sábado, 7 de setembro de 2013

Botafogo 3 x 1 Coritiba - Campeonato Brasileiro - English

Coritiba fails to cope with Botafogo numbers in attack, despite having more possession. Rafael Marques scores one and assists another, but his tactical work is key to the team's victory. He helps in midfield, covers for Seedorf and still manages to be a constant threat in attack. After Botafogo's keeper is sent out. Coritiba dominates possession but doesn't creates much. The little danger they create comes from Alex, but he does not receive the ball enough.


Botafogo and Coritiba started the championship very well, contesting for the leadership in the first rounds. The latter saw their rank fall from 3rd to 6th after Alex suffered an injury, showing just how important he is to teams form.  Botafogo was also in a bad moment, having being the leader just two rounds before this game, but failed to win the two following games and ended up in 4th. So this was a game of two teams looking to a quick recover in the title run.

Botafogo had to deal with some key loss of players. Vitinho was sold to CSKA in a surprising move that saw the team main source of pace upfront go away. Lodeiro and Jefferson were out in FIFA duty. From the standard front four, Fogo had only Seedorf and Rafael Marques. Elias came on upfront, playing as traditional forward. Youngster Hiury came to replace Lodeiro and Renan was the keeper. In the right-back, Edilson started because Lucas and Gilberto were injured.

Coritiba was without a lot of players, especially Deivid, the team main striker, and Leandro Almeida, an centerback. Luccas Claro played instead.

Botafogo 4-4-2

Botafogo pressing with the front four. Rafael Marques coming deep without the ball, covering for Seedorf. Victor Ferraz sticks to Seedorf leaves spaces behind.

The lone star team plays normally with a very fluid front four. When they had Vitinho and Lodeiro, there would be plenty of rotation with all of them becoming the striker at some point in the game. For this match, as there were two new players in the squad, not yet used to the way the team plays, they were a bit more pragmatical, at least in the right side. Hiury kept to a standard right-winger position, using its speed to seek a cross, and Elias played a standard 9. The left side was much more interesting. Seedorf plays as a right winger, but not as standard - much more a playmaker. He plays deeper than the winger in the other side, and often brings the ball to his right foot.

This causes problems because when the other team is a 4-2-3-1 like Coritiba, the opposing winger - Vitor Junior - is dealing with the left back - Julio Cesar. And if the opposing chooses to come out to deal with him, he leaves a huge gap that can be exploited by a quick striker. Much like in Botafogo second goal, where Victor Ferraz was tracking Seedorf when Rafael Marques received a long ball from Dória in that space and crossed for Hiury to score.

This brings the other key factor for the success of Botafogo's system: Rafael Marques. In a system with two strikers and Seedorf playing to the left, the team can get overloaded in the midfield. This is compensated by the striker work rate. When Coritiba keeper had the ball, the front four would quickly press the opponents back line, often joined by Gabriel. Coritiba gave away possession easily, and were always vulnerable to the sheer numbers that the home team would place in its attack. This helped Botafogo dominate the first twenty minutes, and managed to score the first goal, by pressing and overloading Coritiba in its defense.

When Coritiba were finally able to establish a passing rhythm, and Botafogo let go of the pressure, Rafael Marques effectively became a third man in midfield, alongside Gabriel and Marcelo Mattos. He would also cover in the left wing for Seedorf, who had the freedom to put himself in positions to launch counter-attacks. Elias would often drop deep too, and the dutch would become Fogo's highest player.

(Hiury's wonder goal)
No tactical analysis here. Hiury collected the ball near the right touchline and dribbled beautifully, spinning and turning inside Coritiba's own goal area. Just watch.


Even as Coritiba enjoyed a good possession spell from the 25th minute of the first half, Alex failed to make an impact. Gabriel and Marcello Mattos, would drop deep to help Botafogo more compact in front of the defense and effectively denied him any space to create. But in the few times he did got the ball it was clear the kind of danger he could bring to Botafogo.

The second half started better, with Alex setting up Maykon - who had come on for Geraldo - for a clear  shot on goal. He played more aligned with Julio Cesar - the striker. Maykon and Vitor Junior were the wingers. Although Vitor Junior had more freedom to roam the entire pitch, often coming deep to collect the ball, instead of staying high up in position to receive the passes.

After Renan's red card, Botafogo goes 4-4-1, with Seedorf alone upfront. Alex gets stucks between Mattos and Gabriel, so retreats to collect the ball.

When Renan got a red card for a cynical foul in Gil, Botafogo went to a defensive form, with Rafael Marques in a left midfield position and Seedorf as a false nine. Coritiba naturally saw more of the ball, and eventually brought Lincoln on - another playmaker, to try and corner Botafogo and create more chances. But the problem was that Alex remained trapped between Fogo's volantes. He eventually had to come deep to collect the ball, staying farther from the opponent's goal and becoming less of a goal threat. It also didn't help that Julio Cesar got an yellow card and got replaced and that Maykon got two and was sent out. Vitor Junior, the last good option, spent the game roaming with freedom, but was never in good position to receive from Alex, and also did not track back.

Botafogo fluid but solid system gave them the edge in this game. They overloaded Coritiba in the start, defended well throughout the game, denying Alex space to impose himself, and seemed to have found a nice replacement for Vitinho's departure. With Lodeiro and Jefferson, it is expected that they will fight to the end for the 2013 Campeonato Brasileiro.

Coritiba showed that they prefer the attacking game, but defended poorly, with very little tracking back from the front men. If in Botafogo Seedorf is well covered by his team mates, Alex does not has the same lucky, leaving the team exposed more often then not. If he fails to make an impact, the defense cannot be counted upon.

As the first half of the championship reaches and end, Botafogo will have renewed hopes. They went from first to fourth in just two rounds, but recovered one place and are still in the title run. Coritiba , however, will most likely be fighting for a spot in next year Libertadores, the distance to the leader having grown too much by now.

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