After a slow start, Real Madrid had assured 2nd place with a game to go and went away to Belgium to take on Club Brugge.
Real Madrid were on a good run and haven’t lost since October. Of the last 10 games, they’ve won eight and drew only two. However, they weren’t able to catch Paris Saint-Germain to finish atop their group.
Club Brugge were also on a decent run, not having lost since the start of November. However, they have lacked goals with them only scoring more than once on two occasions since November 10th.
While this was a bit of a deadweight game, there was still plenty of room to experiment as well as Brugge fighting for a Europa League spot.
In this tactical analysis, we will look at both sides’ tactics and how they changed the game’s outcome.
Isco is the most notable change from the last match against Espanyol. They played a 4-3-3 in that one and didn’t have a set number 10. Valverde comes out for the Spaniard. Jovic also comes in for Karim Benzema.
Odriozola comes in at right-back for Dani Carvajal. Finally, Eder Militao instead of Sergio Ramos. The rest of the lineup remains unchanged for Los Galacticos.
Club Brugge had a few more changes from their last game against Sint-Truiden. The midfield three remained the same, while the backline and front two changed drastically from the last game. Dennis and Tau come in for Okereke and Schrijvers. Vlientinck comes in for Krepin Diatta. Ricca and Clinton Mata come out for Kossonou and Deli. Simon Mignolet, Sobol and the three midfielders are the only ones who played the last game against STVV.
Club Brugge’s defensive setup
As Club Brugge are facing one of the strongest sides in the world, even being at home they are expected to be outpossessed. This turned out to be the case and they also outshot Brugge as one would expect.
Club Brugge used a mixed marking scheme. Sometimes it was man to man, other times it was zonal and there wasn’t a set style.
However, it was executed quite poorly and Real Madrid had a field day in attack. To begin with, both the first two Galactico goals were from a tactical defensive error. There wasn’t enough closing down and Vinicius and Rodrygo had way too much time to shoot.
Club Brugge took a risk in letting players shoot in an attempt to try and spark a counter-attack. Unfortunately, it hugely backfired. There was a lot of confusion at the back and no certainty about who needed to mark individually and who needed to close down with a teammate.
It should be noted that Club Brugge hadn’t used the 3-5-2 formation since October 6th of 2019. They failed to win that game against Standard Liege (1-1 draw) either.
The first goal which was mentioned earlier summarizes these tactical faults.
In the build-up to the goal, the first error mentioned is that Vanaken (20) should have been closer to Odriozola or Rodrygo depending on where the ball went. Instead, he sat there and just watched the whole situation unfold. He was supposed to be the cover for Sobol (2), but did his job poorly.
Deli didn’t react in time as Rodrygo hit the ball first time into the back of the net, but the blame could still be put on Deli as he also just sat there instead of trying to intercept the cross.
Even if he didn’t first time it, Rodrygo could have easily made a pass over to Luka Jovic who had plenty of space in between two defenders. There was a lot of players scattered but not doing enough.
Another example here. As you can see, Kossonou closes down on Vinicius Junior and Balanta is on his way to perform his defensive tactical duty. However, Balanta trips and gives a free pass to Vinicius Junior to play it back into midfield.
While this is a technical fault from Balanta, the point is that he was on his way to do his job and that it’s a good example of how this was a mix between man to man and zonal. In this case, it was a zonal game.
A bit later within the same Real Madrid attack, Isco is being closed down by two Brugge defenders while Kossonou is taking Vinicius Junior. However, there is nobody taking Luka Jovic and Isco could have passed it over to him as a first time could have resulted in a goal. Kossonou was keeping him onside.
Real Madrid’s Offensive Setup
Real Madrid played a clear 4-2-3-1. No pseudo-formation and it was pretty easy to tell what they were going for. Luka Jovic didn’t score in the match but put in a lot of work in attack to create space for his teammates.
Not only would he create space by taking his marker with him, but he would also create chances for himself by finding open space. This was done by Real Madrid’s system manipulating Club Brugge’s mixed marking system. While that was total confusion and a mess, Real Madrid need to be credited for working the space.
Real Madrid’s full-backs would also occasionally overlap like they have done for the longest time within their system. No Marcelo or Carvajal today but they would still play a similar system. Odriozola and Mendy would join the attack zonally and offer width to the more advanced wide outlets such as Rodrygo Goes or Vinicius Junior.
The first example of Luka Jovic’s work in attack can be sampled here. After dispossessing Club Brugge in the midfield, they found themselves a dangerous counter. It was 4 vs 3 and Vinicius Junior created the space by drawing his marker Kossonou so Jovic can make his way into the box and get off a free shot.
Here you can see how Club Brugge lined up in defence and Jovic made his way onto the left side of the box but close enough to the middle for it to not be a bad angle. Kossonou was focused on Vinicius Junior and ignored Jovic’s movement completely.
Real Madrid’s Defensive Setup
Real Madrid’s defensive setup was a bit tough to analyze since most of Club Brugge’s attacks came from counters, but Zidane seemed to organize a mixed marking scheme. This was much more clear than Brugge’s defensive format whenever the Belgians attacked regularly and not off counter-attacks.
Los Merengues would give Brugge enough space to put in crosses and instead have many players within their own box. The central defenders mostly would take on the attacking players in potentially dangerous positions. The idea was to close as much shooting space in the box in order to have an easier time blocking or clearing the ball away.
In this example, Club Brugge is on the attack. Dennis searches for space in the box and is followed by Casemiro, as the forward is one of Brugge’s biggest threats in attack. Tau is also being man-marked, however, the other players are being watched and given space to cross.
Militao, Rodrygo and Casemiro all take their defensive positions in the box.
There are five Real Madrid players inside the box and Rodrygo is right outside it to nearly make it six. While Mendy is outside the box closing down some space on the current holder of the ball, this wasn’t the case in the entire game and allowed Brugge to cross the ball in for the most part confident that their technical and aerial game would help them out.
In the image above, there is one issue, Vanaken is alone in the box. Even when Rodrygo reaches his spot, he doesn’t mark him and sits outside the box to wait for a potential counter. This would mean Odriozola would be taking two players in the box. Vanaken along with Tau. The goal is to keep Tau offside and avoid a potential shot from Vanaken.
In this analysis, we see that both teams had an odd defensive setup and the goals came from tactical mistakes each. However, Real Madrid did what was needed in attack to win the game. Los Merengues’ defensive setup, while risky, was not as bad as the mess Club Brugge had and it’s clear that quality won on the day.
Real Madrid continued their good form while Club Brugge will look to bounce back from this.
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