Analysis of Francisco Trincão 2019/20: A future Barça star?

11 min read

Following the announcement of Trincão to Barça, the Portuguese winger’s name has been on the lips of Culés around the world having signed for the Catalan giants for a fee worth €31 million in January 2020. It seemed a considerable sum of money for someone still short of experience and game time in the top flight of Portuguese football. However, from the day of the announcement to the present, Trincão has been in red hot form and has more than shown why the price tag of €31 million is justified as he looks to become a key player in the future for Barcelona.

The Portuguese winger has been improving with each game plays, he started the season largely on the bench or making substitute appearances but has become a more regular starter for Braga. Despite the moderate amount of minutes under his belt this season, Trincão has scored 8 times with 4 assists resulting in an impressive 0.7 goals and assists per 90 minutes played. (Source: Statified Football). It will be exciting to see if Trincão at Barça is able to hit the ground running in the same fashion.

What position does the Portuguese u21 interntional play?

Trincão is a left-footed right winger who has largely played in 3-4-3 or a 4-3-3 formation. As an inverted winger Trincão starts wide and cuts into central areas when on the ball, allowing the bombing wingback to overlap into the vacated space. He is adept at maintaining width but also enjoys to take-up central areas of the pitch and advance into the penalty area. He can play anywhere along the front 3 as a right winger, false 9 or left winger, though the former is where he has operated the most and looks most comfortable.

Image 1. Narrow front 3, wide full backs.

The above image is a typical shape for Braga, the front 3 narrow with the full backs overlapping, this allows Trincão to play in the half space and gives him options to link up on the flanks or centrally with the rest of the forward line. Some further analysis and detail of his movements and runs will be discussed later in the article.

What does Trincão’s data profile tell us about his style of play and main attributes?
Trincão's data profile
Image 2. Source: (Statified Football)

Trincão’s data profile, provided to us by Statified Football, is seriously impressive. It highlights Trincão as a player who is outperforming his peers and excelling in all but two of the key areas we want to see from a forward. Of course, in relation to the Portuguese league, Braga are a dominant force and with the attacking output and success of their fellow attackers, including Ricardo Horta and Paulinho, we would expect to see Trincão performing well. Nevertheless, the magnitude of his numbers given his age is still very exciting.


Trincão’s stand out asset that sets him apart from others is his dribbling ability, an area which the data proves he excels in. Wingers are by and large assessed and judged on their ability to dominate their individual battles and 1v1 scenarios. They are given a licence to attack with freedom and unsettle defensive structures to create vulnerabilities leading to opportunities to score. Trincão typifies this and is direct in his approach, relentlessly attempting to win his 1v1 battles whether he is front facing, back facing, on the shoulder or the angle. He is most dangerous when running at speed front facing, though the image below shows an example where Trincão is comfortable beating his man back facing. The ability to succeed in a 1v1 in a variety of positions is great to see.

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Image 3. Trincão winning a back facing 1v1 by unexpectedly going down the outside

Trincão is not the strongest player, he is not the same profile as Adama Traoré so his dribbling ability is founded on technique and intelligence. By not relying on physicality he chooses to outmanoeuvre his opponents through quick feet, body feints and outstanding close control. He is so direct and quick with his feet that any attempt to win the ball back leaves the defender helpless.

Being a left footed inverted winger, Trincão has to mix up his play in order to remain unpredictable. When dribbling in tight areas he keeps the ball on the outside toes of his boot which helps to create distance between himself and any shadow tacklers. This also permits him to cut inside or take the ball down the line as quickly as possible and as soon as he sees the defender commit themselves.

This technique is something we have seen Riyad Mahrez perfect, the ability and confidence to take the ball both inside and to the bar line leaving an opponent helpless in the 1v1.

The Portuguese winger is clearly stronger on his left foot but the key is that he is not overly reliant on it and has the quality to still pick his man out with a cross or cut back with the right foot.

Trincão’s straight line speed and speed with the ball over longer distances is not elite in the same way as it was with Arjen Robben but it is the speed and drive into the area in tight situations that makes him so hard to defend against.

Generally if Trincão has something to improve in this department it would be his combination play. At high speeds this is what really sets apart the best in the world with the rest, the ability to still lift your head up and be aware of your teammates while still running at high velocity is the next level to achieve.

The ability to succeed in a 1v1 can be more than just beating your man individually, the ability to use your teammates to win your individual battles is just as important and useful. Trincão does look to go alone a lot even if it is a 3v1. While this in itself shows admirable confidence in his own technique, he could be better served to rely on his teammates a bit more. It is likely something he will do more at with Barça owing to the increase in quality around him, this would also help improve his high turnover numbers which are common for a winger who perhaps too often bites off more than he can chew.

Trincao’s non-shot expected goals per 90 highlights him as a player who makes a very valuable contribution to build up play, this is a stat that adds a value to non-shot actions and their chance of leading to a goal later in a phase of play. This stat is similar to that which made Liverpool take notice of Mo Salah at Roma.

Barça are in need of a profile like this who will provide that extra bit of verticality, and penetration into the box. Trincão’s energy, ability on the counter and touch of flair and unpredictability has been sorely missed in wide areas in recent times.

Goal Threat

With 8 goals in 14 starts, Trincão has shown that he knows where the back of the net is. The nature of his position as an inside forward means that cutting in on to his favoured left foot is the kind of shot he carries out most. An example of this is below where he used the overlapping right back as a decoy to create an extra bit of room to get a shot off into the far post.

