Before this match, Defensa y Justicia had 45 points and were equal with Racing. These two teams are fighting for first place. After he was part of Sampaoli‘s staff in Argentina national team, Sebastián Beccacece became Defensa’s manager again. This is a great season for Defensa. They are in a title race with Racing, who played their match before and recorded a win. So, they put pressure on Defensa to win this match against Boca Juniors.
This was an important match for Boca Juniors too. They want to secure qualification for the Copa Libertadores, so every point is very important. Their manager, Gustavo Alfaro has been in charge from January 2nd. Previous manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto joined LA Galaxy. Before this match, Boca was in 3rd place with 35 points.
Defensa y Justicia has played in different formations this season (3-5-2, 5-4-1, 4-3-3, 4-4-2), but in most matches, they played in a 4-1-4-1 formation. In this match, Defensa played in the 4-1-4-1 formation too. Marquez started as a striker. It was the 2nd start for him in Argentina’s top tier. Nicolas Fernandez wasn’t in the squad. 18-year-old Aliseda was in the first XI. This was the 5th start for him in Superliga this season. Gaston Togni had a problem with injury.
Boca’s new manager Alfaro experimented with formations. He is still searching for the right one. In first matches in charge, he played in 4-2-3-1 formations. Then he switched to 4-4-2. In the last three matches, he used three different formations. First 4-4-2, then 4-3-3 and after that 4-2-3-1. In this match, Boca played in 4-3-2-1 narrow formation. He started with Dario Benedetto as a striker, and Tevez and Zarate behind him. Players who joined the team in January, Marcone, and Campuzano, formed together with 18-year-old Almendra a midfield three.
Defensa’s build-up play and Boca’s defence
Defensa y Justicia played out from the back. They dominated possession with 65 %. Defensa played a short passing game. In build-up play, they formed back three. Right back Gonzalez stayed back, right centre back Martinez moved to the central area and left centre back Barboza moved to the left area. Goalkeeper participated in build-up play too.
Boca’s front three players didn’t press them. Carlos Tevez had a task to mark Defensa’s defensive midfielder Miranda. Boca played 4-3-3 in defence. They played usually in the zonal marking system. Front three players stayed forward and they usually played defence in the deep block with seven players. Three midfield players were narrow and ball oriented. They moved themselves to the ball side area.
Defensa played patiently. They played a short passing game, but in case they didn’t find free space or free man they recycled possession. Defensa attacked almost exclusive down the flanks. They wanted to secure an advantage in wide areas and they very rarely played through the centre of the pitch. Wingers were high and wide positioned. They stretched Boca’s defence. Left-back Delgado joined the attack. He generally played in left half-space. As we saw, right back stayed back, so right centre midfielder Blanco played in right half-space. Left centre midfielder Rojas had freedom. He moved all over the pitch. Defensa’s players were very fluid generally. Especially that was the case in wide areas. There was a lot of movements and rotations. Players wanted to exploit free space. Sometimes central midfielders hugged the touchline and sometimes they were inside. In case the team couldn’t make penetration on one flank, they switched the play to another flank.
Defensa played with a lot of movements. They played down the flanks and recorded 37 crosses in this match (12 accurate). Boca recorded only two crosses in this match. Also, Defensa recorded many long shots in this match. They crosses usually weren’t a problem for Boca because Boca had numerical superiority in the penalty area.
Defensa’s pressing and Boca’s attacking problems
Defensa played high pressing from the start of the match. Their pressing was aggressive and with high intensity. They played in a 4-1-4-1 formation in the defensive phase of the game. Defensa played defence in a man-marking system. They also implemented pressing traps to surround a player with the ball. Boca couldn’t deal with this high press.
Also, Boca’s players were lethargic. Their build-up play was very slow. Also, the players didn’t move and were static. Also, Boca usually played defence in the low block. When they won the ball, the front three players were alone. They couldn’t do anything against aggressive and energetic Defensa’s players.
Changes in both teams
From 39th minute Boca switched to 4-4-1-1. Mauro Zarate joined midfielder trio and played as side midfielder. First as left, and from second half as right side midfielder. After this change, Boca scored a goal in the early stage of the second half. After that goal, Defensa switched to 4-3-3.
When press, Defensa’s players leave space between midfield and defensive line. Tevez tried to exploit that space. Boca had vertical compactness in defence, but they had problems in wide areas. In defence, they also played 4-4-1-1. Tevez still marked Miranda.
After a goal, Boca defended in a deep block. Boca sometimes formed back five. They didn’t take a risk and played long. Defensa attacked with eight players. They still attacked down the flanks. But they made changes. Right back didn’t stay back anymore. He moved high. Side backs secured width and wingers moved inside.
Defensa y Justicia dominated possession. They played with a lot of movement and rotations. Defensa were the better team, especially in the first half. Their build-up play was very good. But, Defensa played exclusively down the flanks and that was a problem. Boca played defence in a deep block and had numerical superiority in the penalty area. That allowed them to deal easily with crosses. Boca didn’t have many shots, only four. But Boca used their chance and secured three points.
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