Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Spain's (W) tell

July 22, 2023 — When Athenea de Castillo at right-wing for Spain moves inside of right-back Ona Batlle, they either immediately cross or quickly switch play on the ground. If they switch, Castillo is the target on the back-post. If she’s outside they play to the corner.

Figure 1.1 - Athenea de Castillo moves wide, and the ball is switched to Ona Batlle.
Figure 1.2 - Athenea de Castillo, Aitana Bonmati, and Ona Batlle make a triangle to work the ball to the corner.
Figure 1.3 - Athenea de Castillo plays a one-two with Aitana Bonmati to the corner.

If Castillo moves wide outside of Ona Batlle, then Spain will look to work the ball through her and into the corner for a cross.

Figure 1.4 - Athenea de Castillo crosses and aims for Jennifer Hermoso, who is free.

The aim will be to cross either near post or to the woman free at the top of the box. The pass to the back-post is always on, but it’s the riskier of the three options.

Figure 2.1 - Teresa Abelleira drops into the backline to aid the build-up.

Teresa Abelleira is an incredible holding midfielder that any team would be lucky to have. She put on a remarkable performance, controlling the pace of play. She would drop into the backline to aid the build-up.

Her commanding presence meant that the passive Costa Rica, who only used one center forward in their initial press, had no chance of regaining possession. Spain had complete control.

Figure 3.1 - Athenea de Castillo is the target for Olga's cross, while Aitana Bonmati stays back to remain free behind the first line.

Athenea de Castillo was the target on the back-post. Her movement dragged the left-back and center-back towards the goal, opening space for Aitana Bonmati.

When Castillo runs inside, they commit to the cross.

Figure 4.1 - Athenea de Castillo and Esther González attack the near and far post to open space for Aitana Bonmati.
Figure 4.2 - Cross lands to Aitana Bonmati free, and she shoots wide of the goal.

The simpler pass will be to cut back to Aitana Bonmati, who is free.

Figure 5.1 - Athenea de Castillo is positioned inside of Ona Batlle, so Aitana Bonmati plays the ball back to be quickly switched to the left-wing.

This is the important part. If Athenea de Castillo runs inside of Ona Batlle, they will abandon playing through the right-wing and quickly switch to the left-wing.

Figure 5.2 - The ball is quickly switched to Salma Paralluelo, and Athenea de Castillo is free.

The reason why they want to quickly switch to the left-wing, on the ground, is so that the ball arrives at Salma Paralluelo’s or Olga’s feet when Athenea de Castillo is making her run to the back-post.

If they time it perfectly, then Castillo will be free in the box to tap-in the cross.

Watch for this in their upcoming group matches and see if another team can anticipate the automation and attempt to cut them off to regain possession.

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