Tactical analysis: Athletic Bilbao 1-3 Real Madrid Femenino
Real Madrid Femenino beat Athletic Bilbao 3-1 on Sunday with a thrilling and high-quality performance both on and against the ball. David Aznar picked a formation that everyone thought was the normal 4-3-3 we’ve seen for most of this season.
Instead, Aznar went with a 4-3-3 false nine approach; Kosovare Asllani sailed the space between the lines while wingers Sofia Jakobsson and Marta Cardona sat high and narrow, constantly threatening the channels.
It wasn’t the first time Aznar had tried something like this. Previous iterations of the 4-4-2 Diamond – which is like playing with a falling striker and two forwards occupying the defensive line – had helped Madrid’s press resistance but failed in the final third.
The difference from Athletic Bilbao was the positional discipline of Jakobsson and Cardona. Whereas previously they refused to stay in the center and followed their natural urge to stretch all the way to the touchline, the duo were much better at getting their jobs done against the Basque outfit. As a result, Athletic’s defensive line was pinned down and forced to congest horizontally, giving Asllani and full-backs Olga Carmona and Kenti Robles time and space to entertain.
It should be noted that Cardona looked more comfortable in this role and Sofia started to drift wider to take the ball as the match progressed, but this last factor was not common enough. to destabilize the offensive approach.
The shape of the diamond has also been seen in defense: both for high pressing and when Madrid have sat deep.
However, he was more relevant in the forward areas, where the narrowness of the front three allowed for good counter pressure and a strong recovery as the opposition built up from behind.
I have been critical of David Aznar’s tactics over the course of the season, but credit is due – his underlying ideas were fundamentally sound and he got his players to buy into and execute his system’s needs. The result was dominant football that sidelined the game in fifty minutes and brought Real Madrid one step closer to hearing the new Champions League anthem next season.