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UD Almeria - Analysis, Stats & Tactics


Matt_1979
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UD Almeria - Introduction

A very brief history: Almeria Club de Football changed their named in 2001 to Union Deportiva Almeria. In 2007 they won promotion to La Liga for the first time, where they managed an impressive 8th place finish under Unai Emery as manager. The spell in the top flight lasted four seasons before they found themselves back in the second tier, however, two seasons later in 2013 they were promoted again, this time via the playoffs. Again unable to establish them as a La Liga side they were relegated two seasons later and they've remained in the second division ever since.

In 2019, the Saudi oil money came knocking and Turki Al-Sheikh took over the club with the aim of establishing the Andalusian team as one of Spain's finest.

The actual 2020/21 season: The advantage of picking up an FM save so late is that we have the gift of knowing how the actual season went. In this case, Almeria finished 4th - 9 points behind Espanyol and Mallorca - and failed to get promoted to La Liga. However, they did win many plaudits for the lovely, fluid football they played under Portuguese manager Jose Gomes, leading the league in possession and key passes.

During the season Gomes' side played a 4-2-3-1 65% of the time which could blend into a 4-3-3 (used 25%) when struggling to break down an opponent, which used overloads and switching the ball to the opposite flank to further test the sternest of defences.

My aims: 

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Key Players:

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Lucas Robertone (CM/AM) The 23 Argentinian playmaker signed for £3.1m from Velez and is ready to take on Spanish football for the first time in his young career. His vision (16), off the ball movement (16) and technique (14) as well as his long shots (15) should make him a handful for opponents to handle. 

However, with his lack of dribbling skills (10) and average pace (12) I think he might be a better fit as a DLP(S) in a double pivot, than a #10 in a 4-2-3-1.

 

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Umar Sadiq (ST) Standing at 6'4" and with 16 pace and 16 jumping reach, Umar should pose a massive threat for Segunda Division defences. In the real season he scored 20 goals. Capturing that kind of goal scoring form in the digital world would be a great achievement and surely see us at the top end of the table.
 

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Radosav Petrovic (DM/CM) The 31 year old Serbian midfielder will be a key player if we're to play the expansive, fluid football to match the real-life counterparts and take us up to La Liga. He'll be the one protecting the two central defenders, allowing them the confidence to go wide to cover for their wingbacks, and using his 6'4" frame to win the ball either on the ground or in the air. He will also pose a considerable threat at attacking set pieces.

 

A successful pre-season is over, barring a loss to West Ham when four of our starting 11 were away on international duty, and we're ready to launch ourselves into Spanish football (a first for me). I disabled the first transfer window so there'll be no signings until the January windows.

 

 

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UD Almeria: Vision, Facilities & Financials

Club Vision:

Current season: 

  • Win promotion to the La Liga by winning the league
  • Copa del Rey - reach the 4th round

Five year plan:

  • Sign young players to sell for profit
  • Buy current stadium
  • Expand stadium
  • Work within wage budget.

Comments: I see two things to be mildly worried about here - firstly, if we finish 2nd or get promoted by the playoffs will my role still be safe? And secondly, will most of the money be reserved for buying the stadium rather than for improving the playing squad?

I usually install a wage budget anyway so I'm not concerned about staying within budget and the "buy young players to sell for profit" element is fine by me. I've got a goal to only sign players under 26 so they should sit together nicely. 

Club Facilities:

Our home stadium - which we need to buy and expand in the next five years - currently holds 15,200 fans, was built in 2004 and is currently owned by the council. We've sold just under 10,000 season tickets so shouldn't be too hard to get to capacity for some games, especially if things are going well.

Corporate facilities: Adequate

Training facilities: Great

Youth facilities: Adequate

Clearly, as well as investing in the stadium and the squad, we'll also need spare money to pump into improving the youth facilities and - if we want to get some lucrative sponsorship deals - the corporate facilities.

Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos (The Stadium of the Mediterranean Games)

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Club Finances:

Luckily, the club finances are in a much better place than I imaged. There's £26m in the bank, although we did make a $500k loss last month so that's something to keep an eye on. We're a fraction under the wage budget and there's some decent players whose contracts are due to expire at the end of this season so they'll be given game time to see if they can remain a part of the squad.

Our kit sponsorship is worth £14.5m over the next four years. Ideally it would've ended sooner as I'm sure if we can get promoted the next sponsorship deal would be worth quite a lot more.

