Atletico Madrid got a convenient win over Real Mallorca in the match which was played at Wanda Metropolitano stadium, within the matches of round 34 of the La Liga. There were three goals, Álvaro Morata scored two of them and Koke succeeded scored the last at the last ten minutes of the match.
Real Mallorca tried to start the match with some ideas of build-up phase from first third when Iddrissu Baba dropping off between the two centre-backs, but the team faced some difficulties to move up because of high pressure from Atlético Madrid, who took the ball in the middle third and playing in the half-spaces
Atlético Madrid under coach Diego Simeone made six substitutions compared to the team’s last match against Barcelona, in which the team tied with two goals each. The young Manuel Sánchez played in the left-back position instead of Renan Lodi and Álvaro Morata came into the attack instead of Diego Costa.
On the other side coach, Vicente Moreno made some substitutions compared to the team’s last match where they got a big victory with five goals against Celta Vigo, where participants Aleksandar Trajkovski and Aleix Febas played instead of Salva Sevilla and Ante Budimir.
Mallorca struggle in build-up
Real Mallorca and their coach Moreno faced many struggles in the build-up phase. They tried to move up from the first third with mainly formation 4-4-1-1, playing with Takefusa Kubo and Dani Rodríguez on flanks, behind Aleksandar Trajkovski and Cucho Hernández as the two strikers.
But the main pieces in the phase of build-up from behind were the pivot player Iddrisu Baba and Takefusa Kubo, to try to penetrate Atlético Madrid’s organised defence, but the attempts didn’t succeed as we will see in the next examples.Here we can see the ball with Iddrissu Baba in the centre of midfield, trying to come out with the ball from the first third of his team, with an attempt to expand the pitch from the two full-backs Alex Pozo and Fran Gámez.
But there has always been a problem that the Mallorca player stands in the shadow of the Atlético Madrid player, meaning that the Real Mallorca player stands away from his teammate. This facilitated the process of cutting the ball from Marcos Llorente, the good position from Atlético Madrid and static playing from Real Mallorca made some problems for the guests.
Real Mallorca were playing here in this scene the ball horizontally to find the space in Atlético Madrid’s well-organized defensive shape, but the problem was that their players were consistently in places that couldn’t offer them a channel vertically. There was no movement from Iddrisu Baba and Aleix Febas, and the latter should have come out of control and go to a closer area and try to receive the ball, but this didn’t happen and the team lost possession.
Vicente Moreno tried to get solution for these difficulties and told Baba to drop off between the two centre-backs to make the build-up easier. It didn’t succeed because of Atlético Madrid high pressure as we will see in the next examples. Here we can see the positioning of Baba between the two centre-backs Aleksander Sedlar and Antonio Raíllo, to expand the pitch and find the space to make the build-up. However, we can also see the pressure of Saúl Ñíguez, who forced Baba to pass it again to the goalkeeper who played the long ball and lost possession.Here we can see how Real Mallorca tried to play more vertical passes to break the Atlético’s lines, where Takefusa Kubo dropped down to take the pass. The defensive organization of Atlético caused him some problems with Manu Sánchez the left-back who pressed high to close the ball lanes.
Real Mallorca faced struggles in the build-up phase whenever they tried to play from the width of pitch or even tried to play on flanks, specifically the right one, with Kubo and Pozo, because of Atlético’s high pressure.
Atlético Madrid high pressure
Atlético Madrid under coach Diego Simeone, played with usual 4-4-2 with Morata beside João Félix in the attacking line, with four players in the midfield where Llorente and Yannick Carrasco on the flanks, and the centre of the field was secured by the duo Koke and Ñíguez.
Simeone chose the final third of the pitch to apply the high pressure on Mallorca team with the team trying to cut the ball and play the fast counter-attack and restore possession, as we will see in the examples below.Here we can see the high pressure from Atlético Madrid from the middle third, with a man-marking defensive system to reduce the options for the ball holder, here Baba, and close the ball lanes in the first and the middle third of the opponent.
Here when the ball was with the goalkeeper of Real Mallorca Manolo Reina. Despite the presence of Baba and Febas in distinct places and an ideal focus when building the attack, Atlético Madrid singled out Real Mallorca players in the first third, with Llorente entering inside to narrow spaces, as was the case with Yannick Carrasco, who made the goalkeeper resort to playing the long ball.
Atlético Madrid searched for numerical superiority in the attacking third without the ball, to make the transition easier when they could take possession, as we will see in the next examples.Here Mallorca was forced to go on the left side, but it faced organized pressure from the Atlético players in a small area, which made there few solutions to get the ball out, due to the numerical superiority of the اhosts, which made Mallorca lose possession of the ball.Here, when the Mallorca players managed to cut the ball from Atlético players in the defensive third, they could only keep it for a few seconds as captain Koke quickly recovered to contribute to the second goal after a cross by Llorente, leading to Morata scoring.
