Grêmio – Palmeiras: Grêmio Luckily Come Away With A Point Against Organized And Aggressive Palmeiras (1-1)
In a game dominated by the home side, it was interesting to see how a team with only 33 percent possession managed to create the best chances of the match. Solari’s team played with an interesting and impressive set up. The only question was whether Palmeiras’ game plan would work for the entirety of the match. At the very end of the match, Grêmio equalized.
Tactical analysis and match report by Luc Jeggo.
Palmeiras came into the game on the back of a five game winless streak. Thanks to their strong start, they still managed to sit second in the table. However, the margins at the top of the table being as small as they are, Palmeiras needed a win to keep up with league leaders Santos. . Big names g Felipe Melo and Ramires were both missing from the starting eleven, the former not even making the trip down to Grêmio on Saturday.
For Grêmio, the biggest news was that team star Everton found himself on the bench. It has been speculated that Cebolinha is close to a European move after a stellar last season and performances in the Copa América. Coach Renato Gaúcho opted to start Luan and Thaciano on the wings instead, perhaps to rest Everton in a grueling part of the season. Influential midfielder Jean Pyerre was also missing from the starting line up in Grêmio’s 4-2-3-1 formation.
Grêmio were the main possessors of the ball, with Palmeiras happy to sit and defend their own half. Grêmios fullbacks would step up high in possession. Both the defensive midfielders for would alternate between dropping in between the center-backs and also outside of the center-backs, in the vacated space left by the fullbacks. If one of the defensive midfielders did not drop into the fullback spaces, the number ten, wingers and even sometimes striker would drop deep and receive the ball.
Palmeiras were happy to sit in a 4-4-2 formation on the halfway line, attempting to block off the center and show the ball down the sides,n particular on the right hand side, with the less attacking right back receiving the ball. Palmeiras’ zonal marking system meant they rarely followed a specific player as you would in a man marking system. Rather, they passed players on when they entered and left a specific zone. Therefore, the wingers could remain in position. This was important in respect to their counterattack.
This was the most regular tactical picture that occurred throughout the match, with the ball on the halfway line in possession for Grêmio.
Grêmio dominate the ball
Grêmio’s movement and timing off the ball was extremely impressive. They would rotate in and out of the different spaces on the pitch in an efficient manner. For example, if the defensive midfielder dropped into the fullback space and did not receive the ball, he would move out after a few seconds and someone else would take his place. This movement enticed Palmeiras out of their zonal block on a few occasions. If a team repeatedly asks questions of opposition players, sooner or later they will make the wrong decision. Grêmio with their movement did just this and could create overloads When one team has more players in a certain area or zone than the other team. and gaps in Palmeiras’s defensive structure. Furthermore, all three of Grêmio’s front men would drop down and aid in ball circulation.
It meant Grêmio could dominate the game with the ball. With 21 minutes played, Gremio had a staggering 73 percent possession. However, due to the movement and amount of players needed to keep the ball for extended periods, they struggled to break into the oppositions final third. The one-third of the pitch that is closest to the opposition’s goal. This was compounded by the extreme pressure placed on Grêmio anytime they entered shooting range off the opposing goal.
As stated before, the formation of Palmeiras set the template for an efficient counterattack. It is not irregular for a coach to ask his wingers to man mark and track the opposition’s fullbacks. Whilst it can be more solid defensively, it reduces your effectiveness on the counterattack. Scolari asked his fullbacks to pick up the high fullback of Grêmio. His wingers would prevent any pass inside. As a result, Palmeiras’s wingers were in prime position to attack the space left by the fullbacks in transition.
This counterattacking setup directly led to the first goal of the match. Palmeiras won the ball in the middle. Grêmio only had Darlan and the two center-backs in place defensively. Darlan missed the interception in the counterpress. After losing possession, a team immediately moves towards the ball as a unit to regain possession, or at least slow down the pace of the counterattack. The ball was fed into the opposite winger (Hyoran) who had come inside. Hyoran immediately helped it onto Cuca who burst into the space next to the left center-back. There was a huge gap on the left side of the left center-back from where the fullback had bombed on. He carried the ball into space, cut inside and finished neatly into the bottom corner. From a game plan point of view, Scolari would have given the first thirty minutes a big tick, as the opening goal was executed just as he had drawn up. It meant Palmeiras went back in the dressing room with a lead, even though Grêmio had been on the ball for most of the match.
In the second half, neither side made huge tactical changes, however, Darlan was taken off for Grêmio, as he was caught in transition a couple of times, the goal being a perfect example. In came 20-year-old, Patrick, who plays as an attacking midfielder. Grêmio went to a sole defensive midfielder in Romulo, allowing Patrick to float. Whilst it gave more attacking impetus, they did look vulnerable on the counterattack, as they had only one defensive midfielder and two center-backs behind the ball.
They continued to probe with the ball on the halfway line, yet created nothing of note. If anything, Palmeiras looked more likely to score. They did not counterattack often, but when they did, their chances were a lot more dangerous than Grêmio’s. They had a huge chance to make it 2-0 and kill the game, yet Hyoran failed to make the most of it.
There were a few reasons for Grêmio’s inability to create goal-scoring chances. Firstly, the width mainly came through the fullbacks, who were high and wide, in effect receiving the ball in areas a winger normally would. Neither fullback seemed confident in taking on the opposition fullback in a one-versus-one situation and therefore they struggled to create chances in the wide area.
Furthermore, when the opposition fullback did go tight to the fullback of Gremio, there was no interior run from the midfielder or wingers of Gremio to exploit the space on the side of the central defender. When they finally did do it in the 61st minute, they created one of their best chances in the game. Patrick finally made a run beyond right back and captain, Leo Moura. Moura fed the ball into the space giving Patrick the ball inside the box, who with a little more quality could have scored or assisted.
Additionally, Grêmio rarely built up long enough to create real issues for Palmeiras. When they shifted Palmeiras side to side with a couple of quick switches of play, real gaps opened up in the defensive structure of Solari’s side. However, these switches of play were rare and if they were utilized, Grêmio struggled to recognize the space. Moreover they could not gain any form of penetration, as they also had a lack of midfield and winger runs from deep as mentioned previously.
Palmeiras rarely gave themselves a chance to breath. When they won the ball, they counterattacked immediately. Whilst they were creating dangerous chances, a couple spells of possession could have seriously helped them take the tempo out of the game. Additionally, they began to lose the structure which gave them a platform to break on Grêmio. Their wingers started dropping deeper, with their two highest players now being easily bypassed. All in all, it increased the workload across the team.
Palmeiras therefore tired towards the latter stages of the half and struggled to exert the same amount of pressure as before in and around their box. The ball eventually fell to defensive midfielder Romulo around twenty-five yards out. He assessed for a couple of seconds before trying his luck from distance. The ball took a deflection and sailed into the top corner. A bit lucky, but it had been coming.
In the buildup to the goal, the ball came off a Grêmio player, even though a Grêmio throw in was awarded. Palmeiras were understandably upset.
This set off around five minutes of protests from the Palmeiras players. With only five minutes left, both teams threw everything forward creating a frantic ending to the match. Neither side could produce any more goals with the spoils being shared in the end.
Palmeiras will look back at the game with regret. Grêmio rarely threatened the side, however, a few spells of more insightful possession could have allowed Palmeiras to release the constant pressure in and around their box. On the Grêmio side of things, there were worrying signs for coach Renato Gaúcho. They were fairly toothless in attack and have much to improve on if they wish to rise from mid table obscurity.
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