Javier Hernandez, best known as ‘Chicharito’, is a centre forward that has shown a deep tactical understanding for his position that has lead him to play at the best leagues in the world throughout his entire career.
In this tactical analysis, we’ll mention the characteristics and skills that made his tenure in the Premier League a successful story with Manchester United (59 goals) and West Ham (17 goals). Also, he played in Spain for Real Madrid (seven goals in the league and two goals in the cups). While playing in Germany (Bundesliga) for Bayer Leverkusen, he scored 39 times in 76 matches. Right now, he holds the title of Mexican national team’s lead scorer with 48 goals in 86 matches.
Hernández starts a new challenge, replacing Zlatan Ibrahimović at LA Galaxy. He is the perfect fit for the tactics of Galaxy. This will be another real test for ‘Chicharito’.
This scout report will allow us to observe those ‘details’ that make Hernández an execution-type player.
Intelligence in the box
Hernández understands that one of the two conditions to score is: To be at the right place at the right moment. That understanding propelled him to reach high levels in the world of football.
At first glance, it seems that luck is on his side, but if we carefully observe his moves into the box, we realise he possesses an incredible skill to anticipate what’s coming next.
In the next image, while playing for West Ham, we can see the move he executes to get away and finnd himself completely free behind the two central defenders. Taking advantage of his teammate’s move that ‘pulls out’ one the central defenders to the nearest goalpost, Hernández will take a position at the farthest goalpost where he will strike to score.
This is another example of his intelligence to move into the box when he played for Mexico’s national team in a friendly match.
Here, we see Corona controlling the ball and getting past two defenders. Hernández waits until the right moment to make his getaway move.
Hernández waits for his teammate to pull the rival’s wing-back in a different direction, at which moment he is alone and facing the goal with a chance to strike.
As soon as Hernández realises the ball is going to the centre, then, with a quick move, he gets away from the central defender, leaving him in a position where he strikes and scores.
Hernández is a short player compared to the average European players. However, his 5’9” is not an obstacle for him to score with multiple headers.
He has made comments about this skill which was inherited from his father, whos was even shorter than him, but he possessed a powerful jump when defending.
While playing for Guadalajara, he scored 10 out of 29 goals with headers.
Great jumping skills plus outstanding ‘sense’ make Hernández a dangerous player in rival’s box.
In the first above image, playing int the Premier League, we observe Hernández patiently waiting for his teammate to take his position before he starts to move. In the second image Hernández start his move before the central defender.
Below, Hernández wins the aerial duel against the rival defender, making contact with the ball and changing its direction while the goalkeeper was coming to get it.
Here, we observe the ‘sense’ plus powerful jump combination. While disputing the ball in the box, Hernández identifies that the rival’s goalkeeper and two defenders are coming to him, then he jumps and connects a header that barely went over the goal.
Not all his goals by heading were the result of his powerful jump. Hernández, who possess an xG of 0.46 throughout his career, finds frequent opportunities in each match. The majority of these goals were the result of being opportunistic or being at the right place at the right time.
Below, while following a clear tactical setup, once the goalkeeper rejects the ball there are two additional headers before Hernández shoots the ball near the goalpost.
Without any question, Hernández is a great executioner. Inside the box, he knows what to do when he possesses the ball and takes advantage of all opportunities to score. The goal is ‘printed’ into his vision and that is supported with 47% of his shots hitting the target.
Hernández knows how to move in the final third of the field and he does that to find the free spots that allow him to potentially shoot at the goal.
In the next heat map, we observe his prefered zones.
When his team is in defensive mode, he stands beyond the midfield to put pressure on the rival’s central defenders. Once his team gets possession of the ball, he moves to the striking zone.
As we have mentioned in this analysis before, his speed is not one of his strongest skills, but he knows how to move in time to win against the rival’s defenders.
In the next images, we see him (Sevilla vs. Getafe) making a move that breaks the defensive line. Just at the right moment when the ball is passed, Hernández starts his sprint to place himself facing the rival’s goalkeeper and scores.
And it’s inside the 18-yard-box where he is extremely dangerous.
After playing in the best leagues in the world and yielding positive results, he is considered an effective forward.
When he played for Manchester United, it was the very first time he played out of his native country and he was well known because of his ‘hunger and happiness’ when playing. Hernández was instructed to a hard, intensive gym training (ordered by his former coach, Sir Alex Ferguson) to compete with stronger players in the Premier League.
That training helped Hernández to compete in short sprints against rival’s defenders.
In the image below, we observe Hernández coming out of the box to get the ball, passing to his teammate and then becoming the ‘third’ man out front again.
Once he gets control of the ball, he makes two dribbles before shooting.
High-quality goals are Hernández’s trademark. He is capable of great shots like the best of them.
When playing for Sevilla, he scored from a free-kick. In the image below, we observe a perfectly executed shot over the wall.
When playing for Leverkusen he scored high-quality goals while dribbling into the box.
Here, we observe Hernández carrying the ball toward rival’s goal, then he gets into the box and he dribbles the central defender.
He avoids contact with the goalkeeper and shoots with his left foot to score.
Throughout his entire career, he has scored 156 times with all the clubs he has played with and 51 times with Mexico’s National team.
A lot of those goals were surprisingly achieved, others were defined as a ‘miracle’. Some analysts think ‘Chicharito’ is a lucky player and that his skills are not the reason why he has reached high competition levels. But they couldn’t be more wrong. In football, like any other aspect of life, you have to be at the right place at the right moment and this is a skill Hernández knows how to exploit.
In the above image, the ball is crossed from the right side and the defender deflects it with his head.
This ‘insignificant’ deflection allows Hernández to arrive on time and touch the ball with his thigh to generate a strike.
Another play that displays Hernández’s opportunism happened when he was playing for West Ham. In the below image, a cross is played into the box and over Hernández who never lost sight of the ball.
Immediately, he turns around and realises the goalkeeper deflected the ball to the side. He quickly pounces on the ball to score.
This is one of the areas for improvement as Hernández now starts a new adventure in the MLS.
His passes between lines are not really effective (29.7 per 90) and he registered 0.08 assists per match. He has never been a dribbler and he wins just 44.9% of his duels against rivals.
His biggest issue is when he has to make short passes and we can observe this in the next image.
Here, playing with Galaxy, the ball is passed from his teammate but Hernandez’s ball control is poorly executed. The next pass is too high and recovered by the Houston Dynamo player.
This lost ball was translated into an attack by the rival team that took advantage of their high number of players when facing the Los Angeles defensive line.
These mistakes when passing have been a constant problem for him, and they may be the reason why he has been switching from one club to another.
Another weak point of his technique is controlling the ball. To play in England, Spain or Germany, the fundamentals should be polished and Hernández wasted several opportunities to score because of his lacking ball control.
In the next image, Hernández got a ball from his teammate with his wingmen at the front.
However, poor control of the ball results in a lost opportunity for his team.
We could see in the analysis before that Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández has discipline and is a ‘lucky’ player who has played for some of the best teams in the world. Although he has not achieved all his objectives, we must acknowledge he has done what a centre forward is supposed to do with effort and persistence.
In this new league, to become an effective scorer, he has to adapt to a vertical style and a physical game. Even though he’s familiar with these conditions, the difference now is the teammates he will play with. As soon as he finds solid connections with his teammates, he will find the space and time he needs to become the scorer LA Galaxy are looking for.
Hernández will always have that ‘lucky star’ which helps him to be successful with his teams and this stint won’t be any different.