Colombia – Chile: Chile Advance On Penalties After Chaotic Stalemate (0-0)
Both teams struggled to find solutions against the other team’s defensive block. This was unfortunately only partly due to solid defending, as the possession games of both sides were relatively uninteresting and not particularly effective. A shootout saw Chile through, in a chaotic and intense, yet not very good, Copa América matchup.
Tactical analysis and match report by Josh Manley.
Chile finished second in their group as they were defeated 1-0 by Uruguay in the final round of play. They made three changes to the side that played in that game as Mauricio Isla, Jean Beausejour and José Fuenzalida came into the side which lined up in a 4-3-3 formation.
Colombia meanwhile finished top of their group without conceding a goal, with the most notable result being their 2-0 win over Argentina. They lined up in their vintage, unpredictable 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3 formation with James Rodríguez able to appear as a number ten or winger at different points in the game.
Struggles to create on both sides
The match was largely defined by relatively stable defenses and struggles to break through the last line of the opponent once they reached the final third. The one-third of the pitch that is closest to the opposition’s goal.
In Chile’s 4-3-3 shape, they were somewhat focused on attacks through the wings. When building up, Erick Pulgar would position himself in the defensive midfield position, with Arturo Vidal slightly higher than him, positioned mostly between the Colombia midfield and forward line as they defended in a 4-4-2 shape.
In possession, Chile’s midfield positioned themselves on different horizontal and vertical lines.
Charles Aránguiz played slightly higher than Vidal, as he roamed behind the Colombia midfield line. The fullback on the side of the ball pushed up level with the midfield line, while the wingers moved into the halfspaces. If you divide the field in five vertical lanes, the halfspaces are the lanes that are not on the wing and not in the center. Because there is no touchline like on the wing, players have freedom to go everywhere. But this zone often is not as well-defended as the very center. This makes it a very valuable offensive zone to play in and a lot of chances are created by passes or dribbles from the halfspace.A very common way of creating options for the player on the ball, yet when executed well, an effective way of bringing the ball up the field. Chile made a clear stylistic choice and how to attack, and as a result, they were usually more focused on threatening the space behind the defense rather than providing strong presence between the lines.
This what partly drove their attacks down the wings, as the options between the lines were not always present due to the positioning of the wingers and midfielders. Some of their better moments, including an early disallowed goal, came on the left with Alexis Sánchez running with the ball and finding runners, such as Jean Beausejour overlapping. When one team has more players in a certain area or zone than the other team.
Colombia also were somewhat oriented towards the wings. James Rodríguez was predictably a key part of the attack. He dropped outside of the opponent’s shape, especially drifting wide to create small overloads on the wing and initiate combinations to find routes inside. Rodríguez spent most of the first half as a number ten drifting towards the right, before then switching to the left side of midfield. His freedom has been a key part of Colombia’s way of attacking, the entire tournament.
Chile’s defence was a bit less compact and well-organized, compared to Colombia. Colombia were able to find entries between the lines a couple of times, especially in the left halfspace behind Aránguiz. Ultimately, they too struggled to find the right final pass.
Not much happening in the most valuable assist zone of the field.
Spells of dominance in the second half
The second half started with a stronger spell by Colombia, as they had the better of possession and territory in the first fifteen to twenty minutes. After that, Chile then had their own spell on top, but still neither team was able to find a decisive goal.
Chile showed a somewhat asymmetric defensive shape as Alexis Sánchez tended to stay a bit higher as the nominal left winger in a 4-3-3 formation. This meant they could form 4-4-2 shapes from time to time as Vidal shifted across to cover the space behind Sanchez, as he is well equipped to do.
Chile had another goal disallowed by VAR, midway through the first half, but from this point on, they largely dominated the rest of the game, in search for a goal to break the deadlock. Again though, there were similar issues for Chile as described the first half with finding connections within Colombia’s defensive shape as Colombia increasingly fell into a deeper 4-1-4-1 defensive shape. This time in particular they tried to use long diagonals to Mauricio Isla as an outlet as he pushed up from right-back, but this was ultimately not enough to create a goal.
It took a penalty shootout to separate the teams, in which Chile prevailed 5-4 with some impressive penalty taking.
Here are Chile’s first 4 pens during the shootout. All seemed to target the upper 90 on the left side. Amazing precision pic.twitter.com/odTlkNcoCB
— Billy M (@Wideoverload) June 29, 2019
Chile had the slightly better chance creation, as well as having two goals disallowed, but were still nothing overly impressive with or against the ball. They now advance into the semi-finals where they’ll face Peru, who somehow knocked Uruguay out of the tournament.
Colombia could be criticised for being slightly too cautious in the game, especially considering their team has the individual quality to do more than hold their own against a team like Chile. They started both halves decently but then let Chile take the initiative, especially in the second half as they sat deep in their 4-1-4-1 to hold onto 0-0. In tournament football, that can be all it takes to get knocked out, especially in a format that goes to penalty kicks without extra time.
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