Diego Castro made the switch from Getafe CF to Perth Glory FC in 2015. He arrived in Perth with a wealth of experience and joined as an international marquee player. He spent a majority of this career in Spain’s premier football competition, La Liga, and left when his contract at Getafe expired. In a four-year spell at his previous club, he represented them 129 times and scored 18 times, which includes scoring against the giants, Real Madrid.
Castro was named the team captain before the start of the 2018-19 season. In 110 appearances, he has scored 43 goals and assisted 26 times. This scout report will give a tactical analysis of his performance against the Central Coast Mariners. This analysis will show you how his abilities have enhanced the performances of Perth and the tactics under which the winger has been playing.
This season, Castro has mainly played as an attacking midfielder and as a left-winger. His preferred foot is right. The above heat map shows the positioning of Castro on the field. He usually operates in the middle third and final third because those are the regions where he is able to show his creativity. Castro likes to move into channels, drop in the midfield, run with the ball often and dribble past players repeatedly, to create space and chances for his teammates. He is that player for Perth, who leads the attacks in such a way that his teammates can score and controls the flow of the team’s offensive play. In the Hyundai A-League, Castro has started 18 matches, scored 4 goals and assisted 7 times.
The “Wide Trequartista”
In possession, Tony Popovic’s Perth uses a 3-4-2-1 formation, and when without possession of the ball, they switch to a 3-4-3 or 5-2-3. Most of the time, Castro starts on the left side of the front three. Castro is not your traditional or modern winger as he is usually deployed as a wide withdrawn forward, not pushing as far forward as the team’s furthest attacker. He likes to link play between the midfielders and forwards, sometimes operating between the opposition’s lines. Popovic has given him the license to free-roam all over the pitch. In this part of the tactical analysis, we will see how Popovic has used Castro as a “Wide Trequartista” to make most of the abilities he possesses.
As you can see here, Castro drops deep to provide a passing option to the left wing-back James Meredith. He drags the opposition’s right full-back out from the defence line. This way, he can create space and link-up play between the midfielders and forwards through his movement. This is natural for Castro, as he is a player who is comfortable when receiving the ball to feet and he can hold the ball up effectively.
It’s difficult to track Castro because of his movement. Defenders are always in two minds, whether they should follow him into deeper positions or pass him on to be marked by midfielders. In the above picture, you can see Castro has positioned himself closer to the touchlines. Occasionally, he acts as a wide playmaker. This forces the opposition full-back to guard him, leaving a huge gap between the centre-back and full-back. He starts from deep positions, allowing his teammates to push forward. He looks to play angled through-balls into the box from wide positions or get into the final third by playing one-twos with other players.
Castro’s intelligent movement in the middle third and final third has become the key to unlocking the opposition’s defence for Perth. His ability to pick the ball up by dropping into the centre of the pitch and work the ball forward with urgency, all the while keeping up with the play is what makes him a great asset to his team. In the above image, you can see Castro dropping and drifting into the centre of the pitch, forces the opposition midfielder to take care of him. This leaves acres of space on the left and, Meredith in a 1 v 1 situation with the opposition full-back.
In the above image, you can see him drop into the hole between the opposition’s defence and midfield. Here, Castro is playing the role of a roaming playmaker. As he moves into the final-third, he makes available for a pass in between the lines. His aim is to turn and exploit the space in between the defenders by playing a through-ball in the path of his marauding attackers. Because of his excellent technical attributes, he can stamp his authority on the game.
Defensive contributions & pressing
Popovic instructed Castro to only press the opposition centre-back, which leaves the full-back in an open space. The veteran winger doesn’t significantly press with high intensity. As you can see here, he likes to hold his position. Nobody expects him to make too many tackles and press the opposition defenders just like the rest. He is the primary source of creativity for the team. The rest of the team carries him when defending but uses him as the major outlet while they transition from defence to attack.
