Atlético Madrid won a significant victory over Celta Vigo, clean in the match that brought them together in the fifth round of the La Liga competition at Baladios stadium.
The double of Diego Costa and Luis Suárez contributed a lot to the victory, as the latter scored the first goal after exchanging distinguished positions with Costa, and they caused a lot of inconveniences. At the same time, the hosts tried to rely on fixed balls more.
In this tactical analysis, we will try to see the ideas of Diego Simeone and Óscar García from the area of coaches and try to analyse the methods that have been followed.
Celta Vigo coach García decided to change the system he had adopted and lost the last match against Osasuna with a clean double, where he was playing 4-4-1-1. Still, in this match, he alternated between the 3-5-2 and 5-3 -2 tactics. But the numbers don’t matter since the idea was always to overload the first and middle thirds of the pitch.
As for the names, there were many changes in all lines, as Sergio Carrera entered the defensive right instead of Hugo Mallo, and José Manuel Fontán instead of Joseph Aidoo in the centre of defence.
In the middle and attack, some changes also occurred, as the coach decided to exclude Denis Suárez and Miguel Baeza, pushing the duo Santi Mina and Fran Beltrán to rely on speeds to reverse attacks and move between the lines.
On the other hand, Simeone decided to change some players that participated in the draw against Villarreal in the last round, where young Mano Sanchez participated in the left side instead of Renan Lodi, and Mario Hermoso was in the centre of the defence instead of Felipe.
Lucas Torreira, the new midfielder who came in after the departure of Thomas Partey, also participated and we saw the appearance of a double striker partnership of Suárez and Costa, which was essential from the start.
Atlético high pressure
As we are accustomed to Simeone’s team, it follows the philosophy of high pressure without the ball, with close lines and an exact shape on the pitch with a duo in the offensive line in a 4-4-2 structure.
They are relying on the idea of numerical superiority by Atlético in the area where the ball is located, which is one of the essential concepts of the coach, where the team can cut the ball and use the liberated player to reverse the team from the defensive state to that of attack.
ٍThe idea is to split the match into different pressure stages with the focus on a specific third and the attempt to snatch the ball from the opponent, as we will see shortly.
Here we see the Atlético’s team stationed in the middle third of the stadium with pressure on the ball-carrier, as well as the vertical compactness of the passing lanes. Notice Ángel Correa is next to Kevin Trippier and Koke as the trio close in the ball area.
Atlético Madrid managed to score after cutting the ball in the middle third and reversing play very quickly on the left side, and then Simeone decided to introduce the pressure line to the first third.
Here Simeone chooses to pressure the higher zone in the final third, with a man-to-man press that forces Celta’s defenders to clear the ball blindly and lose possession.
Atlético Madrid know how to conduct the match in terms of division and according to the outcome and course of the game, as they decide to retreat and stand in converging lines to cover the space between them, and to prevent horizontal movements of the opponent players.
Here Atlético Madrid return to the first third to cover the space and prevent line-breaking passes from Celta Vigo.
And precisely the depth and the space in-behind were the focus of García and his men as he tried to penetrate from deep so much.
Celta’s attacking tactics
Celta Vigo tried to rely on the direct play when possessing the ball, rotating the ball in the back, but soon the long ball was played in the space behind Atlético Madrid’s line of defence with the moves of Iago Aspas.
Specifically, we can talk about penetration from the left side, then going in deep, and Mina and Aspas moving vertically into space to receive the ball.
We will try to explain how the local team used to rely on the direct method, from end to end, in the following examples.
Here the ball is on the left side to let the carrier enter to create the space that enables him to play the line-breaking ball with Aspas moving behind the right-back of Atlético Madrid.
Here Aspas passes the cross ball in space to the advanced Rodrigo Tapia, taking advantage of the space left by the left-back and the winger’s delay in the return.
Mina’s horizontal moves were essential to create danger for Celta Vigo, but the young player was lucky.
Here is a line-breaking pass towards Mina to exploit the wrong positioning of Atlético Madrid’s defence, with Torreira missing from the area in which he should be present to pressure the ball-carrier and cover the defence line.
Celta Vigo relied on the left side to enter the free space, playing the counter directly, while coach Simeone’s team relied on the centre channels with two strikers.
Atlético with the ball
Atlético Madrid rely heavily on a direct play towards Costa and Suárez and the exchange of roles between the two, which was apparent when the team had the ball.
Simeone is not inclined to play on the sides, especially with the quality of the striker, as he can use the long balls into space to accelerate the rhythm of play.
We will try to see during this analysis how the Madrid team attacked when possessing the ball and going to the middle third and last third.
Here when the left-back Sanchez got the ball, he went in and then looked for Costa, who moved horizontally to hit the poorly positioned defence of Celta Vigo, which he succeeded on more than one occasion.
The vertical and direct movement of the Atlético offensive line duo was undoubtedly the key to victory, which appeared on more than one occasion with line-breaking passes, specifically from Koke.
The Atletico Madrid captain reaped a 67% success rate through passes, which was an essential weapon in the team’s playing style.
Here Koke passes vertically towards Costa, who dashes into the space behind Vigo’s defence to take advantage of poor positioning.
Here we see the coordinated movement between the Atlético duo that made them face the goal, and this scene was repeated a lot as the team focused on that game.
Atlético succeeded in attacking and scoring goals, but there are reasons due to Celta Vigo who positioned poorly without the ball.
Vigo in the defensive phase
Playing with five defenders and putting pressure on Atlético on every side of the field was the goal of coach Garcia who tried to do this from the start but those ideas had some flaws.
The huge spaces between the lines despite adopting the 5-3-2 method to try to create the numerical superiority in the first and middle thirds and the positioning of the midfielders for Celta Vigo were poor.
In addition, they were being late in pressing the ball-carrier, leaving a lot of space between the lines.
Here we see the space between the lines in the field for Celta Vigo, the gaps enabling the ball-carrier from Atlético to advance to dangerous areas, with the defensive back players busy watching Costa and Suárez.
Even when Celta Vigo decided to advance and press from the front, the performance was blinking without the intensity and force of the ball.
Here there are five of Celta Vigo players in the first third, but a lousy reaction without pressure, neither on the ball-carrier nor closing down the channels, causing problems due to leaving Atlético comfortable to advance the ball.
Here is an example of Celta Vigo positioning without the ball with lots of spaces, either on the left side or between the central defenders.
Indeed, defence becomes difficult against strikers such as Costa and Suárez, where experience, mobility, scoring and assisting comes into play.
Costa and Suárez together
After signing Suárez, everyone’s question was if the Uruguayan striker will be able to play with Costa, the main striker for the team.
One of the most critical challenges for the Argentine coach is to find a combination that complements the duo in attack.
We’ll try to note the duo’s moves in the final third and the transition from defence to attack.
Here is a pass by Koke towards Costa, who breaks through the space between the right-back and the centre of the defence, with Suárez moving vertically into the area.
Here Costa moved out and left the space for Sanchez, who in turn penetrated and freed the area for Suárez, who escaped from the marking of the defenders.
Here is a line-breaking pass from Koke towards Costa. He is moving into space within the Celta Vigo penalty area, with Suárez on the edge of the final third where he is positioned diagonally with his teammate to move in preparation for getting the back ball.
Here Costa receives the ball and keeps it while waiting for Suárez to move to space with a clear understanding between them.
The duo tried to show a lot of understanding in the final third, trying to score as many goals as possible from the fewest chances.
Atlético Madrid are currently in eighth place with eight points, in front of Barcelona, ninth with seven points. But now, the El Clásico awaits the Catalans against Real Madrid next week so one of them will drop points.