Club: Bologna F.C. 1909
Position: RB / CB / LB
Goals & Assists: ⚽️ 2 🎯 0
Tomiyasu is a 6’2 Japanese international who was brought to Europe by Bologna in 2019 for approximately £6.3m. Since signing for Bologna he has appeared 60 times in Serie A playing across the defence demonstrating his tactical flexibility. To date, Tomiyasu has featured predominately at RB for Bologna since his arrival but has been utilised at CB more often this season at club level. Tomiyasu over the course of the season has impressed with his positional understanding across multiple positions in defence. Bologna finished in 12th last season 9 points clear of the relegation zone largely due to their home form with them struggling away where they only manage 3 wins.
As a defensive option, Tomiyasu adaptability & flexibility provides teams the ability to make in came tactical plus formation changes with him a natural across the defence. Defensively he is a strong player as calm & composed in his duels looking to remain on his feet rather than diving in. In possession, he is comfortable demonstrating a good level of technical ability with his passing range & control of the ball. As a CB he displays assured confidence & ability to read the game to intercept attempted passes along with providing aerial presence. Whilst playing in the Full Back position Tomiyasu is strong positionally & good at limiting space for the attacker to move into space or cross into the area. In an attacking sense, he is less effective in a Full Back position as although comfortable in possession he favours passing or early crossing over travelling with possession. At set pieces he poses a threat for the opposition as he looks to attack the ball with but needs to do this more consistently. His presence at defensive set pieces is important for Bologna as he utilises his strong positional sense & game reading ability to nullify the attack.
Tomiyasu at 6”2 & playing RB he stands out as tall for the position, which makes it difficult to target the far post area when delivering into the area. His height & ability at RB also negates the threat in diagonals into the flank as has the leap & positioning to cut out these situations. When playing in a CB role Tomiyasu utilises his anticipation plus positional sense to challenge aerially. In addition, he uses his upper body strength well in the aerial challenges & combative with the attacker to nullify their threat.
Whether it be from a restart or in open play Tomiyasu utilises good positioning along with the ability to read the flight of the ball to defend the high ball well. At restarts particularly he has the patience to wait for the ball to arrive into an area to attack & positional sense to provide himself room to move into for momentum. An example of his approach at restarts can be found below where he drops back to remain in the defensive line but reads that the ball will fall within the centre circle. His decision making is decisive taking the choice to break from the defensive line whilst at CB to move into a position to challenge for the ball. His leap is impressive clearing the ground well, winning the challenge as he rises above the attacker. His technique heading the ball is clean & strong contact to clear over the final line of defence to move Bologna back upfield.
Another example of his aerial prowess can be found again in the game against Verona as the attack builds in the right hand channel. With the ball in the right hand channel #14 (Tomiyasu) moves quickly into position towards the near post as #35 (Dijks, LB) attempts to close down space by the byline. #14 demonstrates good concentration consistently observing the area to ensure he is aware of any threats approaching the goal to position himself correctly. With #35 unable to block the cross the delivery is floated into the near post area where #14 demonstrates his determination & strength to hold off two Verona attackers. He is a commanding figure in the duel & under pressure prevails with a clean connection clearing to the edge of the area for Bologna to push out.
His strength aerially is not just in his ability to leap well & clear the ground under pressure but also in how he utilises his body to apply pressure or nullify the attacker. He has a very good reading of the ball & able to judge the flight accurately so that he is in the position to maximise his chances in the duel.
Defensive Set Pieces
Bologna utilises Tomiyasu (#14) in both a Zonal & man marking system whilst defending set pieces with him particularly comfortable in a tight marking system. During set pieces is aerial ability as previously mentioned becomes a useful asset defending deliveries into the area. He has very good concentration ensuring that he follows the flight of the ball without losing the trajectory & remains touch tight to feel his position in relation to the attacker.
As Bologna line up on the edge of the area to defend a free kick in the middle third of the pitch, #14 takes his position to the right of the “D”. With the ball floated in towards the 6 yard area with an out swinging delivery #14 initial holds the line & reaches out his arm to feel for the attacker in his zone. As he drops into the area maintaining his concentration following the flight of the ball he continues to feel for the attacker. He shows good awareness to use his body to feel for the opposition & as the delivery enters the danger area he uses his strength to fend off the attacker. His upper body strength ensures that he is able to shrug off the attacker leaving him with a free header which he clears with authority. His heading ability is clean & precise as he maintains his concentration to head out of the area where Bologna’s defence is able to pressure for possession.
