at the 2003 South American Championship.
This scout report will give a tactical analysis of the tactics under which he plays. It will also provide an analysis of how his experience in South America and Italy has greatly complemented the other attacking players around him.
As you can see from the above heat map, Fornaroli is a typical number “9”. Most of his actions are in the middle-third and final-third, which shows that he also drops to help his team. He has scored 13 goals and assisted 2 times in 26 Hyundai A-League games this season. He is ranked 6th in the top scorers list with a xG of 10.11. Also, Fornaroli has 75 shots which ranks him 6th in the table for most shots. He also possesses a 0.14xG/shot which is only lesser than Jamie Maclaren who has a xG/shot of 0.18. Fornaroli has 3 second assists this season, which places him second, lower than only former West Ham United player Alessandro Diamanti’s 4.
Role in Perth Glory’s setup
Perth nearly missed out on the chance to secure a top-4 finish as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Western United. They finished 6th in the league table and secured a berth in the Finals series. In May 2018, Perth appointed Tony Popovic as the manager.
Perth likes to expand the pitch and make it big enough for Fornaroli to go 1-vs.-1 with a defender. Fornaroli uses his body with his back to the goal either to turn himself or to bring other players into play. Perth likes to keep possession of the ball and play with a lot of flexibility. They adapt according to the opponent’s tactics. As you can see in the above picture, Perth sets up in a 3-4-3 formation while in possession of the ball. Being the focal point of attack for Perth, Fornaroli operates in the centre of the three forwards.
As you can see here, while defending, Perth switches to a 5-4-1 system. The wing-backs tuck in with the three centre-backs to form a back 5. They prefer to play with an organised and compact defence, to cancel out the threat from the centre. Mostly, it’s Fornaroli’s responsibility to mark the opposition’s defensive midfielder or to pin down the centre-backs.
“The Complete Forward”
Fornaroli plays a very peculiar role in Perth which is as “The Complete Forward”. He likes to sit on the shoulder, looking to run onto through balls from his teammates to break the opposition defence line. He also offers help by dropping deep in constructing his team’s moves whenever required. Fornaroli is that kind of player who is always sniffing out opportunities in and around in the final-third. He likes to remain in the central areas. We will now have a look at how Fornaroli makes use of his technical and goal scoring ability and his physicality.
As you can see here, Fornaroli drops into space to play a one-two, the left-back came out of the defence line to close him down. He then makes a forward run into the space left open behind him and quickly receives the ball back there. In this way, Fornaroli helps his team to play one-twos with him to play through a stubborn opposition.
Initially, Perth couldn’t play through Wellington Phoenix with their direct diagonal passes and crosses. Thus, Perth switched their tactics. They started playing one-twos in the middle third because high-speed running and passing and, superior off the ball movement is very hard for defenders to contain.
Once again, Fornaroli plays a one-two pass and takes out the player approaching towards him from his left side. He quickly makes another run into the open space left by the player to receive the ball again. It is a very effective manoeuvre to beat the press from the closest player when performed properly.
Like a modern-day centre forward, Bruno Fornaroli also likes to play with his back to the goal. In the above picture, you can see Fornaroli receiving a pass from former La Liga winger Diego Castro. Then, he makes a half-turn using his low centre of gravity to spin away from the big defender behind him. Eventually, he takes a shot at the goal which the opposition goalkeeper saves. Fornaroli’s ability to turn in a one v one situation keeps the defenders guessing whether he’ll take a shot or pass to someone else.
Fornaroli is a striker who holds a threat all game along. He has the speed and agility to outrun the opposition centre-backs. In the above picture, you can see he is making a run from in between the centre-backs. This gives his team an extra option to play a long ball into his path as he possesses the speed to trouble the opposing team’s defence.
Thus, many a time the opposite team’s coach or manager will make sure there is one more player to provide extra support or cover the space in front of such a speedy striker. Usually, a defensive midfielder of the opposition team is responsible to do so. This limits the opposition’s ability to commit more men forward in attack.
As you can see here, he drops till the centre of the pitch to receive the ball. The right centre-back follows him. This gives his team a numerical superiority in the middle-third and a space to exploit in the opposition back line. If the centre-back didn’t follow, then it would’ve given Fornaroli the space to exploit in front of the opposition defence. The opposition centre-backs have to choose their poison.
When things get tight in the defensive third or middle third for Perth, rather than lurking around the box for scoring opportunities, Fornaroli drops deep to join the midfield in possession. Then, he plays one-twos to help in moving the ball up and opening up space for others to exploit. Thus, Fornaroli plays the role of a “False 9”.
In the above picture, Fornaroli receives a low cross from Castro by a low cross. He dances past three Newcastle Jets defenders to take a shot from his left foot to score the 5th goal of the match for Perth. This season he’s taken 82 shots, averaging 3.15 shots a game. He has had a 50% shooting accuracy with a goal conversion rate of 15.9%. These are very impressive stats for a lone striker. This shows he’s not shy of taking shots at goal. When he’s not able to get at the end of a move, he is equally adept at fashioning chances for himself.
