Lewis Fiorini: analysing his attacking qualities

I might have upset a few people by not talking about this earlier, but this piece is fully committed to Lewis Fiorini. The young midfielder plays for NAC Breda at the moment and is on loan from Manchester City. NAC Breda is battling for the direct promotion places at the moment and the end of the season will be very interesting for the club, but as well for Lewis Fiorini. NAC Breda is a club with the potential to be a top-10 Eredivisie side, but since they play in the second tier, the pressure is immense and it’s a good learning ground for a loanees.

In this article I will focus on the data of Lewis Fiorini in the final phase of the attack. I will look at his passes and shots in the final third, and see how he contributes to the end product.

Profile

  • Nationality: Scottish/English
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 17/05/2002
  • Current club: NAC Breda (L)
  • Career: Manchester City (Y), Manchester City U23
  • Position: Central midfielder
  • Secondary position: Attacking midfielder
  • Preferred foot: Right

Data analysis

Before I go into the actual data analysis and visualisations, I wanted to explain which data I’ve been using. All the data I’ve collected has gone through Wyscout and I have made a selection of all midfielders playing in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie/Eerste Divisie. The reason why I did this, is because of the fact that midfielders in this league tend to play on different positions with different roles. Therefore a player can play as a defensive midfielder one game, but play as a central midfielder the next – that’s why I made the decision to look at all midfielders.

I have been looking at players who have played more than 900 minutes in the 2020-2021 season and every player under this amount of minutes, will not be included. There are a few players that play for AZ Alkmaar, Ajax, FC Utrecht or PSV. These players are included, but some of them have also played games for the senior side and that’s important to take into consideration.

The analysis is made on the data available on the 2nd of April, unless noted differently – but in most data analysed here, the game against Go Ahead Eagles of last weekend has not been included.

Passing
I’m not looking at his actual numbers here per metric, but looking at the percentile ranks: how well does he perform in the key passing compared to other players in this specific league. Looking at averages of the league can tell me more than just looking at the outliers or compare Fiorini to his teammates. As you can see in the image below, Ive made a comparison in bars in percentile ranks. There are 158 players in this dataset with at least 900 minutes including Fiorini.

If we look at the percentile ranks for key passing we can see some interesting things. He scores average for the following metrics: assists per 90, key passes per 90, passes to final third per 90 and through passes per 90. This can be explained by the fact that he often comes in the position to either shoot himself or provide the pass that leads to an assists. As you can see he scores quite high with the second assists per 90 and the passes to penalty area per 90.

A few things are below average as you can see in the graph above: progressive passes per 90, smart passes per 90 and expected assists per 90. These are metrics he might need to improve on, but that’s always depending on the position he assumes within the squad and the way the team plays. He is a central midfielder in a side that is competing for direct promotion to the Eredivisie and you would expect him to play high up the opponent’s half. He should have a higher expected assists per 90, but the progressive passes per 90 don’t really correspond with that story.

Above you see a video of the game of NAC Breda against FC Dordrecht. What immediately stands out is the fact that Fiorini gets the ball in the defensive third, moves into the middle third and spots Bilate – he provides a through ball to get Bilate in a 1v1 with the keeper.

There are two things that are done well by the player. The pass is of good quality and translates ball possession into a high-quality chance. The second thing is to play under pressure. Fiorini has three players of FC Dordrecht who are concerned with dispossessing him, but he can make the pass anyway.

In the above situation, the through pass become an assists for Bilate and NAC Breda manages to score a goal. This time from the break after a set-piece. He gets the ball and has space, and time to wait and give the pass to Bilate’s run. What he does wel is that he goes wide and exploit the fact that Almere City has the central zones covered – he then provides a through ball that is of such quality, that he can give Bilate an excellent opportunity to score a goal.

I will now dive into his attacking numbers in terms of goal contribution. In the visual below you can see in different beeswarm plots, how the central midfielders performs in comparison to his colleagues in the Eerste Divisie.

Assists
In the graph below you can see how well Lewis Fiorini is doing in the Eerste Divisie. I’ve compared him to players from SC Cambuur – as they are the league leaders and arguably the best team in the league. The players I’ve compared are those with the same position/role as Fiorini has.

If we look at the scatterplot above, we can see that the SC Cambuur players are absolutely outstanding, and Fiorini seems quite average in his assists and expected assists – as we already saw in the percentile ranks above. If we look at the total xA of Fiorini this season, this is a xA of 1,84 with a total number of assists of 2.

In the video above you see NAC Breda’s away game at Excelsior. It’s the second assists of Fiorini in this season so far, and although the we have talked about his through balls a lot, here we can see that he can deliver a cross into the box as well. Kaj de Rooij makes the most of it and scores after an excellent cross.

Shooting
His shot numbers are quite okay. He has shot 30 times in the Dutch Eredivisie of which 33,3% were on target. Of those 30 shots, 4 goals were scored with an xG of 2,39. He has an average of 1,44 shots per game in the 2020-2021 season with NAC Breda. This includes the game against with Go Ahead Eagles of last weekend.

Goals

In the graph above you can see how well Lewis Fiorini is doing in the Eerste Divisie in terms of goals. I’ve compared him to players from SC Cambuur – as they are the league leaders and arguably the best team in the league. The players I’ve compared are those with the same position/role as Fiorini has.

As you can see, Fiorini scored above average in the goals per 90, but scored a little below average in the xG per 90 for midfielders in the Eerste Divisie. In comparison with this expected assists and assist, he does better in this department. He has a total of 2,39 xG and has scored 4 goals so far in the Eerste Divisie.

In the videos below you can see the 4 goals scored by Lewis Fiorini during the 2020-2021 season and they show a particular set of skills from the young player.

What we can see in the videos above is that Fiorini likes to get in the so-called zone 14 and shoot from there. Three of his four goals come from that type of situation. If he has space to move up in the final third and gets time in the central zones, he will go for the shot and try to score. He has a very decent right foot and all of his goals have been scored with that foot.

Final thoughts
It’s worth noting that Lewis Fiorini often gives the ball before the assist – the second assists – and he does very well in that metric, as we have seen above in the percentile ranks.

I would say that it’s an impressive season for the young player. He came into a club with big potential and that deserves to be in the Eredivisie when you look at their history. This means a lot of pressure from the club and fans. Fiorini has dealt with that well and translates his abilities onto the pitch. If we look at these attacking numbers, they definitely will need to go up in the future – to make a bigger impact on the pitch. But with his key passing on the pitch, he can show at times what an exciting talent he is and will definitely play in higher leagues in the future.

Data: Wyscout
Video: Wyscout
Telestration in video: Metrica Play

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