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UD Almeria: In possession and beating the press

In the image below you'll be able to see how I wanted us to line up in our 4-2-3-1 when we take possession in our own half. The two central defenders are available for passes from the goalkeeper as are the two wingbacks who are wide and higher, roughly in line with the double pivot who are staggered. This stagger is deliberate as it brings the defensive midfielder, Petrovic,  down to be a simple passing option to help circulate the ball and it also leaves the deep lying playmaker, Morlanes, not only on a different line and therefore a better passing option, but when he receives the ball he's higher up the pitch and better placed to start an effective attack.

Dropping Petrovic deeper also adds an extra player to help beat the press. By sitting just behind their first line of pressure we now have a 3v1 versus their striker, made easier by their passive press. 

Previously I'd have the playmaker dropping deeper so I'm eager to see how this works out. The AMC, Robertone, is also circled, showing how high he starts before dropping deeper to join in the build up play. Robertone starting high also makes the long ball to Sadiq an option as he'll be in and around the area should his 6'4" striker not win the ball cleanly of choose to head it down.

The passive 4-2-3-1 press of Castello
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Here we can see the same set up working against Mallorca, also pressing in a 4-2-3-1. Petrovic just behind their first line of press, Morlanes on the next line, in space, and AMC Robertone starting high but coming deep into more of a 4-3-3 to get involved when necessary..... all giving us a numerical advantage against the press.

 

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Most of our quality is on the flanks so that's ideally where we'll get the ball to get into the opposition final third, with the AMC, Robertone, drifting from side to side to receive the ball and create overloads. I havent set any particular team instructions for this yet, other than attacking width set to wide as I don't want to FORCE the team to play that way and become one dimensional. I'm seeing how it goes and will report back.

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UD Almeria - Season 1 - Update 

A promising pre-season had a shadow cast over it due to niggling injuries picked up in the gruelling training schedule.

However, even more gruelling is the schedule for the first two month of the season. With the season starting midway through September we would have 5 league games before heading into 8 games in October.

Here's the line up we planned to go into the season with:

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September: Highs and Lows

Despite going into the season without our first choice wingers (Corpas & Rodriguez), we got off to a bright start, winning our first three games against Fuenlabrada, Malaga and Castellon. Our winning run was halted by Mallorca, who were sitting in 17th position despite being predicted to finish 5th by the media. Right winger Axetxe finished off a lovely move (shown below) to give us a lead after just 6 minutes before Mollejo pulled one back for the home team. Mallorca dominated possession (58%) but rarely created any meaningful chances. We created lots, but most we spurned by Umar Sadiq and his replacement Schettine. The game finished 1-1.

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The next game was even harder as just 3 days later we faced the league favourites, Espanyol. Our biggest team so far. We went into halt time at 0-0, a score-line I was pleased with but not a performance to match as Espanyol were firmly in control. I switched to our back-up 4-3-3 formation to match theirs and although we manages to wrestle a little more possession, we went behind after a lightning quick counter attach which Vargas scored from. We had barely licked our wounds when they struck again through Raul de Paul, who scored a lovely goal just 2 minutes later to put us 2-0 and that how it stayed. Raul de Paul absolutely dominated the game and looked like he could score whenever the got the ball. First big test = failed. We looked off the pace and sloppy.

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October: Personnel issues and quite a comeback

Facing 8 games in October and having faltered towards the end of September we were thankful of the opportunity to postpone a game due to having 4 starters away on international duty.

We did have some good news though in that Jose Corpas was back from injury and ready to make his first start. A heavily rotated team went to Cartagena and served up a 0-0 bore draw. To make matters worse, Corpas was on the end of a crunching second half tackle which left him with a broken leg which would cause him to miss 6 months. Great.

Thankfully the injury happed just before the squad registration deadline so Corpas was unregistered and promising youngster Jordi Escobar was called up from the B-Team.

In more player news, right winger Juan Villar wasn't happy when I mentioned his poor performances in training and kicked off. 

We got back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Mirandes and dominated against Lugo, only to see them score an equaliser with 4 minutes remaining. My annoyance at the FM gods didn't waiver when starting goalkeeper Makaridze injured knee ligaments in training and would miss 4 weeks. 

So we went into the game against bottom of the league Sabadell with back up keeper Fernando making a start. He didn't do well. Sabadell had THREE shots in the first half.... and scored all of them. Luckily, Robertone pulled one back just before the half time whistle and we go into the locker room 3-1 down. Naturally, arms were thrashed around and the team were sent back out knowing exactly what I thought of them. It worked. Petrovic scored a screamer from 25 yards to make it 3-2 and Sadiq equalised ten minutes later. Not finished there he added a second on 75 minutes to put us 4-3 up. The team were shattered, we dropped back to a balanced mentality and prepared to see them game out.... but fair play to Sabadell, they scored again on 85 to make it 4-4.

