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Match analysis: Atletico - Real
By Michail Tsokaktsidis
Atletico and Real Madrid were both goalless in the first leg of Champions League quarter
final. The two teams played a match which was characterized by intense, passion and
limited spaces.
Formations
Match up
1st
Half: Real tried to dominate and Atletico stack on the defensive plan
Real: Carlo Ancelotti chose an attacking minded starting eleven with Ronaldo, Benzema,
Bale, James Rodriguez and Modric in a 4-3-3 formation. The three midfielders were James
(left), Modric (right) and Kross as the defensive midfielder.
Real many times switched to 4-4-2, as Bale dropped back on the right or in some cases he
both dropped back and converged towards the centre close to Kroos.
Ancelotti’s aim was to prevent Atletico from building up on the right, where they usually try
to create overloads. So when Juanfran moved forward, James tried to close him down
while Marcelo was close to Turan and Kroos together with Modric had to deal with Suarez
and Gabi. Bale converged near Coke, who was positioned towards the centre and in front
of the two defensive midfielders. By these actions Real created numbers up or at least
equality in numbers against Atletico midfielders.
In cases that Atletico tried to build up by using direct passes towards the two forwards, one
of the central defenders, usually Ramos, moved to contest the forward while the other
(Varane, who was chosen instead of Pepe due to his better positioning and pace) provided
support. Carvajal at the same time shifted towards the centre and created numbers up (2 v
1).
Carvajal was the player who created numbers up (3 v 2) against Matzukic and Griezman
by shifting towards the inside, as Marcelo had to deal with Turan. The 3 midfielders + Bale
had to deal with Suarez, Gabi and Koke in a 4 v 3 situation. When Juafran moved forward,
James shifted to close him down while the other three sifted towards the strong side.
The same happened in cases that Real’s formation was 4-3-3. Carvajal converged to
create 3 v 2, while James, Kroos and Modric created a 3 v 2.
Real tried to maintain all the time at least 6 players behind the ball to prevent Atletico from
taking advantage of the positive transition, which was something that took place many
times during the previous matches between the two.
The forwards Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale, both during the attacking phase and positive
transition, moved freely and switched positions more frequently than every other game
between the two. Bale many times moved towards the available spaces created by
Ronaldo and Benzema in the centre or on the right, trying to take advantage of his pace.
On the picture below is shown a situation created in the 2nd
minute of the game where
Bale was close to score a goal by using a forward run.
Real started excellently, due to their effective negative transition. Ancelotti’s players
pressed high after the loss of possession and forced their opponents to use long balls
towards the forwards Mandzukic and Griezman. These long balls were rather clearances
than accurate passes and were easily neutralized. This made it hard for Atletico to build up
from the back as well as to keep possession, as the midfielders and especially Koke and
Turan, couldn’t move forward on time to take up supporting positions to the forwards. On
the other hand Real’s defenders with appropriate positioning could easily win possession
and start a new attack forcing Atletico to stay in their defensive half.
In rare occasions that Atletico tried to counterattack, the reaction by Real Madrid was
effective by retaining numbers up at the back and by retrieving back quickly. This forced
Atletico either to errors or to delay.
The width was initially created by James and Marcelo on the left in collaboration with
Ronaldo or Benzema who moved towards this side, while on the right width was created
by Carvajal in collaboration with one of the forwards. Modric provided support to Carvajal
and balance together with Kroos in case of negative transition. Despite Real’s domination
Atletico was well organized defensively and prevented Real from taking advantage of it.
Atletico: Simeone started with 4-4-2. Mandzukiz and Griezman were up front while Turan
and Koke were the side midfielders, despite the fact that both two are rather central
midfielders than side ones. But this is something that Simeone usually does. As soon as
the argentine realized that his team couldn’t build up properly, especially on the right, and
they also struggled to take advantage of the positive transition, he focused on the
defensive work. Atletico defended well within their defensive third by retaining cohesion
and compactness and it was very hard for Real to break through them.
When Real tried to attack on the left with Ronaldo or Benzema, Marcello and James, the 3
midfielders Turan, Gabi and Suarez as well as one of the forwards (mainly Griezman)
shifted towards this side and limited the available space. On the other hand Koke stayed
on the left of Atletico.
When Real attacked on the right with Carvajal, Ronaldo or Bale, the side midfielder Koke
dealt with Carvajal (sometimes in collaboration with Siqueira). The other three midfielders
entered the box and took up effective positions.
In case that one of the central defenders moved outside the box to provide support near
the side line, Suarez dropped back to retain numbers up and fill the gap.
When Benzema, Ronaldo and Bale played close to each other, the two central defenders
together with the fullback of the strong side (Siqueira) took the responsibility of marking
them, while the side midfielder of the strong side (Koke) was responsible of marking the
player who created width (in the picture Carvajal).
