Atletico Madrid achieved a new victory in LaLiga, this time at the expense of Real Valladolid, with two clear goals in their match at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in the 12th round of the season.
Atlético Madrid managed to exploit the half-spaces, and Thomas Lemar scored the first goal after Kieran Trippier’s move and the second goal came from Marcos Llorente.
In this tactical analysis, we will try to explain each coach’s tactics during this hectic meeting.
Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone entered the Valladolid match with the same tactical plan of his previous Champions League match, which he drew against Bayern Munich with a 3-5-2 system, with some names changed in various lines.
The Brazilian centre-back Felipe entered instead of José Giménez, Vitolo played in the middle instead of Yannick Carrasco and Hector Herrera instead of Marcos Llorente, and in the front Luis Suárez started in place of João Félix.
On the other hand, coach Sergio González recovered essential elements in various players who did not participate in a draw against Levante, the likes of Roque Mesa in the middle, and Fabián Orellana.
Real Valladolid in the defensive phase
González decided to adopt the 4-4-2 formation, which turns into a 4-4-1-1 in the event of losing the ball, with the narrowing of spaces between the midfield and the advanced defence line that the coach often implements.
But the team was also resorting to late defence tactics at some time to confront the ideas of Simeone, who plays with wingers that tuck in and attack deep into the field.
We will try to see the Valladolid coach’s defensive ideas during the next examples.
Here the ball is with Thomas Lemar, with eight Valladolid players stationed under the ball line and close observation of all solutions to vertical passing and the unprecedented pressure on every one of Lemar’s teammates.
Offering the defensive line a few metres away from the penalty area so that the whole team would be under the ball line and all the elements in Atlético Madrid would be observed.
Here we notice the team’s concentration in the first and middle third in terms of closing the spaces between the defence and midfield lines, while monitoring Atlético players, preventing them from moving laterally.
The defence here advanced to the final third, as Real Valladolid’s numerical superiority occurred in this 5-on-3 shot, forcing Atlético to lose the ball bypassing the long ball option.
Real Valladolid tried to defend well and prevented the hosts from scoring, but only 55 minutes of these ideas succeeded until Atlético’s attacking ideas succeeded.
Atlético’ attacking tactics
When seeing an analysis of Atlético‘s offensive ideas, we can see some constant things, especially in the last meetings after adopting the concept of a three-line defence, with the transition between 3-5-2 or 3-4-3, and the exploitation of equitable spaces.
Trippier and Vitolo move vertically and takes advantage of Real Valladolid’s poor defence positioning, with horizontal moves by Frenchman Lemar and Argentine Angel Correa.
We will try to see these ideas in the next examples at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Here we see Lemar’s vertical movement in the space behind the left-back of Real Valladolid, which allowed the Frenchman to advance and play the back-pass against Suarez, who moved towards the area and caused a great danger.
Utilising the space behind Real Valladolid’s two backs was a fundamental idea and an essential contribution to settling the match in favour of Atlético.
Here, the pitch was changed from left to right to reach the English Trippier behind the left-back of Real Valladolid, and he distributes the ball to Lemar, who advances vertically in the space behind the right-back of the visiting team and scored the goal.
Continually thinking about creating numerical superiority in offensive positions on the fringes was beneficial for Atlético.
Here, for the third goal, playing in the space behind the left-back, with Terbier superior in the bilateral conflict, which made Llorente go unilaterally with the goalkeeper and scored the second goal.
Atlético did not stop here but instead played well on the defensive side without the ball.
Atlético without the ball
Atlético’s high pressure without the ball was evident to make it challenging to build up the game for Real Valladolid, ideas that Simeone always adopts.
The idea of pressing the PvP system adopted continuously in the last, and middle third is always beneficial and forcing the opponent to lose the initial stages in attacks.
We will try to see this during the next image, and it continuously explains the Argentine coach’s thoughts.
Here we see the high pressure from Atlético in the last third to make it difficult to get out, forcing the Real Valladolid defender to play the long ball and lose possession.
Creating numerical superiority in a tight space was essential and evident for Atlético in their high-pressure operation in the final third of the field.
Here, this idea becomes clear, as, despite the presence of the position of 4 players from each team, the superiority in the duo was in favour of the host team and was able to regain the ball through organised pressure.
Returning to the middle third with the defensive line advancing a few metres to make it difficult for Real Valladolid players to find space to move vertically was an obvious idea.
Here, standing orderly in the middle third with the ball lanes closed and advancing the five-line defence, trimmed solutions to the ball holder from Valladolid.
The away side suffered from the ball throughout the match and did not cause problems on the goal of Jan Oblak as they did not have many shots.
Valladolid with the ball
Valladolid tried to diversify the attack from the sides of the rear, hoping to find a way to reach the Oblak goal which did not happen in the match.
The moves of Oscar Plano and Marcos de Souza in the final third were keys to the offensive gravity of the away team during the match.
We will try to see these ideas during the next image inside the meeting.
Here we see a cross-line pass from Mesa towards Plano, who moves horizontally to take advantage of the space between the home defenders, but he shot tamely.
Vertical moves from mid-thirds and offensive players to the Atlético penalty area with the possibility of cross ball.
Here, Mesa is the one who moves to the final third again despite being a defensive pivot, moving vertically and playing on the far post towards Sousa to take advantage of the lack of focus from the Atlético defence.
And there was one of the stars of the meeting, Lemar, because of his distinguished moves in the last third.
Lemar on track
Lemar had a remarkable performance on the defensive and offensive sides for the home team.
Without the ball, he puts pressure on the opponent to make it difficult to control it and not to find space in the last third.
We will try to see this during the next example during the meeting.
Here he presses the ball carrier from Real Valladolid to prevent him from passing vertically forward and force him to return to the back and return him to his areas.
He was not satisfied with that, but tried to break through the defenses of Real Valladolid, through line-breaking vertical passes.
Here, after an excellent penetration from the right side into the depth of the field, he was able to pass the ball distinctively towards Suarez to hit the position of the opponent’s defense in the space.
The Frenchman gave an outstanding performance over the course of the match, whether on the defensive or offensive side and helped his team win.
Atlético won the match to lead the league with 26 points, two points away from Real Sociedad II, with a postponed game for the leaders, and Real Madrid came third with 20 points.