Late equalisers seemed to be haunting us as our 1-0 lead over Ponferradina slipped in the 85th minute to make it 1-1. Luckily Joao Carvalho grabbed us the 3 points with a 93rd minute winner (shown below). Another 0-0 bore draw came against Real Oviedo in a game we should've won comfortably, before we finished off the month against the new bottom of the league team. Las Palmas, Sadiq who had missed a lot of easy chances was dropped for youngster Gutierrez. We lost 4-2, but Gutierrez scored twice on his full debut.

Come back soon Makaridze!! 

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So, two months and 12 games played we find ourselves in 6th, but still massively in touch with the top spot. What we're struggling for is consistency. We're getting so many niggling injuries and international call ups it's been hard to keep a settled attacking four.

Speaking of the attacking four, I appear to have jinxed myself when in an earlier post I said our strengths were out on the wings. Both planned starters injured and no one else seemingly wanting to claim their place in the starting line up. 

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UD Almeria - Season 1, update 2

November: a mixed month

Compared to the busy schedules of September and October, we had only three games in November; giving the players a much needed rest and allowed some niggling injuries to heal.

At the end of the update we found ourselves in 6th place but still well within touching distance of the top and we hoped to build on that. We were also left feeling optimistic that our young striker Gutierrez scored 2 goals on his debut in the game before.

Obviously it's only right he gets injured and would miss the next 2 months. So Umar Sadiq comes back in to lead the line. We also had starting goalie Makaridze back from injury. Thank god.

We didn't have easiest of first game as we faced 2nd placed Rayo Vallecano in what was a really tough game which we lost 1-0. Feeling the pressure of our now 9th place we were glad to have Rodriguez back in the RW slot for the game against Alcorcon which we won 3-1 thanks to two goals from defensive midfielder Petrovich.

The third and final game came against Real Zaragoza, who were sitting in 11th position and I knew would be a tough opponent. Sure enough, we soon found ourselves 2-0 down. Late goals from Carvalho (88th) and De La Hoz (92nd) secured us a point but it was papering over the cracks. Our passing was very sloppy and needed attention. 

I made the decision to drop the tempo down from high to medium. 

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December: signs of hope

Going into an away tip to Girona we knew a win would put us ahead of them in the table, but they hadn't in 5 games and had won their last 4 so it would be a tall order. Luckily, Robertone - who'd been dropped back from AMC to a DLP role played a beautiful raking pass over the defence for Sadiq to latch on to which put us in the lead after 11 minutes. Firmly on top we won a penalty on 21 mins but Robertone missed and we went into half time 1-0 up. The second half was completely the opposite as Girona dominated from the restart and levelled the score with a long range effort on 53. They looked like the only team who'd score for the rest of the game until substitute Lazo poked home a goal line scramble and we managed to hold on for a 2-1 win.

We recorded a 4-0 win and much overdue clean sheet against Logrones before a 0-0 draw with Tenerife, who we carved open on numerous occasions but were unable to take advantage. That's the problem with Sadiq, with this size and speed he makes lots of chances..... but misses a lot!

A reserve line up put up a routine 3-0 cup win over Rayo Ibense before we dominated Albacete at home thanks to two Sadiq goals.

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Summary: 

So there we have it, we head into the January of a new year with things looking good. Only conceded 1 goal in December's five games which makes me very happy and although things still aren't quite there going forward we're definitely getting there. I'm planning on looking at out offensive and defensive stats in the next update along with some analysis into how the players are filling out their roles.

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UD Almeria - Attacking Analysis

Attacking:

I mentioned in the previous post that whilst the defence was getting there, our attacks still we're quite right. Due to the inconsistency in line ups of the front 4 I've been unable to establish if it's system related or just a case of getting the right players in the right positions. We're ranked 4th in goals so far which is great, however we're out performing our xG... if we were level with our xG and had scored 26 goals we'd be down in 9th in the goal ranks and that would be cause for concern. Especially because we're leading the league in clear cut chances created and cross completion ratio.

I did mention earlier than the issue with Umar Sadiq is that he missed A LOT of chances. We'll look at his stats shortly to see if he's the "problem".

I'd like to see us move up the ranking on shots per game (currently 9th) and shots on target ratio (7th).

