Tactical Treats – Palmeiras vs. Vitoria da Conquista & Bragantino

Hard battles, big lessons*

Palmeiras’ last two matches were not walks in the park, even playing against small teams like Vitoria da Conquista in the Brazil Cup or Bragantino in the Paulistão, the latter with only Prass and Zé Roberto kept in the starting eleven. What was the legacy of these games?

In Bahia, Oswaldo spared Zé and Victor for physical reasons and Palmeiras played in a blue kit, a not very likeable colour for palmeirenses: they claim it gives bad luck since 1954, when Palmeiras lost a Paulista championship to Corinthians playing in a navy blue jersey.

However, the team performed well. Cristaldo’s first goal, a converted penalty, gave the team tranquillity and stability, allowing Allione and Dudu to exploit the flanks and open spaces in the centre of the field, while Robinho and Arouca were passing the ball with speed. Do you remember Robinho playing well as a centre midfield? Seems he plays well in the central 3-men position too. Good news!
The defensive system was solid and allowed only a goal and few shots for both opponents. In Oswaldo’s 4-2-3-1, the flank players (Allione and Dudu) join the midfielders when the team loses the ball, changing into a 4-4-2 formation. This was visible during the defensive phase against Vitoria, even playing on a small pitch with lousy grass.
Palmeiras’ system is very defined, trained and has many combinations. The goals always happen when the midfield line link between them, or when Zé and Lucas play in great depth in the attack, keeping the organisation of the team as one.

The battle in Bahia was tiresome, making Oswaldo opt for sparing the “ideal” eleven against Bragantino, already thinking about tonight’s clash against Santos. The alternative team were not bad at all – some may in fact consider Palmeiras’ starting eleven against Bragantino better than any starting eleven in 2014 – and he kept the 4-2-3-1 formation. Oswaldo rarely uses another tactical drawing and insists with some players in specific functions – this is very good, because they get used to a defined way of playing.
It is the case of Rafael Marques. Palmeirenses don’t like him much, but his tactical importance and intelligence defined the 1-0 result last Saturday. Let’s take a closer look at his goal: João Pedro and Maikon Leite combined on the right flank and Leandro dropped in on the side to receive the ball. In this movement, he attracted three opponents, opening up a large space in front of the box.

Renato saw this and advanced, but instead of trying the shot, he preferred to pass the ball to Rafael, who had been “reading” the game and already occupied the open space (the red area in the image below). This is a collaborative and intelligent movement led by three players. Football is a collective game!
When the game was in the bag, Oswaldo tested Gabriel Jesus, Palmeiras’ golden boy from the youth academy. He played as the single striker in the 4-2-3-1, in front of Zé Roberto, Rafael and Victor Luis in midfield. Palmeirenses need to stay calm and have patience with the young player: he has good movements, always looking for spaces on the left flank and in Zé Roberto finding a companion, but it’s yet too early to expect great things.
These tough fought victories have left some good impressions in relation to a team only beginning to show results, but that has good tactical and physical outsets. For now, one can conclude that Oswaldo, Altamiro, Gabriel and all the folks in the technical team are doing a good job. Now is the time to step up to the challenge of the Classico da Saudade against Santos, in the famous Vila!

* by Leonardo Miranda


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