Sandro Tonali was one of the Brescia players that stood out the most this season. At the age of 19, the Italian midfielder played in the under-21 European with is national team, and clubs such as PSG and Juventus are interested in him.
Brescia finished last season in 1st place in Serie B. In 36 games lost only 5 and will now compete in the main tier of Italian football. Tonali did all his formation at Brescia and 2018/2019 was only his second senior season. He scored 3 goals and made 7 assists in 34 games for the club. Brescia typically plays in 4-3-1-2, and Tonali occupies the most central position of the midfield. His teammates in the center of the pitch function as interior midfielders and progress more in the pitch, either in the central or lateral zone. Ahead of this midfield the No. 10 (usually Spalek or Ndoj) makes the connection with the attackers.
Tonali positioning in the midfield
As the most retreated midfielder, in defensive organization he supports the central defenses through his good occupation of the spaces and his reading of the game intercepting several passes. In offensive organization or uses his excellent passing capacity or progresses on the pitch in order to drill the opponent’s lines.
How he plays
Tonali stands out for his excellent passing quality. What is usual to see in the Italian midfielder are his vertical passes through long balls. With this he can turn the side that the game is being played or find a run of his teammates. He benefits from a great vision, which allows him to discover spaces that opponents are not predicting.
Through ball from Tonali
His passing technique is also brilliant: is always well executed in order to facilitate his teammate control. It’s very easy for Tonali to pass the ball. Even when he’s being pressed, the youngster can almost always remove the ball from the pressure zone through the pass.
Tonali manages to pass the ball even under pressure
Tonali likes to progress in the field with the ball. He has a simple but effective short dribble and uses his body very well to gain position. With this he accomplishes his goal: progress between the opponent’s lines and create imbalances. He’s not the fastest player, but these capabilities and his tactical intelligence allow him to appear in more advanced areas of the midfield with ease.
Tonali uses his dribbling ability to pass the opposing pressure
It is usual to see Tonali in more lateral positions of the midfield. He feels comfortable to play near the line as he has a strong progression capacity, and with his passing quality he manages to create and initiate a play from that zone.
Tonali dribbles on the side of the pitch
The Italian uses his body very much in several moments of the game. In the offensive aspect he uses it to gain position against the opponent, and then pass the ball or advance on the pitch. The technique of the youngster is fantastic. With 1 or 2 touches he can take the opponent out of the way and being free from pressure.
Tonali also stands out in the defensive moment. He has a fantastic tactical perception and reading of the game, which allows him to anticipate the opponents pass.
A well-positioned Tonali intercepts the opponent pass
Using his body, the midfielder manages to tackle his opponent. He occupies the spaces in the first line of Brescia’s miedfield, and this allows him to be well positioned to intercept the opponent’s pass.
Tonali appears on the opponent’s back and steals the ball
Aspects to improve
The constant long balls are not a flaw in Tonali’s game. But it would be interesting if the midfielder looked to alternate the type of distribution. Several times we see the long balls as variation of the flank, when the short pass would also be effective.
The Italian can also improve in the post-dribble decision. Since it’s easy for him to progress with the ball he can look for even more advanced areas of the pitch in order to try a key pass. Even if he doesn’t want to advance so much, he can try a through ball and take advantage of the imbalances that he causes penetrating the opponent’s lines.
With 1,81m Tonali can improve his heading. Since he has a good stature, improving this aspect will only benefit him. Offensively it would be in the set pieces, or if he appeared in the box following a cross. Defensively it would help him win the aerial duels. Whether it’s in set pieces or following an opposing play.
With 19 years Tonali is one of the biggest promises of Italian football. The comparisons with Pirlo are understood: Tonali benefits from the classic style of regista that the Italian legend has accustomed us. Now we have to wait to see how turns out the future of this talented midfielder.
Also Emanuele Ndoj has caught my eye on this team. A typical joint of albanian flair and italian tactical awareness. I hope he continues progressing with Brescia at Serie A in the upcoming season.