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Umar Sadiq:

In terms of goal scoring he's doing great and is tied for 4th position with 11 goals. However he's very frustrating. Some games he'll get loads of chances, other games he'll be invisible. So much so I dropped him in favour of the 18 year old Gutierrez. So I wanted to delve into his stats to see if he's as annoying as he seems or if it's just me.

Here's some stats I've pulled against the top 4 performing strikers in the league. Disclaimer - luckily they all play as the lone striker so it's an accurate comparison.

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There we have it. Proof. I was right! He's having the most shots on target in the league but his shots on target ration and goal conversion ratio are way behind the others. He's very wasteful, BUT he is getting goals. I've checked his shot locations from the last few games and all are inside the area.

So I'm left with a bit of a conundrum: do I stick with him and hope that when the attacking three behind him finally click they'll make even better chances OR throw Gutierrez back in when he's fit and see how that goes? 

Leaders:

Goals 

  • Sadiq - 11
  • Robertone - 4
  • Petrovic - 3

Assists

  • Robertone - 6
  • Centelles - 5
  • Carvalho - 4

If you have any observations or thoughts please shout up.

 

Edited by Matt_1979
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UD Almeria - Defensive Ranks

The defence started off as a bit of a nightmare. I'm normally a defensive manager so taking over a team expected to play lovely, fluid attacking football is a bit of a challenge. I'd take a clean sheet over a hattrick any day. 

So conceding 4 goals against Sabadell and then another 4 a few games later against Las Palmas had me in cold sweats. We are also giving away LOTS of long range shots from the edge of the box which is DEFINITELY something I need to look at.

However, with three simple changes we seem to have steadied the ship.
 

1- Upon realising my starting wingers lack both teamwork and aggression I switch from counter press to regroup. 

2- As my wingback got injured I had to play a natural centreback there so swapped the role to a full back on support rather than a wingback. It seemed to work well so I stuck with it. 
 

3- we’ll cover this change later. 

Here I plan to see how we're performing, where we can improve and if recent personnel changes could be the answer. 

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From the stats above you can see that on the whole we're doing ok. We've conceded 2 more than xG suggests we should've so will have to hope that was down to the bad spell when the back up keeper was playing, we need to defend corners better and we need to learn to head the ball as we're winning just under half, although for a team build for technique and skill that may no be a surprise. When we DO make tackles we have the best percentage in the division but are 11th in actually winning possession... although we average 52% possession so the need to tackle is less as we have the ball more than we don't.... which could explain that one. 

Long shots:

Here's how we've conceded in this season's league campaign. We've only conceded 3 from inside the 6-yard box which would suggest the two centre backs and goalkeeper are going a good job of defending that area. 8 goals from the area you would expect to concede from, and then another 8 from outside the area. This is a real issue for me. I'm not yet sure if it's due to the goalkeeper being not very good at saving long shots OR the defensive midfielder (CM on defend) isn't doing a good enough job at closing players down. 

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Assist-wise there's a couple of things which stick out:

1 - Five assists have come from our left which is where our attacking wingback is situated. I need to either get a quicker LCB who can cover that area or what the CM-D to the left so he's nearer to the weak area of our defence.

2 - the five assists coming from the middle of the park suggests we're not going a good enough job at closing players down and disrupting the opposition.

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The unsung hero?

You may recall my last season update when I mentioned we'd kept three league clean sheets in a row and only conceded one goal in the whole of December?

Well there's a change which coincided with that run and that is changing the CM-D position from Radosav Petrovic to Cesar de la Hoz.

From looking at their attributes I'm sure you can see why I initially chose Petrovic as the defensive "destroyer" of the team to guard the defence. 6'4", good positioning and strength as well as good technique and composure to help keeping and circulating the ball. However, he's slow... which I think might have been his downfall in that he can't cover ground and close attackers down.

De la Hoz, however, is a bit quicker, harder working and more aggressive. 

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From the stats here you can see the difference in each player. Both played the defensive central midfielder position but there's a massive difference in the two. A 6'4" giant only winning 2 out of 12 headers is NOT acceptable.

Fingers crossed Cesar can keep on protecting the defence and limiting the number of long shots we face!

Edited by Matt_1979
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Just now, _Ben_ said:

Absolutely fantastic start here - loving your posting style. Very much on board to see some success for Almeria!

Thanks for the great feedback Ben. Looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season pans out. Winning the league will be tough as there’s some really good teams in this division. 

