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Sunday, 20 May 2012 19:54

Académica 1-0 Sporting tactical breakdown

scp-aac cup line-ups.jpgThe final of this season’s Portuguese Cup was filled with expectation, since both Sporting and Académica arrived at the showpiece match on the back of stressful campaigns. Therefore, the chance of an addition to the trophy cabinet was enough reason to see whether either team was willing to go all out in one last effort of 2011/12.
scp-aac cup line-ups.jpg
Starting line-ups
This article begins with what constitutes one of football’s major challenges - the decision making process. Sure enough, we’re often told that this sport is all about willpower, attitude and heart, but also tactics and positioning. Decision making is a critical factor among all of those aspects, of which Académica’s goal was a perfect example.

The play starts with Polga coming out to meet Adrien, who slides to make a tackle, ends up injuring the Sporting centre-back and delivers the ball to a team-mate. Presented with just a couple of seconds, the Lions were not able to make the necessary adjustments (usually, one of the central midfielders fills in as centre-back) and conceded the only goal of the match.
scp-aac taa polga 1.jpg
Polga, on the floor, is not replaced with anyone, as seen on the yellow circle.
scp-aac taa polga 2.jpg
Without anyone filling in for Polga, Insúa is forced to come inside, leaving Marinho free to score.
If Académica were already thinking about sitting back and soaking up pressure, a 4th minute goal would not change their game plan. In fact, Sporting proved once again that they are much better equipped to be the underdogs than to inflict damage on smaller teams. The Students’ strategy was plain for everyone to see: arranged in their more traditional 4x3x3, Académica would wait for Elias or Schaars and lure them forward, looking to exploit the spaces that opened up afterwards. By blocking almost every passing option through the middle, Sporting were forced wide, forced to resort to crosses towards Wolfswinkel, hardly his specialty.
scp-aac taa acadmica elias 1.jpg
Académica welcomed Elias’ forward surges, looking to get Sporting off guard. Notice the blue space behind the Sporting midfielder.
scp-aac taa acadmica elias 2.jpg
A few seconds later, Elias falls into the trap and Académica get the space they were looking for.
Unlike the newfound 4x2x3x1, the 4x3x3 means that your opponent’s wingers are covered by the midfielders (in this case, Adrien and David Simão), rather than the wingers, freeing the latter for quick breakaways. With Diogo Melo man-marking Matías Fernández out of the park, it should be Elias or Schaars’ task to make the difference through the middle by taking advantage of the hole left by Melo. Instead, the Sporting players remained stuck to their original positions and too static.

Despite his limited range of movements, Capel was actually the one player trying to stir things up a bit, drawing fouls from his opponents, particularly in the final third. Even though the Lions have been great at taking advantage of set pieces since Ricardo Sá Pinto arrived to the club, this time not even the giant Onyewu was able to make the difference.

The second half was rather different - at least at first. Indeed, the first minute was the perfect example for what would follow for 20 minutes. With Izmailov replacing Elias (clearly the case of a player that suffers for being versatile, always seeming to play out of position), Sporting became a team broken in two lines of five players. While they could have scored a few seconds into the second half, they could have also conceded a goal in the play that followed, were it not for Edinho’s terrible miss.

After 60 minutes, Académica started tiring badly and were unwilling to keep possession. Even presented with such an opportunity, Sporting were not able to break down their adversary’s defence; in fact, Sá Pinto’s men showed little creativity - apart from a few flashes of flare from Carrillo - and a worrying inability to bypass opponents willing to do what Sporting did themselves against stronger teams this season.

On a  side note, Adrien proved once again that he belongs in Sporting’s first team and David Simão also showed that he could be a very useful midfielder. If both Sporting and Benfica are interested in developing both these players, they could prove interesting additions to the national team’s future plans.
by Vasco Mota Pereira
Vasco runs http://aboladovasco.blogspot.com/ and http://combinationplay.blogspot.com/, two blogs exclusively about football.
Comments (9)
9 Monday, 21 May 2012 12:35
Congrats to Academica, their fans deserve this after decades without winning anything, and this shows again that our Liga is becoming much more competitive these days.There are no more guaranteed victories for the big boys anymore.

