The final match of the Argentinian Superliga season 2019/20, was played between San Lorenzo de Almagro and CA Lanús on the 8th of March, ending 4-3.
With the three points gained, San Lorenzo assured themselves a place for the next Copa Sudamericana tournament, while Lanús lost their opportunity to finish at the third place in the league.
In this tactical analysis, we will try to understand how San Lorenzo’s tactics overcame their opponents.
San Lorenzo‘s coach, Leandro Romagnoli, set the team in a 4-4-2 formation, very solid, with Adam Bareiro and Ángel Romero as strikers. Meanwhile, wonderkid striker Adolfo Gaich, who has gained interests from various clubs in Europe including big teams like PSG, Inter, and even Barcelona, had to sit out the game due to sprained ankle.
On the other hand, Luis Zubeldía, Lanús‘ coach, set a similar disposition, a 4-1-4-1, with an only player, José Sand, as forward.
The first half of the match has shown quite an equal match, with the two teams’ tactics countering each other.
Despite the initial attacking phase set by San Lorenzo, who scored with a long distance shot by Diego Rodríguez, with the approach of the halftime Lanús showed more aggressive, creating three threats and equalized at the 45′, with a header by centre-back Ezequiel Muñoz.
In the second half, both of the teams were oriented to attack, creating occasions, but leaving spaces between defensive and midfield lines, all of this resulting in a sum of five goals scored.
Lanús’ possessive play
The first point that comes out from this match analysis is the possessive play imposed by Lanús, mainly emerged during the first half, with a 64% of ball possession, but also evident in the second – with the average possession slightly dropped to a 60% overall -.
Ball control led Lanús to create more occasions, with more passes – 490 to 338 -, more shots – 20 to 13: if we look at the xG, the match would have to be won by them, 2.47 to 2.13. But the scoresheet said differently.
The image below shows the field area where the team has accomplished the majority of passes (more than three in a row): not surprisingly, the midfield is the neuralgic area with the 54% of passes, involving all the Lanús’ players (the number 33 has played only 13′).
A representation of the attacking attitude set by Lanús is given by the image below, showing one of the potential occasions that happened in the first half: the ball follows the black line from Alexandro Barnabei, the left-back, to Sand, the striker.
The two Lanús players highlighted in the blue box benefit from freedom, San Lorenzo’s midfielders are not close to them, causing in this way a serious potential threat to the defensive line. In fact, San Lorenzo captain Fabricio Coloccini, linked to Sand by the blue line, follows him when he receives the ball, letting the other Lanús attacking players to be marked by the other two defenders. This allows the left-back, Barnabei, who started the action, to keep on his run, to enter the area, receive back the ball by Sand and shot – its trajectory is given by the yellow line -.
At the end of the first half, Lanús equalised from a corner with a header by Ezequiel Muñoz. Suddenly, the team benefited from a penalty, scored by Sand, due to a hand touch by a San Lorenzo’s defender. Here, Sand again had an opportunity to score the third goal with the occasion that happened in the frame below.
As we can see, the right-back Leonel Di Plácido is ready to pass the ball to Sand inside the area – its trajectory is represented by the black line -. The two San Lorenzo’s players, Alejandro Donatti and Gerónimo Poblete are running toward the ball to provide assistance to Coloccini in doubling the attacker; however, at least one of them, should pay more attention to Sand, that is likely to receive the ball – and so it will be, following the yellow line -. Lanús’ striker will be denied to score by the crossbar, in the end.
The third event that is relevant to mention is the analysis of Lanús’ third goal, whose frame below represents the initial of the event.
Lanús’ midfielder Fernando Belluschi, that replaced Facundo Pérez in the second half, has benefited from freedom from his marker – in fact, Poblete was not close to him as highlighted – and he has been able to provide a vertical pass to Sand (black line). Once again, because of San Lorenzo’s defensive line misalignment, Sand has received the assist from his teammate and showed himself in front of the opposing goalkeeper (and he scored).
These three situations represented how Lanús’ possession has allowed them to build up serious occasions, especially gaining benefit from the spaces left by San Lorenzo’s defenders and from their errors.
San Lorenzo’s resistance and persistence
Despite the tactical analysis of Lanús’ possessive play and how they were able to create occasions all over the match – and to score three goals -, the home team scored four and won the match.
We can identify as the source of three of the goals scored by San Lorenzo – the fourth has been a header from a corner kick -, a ball recovery in the midfield area.
The first key moment happened after 15 minutes from the kickoff: Marcelo Herrera, the right-back, with the assistance of his teammate Julián Palacios intercepted the ball and moved forward along the right side.
The image below shows the moment before the right back crosses in the area – the black arrow is the trajectory – and the striker Bareiro receives it.
Nevertheless, the goal is not scored from this event. In fact, Bareiro is able to control the ball and all the Lanús’ defenders are attracted by him, following the blue trajectories. Hence, the striker leaves the ball to the upcoming midfielder Ignacio Piatti, who is unmarked and is able to control it. However Piatti has a wall in front of him, as showed in the second frame below: despite his intention is to move on the left, after a tackle the ball is received by Rodríguez who thanks to his technique – and a bit of luck – shoots and scores.
As mentioned earlier, after this episode, during the remaining first half San Lorenzo has suffered the possessive play imposed by Lanús.
In the second half, San Lorenzo has benefited from Bareiro’s best seasonal performance, who scored twice – his first goals of the season, the second, and the third goal equalisers. In particular, the 3-3 equaliser is worth analysing.
Lucas Menossi receives the ball – after a recovery by Herrera – and provides a key pass to Juan Ramirez on the left side. Ramirez, following the yellow line, receives the ball and shoots but the goalkeeper saves but does not catch the ball. Bareiro, who has followed the action willing to receive a pass from his teammate, anticipates Lanús’ defenders and scores.
The last frame that is worth mentioning is the event that led San Lorenzo to win the match. Once again, an error in the build-up phase has been determinant to Lanús.
Menossi appeared a key player for San Lorenzo with his recovery attitude. His interception made in Lanús’ half of the pitch allowed him to immediately pass the ball to Óscar Romero, that, being free to turn himself, cuts the defensive line and passes the ball – along the black line – to his brother Ángel, in the highlighted space.
Á. Romero, after receiving the ball, sees the space in the area that the upcoming Herrera is about to cover and provides him the assist for the winning goal.
These events show how ball recoveries – and on the other side build up mistakes – in the opponents’ half of the pitch have been crucial for the outcome of the match.
To conclude, the tactical analysis of the match tried to highlight the key moments that led to the 4-3 result. Defensive misalignments, mistakes in the build-up phases, and ball recoveries can be identified as crucial events from both the teams. Lanús tried to impose a style of play based on ball possession, but their mistakes made in the second half allowed San Lorenzo to capitalise and overturn the match.
Regarding individuals, Sand (two goals) and Belluschi (one assist and two key passes) have provided great performances for Lanús, while Bareiro (two goals), Menossi (two key passes and two balls recovered) and Herrera (one goal, one save and one intercept)- among the other teammates – led San Lorenzo to victory.