·22 August 2020
·22 August 2020
Palmeiras are looking to build on their quality campaign in 2019/20 where they finished third in the league and were knocked out in the Copa Libertadores quarterfinals by Gremio. Led by the former Real Madrid manager Vanderlei Luxemburgo, the Verdão have begun the season unbeaten after two draws and a victory against Athletico Paranaense.
Athletico Paranaense finished fifth in the league and were Copa do Brasil champions in 2019. They will look to continue their continental and domestic success competing in the Copa Libertadores and the Serie A. The side from Curitiba began their season with two wins against Goias and Fortaleza before two straight defeats.
Luxemburgo had Palmeiras line up in a 4-2-3-1. Goalkeeper Weverton and centre-backs Luan and Paraguayan Gustavo Gomes led the defence. Rounding out the defence were outside backs were Marcos Rocha and Diogo Barbosa. The double-pivot in midfield consisted of Patrick de Paula and former Serie A player Bruno Henrique. Playing in front of the double pivot was Lucas Lima, and flanking him were wingers Rony and Gabriel Menino. At striker was the former Spartak Moscow and AC Milan forward, Luiz Adriano.
In this instance from the match, we see how their shape looked when they had the ball, and how they would attempt to find their wingers.
Vitinho then knocks it down to Carlos Eduardo. Although the pass is sloppy and the move breaks down shortly after, we are able to see the tactic that creates a numerical advantage for the home side.
If Athletico Paranaense were possessing the ball, they would cycle the ball between the back three looking for a gap in the defence. The back three made it difficult for Palmeiras to cut off the passing lanes to the centre backs using one forward. This would mean that the inverted outside backs and midfielders always had an option to pass back to maintain possession.
Using this example we are able to see this tactic in action. Khellven is seen playing the ball back to centre back Lucas Halter. His positioning has forced the Palmeiras winger inside so that he could mark him. This opens up a lane for Halter to pass or dribble through.
Since he is comfortable with the ball at his feet, Halter drives forward into space. Although Luiz Adriano does attempt to pressure Heleno, he is not able to impede his forward progress. The Athletico Paranaense defender is then able to pass to the winger Nikão.
Athletico Paranaense were able to manipulate the Palmeiras defence into opening up spaces in the channels with their ball movement and use of rotations. It kept the São Paulo club unsettled for the majority of the first half, where they remained in their defensive third.
In the next section of the analysis, we look at the changes that Palmeiras made in the second half.
Luxemburgo adjusted his team’s tactics in the second half by introducing more direct play in transition and in the build-up. With the above graph, we can see exactly after halftime is when the Verdão adjusted and began to play more direct. In transition, they would find a quick outlet pass before passing the ball directly to the opposite side of the field.
The next section of the analysis will look at how Palmeiras utilized the long pass to their advantage.
Utilizing this rotation in the channels, Zé Rafael is able to make an underlapping run to receive the ball closer to the penalty area.
As we see in the example above the midfielders were able to man-mark, and force the Rubro-Negro to play riskier long balls. After subbing out Luiz Adriano, Willian began to drop between the wingers and use his cover shadow to block off middle passing lanes.
In this example, we see Lucas Halter playing the ball to Khellven. The difference now is the way Palmeiras defended. Instead of following his mark and allowing Khellven to move inside, Zé Rafael marked the space and forced the outside back wide.
As the ball arrives, Khellven attempts to cut inside to create an overload but is forced back outside with the physical arrival of the Palmeiras winger. Since his only option is to play to his winger, Khellven does so.
The issue here is that they are so close together. Having been corralled by the Palmeiras defence, the winger attempts to dribble out into the penalty area. Here he is met by Gustavo Gomes, who clears the ball towards the forwards to create an opportunity in transition.
Palmeiras long ball tactics and defensive changes unsettled the home side. The Furacão were not able to adjust to this and attempted to recreate what made them successful in the first half to no avail.
Athletico Paranaense were not able to convert their possession into quality scoring opportunities and were wasteful when the time came to take the lead. Palmeiras defensive tactics and second-half adjustment was the difference between the two sides. Vanderlei Luxemburgo will be happy with Palmeiras response after a slow start to their campaign.
The race to win the league has gotten very interesting since Flamengo has not started brightly, and these are two teams that will challenge for the top three spots. It is worth keeping an eye on Athletico PR and Palmeiras.