Atlético Madrid won over Levante in a match which was played at Ciutat de Valencia stadium, within the matches of round 31 of the La Liga, with a goal scored by Marcos Llorente at the end of the first 15 minutes of the match.
Atlético Madrid used Diego Simeone’s main ideas and gave most of the ball to Levante at the beginning of the match, with pressure being used fiercely in the first third when out of possession and instructing the midfielders to make runs forward when in possession. In return, Levante tried to escape the pressure by playing on the wings to be able to penetrate the block of their guests, but they faced some difficulties.
In this tactical analysis, we will try to showcase the tactics of two coaches in this game.
Atlético Madrid played with the same 4-4-2 system but had some adjustments on players in the main formation compared to the last game where they beat Valladolid with a clean game as well.
We saw players like Renan Lodi, Stefan Savić, and Santiago Arias in the defensive line who didn’t play the last match, and Diego Costa as a striker alongside Marcos Llorente, whereas in the last meeting the offensive duo consisted of João Félix and Álvaro Morata.
On the other side, Levante under coach Paco López decided to play his traditional system of using two strikers Roger Marti and Sergi León who took the place over Borja Mayoral who scored one of the three in Levante’s last win over Espanyol.
Atlético Madrid’s press
Atletico Madrid preferred to apply the high defensive line in the first third of the opposition while leaving the possession to Levante. They tried to cut the ball in the dangerous areas to make a counter-pressing situation or gain the ball higher up the pitch.
Diego Simeone has an organised style in pressing the ball with the opposite team, and that’s what will be seen in the next examples.
Here we can see how Atlético Madrid apply the high defensive line when the Levante team is in the build-up phase. We see the ball with centre-back Bruno González where three players from the guests are on the edge of the penalty area.
Their intention is to narrow the playing area with the ball being closed at the ends, whether to the right-back Coke who is preparing to face Yannick Carrasco, or to the double-pivot Nikola Vukčević and Nemanja Radoja who stand behind the duo Diego Costa and Marcos Llorente, who are stationed in such a way to cut the chance of a vertical pass.
Here and after, Bruno González decided to make a short pass toward Coke on the right flank when Atlético Madrid decided to put pressure on the ball holder, to make the opponent get rid of the ball, and this is because of the organised pressure as we mentioned.
We note Renan Lodi who’s staying close by the Levante winger Rubén Rochina to reduce solutions for the player who is looking for a colleague to receive the ball, and is forced to send a long pass that ends up in the visitors’ feet rather quickly.
Here we note the positioning of the attacking duo of Atlético de Madrid on a mission to cover the channels of the ball towards the home defenders’ centre-backs when they are trying to advance the ball. The guests’ defence starts from the midfield as they look to snatch the ball away and try to exploit the spaces.
Here when Levante are trying to change the game quickly on the other side of the field, towards the right-back where we find Diego Costa’s quick return on the left side. If you want a reason to mention that shot, it is once again the role of the offensive duo for Atlético Madrid in the defensive situation, which is crucial for the visitors.
Here is the ball with José Campaña, who is trying to build play from the first third of his team, but faces high pressure from Atlético Madrid players – especially Diego Costa – who are trying to cut the passes of the ball to retrieve them and play pressure counterattacks.
Because of the pressure pattern from Atlético Madrid collectively in the final third, the player carrying the ball is late in his decision, and a confrontation against Diego Costa, who was able to hijack the ball and reverse the attack, created a danger to Levante’s goalkeeper.
Diego Simeone chose to apply high pressure in many times of the match to force the Levante defence line and midfielders to lose the ball early, and this clearly affected Levante as the team lost in the first third where the four defenders lost 12 balls from the total 35 times, but how did Levante try to get out of the pressure?
Levante escape on flanks
Coach Paco López tried to expand the pitch in order to find some spaces on the flanks of the duo Coke and Toño while relying on them in progress and playing cross balls in the space behind the full-back for Atlético Madrid of the direction of the ball.
They entered the higher areas of the field from the back and aimed to eject the winger in the space, which can be seen in the following scene.
Here we see the centre midfielder Radoja positioned inside the field, with Rubén Rochina on the right side, but if we look at the left side we will find the left-back Toño and Enis Bardhi, the left-wing to penetrate the space behind Santiago Arias and playing crosses to the strikers.
Here we can see the positioning of Rubén Rochina after the corner-kick stayed tuned on the left flank in order to play the cross ball and take advantage of the poor positioning for Madrid, especially on the far post, which is what Levante tried to play to throughout the game.
Levante tried to play on the sides to take advantage of the Atlético Madrid 4-4-2 system, in which the team is stationed in the first third deeper inside the field, which means that it leaves a void on the flanks.
Levante tried to move in the half-spaces to penetrate the defensive conglomerate of the Atletico Madrid team, but they always decided to play the ball on the flanks, to get the players of the away team from their positions so the spaces appear as we will see.
