After an incredible loss against Shakhtar Donetsk in Uefa Champions League, Atalanta need to hold up their heads and don’t stop their path in Serie A, where they are third, and one of the most interesting teams in the whole top-flight. Lecce had lost against Roma in the last matchday, but they are showing a good organization and beautiful football.
In this tactical analysis, we will explain how Atalanta’s tactics overcame Lecce’s style of play, and how some of Gian Piero Gasperini’s choices worked in this match with an analysis of Atalanta’s offensive phase.
Atalanta didn’t underestimate Lecce and they started with one of their best XIs possible, with the same 3-4-1-2 and the same tactics from Gian Piero Gasperini; only Rafael Tolói and Hans Hateboer from the standard XI started from the bench, while the three best players in attack, Gómez, Zapata, and Iličić, are ready from the first minute.
Fabio Liverani, Lecce’s coach, started with his 4-3-2-1 formation with Imbula as a left midfielder for the first time in this season, and La Mantia as the first striker, supported by Falco and the captain Mancosu.
The powerful impact of Atalanta’s attacking phase
Atalanta created many chances to score in the whole match, but especially in the first half (in the whole game they collected over 4 xG, meaning that they hadn’t scored so much for what they had created) they were unstoppable.
Atalanta want to fill all the five vertical corridors of the field; the full-backs are on the external corridors, granting width, making difficult for the opposing defence to stay narrow. Papu Gómez, Iličić and Duván Zapata are the three strikers, deputed to occupy the half-spaces (Iličić in the right one, Papu or Duván in the left one) and the depth in the centre (this is work especially for the former Napoli player Zapata). By doing this, Lecce can’t defend against width, half-spaces, and depth at the same time, conceding some great chances to score.
When the ball is played on the flank, Atalanta like to overload the zone with the full-back, the centre-back, one of the midfielders, and one or two attackers, to try fast combinations to penetrate in-depth into the area. This is how Atalanta got the second goal, with a fast combination between Papu Gómez and Duván Zapata. This was possible thanks to the overload in the zone, freeing Gómez from some more strict man-marking.
After that overload, Zapata is a real champion in taking a position against the defender, protect the ball and open spaces for his teammates to attack in-depth.
Another situation used by Atalanta to attacks against the opponent’s defence is the counter-pressing and the will of recovering the ball high on the pitch; to do this they are always aggressive, searching the interception every time, everywhere on the field. Atalanta accepted the numerical parity in the back row, betting on the ability of their defenders to read the situations and do different choices, aggressive or conservative, depending on the situation.
Lecce’s attacking phase has got some strong principles.
It is not easy to create an analysis of Lecce’s attacking phase because they didn’t have many chances, but even if the game was prohibitive, Lecce didn’t want to give up without trying to impose his style of play, ball-oriented, trying to control the possession of the ball and attack the opponent’s goal with La Mantia and the two beside him, Mancosu and Falco.
As we have already seen above, they always start building from the back, and they try to attract the opponent’s pressing to open up spaces behind them and attack those spaces with positional superiority and combinations.
These are the first principles of Fabio Liverani’s style of play; building from the back, attract the opponent’s pressing, research of positional superiority to attack the goal. But everything can be done thanks to the fantasy of the two best players, Filippo Falco and Matteo Mancosu.
In the best chance for Lecce in this match, Falco lowered himself to have more space, and to face the opponent’s goal; Mancosu reads the situation, and attacks the depth behind the opponent’s defender, using his blindside to take advantage of him on the through ball. Unfortunately, La Mantia didn’t capitalize the situation, thanks to a great save from Atalanta’s goalkeeper Gollini.
Atalanta’s coach Gian Piero Gasperini is conscious about the potentiality of his team, and he plays some risky tactics betting on his players’ skills, pace, and technic; even after an incredible loss like the one against Shaktar, they didn’t have a knockback and they returned with a great victory in their new Gewiss Stadium. Lecce has got a good potential to avoid relegations, but Liverani’s defensive tactics aren’t good enough for Atalanta’s attacking play.
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