Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid squared off against their arch-rivals, Ancelotti’s Real Madrid on 24th September. The match was a rollercoaster of tactical brilliance, and here we dissect the key moments that defined this intense battle on the pitch.
Atletico’s Right Side Overloads
Atletico’s game plan revolved around creating overloads on the right side, and it all began with the versatile Hermoso adopting the role of the inverted full-back. This strategic move allowed Atletico to exploit the right flank, where Molina, Llorente, and Griezmann combined brilliantly. The result? A significant overload on the right side, which would become a focal point of their attacking strategy.
Space for Samuel Lino
As Atletico built up their attacks with relentless pressure on the right side, it inadvertently created space on the left for Samuel Lino. This left-sided dynamo was ready to capitalize on the opportunities presented to him, thanks to the overloads happening on the opposite flank.
The Art of Isolation
One of the defining moments of the match was Atletico’s second goal, a masterclass in isolating an attacking player to exploit Real Madrid’s defense. Samuel Lino found himself isolated, drawing two Real Madrid defenders towards him, leaving Saul “free” to provide the crucial assist that set up Griezmann’s clinical header.
Atletico’s Defensive Fortitude
Diego Simeone’s team displayed their trademark defensive solidity by adopting a compact 5-4-1 formation. This formation allowed them to maintain a tight defensive shape, putting intense pressure on the flanks. Atletico’s defensive strategy included aggressive pressing on the flanks, quick recovery from Real Madrid’s switch plays, and diligent tracking of runs. This defensive resilience forced Real Madrid to change their tactics and opt for a more direct approach.
Real Madrid’s Left Side Overloads
Real Madrid, known for their adaptability, created overloads on the left side before launching attacks on the right. Valverde and Vazquez orchestrated quick combinations on the left, which often culminated in Kroos taking long-range shots. This approach was born out of necessity, given Atletico’s compact shape and resolute defense.
The Art of the Long Shot
Atletico’s compactness forced Real Madrid to explore alternative avenues to break through. Long shots became one of the weapons in Real Madrid’s arsenal as they sought to breach Atletico’s defense.
Atletico Madrid’s Third Goal
In a twist of fate, Atletico shifted their strategy by creating overloads on the left side, with Samuel Lino at the center of the action, supported by Saul, Griezmann, and the ever-present Hermoso. Real Madrid’s defensive awareness was called into question, with instances of ball-watching and a surprising free header for Alvaro Morata, who capitalized on Real Madrid’s lapse.
Real Madrid’s Defensive Structure in Disarray
The defensive structure on display during this match was nothing short of horrific from Real Madrid. The absence of coverage in Zone 14, coupled with open spaces in the penalty box and central attacking channels, created a nightmare for the team. These glaring gaps provided opposing attackers with free access to exploit our vulnerabilities, leading to dire consequences.
One of the main reasons behind Real Madrid’s susceptibility to counterattacks became painfully evident. Their out-of-position (OOP) structure during transitions left much to be desired. It left many fans wondering why Real Madrid consistently found themselves on the wrong end of rapid breaks. The answer lies in this subpar OOP structure, which left them exposed and vulnerable.
Adding to Madrid’s woes, the deployment of Camavinga in a defensive midfield role proved to be a mismatch. Unlike Tchouaméni, whose positioning sense is nothing short of elite, Camavinga struggled to block central attacking channels effectively. This tactical misalignment left Real exposed in critical areas of the pitch.
Alaba’s Unexpected Struggles
David Alaba’s performance was an unexpected disappointment, especially considering his pedigree. While he has always been somewhat weak in aerial duels, the way Morata exploited his inability to judge the positioning of players around him was nothing short of superb. Morata consistently made runs from Alaba’s blind side to capitalize on his weakness, which ultimately proved costly.
Box Defending Nightmare
Real Madrid’s struggles extended into box defending, where a considerable gap existed between the first and second lines of defense. Furthermore, central midfielders arriving late to the box tended to merge with the last line of attack instead of covering the free spaces within the box. This defensive disarray was a concerning trend that contributed to conceding an excessive number of shots.
Aurélien’s Defensive Brilliance
It’s worth noting that Aurélien demonstrated an elite positional sense between the lines, effectively blocking attacking channels. His ability in this regard is second to none and should be a cornerstone of our defensive strategy in the future.
This match served as a stark reminder of the critical areas that require immediate attention and improvement in Madrid’s defensive and transitional play. It’s imperative that they address these issues swiftly to maintain their competitive edge in the season ahead.
Griezmann: The Playmaker
Throughout the game, Antoine Griezmann showcased his ability to connect play from both sides of the pitch. His presence was a constant threat, making him a vital cog in Atletico’s attacking machinery.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid emerged victorious in a thrilling encounter against Real Madrid. The match was a chess game of tactics, with overloads, isolation, compact defending, and long shots all playing crucial roles in the outcome. This clash of titans will surely go down in history as a testament to the tactical prowess of both teams.
Room for Improvement
To achieve Madrid’s ambitions this season, there is a pressing need to address the issues plaguing their OOP dynamics. The lapses in their defensive structure must be rectified promptly to shore up our vulnerabilities. Tchouaméni, with his ability to cover many of their defensive shortcomings, should have an unquestionable starting role in big matches moving forward.