When the ball was in the centre, Atletico retained cohesion and compactness in order to
restrict space and prevent Real players from passing vertically.
On the player in possession pressure was put by double or triple marking him, and he was
forced to play with little time and space available.
The only situation that Real managed to make a descent cross was by Carvajal while the
best scoring chance with Bale was created by a bad judgment from Godin. The situations
that Real threatened to score were by the shots outside the box from James, Bale και
Modric.
Additionally during negative transition Atletico players retrieved quickly back and the only
chance for Real was after a corner kick and Varane’s forward run which ended with a pass
towards Benzema and Ronaldo in 1 v 2 situation.
2nd
Half:
At the beginning of the second half Atletico was more determined to press higher up the
field. Additionally they improved during build up from the back. This was also due to Real’s
lesser effort to press high.
They tried to build up mainly on the left by overloading, as Turan shifted towards this side
and worked in collaboration with Koke, Siqueira και Suares (or even Griezman). This had
as result, 2-3 crosses from Koke targeting Mandzukic and Griezman inside the box.
Then Atletico tried to do the same on the right with combination play involving Turan,
Juafran, Gabi or Suarez.
During defending nothing really changed for Atletico and they didn’t face any problems
against Real in set play. Real focused on defensive organization and balance having many
players behind the ball in order not to be exposed during the positive transition of Atletico.
It has to be mentioned that both teams focused on negative transition during the 2nd
half
and they were both very effective.
By Isco’s coming in (76’) replacing Benzema and James moving on the right side of the
attack, Ancelotti wanted give a boost in midfield as well as to have a creative forward who
can play in tight spaces up front.
Simeone reacted immediately by bringing in Raul Garcia in place of Griezman. Garcia
moved on the right and Turan moved forward in a free role close to Mantzukic. This
strengthened the right side of Atletico and additionally Garcia was a threat for Real due to
his capability in heading within the box. This helped Atletico to move the ball easier close
to Real’s box and as this took place Simeone brought in a second forward Tores to take
advantage of the potential crosses. However nothing changed until the final whistle.
Conclusion:
It was a goalless quarter final with not many scoring chances, but there was passion and
commitment from both sides. There were many duels in limited spaces and a lot of tactics.
The result leaves everything open for the second leg which will be expected with
impatience.

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ATLETICO-REAL

  • 1. Match analysis: Atletico - Real By Michail Tsokaktsidis Atletico and Real Madrid were both goalless in the first leg of Champions League quarter final. The two teams played a match which was characterized by intense, passion and limited spaces. Formations Match up
  • 2. 1st Half: Real tried to dominate and Atletico stack on the defensive plan Real: Carlo Ancelotti chose an attacking minded starting eleven with Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale, James Rodriguez and Modric in a 4-3-3 formation. The three midfielders were James (left), Modric (right) and Kross as the defensive midfielder. Real many times switched to 4-4-2, as Bale dropped back on the right or in some cases he both dropped back and converged towards the centre close to Kroos.
  • 3. Ancelotti’s aim was to prevent Atletico from building up on the right, where they usually try to create overloads. So when Juanfran moved forward, James tried to close him down while Marcelo was close to Turan and Kroos together with Modric had to deal with Suarez and Gabi. Bale converged near Coke, who was positioned towards the centre and in front of the two defensive midfielders. By these actions Real created numbers up or at least equality in numbers against Atletico midfielders. In cases that Atletico tried to build up by using direct passes towards the two forwards, one of the central defenders, usually Ramos, moved to contest the forward while the other (Varane, who was chosen instead of Pepe due to his better positioning and pace) provided support. Carvajal at the same time shifted towards the centre and created numbers up (2 v 1).
  • 4. Carvajal was the player who created numbers up (3 v 2) against Matzukic and Griezman by shifting towards the inside, as Marcelo had to deal with Turan. The 3 midfielders + Bale had to deal with Suarez, Gabi and Koke in a 4 v 3 situation. When Juafran moved forward, James shifted to close him down while the other three sifted towards the strong side.
  • 5. The same happened in cases that Real’s formation was 4-3-3. Carvajal converged to create 3 v 2, while James, Kroos and Modric created a 3 v 2. Real tried to maintain all the time at least 6 players behind the ball to prevent Atletico from taking advantage of the positive transition, which was something that took place many times during the previous matches between the two.
  • 6. The forwards Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale, both during the attacking phase and positive transition, moved freely and switched positions more frequently than every other game between the two. Bale many times moved towards the available spaces created by Ronaldo and Benzema in the centre or on the right, trying to take advantage of his pace. On the picture below is shown a situation created in the 2nd minute of the game where Bale was close to score a goal by using a forward run.