Against Sassuolo, Bologna is defending a left footed, in swinging free kick in the right hand channel with #14 man marking the attacker at the near post. He smartly positions himself to the side of the attacker so that he has the freedom to move around them depending on the delivery. Whilst this is slightly unorthodox to not stand goal side when marking he remains touch tight. As the attacker makes their move to the near post #14 demonstrates good awareness to track the run & then strength to prevent the runner from moving ahead at the near post. With the delivery whipped into the near post area #14 through his strength & utilisation of his body prevents the attacker from getting in front at the near post. He is still under pressure from the attacker aerially but leaps well remaining balanced in the air & making clean contact with the header. The immediate danger is removed with #14 commanding within his man marking duties, dominating his aerial duel & heading strongly to clear the area of the threat to goal.
The final example of his defending on set pieces can be found below where Bologna is defending an out swinging corner from the right. As they prepare for the delivery into the area #14 is assigned to man mark Sassoulo’s #73 (Locatelli), & is intelligent not to engage directly as Sassuolo players cluster together. His decision not to mark tightly ensures that he avoids being blocked once #73 makes a move to the near post. As the delivery is whipped into the near post #14 tracks the run of #73 using a strong arm & upper body strength to fend him off. By using his strength #14 creates the necessary space to arrive at the ball first & heads strongly into the flank where this teammate is able to apply pressure in an attempt to regain possession.
Tomiyasu provides defensive strength to Bologna through his high levels of concentration & awareness at set piece situations. He is equally adept in his duties when man marking with the ability to keep touch tight where needed & the strength to hold off the attacker in duels.
Tomiyasu’s (#14) ability to contain the attacker is a real asset & has the tenacity to battle for possession with good recovery skills in 1v1 duels. Against Juventus, with #14 switched to LB the ball is played into the right flank as Juve attempt to build their attack through #16 (Cuadrado). With the ball played towards the right touchline #14 tracks #16 as he moves to take possession. As #16 controls possession & turns to face the area #14 takes a good body position to limit the space towards the byline. His body convinces #16 to attempt skill to unbalance #14 so that he can drive towards the area rather than being forced onto his weaker left foot. Whilst #16 draws a challenge from #14 which he fails to regain possession he remains balanced & composed so that he can recover. His recovery is added by the use of his pace & strength to pressure #16 preventing him from creating enough space to exploit the space he initially created. His timing & decision making in the tackle ensures he not only regains possession when challenging but is able to use his strength in unbalancing #16 generating space in possession. After regaining possession #14 has the presence of mind & composure to travel with the ball drawing #10 (Dybala) to press opening up space in the left flank. By creating the space #14 is able to play the ball into the left flank for Bologna to break out of defence & look to retain possession relieving pressure on the defence.
Communication & Concentration from #14 is a strong asset of his when defending which allows him to make good decisions defensively. This decision making & concentration allows him to make quick decisions in situations such as the below when faced with an overload in the right hand channel for Juventus. As the play develops in the inside right with #25 (Rabiot), Bologna’s #14 holds his position close to the LCB to prevent a through ball opportunity into #44 (Kulusevski) who’s moved infield. As Juve’s #44 moves behind #14 he passed over to the Bologna LCB, with #14 pointing out that the player is coming & needs to be marked. Once the LCB moves across as per #14’s instruction he positions himself slightly wider to be in a position to move out & challenge the attacker in possession or quickly press the overlapping FB. As the ball is played into space in the right hand channel #14 remains composed as he gets his body position set to face up against #10. As #10 approaches Bologna’s #14 shows patience incrementally closing down space between them. He positions himself to react to a bust of acceleration done the flank by #10 should he attempt to do so. #14 is aware that #10 favours his left foot so remains in a position where he can challenge if he attempts to move the ball onto his stronger foot which he does. As #10 attempts to progress the ball onto his left #14 anticipates his intentions & puts in a strong right foot to dispossess him. While #14 does well in the 1v1 initially he is unable to clear to the ball as a heavy touch as he attempts to dribble away from #10 allows for Juve to regain possession & continue their attack. Fortunately for Bologna, they aren’t punished any further with the defence able to step up on the attack as an opportunity to shoot is fashioned with them blocking the attempt before clearing.
His concentration & fitness are of a high level with him able to remain mentally aware late into games with the physical ability to maintain high speed sprints too. As was evident against Verona where #14 playing LCB, initially wins a duel centrally before heading the ball upfield. After 3rd phase of play Bologna lose an aerial challenge allowing Verona to regain possession, with them observing space behind a disorganised backline. As the ball is played forward into space on the right hand side of the area for Verona #14 remains focused on the opposition & tracks the runner. #14 provides himself space by not pressing tightly whilst the ball is in the air allow himself reaction time once the ball is brought under control. As a result of providing himself space, he is able to sprint across closing space & limit options for the attacker when they regain possession. #14 get’s his body position where the attacker has to try & move inside but due to the strength & reaction speed is dispossessed. The tackle allows Bologna to regain possession with #14 shielding the ball from the attacker to provide time to recycle the ball without additional pressure.