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I second what @_Ben_ said, nice to see you drilling down into the stats....this save clearly has your inner fire burning! 

Stripping it back to your attacking post I feel that Sadiq isn't cut out to be the striker to lead your line...given the fact that you have analysed his shooting locations and they look like they are coming from a decent area, paired with the fact that his 44 shots on target equate to 11 goals...Sadiq IMO needs too many chances in order to score.

Defensively I think you have hit the nail on the head, I hope a screener to protect the defensive block will help you conceding from distance...if that doesn't help then it's probably your keeper! 

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21 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

I second what @_Ben_ said, nice to see you drilling down into the stats....this save clearly has your inner fire burning! 

Stripping it back to your attacking post I feel that Sadiq isn't cut out to be the striker to lead your line...given the fact that you have analysed his shooting locations and they look like they are coming from a decent area, paired with the fact that his 44 shots on target equate to 11 goals...Sadiq IMO needs too many chances in order to score.

Defensively I think you have hit the nail on the head, I hope a screener to protect the defensive block will help you conceding from distance...if that doesn't help then it's probably your keeper! 

 

I think you’re right vs Sadiq. Luckily Gutierrez is fit again but I need to ease him in gently. Will see what he can do for a few games and then do a side by side comparison. 

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UD Almeria - The Hired Help

As seems to always be the case in the lower leagues of European football the squad usually consists of a lot of players loaned in, with an equal number often loaned out. And such is the case with Almeria.

As we're half way through the season I wanted to take a quick look at those who are out getting valuable game time at other clubs who might good addition next season when they return and then those who we have at the club this season, some of which we have options to buy.

Loaned out:

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We actually have 12 players out on loan, but I've only chosen to look at the ones I feel would be in or around the first team if they were here, or are ones to watch for the future. 

Rosic is having a good season at Fuenlabrada, having conceded 23 goals in 21 games and having an average rating of 6.90 which is good for a goalkeeper. He might be able to challenge for the starting spot if his option isn't picked up. It's annoying that Jonathan has been loaned out to a division rival as the Brazilian would potentially be our starting fullback. Hopefully he can develop even more in the second half of the season. Aguza & Vada would be our starting midfield duo, which would've meant I wouldn't have had to drop Robertone back to centre mid.  

Olivera is loaned out to Penerol in Uruguay and hasn't played any games yet as their season doesn't start until the end of January, which I imagine means I wont get him back until Jan/Feb 2022 which is very frustrating as the 18 year old would definitely be starting on the right wing this season - he's got an option of £2.75m so I'm hoping the Uruguayans don't choose to activate it.

Vada in action for Tenerife

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Loaned in:

It seems the club loaned players out to other teams in the division to bring in players not quite as good. 

Here's who came in and how they're performing so far:

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You can see right away that there's two young centre backs who have lots of promise, in fact the both share the left-sided centerback position. Cuenca is a bit more my style of defender but as I have quite a cheap option on Fernandes (£2.74m) and the coaches think he's still got some more room to develop so I might play him more to see if he'll be able to get better and potentially do a job in La Liga (if things go to plan).

Out of the other there's only Carvalho and Rodriguez who've impressed but none are worth the money being asked as part of the loan to buy offer.

The cost of Villalba is decent but he's an attacking midfielder/winger who doesn't really excel in any area..... so he's not a starter and I don't think he could develop into one so unless he makes drastic improvements in the second half of the season I can't see him being signed permanently.

 

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UD Almeria - Tactical Update (AKA tickin' the boxes)

You may recall my first post when I said I wanted to recreate the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-3-3 used by Almeria manager Jose Gomes in real life. The 4-3-3 was the secondary tactic which they switch to when struggling to break teams down and uses overloads on the right flank to create through balls and crossing opportunities....

I think it's safe to say we can tick the 4-3-3 part of that off as I can demonstrate in a recent game against Castellon:

After going behind early we were having a hard time getting beyond the two defensive midfielders in the 4-2-3-1 so on the 35 minute mark I switched to the 4-3-3.

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Seven minutes later, Carvahlo, Rodriguez and Balliu had overloaded the right flank and played some nice passes between each other and De la Hoz, the half back came over to receive the ball. Carvalho turned and ran into the space which had been created and played a simple pass to Gutierrez for an easy goal. 

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Image 1: Rodriguez (RW) has the ball and is being overlapped by Balliu (WB). Carvalho (MEZ) comes towards the ball to give us a 3v2 overload.