The veteran winger provides defensive cover to the wing-back by working diligently to reduce the threat posed by the opponents on his flank. He always takes up very good defensive positions on the pitch and provides another body in front of the defensive line. In the above image, he is providing cover to Meredith who is in a 1 v 1 situation with the opposition winger. Thus, Castro has cut out the option for the opposition winger to pass back and forced him to take on Meredith.
Castro’s primary job defensively is to get behind the ball. Here, you can see Castro pressing the goal-keeper from outside to in, to stop the attack before it even begins. He is using his shadow to cover the right centre-back to cut out the passing option. This is a pressing trap set-up by Perth for the goalkeeper, forcing him to either play a risky pass to the midfielder or play a long ball to where they want him to. This is an effective pressing tactic used by Popovic to regain possession of the ball high up the pitch.
Transition to attack
During transitions from the right side of the defence to attack, Castro tends to move to the centre. As you can see here, he attracts a defender and leaves a large space in the defence. The other attackers can now attack the space. This movement by Castro also allows Meredith to move forward on the left flank. In situations like these, he becomes a pivot to the team as they can move around him. Because of Castro’s excellent technical and mental skills, he looks to craft out chances for his forwards alongside being a presence in the box to supplement the attack.
Many times, when Perth was transitioning from the left side of the defence to attack, we could see Castro hugging the sideline. In the above image, you can see that he started out wide and then moved infield with the ball. He simply looks to drift around looking for space. To stop Castro, the opposition had to overload the flank with more men. So, to release the pressure, Castro change the point of attack by switching the ball to the other flank where Ivan Franjic is left unmarked in acres of space. Castro definitely has the quality to create something out of nothing.
Creativity in the final-third
Castro is a player who dictates the attacking play of Perth and links up with the forwards, midfielders, and wing-backs. By using his vision and skills completely, he can get into the hole which enables him to score and create goals away from the attention of the opposition defenders. In this game against the Mariners, he scored a goal and gave an assist. He also made 4 key passes in the match, which shows his excellent vision and confidence in keeping possession. Let’s have a look at a few of the goal-scoring chances he created in the game.
In the above instance, Castro got himself into the hole between the opposition midfield and defence. He dribbled past one centre-back and forced the other one to commit forward, leaving an enormous gap between the full-backs. Thus, Castro played a perfect through-ball to Bruno Fornaroli, who formerly played for U.C. Sampdoria in the Serie A in the gap. Fornaroli got a touch on the ball but could not beat the keeper with that. This shows the creative output he can offer when given complete freedom to move to any space.
In the above situation, Castro and Fornaroli pressed the opposition centre-backs hence, forcing them to play back to the keeper. The keeper then played the ball to the right centre-back who slipped right after receiving the pass. Castro took advantage of the situation and snatched the ball away. He then squared it to Fornaroli, who finished in style. Mariners were 2-0 down in the game and still, Perth didn’t allow them to build from the back. The Perth forwards pressed the opposition centre-backs and goal-keeper throughout the game. Finally, they got their reward for the work ethic.
As you can see here, Castro carried the ball from the middle third to the top of the opposition’s box. He played a perfect through-ball in the path of Fornaroli, who placed his shot in the left bottom corner. A great save by the opposition goal-keeper denied Perth. a third goal in the game. In the second half, the “Wide Trequartista” started playing more central. He acted as a supporting striker and an almost attacking midfielder. His priority was to feed the forwards and get into the box regularly.
The veteran winger is one of the many players, who moved from Europe when nearing the end of their careers. Castro has been fantastic for Perth since joining them in 2015. He’s been an ornament to the game, probably the best player in the league. Castro is a typical “trequartista” who plays as a withdrawn forward or as an attacking midfielder. He has the finishing ability of a traditional striker which combines the creativity and vision of a playmaker. Castro is very versatile, which means he can play in any of the front three positions deployed in Popovic’s 3-4-3. Despite being 38, he possesses impressive statistics. Perth will find it difficult to keep hold of him as his contract expires in 2021. His physical shape, desire, and hunger for the game will decide whether or not he continues to play.