Their was vertical pressure from the Madrid side in Mallorca’s defensive third, where the Mallorca defence quartet lost 17 balls in their third out of 37 balls they lost in the total minutes of the match. This illustrates Simeone’s ideas during the game when he decided to spoil the build-up of the attacks by making counter-attacks and posing a threat to Reina’s goal.
Atlético didn’t stop with taking the ball from Mallorca, but the movements for the attacking players in the half-spaces in the final third made a difference.
Simeone’s attackers in half-spaces
Atlético Madrid with the ball tried to expand the pitch through Keiran Trippier and Manu Sánchez on the flanks, with movement from Carrasco and Llorente inside the field to make many options for direct ball toward Reina.
We can see 3-1-4-2 in the build-up phase from Atlético Madrid with notice for Ñíguez and Koke positioned on the pitch as we will see in the next examples.
Here we can see Ñíguez as a third centre-back in the build-up, with Trippier and Sánchez high up to take advantage of the space left by the two full-backs in the Mallorca team, who were both busy monitoring another player after entering deep on the pitch to narrow spaces.
Here we see again the ball in possession of Jose Giménez in an attempt to get the ball out of the defensive third of Atletico towards the left side, with no direct pressure from Mallorca players on the ball holder. We also notice Carrasco’s movements behind Kubo to exploit the space between the right-back and the centre-back of Real Mallorca.
Carrasco moved in half-spaces in a vertical way that made him go to the centre of the striker, receiving a Manu pass deep into the defence, after the overlap with Morata, because of big spaces between Real Mallorca players.
Here, with the expansion of the pitch by Trippier, the entrance of Vitolo and Ángel Correa deep into the pitch was to use the space between the lines of Real Mallorca. We see Vitolo dropped down to the depth of the field and left the space in the right flank to play the ball there.
Here, after the ball was passed to Ángel Correa, Vitolo continued to run in front of Mallorca without supervision, and here lies the ideas of playing Atlético in the half-spaces specifically behind the Mallorca midfielders.
The Madrid side took advantage of the spaces between the Mallorca lines well, because the midfielders moved vertically all the time, specifically Llorente and Koke, but here was the reason to make things easier for them, which is the positioning of Mallorca players without the ball
Mallorca without the ball
Moreno used the 4-4-1-1 method, to close the spaces in the middle of the stadium and try to converge the lines in the defensive state to not leave solutions to Atlétic players in the last third of the pitch. However, those ideas had some problems.
Leaving the distance between the defensive midfield and the Mallorca defence line was causing some trouble to move without a ball from Félix, Llorente and Koke, as we will see in the next examples.
In this example, the ball was in João Félix’s possession on the left side. It is worth noting that there is a lot of space between the defensive line and the midfield for Mallorca, precisely because of the duo Idrissou Papa and Alex Febas, who left the space for the three Atlético Madrid to move in half the spaces between the defence of Mallorca.
After Félix passed the ball to Carrasco, he moved up to the space between two centre-backs. The away team failed to cover those pockets in the defensive areas, which caused some of the spaces that Atlético Madrid exploited.
With Mallorca’s two-pivots descending deeper into the pitch further, and with the wide players delay in returning to their original position, it left some Madrid players free in the last third, as happened in the third goal scored by Koke.
Here we notice Koke carrying the ball and progressing comfortably without the pressure of Mallorca players in the middle. This was because each player is busy observing another player from Atlético, and this is due to the idea of decentralization in the performance of players of the hosts.
Here, after a pass by Ángel Correa in front of him, he decided to move perpendicularly to the space behind Mallorca’s pivot players, and the gap arose again after Idrrisuo Baba returned deep in defence to cover the space and Salva Sevila was late in returning to.
There were major defensive problems for Real Mallorca, both at the individual level and as a team, in contrast to what Atlético Madrid showed despite the change of elements compared to the victory against Barcelona last round, and perhaps the most prominent distinctive aspect is Sánchez, the young left-back.
Manu Sánchez on track
Manu Sánchez participated in this match in the left-back position for the second time, and because of his remarkable performance, it was necessary to talk during this analysis in particular about the performance of the 20-years-old.
Here the smart movent of Sánchez behind the Real Mallorca defence enabled him to create a dangerous opportunity, showing his good work off the ball.
He was also strong with the ball, having dribbling completion rate of 67% in this match, with great attacking contribution because of his intelligent movement and mobility, beside his defensive performance.
When his team lost the ball, he decided to intervene on Kubo to take the ball, helping to prevent the counter-attack on his team, which was smart behaviour from the young man.
Some lack the focus in defensive positions with some impulsivity, but certainly, under the leadership of Simeone, he will develop on the defensive side.
There were a lot of tactical ideas from both sides during this match, both by trying to build-up the ball from Real Mallorca, and Atletico Madrid’s ideas of pressure.
Atletico Madrid achieved victory here, making it 62 points and moving to third place to secure the Champions League qualification position, continuing their good form since the league resumed. Mallorca stayed in the relegation zone, stranded on 29 points.