After an incredible loss against Shakhtar Donetsk in Uefa Champions League, Atalanta need to hold up their heads and don’t stop their path in Serie A, where they are third, and one of the most interesting teams in the whole top-flight. Lecce had lost against Roma in the last matchday, but they are showing a good organization and beautiful football.

In this tactical analysis, we will explain how Atalanta’s tactics overcame Lecce’s style of play, and how some of Gian Piero Gasperini’s choices worked in this match with an analysis of Atalanta’s offensive phase.

Lineups

Serie A 2019/20: Atalanta vs Lecce - tactical analysis tactics

Atalanta didn’t underestimate Lecce and they started with one of their best XIs possible, with the same 3-4-1-2 and the same tactics from Gian Piero Gasperini; only Rafael Tolói and Hans Hateboer from the standard XI started from the bench, while the three best players in attack, Gómez, Zapata, and Iličić, are ready from the first minute.

Fabio Liverani, Lecce’s coach, started with his 4-3-2-1 formation with Imbula as a left midfielder for the first time in this season, and La Mantia as the first striker, supported by Falco and the captain Mancosu.

The powerful impact of Atalanta’s attacking phase

Atalanta created many chances to score in the whole match, but especially in the first half (in the whole game they collected over 4 xG, meaning that they hadn’t scored so much for what they had created) they were unstoppable.

Serie A 2019/20: Atalanta vs Lecce - tactical analysis tactics
Three minutes from the start, and the whole Atalanta’s team is in the opposite half side of the field. We can notice how the full-backs are wide on the flanks stretching opponent’s defence, and how Papu is roaming around in the centre of the field, connecting himself to the whole squad.

Atalanta want to fill all the five vertical corridors of the field; the full-backs are on the external corridors, granting width, making difficult for the opposing defence to stay narrow. Papu Gómez, Iličić and Duván Zapata are the three strikers, deputed to occupy the half-spaces (Iličić in the right one, Papu or Duván in the left one) and the depth in the centre (this is work especially for the former Napoli player Zapata). By doing this, Lecce can’t defend against width, half-spaces, and depth at the same time, conceding some great chances to score.

Serie A 2019/20: Atalanta vs Lecce - tactical analysis tactics
Perfect attacking from Atalanta; the five corridors are filled with the two full-backs and the three attackers; Ilicic in his preferred place, the right half-space, Zapata in the centre, and Papu in the left half-space. Lecce’s defence is stretched and can’t hold this situation for too long.

When the ball is played on the flank, Atalanta like to overload the zone with the full-back, the centre-back, one of the midfielders, and one or two attackers, to try fast combinations to penetrate in-depth into the area. This is how Atalanta got the second goal, with a fast combination between Papu Gómez and Duván Zapata. This was possible thanks to the overload in the zone, freeing Gómez from some more strict man-marking.

Serie A 2019/20: Atalanta vs Lecce - tactical analysis tactics
Overload on the left flank, positional superiority granted by a midfielder, a defender, the full-back and Papu Gomez against two defenders.

After that overload, Zapata is a real champion in taking a position against the defender, protect the ball and open spaces for his teammates to attack in-depth.

Serie A 2019/20: Atalanta vs Lecce - tactical analysis tactics
Zapata receives the ball from Gosens, protects it from the opponent’s defender and finds Gomez between the lines. Gomez has got an explosive pace and scores.

Another situation used by Atalanta to attacks against the opponent’s defence is the counter-pressing and the will of recovering the ball high on the pitch; to do this they are always aggressive, searching the interception every time, everywhere on the field. Atalanta accepted the numerical parity in the back row, betting on the ability of their defenders to read the situations and do different choices, aggressive or conservative, depending on the situation.

Serie A 2019/20: Atalanta vs Lecce - tactical analysis tactics
High pressing from Atalanta; it’s a 1vs1 situation all over the field, we can see it clearly here.
Every Atalanta’s player has got his reference opposite’s player and has got to strictly man-marking them. Here Gosens intercept the ball and serves Zapata, who scores with a great shot.

Lecce’s attacking phase has got some strong principles.

It is not easy to create an analysis of Lecce’s attacking phase because they didn’t have many chances, but even if the game was prohibitive, Lecce didn’t want to give up without trying to impose his style of play, ball-oriented, trying to control the possession of the ball and attack the opponent’s goal with La Mantia and the two beside him, Mancosu and Falco.

As we have already seen above, they always start building from the back, and they try to attract the opponent’s pressing to open up spaces behind them and attack those spaces with positional superiority and combinations.

 

Serie A 2019/20: Atalanta vs Lecce - tactical analysis tactics
Lecce started from the back, moving the opponent’s defence and breaking through the pressing lines. They have got positional superiority against Atalanta’s left flank and they can combine to put inside a cross.
Serie A 2019/20: Atalanta vs Lecce - tactical analysis tactics
With a good combination, Rispoli can put inside a dangerous cross; La Mantia is pinning at the center of the area the defenders, freeing space for Majer, left midfielder at the moment, who can attack the goal.

These are the first principles of Fabio Liverani’s style of play; building from the back, attract the opponent’s pressing, research of positional superiority to attack the goal. But everything can be done thanks to the fantasy of the two best players, Filippo Falco and Matteo Mancosu.

In the best chance for Lecce in this match, Falco lowered himself to have more space, and to face the opponent’s goal; Mancosu reads the situation, and attacks the depth behind the opponent’s defender, using his blindside to take advantage of him on the through ball. Unfortunately, La Mantia didn’t capitalize the situation, thanks to a great save from Atalanta’s goalkeeper Gollini.

Serie A 2019/20: Atalanta vs Lecce - tactical analysis tactics
Falco is free to face the opponent’s goal and plays a great through ball to Mancosu, who attacks the blindside of the opponent’s defender. Mancosu swings inside a cross and La Mantia shot but Gollini makes a great save.

Conclusion

Atalanta’s coach Gian Piero Gasperini is conscious about the potentiality of his team, and he plays some risky tactics betting on his players’ skills, pace, and technic; even after an incredible loss like the one against Shaktar, they didn’t have a knockback and they returned with a great victory in their new Gewiss Stadium. Lecce has got a good potential to avoid relegations, but Liverani’s defensive tactics aren’t good enough for Atalanta’s attacking play.


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Francesco Donzella

24-years-old performance analyst. Former footballer. Italian, holds match analyst license from FIGC. Enjoys football, in particular, offensive midfielders and ball-oriented style of play.
Francesco Donzella