The final example of his defensive play comes against Udinese with #14 playing at RB & defending a dangerous attack with a runner joining the play from deep. As Udinese release their #16 (Molina) down the right of the area they have 3 options in the area to aim for with an attacker unmarked on the shoulder of Bologna’s RCB #5 (Soumaoro). #14 is aware of the attacker & moves across to cover his defensive partner’s shoulder as quickly drive into the area. As #14 drops into a position to react to a delivery into the area of the unmarked attack he is consistently reviewing where players are & tracking their movements. When the ball is whipped in at pace #14 anticipates that the GK will be forced into a save & darts into a position where he can cover him or clear danger. His anticipation plus awareness of the potential danger enabled him to place himself between the attacker & ball before clearing under pressure. The clearance not only demonstrated #14’s composure & reaction time but also his balance plus technique as he needs to turn quickly, shifting his weight before connecting cleanly to clear.
Tomiyasu is a strong defender across multiple positions which highlights his tactical awareness, intelligence & strong positional understanding. He is assured in his decision making which leads him to perform well in 1v1 situations & limit errors defensively.
Tomiyasu is a good defensive full back, but not one to go marauding forward or provide overlapping runs consistently. He is comfortable in possession although an area to improve upon is his attacking contribution, decision making as when to deliver & accuracy when crossing. Due to his positional awareness, he does look to hold himself in space to help the attack. An area which Tomiyasu could look to improve on decides his crossing would be in his dribbling in particular the commitment to engage the opposition fullback out wide.
An example of how #14 (Tomiyasu) holds space to support the attack can be found below where Bologna is facing Juventus. With #11 (Olsen) drawing two Juventus players across to close #14 holds his position to create space to move into in the event the ball is played back to him as unmarked. The ball is played back into space for #14 to move onto the ball where he makes the decision to play 1st time into the area. He has the awareness of the run from deep centrally into the area & opportunity to the exploit loose marking from #44 (Kulusevski). The delivery is decent into the area with swerve & pace which allows the attacker to use the pace to generate power. Although, the delivery is slightly behind the attacker which leads them to attempt an acrobatic effort under pressure from #4 (De Ligt). Had the delivery been played ahead of the attacker the opportunity to get ahead of #4 & make better contact when striking at goal.
When Bologna attacks Tomiyasu will always look to support the RW & this is the case when the play breaks into a less structured manner too, with him quickly offering an option. After a set piece is flicked away from the area by Juventus #16 (McKennie), possession is gathered by #55 (Vignato) of Bologna by the touchline. #14 as the ball is moving to the touchline with #55 chasing as the awareness to view the position of the opposition & processed there is a chance to create an overload opportunity. Juventus are alive to the situation moving across to limit space, with #14 receiving the ball with Juventus #10 attempting to press. As the press comes #14 is aware that #10 expects him to dribble towards the byline & feints before cutting back onto his weaker left foot in one fluid motion. He whips into the area a flat left footed delivery to the near post area which is cut out by #13 (Danilo) with a strong header clearing the area of danger. The delivery in itself is into a good area & provides a threat but lacked accuracy in picking out a teammate in the area who were positioned around the PK area. Although the delivery lacked the accuracy to pick out a teammate the technique on his weaker foot ensured that it was a testing delivery into the area.
An area of Tomiyasu’s attacking play he could improve is his decision making in attacking situations & utilising space to dribble into. He has good physical strength, balance & ball control which enables him to be comfortable in both a CB & FB role, but consistently driving with the ball in the channel is not an area of strength. The reluctance to drive forward with the ball & commit the opposition can limit his chances to deliver into the area or make it easier for the opposition to block. This was the case against Genoa with #55 moving inside & receiving the ball deep in the opposition half. With #55 tracked in field this proved space in the right hand channel which #14 is aware of calling for a pace wide pointing where he wants the ball played. As the ball is played into the path of #14 there is space for him to drive into with the Genoa team remaining compact & utilising a low intensity press. With 4 players in the opposition box #14 decides to slow his approach so that he can deliver the ball first time towards the forwards. The decision not to utilise the space to drive forward with the ball & poor technique when attempting to cross results in #65 (Rovella) being able to partially block the cross. The intervention from #65 removes any pace from the delivery allowing #21 (Radovanović) to step out & clear the ball to safety .
