TACTICAL TRENDS: COPA AMÉRICA DAY #2 – Chile’s defensive set up vs Argentina

Day two of the Copa América has flown by with Argentina and Chile, playing a very interesting game. Both countries are former winners of the Copa and with Argentina wanting to prove themselves indefinitely on the international stage and win it, this could be a very tasty tournament.

For obvious reasons, people tend to look at Argentina and Brazil, because they have done really well in the World Cups over the last century, but the 1-1 draw between Argentina and Chile showed up something. Chile defended and defended well against some international big boys, although the team hasn’t been that team from 2016 and 2017.

In this analysis I will look at the defensive set up of Chile, when Argentina come into that middle third and what Chile’s formation looked like, when this happened. Data is retrieved from Wyscout.

In the image above you can see Argentina attacking in the middle third, trying to penetrate and force something. Argentina have three players in the middle with both full backs playing high. Chile’s formation is set up as a 4-5-1 in defensive with the defence and midfield line, playing compact and close to each other – trying to limit the chances of a dangerous attack. 9 defensive players against 3 attacking players in the central zones here.

When the ball is deeper in the middle third from Argentina’s perspective, Chile move up the pitch and their 4-5-1 changes into a 4-1-4-1 as you can see in the image below.

As you can see, the midfield breaks into a 1-4 formation, with the four-man midfield moving up and playing closer to the striker – as they will use this in their pressing scheme. The trigger here is to press when the ball reached the area of the half way line. The defensive midfielder maintains the space between the defence and the midfield, with a more defensive role than a play making role.

When Chile attacked their formation was different and they changed it into to a 4-2-3-1 with a double pivot, three attacking midfielders and a sole striker. This meant that they had a defensive unit of 6 and and attacking unit of 4. In the image below you can see how progressive the four attacking players were situated in comparison to the double pivot.

While Argentina are in their own defensive third, these four players remain relatively high on the pitch, but are the only players from Chile to assume that position. The double pivot and the four-man defence remain deep in order to guard the defensive lines. This means that there is space in the central zones in the middle third and that these four players need to press otherwise Argentina can progress quite easily.

Argentina give a long ball to the left flank which means that the attacking players needs to trail back and form a tight defensive unit. In this example the double pivot moves to the left, while the attacking midfield trio needs close in as well. When they do that, they again form that defensive 4-5-1 formation, which makes it harder for Argentina to penetrate the attacking third of Chile.

In the second half, this was changed a little bit with the 4-5-2 turning into a 4-4-1-1 in defence, like you can see in the image below.

Whe Argentina came into their attacking third from transition, Chile changed from a 4-2-3-1 into a 4-4-1-1, as you can see here. The striker with the number ’10’ role would remain higher, while the double pivot was supported by both wide midfielders, making it a 4-4-1-1 or 4-4-2. There was a 4v4 in the midfield, but in a 4v2 overload in the defence, which helped Chile defending against Argentina.

Final thoughts
It was not the best game we saw, but the Copa America is much more about getting results than the beautiful football. Argentina had many shots, but the way of defending of Chile and their formation change in transition, helped them getting a point against Argentina.


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