With the league put on hold, the Copa do Brasil served up an interesting fixture in the round of 16 stage of the tournament. Two of the inform teams in the Liga do Brasil went head to head in an encounter that kept us entertained throughout. Jorge Sampaoli and his men played host to Atletico Mineiro. With only one point separating the teams in the league, there wasn’t much between them. With that said, form and past records don’t mean a lot in cup football. This tactical analysis will examine how Atletico Mineiro were able to overcome Santos FC.
On paper, Sampaoli’s men lined up in a 4-3-3 formation while caretaker coach of Atletico Mineiro, Sergio Sette Chamara played 4-2-3-1.
With the 4-3-3 Santos would ideally look to play a possession-based approach. They tend to prioritize moving the ball around while waiting for the right chance to play the ball through.
A key player to look forward to in Mineiros lineup is the pacey winger Chara. Mineiro are a side that looks to sit back and attack on the counter with their pace up front.
Tactical analysis: Gameplan
Passive organised defending
From the get-go, it was clear that Santos were the dominant team having much of the possession and given space to play by Mineiro. The away side, however, were very tactical in their defensive shape allowing Santos to only play comfortably in their own half. Mineiro in defence resorted to man marking the more offensive players of Santos. They also kept clean and organised defensive lines clearly shown in the picture above.
In return, Santos pressed their opponents high up looking to force them to make a mistake. The home side adopted a defensively organised systematic approach. While pressing the man on the ball they also made sure that the short passing options were closed out.
Credit should be given to Sampaoli and his men because their pressing played a role in controlling the game and dictating terms in the first quarter. As we see in the above picture their approach forced Mineiro to play in pressurised conditions. Although Mineiro were sometimes successful in breaking the press of Santos, they weren’t always fortunate in their efforts.
With no one to play the ball to while being pressed by the nearest man, Igor Rabello is forced to play a long ball. The attempted pass is picked up by a Santos player, resulting in a turnover for Atletico Mineiro.
However, in pressing high and aggressively Santos did give up a lot of space in crucial areas. Credit to their defensive work rate as these spaces weren’t exploited as much by the opposition.
As shown in the above picture, the aggressive pressing of Santos did work for them as it allowed them to have nearby options after winning the ball. Santos would commit as much as three players to win the ball. One thing that can also be said about their pressing is that it looked organized and well-practised. The players would form triangles, which is a positive shape when it comes to football terms. This shape is known to illustrate good structure and positioning whether used in attack or defence.
Following the successful press in the previous picture, Santos then play the nearest man who initiated a successful counter on the left-hand side. The attack results in a cross on the other hand for Santos almost leading to the sides second goal of the match.
Keeping up the fight
Mineiro did manage to pull one back before halftime, allowing them to go into the second half on level terms. Despite what looks like a good defensive shape on the side of Santos, a long ball behind their high line was all it took to bring Mineiro into the game following an early goal by Santos defender Gustavo Henrique.
New rules at play
it was interesting to see teams continually make use of the new rule regarding goal kicks. We saw Santos players on several occasions come into the box during goal kicks to try and build up play.
A moment that could have turned the game around was when Mineiro midfielder Ze Welison was given a straight red card for alleged dangerous play. This was, however, overturned by the VAR system and the midfielder received a yellow card instead.
One of the notable changes for Santos was the substitution of Soteldo. After the right-hand side of Santos had been rather quiet in an attacking sense during the first half, the Venezuelan made a significant impact coming off the bench.
Soteldo would bring the perfect dimension into the game for Santos. He would naturally start out wide and look to cut into the middle. He did this to draw defenders in while looking to play through to the open man after the defenders had committed to him.
With Soteldo hugging the touchline, the defence of Atletico Mineiro began to get stretched. Santos used this to their advantage by quickly shifting the ball from side to side trying to get an opening that will lead to their second goal of the game.
Comfortable on both flanks, Soteldo would also switch to the right-hand side looking to trouble the defence. This sort of versatility in his game was key to Santos as they controlled the encounter in the second half, keeping Mineiro on their toes.
Turn of events
With only seven minutes left of regulation time, the game had an exciting run. With both teams having chances on either end, it was Atletico Mineiro who wore the fortunate ones, grabbing a late winner.
It all began with Soteldo’s run leading to his teammate taking a shot at goal. The midfielder does well to carry the ball, waiting for the right time to releasing the ball to Marinho, who has his effort saved by Victor.
The Mineiro goalkeeper then launches a quick counter-attack which sees Aguilar having to make a good defensive block to deny Minerio from scoring. Santos then launch a counter attack of their own through Soteldo who again produces another carry that sees one of his teammates get a shot on goal.
Once again, Mineiro launch an attack like the previous one by playing the ball behind the defence of Santos as we see in the picture above.
However, this time there was no spectacular blocks as Mineiro made sure to capitalise from the opportunity eventually sealing the game at the end.
The Copa do Brasil round of 16 clash between Santos and Atletico Mineiro served up quite a spectacle. A match filled with goals and end to end action is always a treat for any fan. Now the focus will be on Sampaoli and his men and how they will look to recover from this loss. Chamara and his side will look to face Santos in their next league fixture. This game will also have a lot pending on it, with both teams aiming to get three points and cement themselves at the top.
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