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Archive for the ‘Tactical Treats’ Category

First big issues of 2015*

Oswaldo de Oliveira is always a reminder of the real situation Palmeiras are in: a work in progress. With 8 wins and 3 losses, we can say 2015 is a good year o far, but there are lots of adjustments needed for the next phases of the Paulistão and the Copa do Brasil.

Palmeiras’ clash with Santos was disappointing. Many supporters were hoping for victory against a major team, but instead of keeping the leading roll of the first 10 minutes, Palmeiras were completely dominated by the Meninos da Vila, who controlled the midfield, scored 2 goals and called on Prass to executed miracles several times.

There were no changes in the tactical layout: the 4-2-3-1 system was kept, with Allione and Dudu on the flanks and Gabriel and Arouca as defensive midfielders. At first, it seemed it would be a thrashing result with Victor Hugo’s goal and good possession. But, for a reason we still would like to know, Palmeiras started to slow down the pace and let Santos advance their lines, looking for Robinho or Lucas Lima on the left side of the field.
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There is no problem with relaxing, but Palmeiras’ marking system was too bad to keep up with a good result. Some weeks ago, the man-to-man marking system was the catalyser for Ponte Preta’s and Corinthians’ victories at the Allianz Parque. Now, it appeared again as the main cause for Santos’ good offensive game. As Dudu and Allione were less obedient when not carrying the ball, Victor Ferraz and Cicinho were always free of marking, allowing Robinho and Oliveira to penetrate behind Tobio.
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Tobio deserves a paragraph of his own for his bad performance against Santos. As a defender, he was always trying to anticipate the next play, causing a big hole in the area in front of the goal. This is very common in Brazilian football – just recall David Luiz in the World Cup. Applying speed, Ricardo Oliveira and Robinho caused confusion in Palmeiras’ marking system and appeared free, or passed to ball to a penetrating midfielder, in this case, Renato.
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It was Palmeiras’ worst game in 2015, and the next battle would not be a walk in the park either: XV de Piracicaba, a small-town club, came to Allianz Parque to park the bus and spend all 90 minutes defending their goal. As our greatness demands, Oswaldo knew it and always asked for his players to keep the ball away from the opponent, passing it around, looking to create space.
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Again, the prospect was unsuccessful, mainly because of Dudu and Allione. As wingers, they have to protect the left and right backs (as they did not against Santos) and, with the ball, they have to create space by using the flanks and then turn inwards, creating the famous numerical superiority.

But our #20 and specially our #7 were not so interested in doing this. Instead, they chose the wrong option when playing small clubs: dribbling in the midfield. Look at the image: there is no use in dribbling Dudu’s marker, because there is another man right by his side, protecting the space. This led to 80 minutes of possession and no shots. Only Gabriel, after a corner, saved the game.
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We saw the same difficulties repeated against São Bernardo. Does this mean that the team is poor and that everything is wrong? Certainly not. Oswaldo’s 4-2-3-1 is defined and well-trained. It only needs a better execution. The problem lies not in players, the coach or something else. Look at the frame below: Arouca, Lucas and Cristaldo correctly sync their movements on the flank to create a numerical superiority and Rafael and Dudu are in the area, waiting for the ball. But there is no one in the central area.
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This is normal: Palmeiras have played only 11 games in 2015. Palmeiras are more a “work in progress” than a team, as supporters expect to be. Against São Paulo, we hope to see improvement, but in the end of the day, I think you will reason with me: it’s better to be a work in progress now, in the middle of March, than in May, in the final phases of the Paulistão and with the Brazilian championship about to kick off.

* by Leonardo Miranda

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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!
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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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Despite all odds, Palmeiras perform better with Robinho as a centre midfielder – and yes, Arouca can play with him in the 4-2-3-1!*

Last week, the main question was how to find room in the midfield for Arouca, Gabriel and Robinho. After 2 wins, we have some answers and new questions surrounding the team.

First of all, we must recognize the quality of the opponents, despite their small investment. Penapolense and Capivarano rarely tried to exceed their field, opting to explore counterattacks. This made Palmeiras’ task extremely difficult, as Oswaldo predicted. 

Against Penapolense, the 4-2-3-1 layout was kept with Robinho and Gabriel as the central midfielders. The team had a lot of possession – nearly 65% – but few shots. PC Gusmão, Penapolense head coach, put 10 men in defence, in a flat 4-4-2. That said, Verdão always tried to build the game through Gabriel between Tobio and Victor Hugo – what is termed the “lavolpiada build-up”, moving forward Lucas and João Paulo.
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Robinho’s role was important to break this blockage, but once again the connection of the 4 offensive men in the 4-2-3-1 was decisive to the victory. In the image, Dudu and Allione are in the same space – the left flank – and Allione is doing the winger role, allowing Dudu to drop into the centre area with Alan and dribble 2 opponents, then passing to Cristaldo score another goal. This cooperative movement could also be seen in Zé Roberto’s goal against Rio Claro: this is the result of good and intense training.
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The victory gave Oswaldo peace of mind to announce Arouca in the starting 11 against Capivariano. This was very expected by palmeirenses, wondering who should be picked to compose the midfield with so many qualified players. As Alan Patrick’s performance was disappointing, Oswaldo put Robinho in the central role and combined Arouca and Gabriel as the double-pivot.
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Arouca shed a few tears when entering the pitch for the first time in the Palmeiras jersey, but soon had to focus on the difficult task ahead. Capivariano played in a 4-4-2 diamond shape – the midfield had 3 centre-players, with Rodolfo returning as a left winger to hold Lucas, in what we can call a two-line drawing in the defensive phase.

As normal against small clubs, space near the opponent goal was scarce. In tactical theory, this can be explained by numerical superiority: when the opponent has more players then you in a certain space of the field, it becomes more difficult to execute football actions – passing, dribbling and crossing. That’s why there is no magical recipe to attack: it’s necessary to have movement and intelligence, in order to trick the opponent and create space. Look at the image below: there are 8, yes, 8 players behind Robinho, the man with the ball.
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The question is: did Palmeiras have these coordinated movements? Yes, they did. But sometimes that’s not enough to score a goal – the adversary could have a enchanted day, there is bad luck… That’s why it’s so important to have other alternatives, like Robinho’s beautiful shot in the first goal and his intelligence in the second one. He is becoming more and more important to Palmeiras, and it seems his better position is behind the 3-men line. 

If Robinho is crucial to make thing easier, can he play with Arouca, or would the defence be in jeopardy without a strongly defensive players like Gabriel? The answer is yes, Robinho and Arouca may be the best option for the 4-2-3-1. Oswaldo de Oliveira praises Arouca since 2006, when he discovered him at Fluminense, and now the #5 is a modern player, combining marking skills with good vision and pass. Look at the image below: there are two lines in Capivariano, and Arouca manages to find space among them. He is free of marking, ready to make a long-pass to Dudu. With Arouca and Robinho, Palmeiras’ midfield is balanced in attack and defence, just like modern football demands.
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This Wednesday, Palmeiras play in the Brazil Cup and Oswaldo de Oliveira has confirmed Robinho in the 3-men line, with Arouca and Gabriel together again in the 4-2-3-1. This is a good option, but the performance against a defensive opponent may require Arouca and Robinho to furar retrancas, as one would say in Brazil when having to attack a hard opponent. Let´s see!

* by Leonardo Miranda

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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!

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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:
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IMAGEM 1

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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.
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IMAGEM 2
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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.
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IMAGEM-3
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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

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