Image 4. Goal scored by Trincão

The Portuguese winger likes to get into the area for goalscoring opportunities, he has shown some good movement to create space on multiple occasions. This bodes well should he end up in a more central striking role in the future at Barcelona.

Image 5. Goal scored by Trincão

Trincão’s shooting is still something he can develop, the connection he gets with the ball varies largely owing to some balance issues and a general lack of power. He often takes speculative long-range shots when passing options were ahead of him, this goes some way to explain why his xG per shot is below the median. An example of this is below when chasing the game 2 goals behind Rangers, Trincão looked to be the hero when a better option on the left was on. The shot was tame and dragged wide, the frustration of his teammates was visible.

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Image 6. Mishit shot, poor decision making.
Passing and creativity

Trincão’s data profile shows us that the Portuguese winger is performing excellently for key passes but the data also indicates that this is perhaps because of crosses into the box rather than open play eye of the needle through balls. He has shown glimpses of good vision and precision passing though this has not been done consistently enough in open play central areas.

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Image 7. Wrong technique on long pass

In this instance, Trincão applied the wrong technique as he ended up cutting across the ball instead of the curled option which would have more likely set the runner through towards goal. The ball went high and got caught in the wind, it was easily intercepted by the right back. The range of passing as well as accuracy (78%) could all be improved.

Trincão has used in-swinging crosses to his advantage, these have been effective as they are hard for the defenders to deal with as it is more challenging to defend the ball when it is travelling towards the goal and especially the back post as it is easy to be overpowered by an opponent who is attacking the ball in tandem with the momentum of the ball.

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Image 8. Crossing on left foot

This is an example of Trincão cutting onto his left foot to get a cross in but he is also more than capable of hitting the bar line and picking a cross with his right foot, the assist below showed great strength and calmness to perfectly pick his man out.

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Image 9. Right footed cross, having won a 1v1 to the bar line.

His crosses are generally floated to the back posts, it would be good to see him develop greater whip and pace to challenge the front post as well.

Movement and Tactical awareness
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Image 10. Movement to create space for teammates to exploit

Trincão does not just move from the flank into central areas onto his left foot, he also moves from inside channels to wider positions, in this case he uses it to great effect as he lures the centre back to follow him creating a large space which can be exploited by runners. It also gives space for the right back on the ball to drift inside and pick a teammate out. Below we see the spaces that Trincão’s movement created by disorganising the backline.

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Image 11. The result of the movement from Image 10.

Here is another example where the Portuguese winger has dragged the centre back out of position leaving a space for a Braga player to attack the cross.

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Image 12. Intelligent movement to create space for runner

Trincão is already showing good signs of off the ball movement though sometimes these can be wasted.

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Image 13. Space creation, though leaves the full back isolated, no chance of link up play or overloads

Here, Trincão is in a central area, his movement and run is clearing space for the on rushing right back. He makes a similar run from central to wide which drags the centre back out of position leaving a gaping space which goes to waste owing to the lack of 3rd runner.

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Image 14. Space creation, no 3rd man runners

If we refer back to Photo 13 we see how Trincão is adept at playing in a variety of areas, he does move quite central when the ball is on the other side of the pitch with the right back providing the width. It was frustrating to see this sometimes as it would have been more effective to have Trincão supplying the width in a position where he can be direct towards the area. He sometimes lacked effective link up play with the right back, minimal overloads and collective support and 3rd man runs often slowed play down though this can be attributed to poor management and team tactics.


Defensively, Trincão is not the best presser nor is he overly keen to track back and help defensively. I have highlighted an example below.

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Image 15. Poor pressing

Here we have an example of a high press but poor understanding among teammates of what positions to shadow and attack. Trincão presses the centre back and shows him the space in the central zone, meanwhile the Braga centre mid, as highlighted, has anticipated the pass out wide and has already begun to press the right back. The centre back moves the ball out of the defence with ease through the channel that Trincão offered him, two passes were made before Ianis Hagi was set through on goal for a goalscoring opportunity. The Portuguese winger makes two defensive errors, he should have showed the centre back the pass out wide as this is the easiest area to press, and he does not do enough to stop the centre back from dribbling past him. Trincão at Barça will have to work hard to track back and defend well at turnovers if he wants to be in the manager’s good books.

Life at Barcelona

Trincão to Barça may have come as a surprise to some fans, however, hopefully this article has demonstrated why the Catalan giants secured his signature.

Barcelona confirmed last week that Trincão will not be loaned out and will play a role in the 1st team next season, this begs the question of what will his role be? Trincão at Barça will likely be utilised to provide width on either flanks. As we spoke about already, Trincão is at his best when he is wide and able to commit players 1v1 in a direct manner so this prospect is very exciting.

Trincão is versatile and can play centrally as well but given the current make up of the team we should expect to see him in wide areas. He may be used as a rotational player initially as he adjusts to his new surroundings, tactics and teammates. We have noted in this article how Trincão still has areas to improve, though the stats suggest a player who is in their prime, the eye test shows frailties defensively and in his passing game.

His greatest strength of dribbling will be tested and it will be interesting to see whether he still has supreme confidence or he takes less risks in case of losing the ball. With these possibilities and the increased quality around him, he will have to incorporate his teammates more and make sharper decisions at high speeds and under pressure. He has the potential to be a world beater and could be the winger that Barcelona have been crying out for in recent times, whether that will all come to fruition, time will tell…

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