  • 7. Real started excellently, due to their effective negative transition. Ancelotti’s players pressed high after the loss of possession and forced their opponents to use long balls towards the forwards Mandzukic and Griezman. These long balls were rather clearances than accurate passes and were easily neutralized. This made it hard for Atletico to build up from the back as well as to keep possession, as the midfielders and especially Koke and Turan, couldn’t move forward on time to take up supporting positions to the forwards. On the other hand Real’s defenders with appropriate positioning could easily win possession and start a new attack forcing Atletico to stay in their defensive half. In rare occasions that Atletico tried to counterattack, the reaction by Real Madrid was effective by retaining numbers up at the back and by retrieving back quickly. This forced Atletico either to errors or to delay.
  • 8. The width was initially created by James and Marcelo on the left in collaboration with Ronaldo or Benzema who moved towards this side, while on the right width was created by Carvajal in collaboration with one of the forwards. Modric provided support to Carvajal and balance together with Kroos in case of negative transition. Despite Real’s domination Atletico was well organized defensively and prevented Real from taking advantage of it. Atletico: Simeone started with 4-4-2. Mandzukiz and Griezman were up front while Turan and Koke were the side midfielders, despite the fact that both two are rather central midfielders than side ones. But this is something that Simeone usually does. As soon as the argentine realized that his team couldn’t build up properly, especially on the right, and they also struggled to take advantage of the positive transition, he focused on the defensive work. Atletico defended well within their defensive third by retaining cohesion and compactness and it was very hard for Real to break through them. When Real tried to attack on the left with Ronaldo or Benzema, Marcello and James, the 3 midfielders Turan, Gabi and Suarez as well as one of the forwards (mainly Griezman) shifted towards this side and limited the available space. On the other hand Koke stayed on the left of Atletico.
  • 9. When Real attacked on the right with Carvajal, Ronaldo or Bale, the side midfielder Koke dealt with Carvajal (sometimes in collaboration with Siqueira). The other three midfielders entered the box and took up effective positions. In case that one of the central defenders moved outside the box to provide support near the side line, Suarez dropped back to retain numbers up and fill the gap.
  • 10. When Benzema, Ronaldo and Bale played close to each other, the two central defenders together with the fullback of the strong side (Siqueira) took the responsibility of marking them, while the side midfielder of the strong side (Koke) was responsible of marking the player who created width (in the picture Carvajal). When the ball was in the centre, Atletico retained cohesion and compactness in order to restrict space and prevent Real players from passing vertically.
  • 11. On the player in possession pressure was put by double or triple marking him, and he was forced to play with little time and space available.
  • 12. The only situation that Real managed to make a descent cross was by Carvajal while the best scoring chance with Bale was created by a bad judgment from Godin. The situations that Real threatened to score were by the shots outside the box from James, Bale και Modric. Additionally during negative transition Atletico players retrieved quickly back and the only chance for Real was after a corner kick and Varane’s forward run which ended with a pass towards Benzema and Ronaldo in 1 v 2 situation.
  • 13. 2nd Half: At the beginning of the second half Atletico was more determined to press higher up the field. Additionally they improved during build up from the back. This was also due to Real’s lesser effort to press high. They tried to build up mainly on the left by overloading, as Turan shifted towards this side and worked in collaboration with Koke, Siqueira και Suares (or even Griezman). This had as result, 2-3 crosses from Koke targeting Mandzukic and Griezman inside the box. Then Atletico tried to do the same on the right with combination play involving Turan, Juafran, Gabi or Suarez. During defending nothing really changed for Atletico and they didn’t face any problems against Real in set play. Real focused on defensive organization and balance having many players behind the ball in order not to be exposed during the positive transition of Atletico. It has to be mentioned that both teams focused on negative transition during the 2nd half and they were both very effective.
  • 14. By Isco’s coming in (76’) replacing Benzema and James moving on the right side of the attack, Ancelotti wanted give a boost in midfield as well as to have a creative forward who can play in tight spaces up front. Simeone reacted immediately by bringing in Raul Garcia in place of Griezman. Garcia moved on the right and Turan moved forward in a free role close to Mantzukic. This strengthened the right side of Atletico and additionally Garcia was a threat for Real due to his capability in heading within the box. This helped Atletico to move the ball easier close to Real’s box and as this took place Simeone brought in a second forward Tores to take advantage of the potential crosses. However nothing changed until the final whistle. Conclusion: It was a goalless quarter final with not many scoring chances, but there was passion and commitment from both sides. There were many duels in limited spaces and a lot of tactics. The result leaves everything open for the second leg which will be expected with impatience.