Should Tomiysau continue in a FB role he will need to work on his decision making to recognise when to break into space with the ball. Additionally, his crossing is a particular weakness in his game which leads him to be less of a threat than his positioning should enable him to be.
Build up Style
Tomiyasu has good technique, composure under pressure & vision to play a pass through the lines. Whether he plays centrally or out wide as a FB he has the ability to contribute to Bologna’s build up play. His ability to play through the lines & assured calmness in possession could also provide Bologna with additional cover in a CDM position too. Whilst this is a position he has played sparingly his adaptability & tactically awareness enable him to be a very useful utility player.
He has good vision in possession & bravery to attempt the more progressive pass, whilst understanding when to be more conservative. He has a wide range of passes he is able to play consistently with accuracy that enables Bologna to progress & retain possession. In the game vs. Juventus #14 (Tomiyasu) receives the ball in the RB position. As he receives the ball he is looking downfield accessing his passing options. He has a safe passing option down the touchline to the RW, but #14 spots the move centrally behind the midfield. Recognising Juventus are pushing up to cover a pass down the touchline & a Bologna attacker is moving unmarked into space with Juventus LCB drawn out of position to press the static central forward. Demonstrating good vision & situational awareness #14 lifts a pass over the midfield line into the path of Bologna’s attacker. Unfortunately, the move comes to nothing with the attacker unable to move the ball quickly under pressure & by turning inside as opposed to outside to exploit the space left by Juventus LB.
In the final third #14 has the ability to recognise when to move into space vacated by the opposition. In addition, has the technique & accuracy to break lines of defence with penetrative passes. With Juventus holding a deep position in their half #14 advances into space in the inside right channel. The Juventus midfield compacts as #14 progresses holding their shape over a press in an attempt to force #14 to play the safe pass into the RW. As he progresses #14 demonstrates good awareness spotting the space between the LCB & LB, with #12 (Sandro) anticipating the pass into the RW. #14 has the vision to see the movement of the Bologna attacker & execute the pass through both defensive lines. Unfortunately, the opportunity to shoot 1st time across the GK wasn’t taken by the attacker which allowed Juventus to reorganise & close space in the area.
Tomiyasu offers Bologna a ball playing CB option who is comfortable joining the midfield to create central overloads & open up additional passing options. When in possession whilst he will make shorter lateral passes he will look to progress play & drive the team forward by attempting to break lines. An example of #14 breaking into midfield to create a central overload came against Verona where Bologna recycle possession before #21 (Soriano) plays into the feet of #14 who moves into a CM position. He controls the ball & plays a quick 1-2 interchange of passes with #21 who’s movement is drawing the attention of the Verona CM creating a pocket of space for #14 as he receives the return ball. Verona holds their shape in a mid/low block as #14 advances into space progressing the ball with multiple passing options. He demonstrates his bravery in possession & desire to drive the team forward with a pass through the midfield line directly into #24 (Palacio) who he spots moving into space. There were safer options in play to recycle possession & to build patiently, but #14 has the vision & technique to play penetrative passes to pose questions to the opposition. In this case whilst the ball was delivered with pace into an area of threat but #24’s control allows Verona to regain possession & the threat was removed.
Tomiyasu’s passing ability make him ideal for a team looking to play a possession based style that looks to build out through the defence. His passing range & ability to pick passes between the lines make him a difficult player to defend against as he has the technique plus vision to exploits spaces in a defensive line. His composure in possession could also make him an option in a central defensive midfield role but would need to be more progressive with his dribbling in this position.
Tactically very strong & highly adaptable Tomiyasu provides his team with a player able to perform at a high level in multiple positions. His high levels of concentration along with a good awareness defensively ensure errors are limited which brings an assured presence in his play. With the ability to remain composed in possession & his technical skills he is very comfortable in possession based style. Due to his passing accuracy, he is reliable in possession with his progressive passing providing an additional attacking threat from deep. The interest from Tottenham is no surprise with Tomiyasu offering a great option in multiple positions which have been cause for concern. With his strength & aerial ability, he would be well place to deal with the physicality of the EPL. He has a good level of pace too which would enable him to adjust to the speed & physical demands of the league.
Should Tomiyasu move to the EPL as primarily a FB there would be a requirement to improve his attacking contributions in wide areas. In particular his delivery as this is currently a weakness & lacks accuracy to pose a consistent threat to the opposition. The positives are that he is a confident defender with good reading of the game which enable him to incept opposition passes & manage 1v1 situations. In a CB role his concentration & composure will be a key asset in a league such as the EPL to manage the frenetic pace in defensive phases. At 22, Tomiyasu presents a player who offers a development opportunity as well as being experienced in a top 5 European division & regular International.