Siyang Xu provides a tactical analysis about the Confederations Cup final that finished Chile 0-1 Germany.
Chile’s third major final in three years ended in defeat as Lars Stindl’s goal proved enough to secure yet another trophy for Joachim Low’s team. The South Americans will be encouraged by their performance against the world champions, however, they proved yet again that they are capable of going toe-to-toe against any of the world’s big footballing nations.
German defensive scheme
The main focus of Germany’s defensive game plan was to nullify the central overload created by Chile’s 4-4-2 diamond formation. They rarely pressed high and preferred to set up in a 5-4-1 mid-defensive block, allowing Chile to progress play to around the halfway line. Interestingly, Chile changed their build up shape slightly by forming a 2-2 shape with their midfield, with Marcelo Diaz and Pablo Hernandez on the first line in front of the German midfield line and Arturo Vidal and Charles Aranguiz positioned behind. Juan Antonio Pizzi would likely have been trying to get Vidal and Aranguiz in offensive positions where they could support Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas with quick combination plays or make runs into space to add depth to Chile’s shape and stretch the German defence.
Diaz and Hernandez would make angles to receive from their centre backs before looking to turn and engage the German midfield. Low ensured that his midfield line maintained strong horizontal compactness at all times in order to prevent Chile from playing centrally. Leon Goretzka and Sebastian Rudy were charged with ensuring that the passing lanes into Vidal and Aranguiz were blocked so that Chile were unable to progress the ball into dangerous positions within the German block. They did this very successfully and forced Chile’s play to go into wide areas where it would be easier to contain the attack.
Chile ended up trying to use their full backs, Mauricio Isla and Jean Beausejour, as a route to finding Vidal and Aranguiz. Rather than going straight through the German midfield, they tried to go around and then back inside. The Germans were also able to adapt to this, however, with the ball-near winger doing well to shift over and close down the full back quickly. Any pass that did make it back inside would quickly be met with German pressure and would be surrounded by the two central midfielders and three central defenders, snuffing out any space the receiver would have.
Chile’s intense pressing
Chile too were very impressive in their defensive phase, although their plan was a completely different idea to Germany’s. They sought to press in an aggressive man-orientated manner high up the pitch, going man-for-man against Germany’s centre backs and central midfielders in build up. This naturally left the wing backs free, but Aranguiz and Hernandez were always quick to shuttle over as the ball was travelling whenever Germany tried to pick them out. They received strong support from their team mates too, with players moving to mark the nearest passing options as the first presser moved towards the ball, meaning it was often possible to force a turnover off one of the wing backs and start a counter attack from a dangerous attacking position.
As the match developed, Germany tried to play out less against this organised press and preferred to play long. Given Low’s generally low-risk game plan and also the game state – Germany were leading from the 20th minute after a horrendous individual error from Diaz gifted the world champions a goal – it is not a surprise to see Germany turning down the challenge of playing through Chile’s press. It meant that Germany saw very little possession, with most of their attacks coming through counter attacks. There were some occasions when winning individual battles against Chile’s man-orientated press allowed Germany to break through and run at the back four, but this was generally quite rare. It allowed Chile to control Germany’s attacking game, limiting them to only three shots on target.
Both sides displayed interesting defensive schemes to counteract the other’s strengths, and in truth, both game plans worked quite well. Clear chances were at a premium, with arguably the best chance of the match falling to Alexis Sanchez, but only after a goalkeeping error where ter Stegen palmed the ball straight into the path of the onrushing attacker. Other chances were few and far between, and Marcelo Diaz will be left to rue his carelessness on the ball that led to Germany’s only goal.
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