Academica's low position in the Liga seemed false to me, and whenever I saw them play they looked impressive..gave both Porto and Benfica really tough matches. And in Pedro Emanuel we have yet another talented young Portuguese manager, great achivement! There is no shortage of potential future seleccao managers, and this is great for us.. As a Benfiquista, I think we must recall David Simao next season and give him a proper chance in the team..

As for Sporting, I offer my sympathy to Sportinguistas. I know how you all feel, and a season that promised so much ultimately ended up disappointing for both of our clubs. But as Bubba Zanetti and others have said, best to be positive and move on quickly from the setback. There were positives to take out of the season, and they will be back next year as they always are.

Re: Vaz Te...I'm happy for him and he's gonna get a shot at the big time again. Now if he carries on scoring like this in the TOP division in England, then he will become a contender for the seleccao. But I repeat what i have said already: only top division players should be considered for our seleccao! We are one of the best teams in the world, and should only select players who are playing proper competitve football...
Sa Pinto
8 Monday, 21 May 2012 08:10
On a positive note for Sporting, how awesome are Sa Pinto's elbow pads!
@Dan/Canada & Nick/UK - David Simão
7 Monday, 21 May 2012 06:31
Thank you for pointing that out. You are right of course. Now Corrected.
This Also Deserves Attention
6 Monday, 21 May 2012 02:41
There's no article on this but again Ricardo Vaz Te has proved instrumental with his goals! He scored the game winning goal to win West Ham promotion back to the premier league! Vaz Te has had a GREAT season and I'm very proud of him! He's a hero in West Ham now, the fans, coach, and fellow players love him, so I think he's in a really good place now in his career! He's got good quality and I'm delighted that he'll be in the Premier League next season! He's been the highest scoring Portuguese forward this season besides Ronaldo. We all know how incredibly high Ronaldo's standards are. He and Messi's stats are out of this world crazy. Those two are apart from the rest. Saying all that, Ricardo Vaz Te has done really well and his goal to game ratio is incredible also. Yes he wasn't selected by Bento but thats understandable, its a bit too risky with the little time available. But I believe Ricardo Vaz Te will continue to push on from strength to strength and honestly I believe he will do well in the Premier League also. Looking forward to a future with Helder Postiga, Ricardo Vaz Te and Nelson Oliveira. And I believe that we'll have two top quality forwards in Vaz Te and Oliveira. Forca Portugal!!!
wrong name
5 Monday, 21 May 2012 01:59
It is David Simao, not Diogo Simao
Big upset, but congrats to Academica
4 Monday, 21 May 2012 01:32
I am not too happy about today's game. A very prestigious, historical title was there for the taking and Sporting did not take advantage of their opportunities which they were rarely afforded.

The Taca de Portugal is a very important title and there is something very nostalgic about playing at the Estadio Nacional, it is always a great event. Sporting were favorites and one could assume they expected to win. Unfortunately for Sporting and Sportinguistas. That was not the case.

I watched the game and was amazed at how tactically Academica stifled Sporting's midfield and attack. Sporting could not get the ball moving effectively and Academica were always ready to counter and create their own chances. Academica's players were playing very physically and aggressively, which was part of their game-plan to stop Sporting from imposing their usually very fluid and effective midfield passing play. I was also amazed by how every time Sporting attempted to cross the ball into the box or when they managed to thread a pass through to Wolfswinkwel, Academica's center backs were always there to stop the play. It was unbelievable.

I am not happy Sporting didn't win, this hurts. After getting to the semifinal of the EL, managing to turn around a rough mid-season patch, finishing strong and getting to the final of the Taca de Portugal, to lose like this is really disappointing. Again, life goes on, and we will play another day.

I must offer my congratulations to Academica. They played a fantastic game and they deserved to win. This is coming from a Sportinguista. Academica smothered Sporting's attack, put pressure on them and won. Academica showed heart, and determination and coupled with well executed strategy, they got the results they deserved.

