Arriving from Porto in a €30 million deal, Felipe Augusto has shown himself as a proper successor to Atletico Madrid legend Diego Godin. He has been a level-head and provided consistency and leadership in an Atlético Madrid defence.
With performances like the ones he put in over two legs against Liverpool, it shows that the immediate future of Atlético’s defence is in good hands. It can be argued that he has been the club’s best signing of the 2019 summer window, along with English international Kieran Trippier. In this tactical analysis, I will explore the talents and contributions of Felipe
Player overview, role, and key stats
Felipe is a 31-year old right-footed centre-back from Brazil who plays for Atlético Madrid. He’s a physically imposing defender with a height of 190cm and weighs 83kg.
Due to his physique, he’s aggressive in the air and a threat going forward from set-pieces, which he attributes to his time playing basketball. Felipe has the profile of a no-nonsense defender similar to Godin, his predecessor.
Atlético Madrid play in a 4-4-2 counterattacking system with a huge emphasis on defensive stability. Simeone’s team mostly sits a mid-to-low-block shape with an emphasis on protecting the central areas.
Felipe adapts to Simeone’s tactics as he is crucial to protecting penetration through central areas and the interior channels. Simeone uses Felipe mostly as a stopper and occasionally as a cover.
In the above chart which includes stats from the Champions League and La Liga, we see some key aspects of Felipe’s game. It’s a comparative between Felipe and other centre-back in Europe’s top five leagues.
Felipe stands out in areas such as aerial duels and clearances. He averages 3.16 aerial duels won per 90 at a success rate of 70.3%. He’s positioning in the box is shown by him averaging 6.87 clearances per 90.
However, his limitations on the ball are shown in this chart which is also a consequence of Atlético’s style. He has a pass completion success rate of 80.0% and a 67.8 pass completion success rate. He’s also unable to carry the ball which is shown by his 298 progressive distance.
Felipe’s Aerial prowess
As mentioned earlier in this scout report, Felipe has a height of 190cm and weighs 83 kilograms. His physicality is crucial to him winning a lot of aerial duels. His imposing figure is a problem for attackers to deal with. Apart from his height and muscle strength, he’s able to jump to a decent high which helps in dealing with lofted balls.
In La Liga, Felipe’s aerial prowess is shown by his stats. He averages 5.65 aerial duels won per 90 which puts in amongst the best fifteen in the league. An aerial duel success rate of 68.35% which puts him amongst the top five in the league of players with more than 150 aerial duels attempted. His success rate and average duels per90 in comparison to other players show that he is impeccable at winning aerial duels.
Felipe is instrumental in Atlético Madrid’s defensive structure. Defending setpieces, long balls, and crosses are major parts of being an astutely defensive team. The 31-year old single-handedly deal with the majority of Atlético Madrid’s setpieces. Due to Felipe’s aerial ability, he’s an important part of Atlético’s high press. He’s able to win stop teams from using long balls as a route to escape Atlético’s high press
In this image, Ter Stegen, who is the ball-carrier can’t find any passing options. Barcelona’s centre-backs are marked by Atlético’s front two. Sergio Busquets, who is the #6, is marked by Saul Niguez. This puts pressure on Ter Stegen who plays a lofted pass to the between the lines player. Felipe reads this situation and he’s able to deal with the long ball.
A common tactic about Felipe’s headed clearances is that he usually doesn’t mark a player. Rather he marks spaces. This allows him to focus more on the flight of the ball rather than engaging in a needless tussle. His top judgment on the trajectory of a ball makes it easier for him to clear the ball. It also doesn’t affect the fact that he doesn’t mark a player.
Apart from this, Felipe is always alert. As soon as he headed the ball away, he noticed that the ball-carrier positioned his body for another delivery into the box. Felipe noticed this, then peddles in other to get a good stance in order to deal with the ball. Also, this gives a stance that allows him to lean back and generate more power on his forehead.
In defending floated and whipped crosses, Felipe checks over his shoulder to scan his environment. Before he does this, he anticipates a cross from the ball-carrier by checking his body orientation.
Here, he notices the ball carrier’s body orientation which indicates he is about to cross the ball. Felipe then checks over his shoulder to look, notices that Stefan Savic is already marking the only in-box attacker. This allows him more focus on the trajectory of the ball while shifting his position. As the cross comes in, he focuses on the ball and jumps to a high level to intercept and clear it out.
In a scout report, a common feature amongst physically imposing defenders is their physique. Felipe is a testament to this narrative. However, rather than relying on just his physical attributes to win situations, he is able to apply himself to the situations and use the best decision possible. Rather than being rash and naive in challenges, he is very adept at winning his defensive duels without impeding himself.
In La Liga, Felipe averages 4.56 defensive duel won per 90 with a success rate of 63.50%. Out of the 112 attempted duels in the defensive third, Felipe won 83 which amounts to a success rate of 72.80%. Felipe’s ability to protect his central areas is shown by him winning 32 out of 41 duels in the zone 14 area. Also, he averages 5.09 counter-pressing recoveries per 90 which is a testament to his intensity.
