Tactical trends: Copa América Day #1

Finally! Copa América has arrived. I could write 10.000 words on the politics of the game and the federations, but in all honesty – I just want to concentrate on the football and leave the writing on everything surrounding the tournament, to those more equipped to do so.

In this series I will attempt to write every day about the Copa, highlight a specific match or looking at the two games of that day with the focus on the data and video. Today I will start with the host Brazil entertaining a COVID-suffering Venezuela side.

I’m not attempting to look at the goals or what the scoreline told me, but looking at that particular thing that interested me in the match, for example, a tactical trend or specific run.

Brazil build-up under pressure

When Brazil had the ball in their defensive third, Venezuela would attempt to press high to force the defence in doing something. They wanted to force the long ball after which the aerial duel could be won by Venezuela and the possession of the ball was with Venezuela. In the two videos below you can see how examples of the high pressing and forcing Brazil to play the ball long.

In the video above we see Brazil getting a throw in and Venezuela press from the moment the ball is in play. Because they do it aggressively and with pace, Brazil doesn’t have the time to play under it and the ball goes long. The long ball ends up in the middle third where Venezuela can pick it up and continue their attacking build-up.

In the video above we see the ball from a throw in again and Brazil are on their own corner. Two Brazil players are actively and aggressively pressed, with no room to pass it sideways. Therefore they again opt for the long ball forward and the aerial duel is won by Venezuela in the middle third. After this they can again construct another attack on the Brazil’s half.

In the two videos below you can see examples of Venezuela press, but these situations give an idea of how Brazil’s passing style of play could beat the press and progress the ball.

In the video above you see a struggle between Venezuela and Brazil in the middle third, after which the ball arrives in the defensive third. Brazil have the ball and their are pressed, but their passing style of play ups the tempo and therefore they beat the press and progress the ball into the middle third again.

In the video above we see Venezuela pressing Brazil in their own defensive third and it’s not the pace of the passes that breaks the press, but they have the space to find each other and have enough options. Because of that it’s difficult to target a press and Brazil can build up with relatively more freedom.

Venezuela counter-attacking football
Expected was that Brazil would dominate the game and Venezuela should resort to counter-attacking football. In the examples below you can see how they executed their counter-attacking football, by being direct. Just a few passes were needed to get to the other side of the pitch, and create some danger.

In the video above we see that Venezuela gets the ball in their own penalty area and with one long ball to the striker, attempt to get the game to the middle third. The strikers wins the header and guides it towards the center of the pitch were another player can pick it up. Brazil make a foul in order to prevent further attack and had numbers going deep, but still these kind of counter-attacks seemed very dangerous.

In the video above, you can see Brazil attacking between middle and attacking third, when they are dispossessed by Venezuela. That area is a dangerous are to lose the ball and Venezuela can break into transition. Brazil do the counter-pressing quite well in this example, but Venezuela still remain in possession of the ball and try to score from the middle third. The breaks have the potential to be dangerous, but because Venezuela was sitting deep – the chance of succeeding was limited.

In the video above, we see Brazil with the bal in the middle third and they again lose it there, so Venezuela can hit on the transition. With pace Venezuela can go to the attacking third, but the attackers don’t have enough support – because of the deep rest defence of Brazil and the way Venezuela plays; defending deep. When two or three players would progress more and faster, this could be a different situation.

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