Now, we would please like the return of Adrien Daniel and Cedric Soares to Sporting's first team. Thank you.
Adrien Silva
3 Monday, 21 May 2012 01:12
Whenever I watch Academica play, I'm always impressed with Adrien. He's such a dynamic player in the midfield. He's strong in the tackle, confident on the ball, a great passer, and he has a wicked shot. He definitely has the talent to start for Sporting, and he is definitely better than some of Bento's picks for the Seleccao (Carlos Martins and Ruben Micael).
2 Monday, 21 May 2012 00:14
Benfica's midfielder that is on loan at Academica is David Simao not Diogo Simao, I believe.
Good Article Vasco!
1 Sunday, 20 May 2012 23:13
Elias should never have started, they should have started Daniel Carrico. He is the true defensive midfielder, he would have handled his tactical positional defensive responsibilities better like covering for Polga in the play when they conceded the goal. And also he would have just provided more solidarity and confidence in the defensive mid which would give Schaars confidence to go forward and help create when Matias needed help. Elias is one of the players who I personally do not want on Sporting's team.

Also as I said in another article before on the last Sporting game in the liga, Wolfs is a good finisher striker, a good target man in a way; but at certain times like this when we need something different to break down a parked defense he does not offer the alternatives. The alternatives to breaking down such situations are pace and skill, a striker who can beat players one on one and so take apart the defense centrally as well, rather than just relying on a cross or inch perfect through ball. I like Wolfs, no disrespect to him, but he cannot beat players one on one. Therefore he's not going to draw any more defenders to himself and open up more space for the wingers and attacking midfielder. A key issue needing to be addressed this transfer period is getting a good striker with those attributes of pace and trickery, to increase our alternative game plans. Thats why I have been excited about possibly getting Hugo Vieira as he is that type of player. If Sporting don't get him, they should still look to get someone else who can play that game up top as an alternative.

Thanks for expressing the same view I hold which is that Adrien Silva is a good player and can do the job just as well as Schaars. I would say he can definitely do the job just as well if not better than Schaars. He along with Cedric are two players that I believe Sporting must bring back for next season! They are quality players who can very well be starters. Joao Perreira might be sold Cedric perfect replacement. The midfield options are a little more packed, but what I would do is definitely sell Elias, and also send Renato Neto back to Cercle Brugge. That would create more space opportunities for Adrien Silva who can rotate with Schaars and maybe even be first choice. Then the defensive midfielder options would be Daniel Carrico and Rinaudo.

I'm dissapointed Sporting lost and I fully back Sa Pinto, he is the man and he is taking the club in the right direction, but today he got his starting line up wrong. Elias should not have started. Ultimately Academica deserve the plaudits and they deserve to be congratulated! They have made Portugal proud with 9 Portuguese players in their lineup! And won vs a team fielding 9 Foreigners. That should be a slap in the face of the powers that be. Don't get me wrong I like some of the signings Insua, Capel, and Wolfs are KEY players, Schaars has been decent as well. But its definitely food for thought to Sa Pinto and Godinho Lopes.

Again Congratulations to Academica. Sporting will be dissapointed but this is still overall a strong squad and this I would say is the first dissapointment in Sa Pinto's reign, but it doesn't take away from the fact that overall since he took over in January he brought back enthusiasm passion and a winning mentality to Sporting, they've been winning constantly in the Liga since. With Paciencia Sporting had fallen down to 5th spot. With Sa Pinto Sporting went up to fourth created quite some difference in lead between themselves and current 5th place Maritimo. Also he lead the team on an incredible run in the Europa League getting this team to play to their full potential and narrowly lost out by 1 goal vs At.Bilbao in a high scoring tie. So while this loss is dissapointing, its only the first, but with Sa Pinto the positives have been many many more than this one negative.

The team as I believe only needs slight tweaks to become a great team. I would send Sebastian Ribas back to Genoa, prioritize the signing of Hugo Vieira or some other pacey tricky striker. Sell Elias. Send Renato Neto back to Cercle Brugge. Bring back Adrien Silva. And if we do actually sell Joao Perreira definitely bring back Cedric Soares. Ultimately this team has great quality overall just a few slight adjustments and I believe they will be well equipped to be a great team! The future is good for Sporting! We have an excellent group of Juniors that just became national champions. They are a tremendous well of talent that will support the team in coming years as well. Once a few key adjustments are made to the squad things will be good!

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