Use PlayerTek’s speed, heat map and distance metrics to play like Manchester City and Brazil’s striking sensation…
You can take the boy out of Jardim Peri, but you can’t take Jardim Peri out of the boy. The tattoo of the residential neighbourhood north of Sao Paulo on Gabriel Jesus’ forearm is testimony to that, yet the striker has found an unlikely home away from home in Greater Manchester.
While it can be hard to tell when the Brazilian is genuinely happy due to his seemingly constant smirk, there’s little doubt he’ll be proud of his first 12 months in the blue half of the city. Between scoring 15 goals in 26 Premier League appearances, establishing himself in the starting XI of the national side and receiving a Golden Boy nomination, 2017 has been good to Jesus. However, despite such a rollercoaster year, he’s not forgotten where he came from – he has since said all Jardim Peri’s inhabitants would make the 5,516 mile trip across the Atlantic Ocean to join him if he got his way.
A humble statement that summarises his character away from football, he’s anything but when he steps out onto the pitch. Bold, confident and with an eye for goal, you’ve got to wonder what the future holds for a striker who seemingly has the world at his feet. He may only be 20-years-old, but there are plenty of aspiring footballers that can learn from his example and what’s to come.
Fans knew little about their new signing when he swapped places with Raheem Sterling for his debut in the final 10 minutes of a 2-2 draw against Tottenham, yet those in attendance left the Etihad convinced they had seen a child prodigy. Jesus took up a number of promising positions in attack and wreaked havoc for the visitors’ defence, almost accumulating in a winning goal had it not been for the offside flag.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has often said he prefers players who can play in more than one position, and the youngster’s versatility in attack means he’s comfortable in a number of roles through the centre or out wide. So far deployed as a secondary striker, false nine, lone poacher, inside forward and winger this season, his natural preference is at centre forward.
Arguably the most entertaining side in Europe right now, the Citizens are the highest scoring team with 61 goals in 20 games, and Jesus has certainly had a hand in that with eight strikes and two assists. While the striker loves to play off the shoulder of the last man, he’s adept at pulling centre backs out of position and making space for on-rushing midfielders. Your heat map should show a blur of colour in the final third as you occupy both central defenders with sudden bursts of pace and constant movement. If there’s space, don’t be afraid to drop a little deeper to collect the ball and run at the back four either, as the striker thrives on putting the opposition on the back foot and driving at goal.
After one trick too many as a 13-year-old playing against grown men, Jesus was once threatened with broken legs by an enraged defender and had to be escorted to the safety of a nearby car park by his team-mates. It’s a story he laughs about today, but you can almost guarantee there have been a few Premier League defenders that have felt a similar frustration towards the forward’s pace and skill.
Few are able to catch Jesus, and with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva pulling the strings in midfield, there is ample opportunity for foot races in behind. The Brazilian can afford to give his marker half a yard before an incisive pass is played as his pace guarantees he’ll get to a loose ball first, but you might want to ensure you beat the offside trap by paying close attention to the defensive line and holding your run until the last moment.
Matching the top speed of Jesus shouldn’t be your benchmark, but if you know you’ve got pace to burn, you should aim to try and smash your personal best each game. PlayerTek also shows the amount of sprints you produce too, so you can get the very best insight into your performance.
Both Guardiola and Brazil manager Tite demand a Herculean amount of effort from their players to guarantee their high-press tactics are properly fulfilled. Defence starts in attack, and forwards are expected help recover possession in the opposition’s half and launch swift and punishing counters.
The former of the two bosses employs a 20 zone system, which has been much lauded as the basis for his innovative football. The juego de posición format requires players to fill certain areas on the pitch depending on which zone the ball is in and deployed as a central forward, this means Jesus is a busy man. Not only applying pressure to the opposition’s defence and helping screen the midfield, the striker will also have to be available should possession be won elsewhere.
Guardiola has already made light of the youngster’s love of sugary fizzy drinks, which could explain the striker’s frenetic energy on the pitch. You’ll need a Lucozade or an extra Jaffa Cake pre-match if you’re going to attempt to cover the distance Jesus gets through in a game which is around the 10km mark.