Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Éder Militão looks tired

April 25, 2023 — I will highlight three of the four goals Valentin Castellanos scored for Girona against Real Madrid today in their 4-2 loss, focusing on Éder Militão’s role in each goal.

Figure 1.1 - Militão jumps to challenge the ball carrier.

For the first Girona goal, Militão’s intentions are good, wanting to put pressure on the ball carrier, but this jump forward left Real Madrid at a numerical disadvantage. It was an unnecessary risk.

Figure 1.2 - Pass around Militão to the corner of the penalty box.

Once the ball is played around Militão, Nacho Fernandez is put into a situation where he’s having to defend three Girona forwards on the far side.

Figure 1.3 - Pass to the center of the box, Valentin Castellanos heads in the goal.

The domino effect from Militão jumping in Figure 1.1 ends with a headed goal and a free man on the back post in Figure 1.3 due to the compression of Real Madrid’s defense into the front post.

Figure 2.1 - Searching ball over Real Madrid’s back-line to Valentin Castellanos.

There was nothing structurally wrong with how Real Madrid set up for Girona’s second goal; it all came down to how Militão took on Castellanos when the ball was played over his head. Militão is a physically adept defender who can bully forwards off the ball, but today he was off.

Figure 2.2 - Militão allows Castellanos to get behind him goal-side.
Figure 2.3 - Castellanos makes contact with Militão, using his body to press against his back to create separation.
Figure 2.4 - That bump from Castellanos gives him the space to win the ball.

Once Castellanos gained separation, he was in on goal and slotted it home underneath goalkeeper Andriy Lunin’s legs. It was a smart move by the 24-year-old Argentina forward to get goal-side and bump Militão, but Militão made it too easy for him.

Figure 3.1 - Cross into the center of the penalty area and Castellanos heads it into the goal.

The fourth goal came from a cross into the box with Militão, again, allowing Castellanos to get goal-side.

Militão is an elite defender on most days, but today he was off. He has played 3,418 minutes for Real Madrid this season, and with the addition of his 700 minutes for Brazil in the World Cup, he looks tired.

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