Out of the 82 shots Fornaroli has taken this season, 35 of them have been from outside the penalty box, which is a staggering 42.9%. In the above example, Fornaroli receives the ball at the end of his team’s play outside the box. He cuts inside and shoots with his right towards the far post to score the 4th goal of the game. The opposition defenders have given him too much room and time to take a shot. Fornaroli is not afraid to shoot with either of his feet. Thus, defenders keep guessing as to which side he is going to go and take a shot.
Helps in defence
When Perth is out of possession and their first line of defence gets beaten by the opposite team who were able to progress the ball from defence to midfield. Then, the attackers have to drop back into defence with speed. As you can see here, Perth lost the ball in the final-third. Fornaroli tracks back with speed and can be seen right behind the opponent with the ball. He tackles the ball from behind to stop the player from starting a counter-attack.
There is a high pressure on attackers to play with a high tempo in a match to move from one end to the other. Popovic has instructed his attackers to track back with the opposition team’s player who moves up with the ball. In the above picture, Fornaroli makes a sliding tackle to stop the opposition midfielder who took a long touch to run into space. Fornaroli averages 3.83 successful defensive duels per 90 with a winning percentage of 56.76% which is the highest among the Hyundai A-League strikers. Fornaroli is a very energetic player who has the energy to race back and defend for 90 minutes.
Presence in every team move
Bruno Fornaroli has been successful as a “Complete Forward” for Perth because of his ability to read the game and anticipate the next move of the opposition defenders. Fornaroli doesn’t take more than a couple of touches before shooting at goal. His intelligent movement in the central areas of the pitch helps other players to join the attack or helps him to get at the very end of a team move. He has acquired these killer instincts as a striker by playing all these years in different playing styles. Knowing how to use his back to the goal and how to exploit spaces in between opposition defences are his special traits.
In the above picture, Castro plays a pass to Fornaroli from the left wing meanwhile former EFL wing-back James Meredith makes an underlap. Fornaroli manages to get ahead of the opposition defender by using his body and lays the ball in Meredith’s path. Meredith runs towards the sideline and is brought down by one of the opposition defenders before releasing it. Perth is rewarded a penalty which Neil Kilkenny comfortably places in to the left bottom corner to give them a 2-1 lead.
In the above instance, Fornaroli was left unmarked inside the penalty box. Look how Fornaroli positioned himself away from all opposition defenders inside the opposition box. Three of the opposition defenders were busy with Castro while two of them were marking Joel Chianese. Castro played a simple pass to Fornaroli who slotted the ball into the right bottom corner. Thus, Perth had a comfortable two goal lead against Newcastle Jets.
The above picture is an example which explains us about the significance of Fornaroli’s trademark hold-up play. Fornaroli receives the ball outside the box where the opposition midfielders are watching him and not putting any pressure. They expect a shot from him but he takes time. He waits a few seconds for his teammates to join the attack. Fornaroli plays an outside of the foot chip pass in the path of Kim-Seo Boom who then crosses the ball first time into the box and Nicholas D’Augustino buries a header past the opposition goalkeeper.
In the above instance, Castro had the ball on the left wing and he waited for Fornaroli to get near him. Fornaroli used his back to goal to receive the ball, not allowing the defender who followed him to snatch it. He waited for two seconds and turned while Meredith was marking an underlap into the final-third. Then, Fornaroli played a cheeky pass through the legs of the opposition defender in the path or Meredith. Meredith got on the ball and put in a low cross towards the penalty spot which Chianese failed to get on. He knew where his teammates were and knew how to exploit the space behind the defender who followed him. This tells about the tactical mind of Fornaroli.
Fornaroli is very good at attacking the ball when in the air and angling the ball into the net. He has the knack of judging the flight of the ball and finding that space in between defenders. Fornaroli is only 5’9 because of which he gets bullied by defenders taller than him. His lack of aerial ability has impacted Perth’s reluctance to cross the ball in the air in the final-third. This season his Aerial duels won% has only been a meagre 20.75% and averages to only 2.05 Aerial duels per 90.
Fornaroli operates as a lone striker as part of Perth’s setup. It is very difficult for a lone striker to score many goals. Passes and crosses that get delivered to Fornaroli have to be accurate or else Perth might end up conceding possession which will put the team under pressure. Hence, he averages only 0.5 goals per 90 and possesses a 0.39 xG per 90. Since he doesn’t get much support from midfielders and wingers, he becomes isolated many a time during attacking phases which is the reason for his lack of output in front of the goal.
As you can see in the above image, Fornaroli is all alone against the opposition defenders. He could have moved towards the right flank and offered support to his teammates. This would have created a 3 v 3 situation for Perth. Thus, they could have gotten into the opposition box which would have been a goal scoring chance for Perth.
After arriving from Uruguay, Fornaroli quickly turned into one of the deadliest strikers in the Hyundai A-League. He possesses many cutting-edge qualities. Fornaroli is a striker with speed, agility and technical skills. He’s got a bag full of tricks and his trademark hold-up play has always been a constant. Fornaroli was frozen out in his last season at City. Thus, Popovic gave him a chance at Perth as he fit the profile of the number “9” he desired. The 32-year-old is now getting back to his best as Popovic has found a way for him to start enjoying football again.