In defensive duels, he shows his use of sheer muscle strength and balance. He’s able to bully attackers, engage in tussles, get attackers off balance, and ultimately win possession. Felipe’s display of aggressiveness and intensity is a clear testament to Felipe’s physicality.
In the image above, he displays his strength and balance. He’s able to withstand the tussle between the Getafe attacker and him, while he deals with the ball and wins back possession.
As a result of his physicality, he’s able to be intense with his challenges and pressures. This allows him to block space and limit the attacker’s time on the ball.
In the image above, Felipe doesn’t allow the attacker any space. He notices the attacker is around the corner flag. Before the attacker, raises his head to have a proper view, Felipe closes him down. Thereby, he limits the attacker’s field of view as soon as he raises his head up. Subsequently, this limits the attacker’s options. The attacker tries to escape by crossing the ball. But due to Felipe’s physique and he’s timely pressure, he blocks the cross.
Here, Felipe shows his physicality. Felipe reads the situation by noticing a ball-carrier preparing himself for a diagonal pass to Odegard. As the ball travels from the ball carrier’s foot towards the receiver’s foot, Felipe starts his press on the receiver who’s flat-footed. The receiver is unaware of the ball Felipe’s pressure due to the clever blindside pressure from Felipe. As soon as the ball gets on the receiver’s foot, Felipe pounces and pressures the attacker. He tries to get off his balance. Felipe’s physicality helps him in this action. He’s able to cover the yards of space between himself and the receiver of the ball.
In the 1v1 defence, there is also a need to be able to block passing lanes and shooting angles other than being aggressive. The 31-year old centre-back utilizes his physique in carrying out the aforementioned task. Due to his athleticism and size, the Atlético Madrid centre-back is able to spread his body peradventure he wants to block shooting angles. Also, merely standing without stretching his body helps him limit the shooting angles, which is a result of his size.
Reading the game
In this scout report, Felipe’s aerial ability and physical presence are thoroughly pointed out. However, the 31-year old is able to use these abilities to a top-level due to his ability to read the game. Also, his ability to read the game is subtlety pointed out in this analysis. This analysis section aims to delve further into this attribute.
Felipe’s ability to read the game enables him to position himself, adjust his body orientation, and make good decisions in order to deal with attacks. Felipe shows his ability to read the game by some of his statistics.
Aerially, his ability to read the game shows in his judgment of the trajectory of the ball. Felipe’s ability to focus on the ball aids his judgment of the trajectory of the ball. This shows unwavering levels of concentration which helps a defender read the game. Also, Felipe’s scanning of his environment is another process at which he reads the game.
In defensive duels, clearances, and interceptions; Felipe is able to read the body orientation of the opponents, mostly the ball-carrier. As a result of this, he’s able to predict the next action the opponent is going to make – whether it is a cross, pass, shot, or a dribble. This helps in preparing him for any potential defensive action he’s likely to take.
In this image above, The 31-year old centre-back reads the body orientation of the Odegard, the ball receiver. He also spots the body orientation of the ball-carrier which indicates a pass to Odegard as the next line action. He starts his press as the ball travels from the passers’ foot to Odegard’s foot. Felipe makes a blindside press that catches Odegard unawares. Felipe times his challenge as soon Odegard tries to go on the half turn.
Felipe’s aforementioned ability to block space and limit time on the ball is majorly due to his positional awareness in combination with his physicality. The 31-year old centre-back’s ability to position himself is majorly a result of his ability to read the game. Thereby it limits the passing lane, shooting angle, and ultimately the decision-making abilities of his opponent.
Here, Felipe shows his positional awareness and decision-making ability. Felipe reacts by shifting his body position and positioning himself at a safe distance between the potential receiver of the pass. This narrows down the ease at which the ball-carrier can pass to the Getafe attacker. It also slows down the decision-making process of the ball-carrier. This makes Oblak have a good reaction time and he spreads himself out to reduce the shooting angle of the attacker. As Oblak narrows the shooting and passing angle of the attacker, Felipe goes behind Oblak to protect the goalpost. With the narrowed shooting angle, the attacker is still able to get a shot past Oblak. Felipe is able to block the goal-bound shot due to his excellent position and good agility.
Here, Felipe shows his understanding of spatial awareness which influences his positioning. The 31-year old centre-back understands that the ball-carrier is in a tight situation. He has an Atlético Madrid player marking him. Felipe recognizes the other Getafe player as the only viable passing option for the closed down ball-carrier. Felipe keeps himself at a safe distance between himself and the Getafe player. As soon as the ball travels from the ball-carrier towards the other Getafe player, Felipe presses and wins the ball.
In this tactical analysis which is in form of a scout report, I give a thorough analysis of Felipe’s game which shows his strengths and his weakness, mostly the former. In this analysis, he shows he’s the profile Atlético Madrid needed to replace Godin. He adapts to Simeone’s tactics. However, his limitations on the ball and recovery speed are being masked by Atletico Madrid’s tactics.
Therefore, he’s able to flourish and carry out his duties. With consistent performances throughout the La Liga, no wonder he is touted to be in the team of the season.