Tactical Treats – Palmeiras vs. Rio Claro & São Bento

How do teams play? The question was flourishing a young man’s curiosity for football at the grandstands of the old Palestra Italia. Years later, he became a journalist and copywriter with a taste for football tactics. Now he’s glad to share some of this rational – and why not passionate – vision here at Anything Palmeiras.

As of today, and on regular intervals, Leonardo Miranda will contribute with his sharp observations in regard to Palmeiras’ tactical behaviour. I’m certain you readers will enjoy the ride. In any case and as always: feedback, positive or negative, is always appreciated.

And to Leonardo: welcome, the floor is yours!

— ooo —

Palmeiras’ 4-2-3-1 is gradually gaining shape and fluidity*

In December, recently-announced coach Oswaldo de Oliveira showed his fondness for the 4-2-3-1 system, imagining a midfield fit for Valdivia’s lack of defensive strength. While Alexandre Mattos was signing a lot of players, Oswaldo started to design Palmeiras in the 4-2-3-1. A couple of friendlies later, Oswaldo finally made up his mind with a new four-back defence and Leandro Pereira as the lone striker.

Last week, the palestrino coach made some replacements. At this point in time, we can consider the figure below to represent Palmeiras’ tactical layout:


After two consecutive defeats at the Allianz Parque, Oswaldo tested Cristaldo as the single striker and Alan Patrick in the central 3-men position. The idea was to let Dudu and Allione exploit the open flank when Cristaldo and Alan dropped to pick up the ball, or to attract the opponent by setting a numerical superiority near the goal: with this, there is always a man free of marking (commonly the full-backs), in conditions to pass, to dribble and to score.

The second goal against Rio Claro occurred by these movements: Dudu, Allione and Alan linked up well in the centre-left halfspace and started to drag their markers away. This cooperative movement created the space for Zé Roberto to move into the penalty area and score.
But the main difference in the last two victories was Robinho: his build-up role helped the team to create attacking situations with pace and fluidity. With him, passing of the ball from defenders to forwards were faster and gained quality with his good vision and pass. This allowed Palmeiras to press his opponent high and to dominate ball possession, controlling the match, as against São Bento.
Brazilian “small teams” are tricky to play against because they put too much men in defence and exploit counterattacks. Knowing how to construct attacking situations starting by the centre midfield can break this strategy and turn difficult duels into easy ones.

As usual, there are some negative points to be discussed. The strict man-to-man marking system, very common in South-American football, was exploited by Corinthians in the derby and may be a reason for concern in important matches. But let´s wait a little bit to see if this will work out for the season.

This upcoming Sunday against Penapolense, only Zé Roberto and Tobio are not guaranteed from the previous starting 11. If the four-back are well-settled and the attacking men have good movements, Oswaldo’s main “headache”, as they say in Brazil, is laying on the “double-pivot”: how to find room for Arouca with Robinho’s build-up role and Gabriel defensive importance? Soon to be answered!

Scoppia che la vittoria è nostra!

* by Leonardo Miranda


  1. Well, the game against Penapolense provided a good tip on how to procede with Arouca: Robinho should play where Alan Patrick currently does. But is he capable of doing the role of the center 3-men?

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