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Thomas Harrison writes a detailed scout report about Guido Rodriguez, the Argentina and Tijuana midfielder.
Argentina has never been short of a talented footballer or two, and the country has always been able to produce fine individuals across the pitch. While the likes of Maradona, Messi and Aguero steal the spotlight for obvious reasons, there has always been an Ardiles and a Mascherano to back up the flair. Another such emerging talent is Guido Rodriguez.
Guido Rodríguez is a 22-year-old defensive-midfielder, currently playing for Club Tijuana in Liga MX. Born in Argentina, Guido made his professional debut for River Plate, and was part of the side which lifted the Copa Sudamericana, South America’s Europa League equivalent, in 2014.
First-team opportunities for Rodríguez at Estadio Monumental were limited though, he made just 16 league appearances during his 2 years at River, and was sent out on loan at the beginning of 2016 to Defensa y Justicia.
After playing 15 games in the Argentine Primera División for Defensa y Justicia, Guido clearly did enough to turn the heads of Mexican side Tijuana.
Tijuana, who are coached by ex-Mexico national team boss and star of the 2014 World Cup, Miguel Herrera, purchased Rodríguez during the summer of 2016.
With his lack of experience, and competition from historically one of Herrera’s favourite players, Juan Carlos Medina, it was expected that Guido would have to prove himself from the bench. This wasn’t the case though, and the Argentine started every single game this Liga MX season. Medina remained a substitute for the whole campaign.
Think N’Golo Kanté, but taller, and a bit less energetic. Guido Rodríguez plays as a holding midfielder for Tijuana, where he breaks up opposition attacks, regains possession for his side, and instigates counters.
Rodríguez can be described as an aggressive player, not as a result of rough play, but because he’s always looking to step up and recover the ball for Tijuana.
With Tijuana boss Miguel Herrera fielding four attack-minded players in his side this season, Guido’s defensive capabilities were crucial to Los Xolos remaining a balanced team, and not getting overrun in the midfield.
Game intelligence is undoubtedly Rodríguez’s main strength. The Argentine is remarkable at reading the game, both defensively and offensively.
Defensively, Guido has an incredible ability to position himself so that he can make interceptions and tackles, and therefore recover the ball for his side. At the end of the regular stage of the Apertura (first-half of the season), no one in Liga MX had regained possession more times than Rodríguez had.
The Tijuana man’s ability to almost constantly be in the right place to break up or slow down opposition attacks, particularly counter attacks, was astonishing at times during the Apertura. In a similar way to N’Golo Kanté, Rodríguez has left fans in awe of his sensational reading of the game, and ability to position himself effectively.
Not just a destroyer of opposition attacks, Guido’s attacking intelligence enables him to create chances for Tijuana. The 22-year-old possesses very good vision, and is able to pick out key attacking passes.
However, Guido often decides to play simple, lower risk passes, in order to maintain possession, and, sometimes, slow down the tempo of the game. With Tijuana’s squad blessed with a plethora of attacking talent, e.g. Avilés Hurtado, Dayro Moreno and Gabriel Hauche, it was often better to leave the risk-taking to these more advanced players.
Alongside his impressive reading of the game, Guido Rodríguez also has a high level of technical skills. Defensively, he’s able to time his challenges well so that he doesn’t give away too many free-kicks, or pick up a large number cards. Considering the strictness of referees in Mexico, and the amount of challenges that he made during the season, Rodríguez did very well to avoid being sent off.
When in possession, Guido can accurately complete his well picked-out passes, with a good weight of pass. He’s also shown an occasional capability to beat opposition defenders with the ball at his feet this Apertura.
Alongside his high mental and technical level, there’s also a physical prowess about Guido Rodríguez’s game. At 185cm/6’1” tall, Guido is fairly tall, particularly for Mexican football. The Argentine is able to use his height, and his upper body strength, to dominate duels and aerial challenges. This aids Guido’s ball recovery skills, and adds a goal threat at set pieces. Rodríguez scored twice during the regular stage of the Apertura, both of which were headers from free-kicks.
Furthermore, Guido has a high level of stamina, and strong work ethic. This is illustrated by his position on the distance recorded chart for the Liga MX Apertura, with only 3 players covering more ground than the Argentine.
Although he is a strong player, Guido does have a physical weakness. Pace. Rodríguez is rarely seen catching up with other players when running at top speed.
Considering his high level of footballing intelligence, this lack of speed isn’t a major problem, but could be exposed in a league with a faster tempo than Liga MX. Mexico’s top flight is statistically slower than the Bundesliga and Premier League, and Guido may struggle with the differing style of play.
If Rodríguez does struggle to adapt to a faster-paced league, his aggressive style and regular attempts to recover possession may become a major weakness. The Argentine may end up getting beaten when aiming to win the ball back, and his lack of pace could prevent Guido from being able to get back into an effective defensive position before his opponents can take advantage.
This is the main concern about Guido Rodríguez, and unfortunately, it’s impossible to say whether or not it will become a problem. We should find out at some point though, Guido’s dominant performances for Tijuana must be turning heads in Europe.
Although he wasn’t as flashy as Avilés Hurtado or Dayro Moreno, Guido Rodríguez was arguably the most important player for Xolos in the recent Apertura season. Through his aggressive style of play, which helped him control and orchestrate movement in the midfield, the 22-year-old thrived in his first tournament in Mexico.
Other than the occasional yellow, the Argentine rarely made mistakes and was a constant source of trust and confidence in Tijuana’s starting XI. It’s only a matter of time before Rodríguez makes the jump to a bigger club, and if he can improve on his dribbling or movement with the ball, there’s no telling where he could land.
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