Here we can see Jorge Miramón on the right flank, while Borja Mayoral and José Luis Morales are in the-half spaces, thus causing control problems since the space behind Renan Lodi can only be covered by José Jiménez until the latter can not leave his post because Mayoral has come vertically.
The most important player for the Levante offensive system is the left-back player Toño, who was the most important key due to his constant progression to the offensive third as we will see in the next shot.
Here we see that his advance to the final third forced Santiago Arias not to progress and meet him individually, here we see that his progress to the final third has forced Santiago Arias not to progress and meet him individually with an attempt to use the space behind the last and play cross passes, which causes problems for the defensive centre-back duo team of Atlético Madrid.
Toño had 75% successful crosses in this, match-three from four attempts and that’s the importance of the left-back in offensive situations becomes clear to the team’s tactics, but Atlético Madrid tried to read it so quickly and playing with Marcos Llorente as a second striker next to Costa and tilting to the right half-space behind Toño.
Llorente’s role and Atlético scheme
Marcos Llorente’s influence was evident in the style Atlético Madrid were playing during the match, whether it was centred on the offensive side taking advantage of the half-spaces between the left-back and the centre of defence in the Levante team, or even the defensive return in the middle when losing the ball.
His positioning in the attacking third when Atlético Madrid build up the ball from the defenders to forwards was also important, as we will see in the next examples.
Here we can observe the first attack in the meeting for Atlético Madrid, to understand why Diego Simeone chose to cast Marcos Llorente as the second striker, where he is stationed in the space between the full-back and the centre of defence in the Levante area.
Here we notice the impact of Marcos’s positioning on the defence of Levante, where he exposed problems in their lines and occupied the spaces left by the full-backs when he advanced in the attack, which put Llorente in a 1 v 1 situation.
Marcos Llorente had 60% successful dribbles three times of five, and that was a great individual strike to him in the final third, but his vertical and sharp movements gave his team the advantage as we will see in the goal which scored in this match.
Here we notice Marcus Llorente moving vertically behind the Levante defence to receive the pass from Santiago Arias and causing the goal after a cross that the defender accidentally put in his goal. But let’s see how with his movement he gave a direct and important solution to the colleague to get closer while confusing the defenders when he came directly at them and attacked the space.
One problem for Marcos Llorente in this match was the loss of balls, as he lost nine balls during his participation in the match, but his attacking positioning was great in the final third.
Atlético’s tactics in attack
Atlético Madrid had good ideas in the offensive slot, with a mix between possession or even the system’s basic thought of leaving the ball to the opponent and putting strong pressure on the ball holder.
Atlético were able to take advantage of the problem present in the build-up phase of the Levante team, especially when the latter decides to build the ball with penetration from the depth of the field, as happened in the next example.
Here, when the ball carrier decided to play the ball to his teammate deep in the field, Atlético’s ideas of attack appeared by pressing in a high area with the possibility of possession of the ball and playing counterattacks, with a player from Madrid in control of each player from Levante.
Here we see Yannick Carrasco cut the ball due to the vertical pressure applied to the Levante players in the build-up phase to play, and managed to penetrate to the opponent’s areas, but he made the wrong decision to pass the ball to Diego Costa instead of Marcos Llorente, and these also highlight some of Atletico Madrid’s frequent offensive ideas, but they illustrate some of Levante’s defensive problems.
Levante positioning issues
Levante team had trouble positioning themselves in the first third of the field, whether they owned the ball or even when they were defending collectively, and perhaps this was due to the defensive moves of the two anchors Nikola Vukčević and Nemanja Radoja in the first half.
The presence of the two pivots on the same line makes the ball progression out of the defensive third difficult for the Levante team, which happened during both halves of the match, especially with the ideas of pressing from Madrid, as we will see in the following examples.
Here we can see both players on the same line with a high defensive line from Atlético Madrid, and with man-marking tactics employed during their press, there was no exit so the team had to lose the pressure by relying on the long ball from the goalkeeper and Madrid regained possession.
This should be the mission of one of them to move up or down the colleague’s possession area to receive the ball and facilitate the process of getting the ball out, but the lack of that affected the team and facilitated the implementation of Atletico’s ideas of pressure.
Here we see a repetition of the same problem despite the entry of Campaña during the second half, but the problems of leaving the ball from the depth of the field remained due to the lack of continuous mobility of the Levante midfielders stationed in the depth.
There were a lot of tactical ideas from both sides during this meeting, both by trying to get the ball from Levante in a lot of time and Atletico Madrid’s ideas of pressure.
We also tried to see in this analysis some weaknesses in Levante, especially in the build-up phase, with typical movements of the pivot players unlike the players of the flanks.
Atletico Madrid secured third place with 55 points, two points behind Sevilla in fourth in the standings and away from Real Madrid second by 10 points.