Image 2: Carvalho receives the pass, and lays it off for Balliu before turning and running back into the box, dragging his defender away from Balliu.

Image 3: Balliu scampers down the wing before picking out Gutierrez for another easy goal.

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Both these goals are excellent examples of how overloads can help and how important the role of the central midfielder is in having the awareness to take advantage of space created. Carvalho was heavily involved in both goals... it's a pity he'll cost £19m if I was to pick up his loan option....

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Overloads are so important on FM and are one of the key's to unlocking a defense, I think there is something beautiful about fine tuning your tactic to create these and when they come off like in your visual above it is poetry in motion! 

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12 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

Overloads are so important on FM and are one of the key's to unlocking a defense, I think there is something beautiful about fine tuning your tactic to create these and when they come off like in your visual above it is poetry in motion! 

Definitely, just like the best teams do in real life. It’s something I’ve not really taken advantage of before but very worthwhile. 

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UD Almeria - January 2021

 

January 2021:

The fixture congestion didn’t improve heading into a brand new as we’d have 8 games in January, starting with a home tie to top of the league Real Sporting I which we were the better team throughout but could only managed a 0-0 draw despite having an xG of 1.70 vs their 0.50. Our backups easily beat Cornella 5-1 in the Copa del Rey 2nd round which gave us a 3rd round tie against BARCELONA! The negative here being the boards expectation is we reach the 4th round as a minimum!

(Note - I’m really going to have to meet their other demand of winning the division or I’ll probably get sacked!)

We beat top of the form table Fuenlabrada 2-0 and were held to a disappointing 0-0 by Leganes.

Then three days later came the big guns. Barcelona. At home. This is our chance boys!!!

We started well and the best chance either side had was Carvalho’s curling shot which rattled against the crossbar. The deadlock wasn’t broken until just before halftime when Messi sent a low driven cross into the 6-yard box which hit Griezmann and cannoned onto the legs of our goalkeeper before deflecting into goal.

The score remained at 1-0 until Messi had a shot from just inside the 18-yard box which was blocked by a defender and the rebound fell kindly to Griezmann. Unfortunately, the goalkeeper has already dived, and the Frenchman was left with an empty goal. Robertone pulled one back from the penalty spot but Griezmann was against involved as he headed home a cross from a few yards out.

Final score: 1-3.

Griezmann: 2 and a half goals
Why Barcelona may have to sell Antoine Griezmann to keep Lionel Messi |  Sport | The Times

 

Clearly the team weren’t happy with the way the cup game had gone as four days later that hammered Malaga 4-1, in their lovely little ground, before making it 11 league games unbeaten by beating Castellon 2-1 thanks to our 4-3-3 working beautifully as planned (as shown in the previous post) and two goals from young striker Gutierrez… who then caught the flu and had to be sent home for 10 days! Typical.

The unbeaten run was ended as we finished off the month with a 1-2 loss to Mallorca. Again, we dominated the game in which they scored from their only first half shots on goal.

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Transfer Deadline Day:

The transfer window closed in unspectacular fashion. Aside from loaning out a few youngsters there very little activity was as we only had £500k to spent and couldn’t find anyone of interest who’d improve the team for that money.

We put a bid in for the transfer listed striker Rey Manaj from Barcelona B but he chose Tenerife instead, despite us offering higher wages and a lower release fee.
 

Rey Manaj - turned us down for Tenerife.
Rei Manaj
 

Conclusion:

We finished December 2020 in 4th place and 4 points off top spot and I wasn't overly concerned, knowing that a good run can put us right up there as a contender. 

Unfortunately we end the month, off the back of an 11 game unbeaten run and in 5th position. The teams above us aren't slipping up so it's hard to keep the pressure on. 

The bonus being that we now have a much lighter schedule for the next four month, with the standard four games a month until the final month of May where we have five games.

We're also still having striker issues. Sadiq keeps on missing the easiest of chances and Gutierrez, who I need to give a good run to. He's either injured or ill, no matter how much I wrap him up on cotton wool.

Here's to a better February!

 

Edited by Matt_1979
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UD Almeria - February 2021

 

Striker issues

We started February in 5th position and desperately needed to kick on to challenge. In the first game we faced Cartagena at home, with 3rd choice striker Schettine starting up front due to Gutierrez being ill and Sadiq being too frustrating. We took an early lead through a rare Carvalho header and with Schettine lacking match fitness he was replaced with Sadiq who two minutes later got injured and would miss the next three weeks. 

Off the back of the 1-0 win we had a massive game coming up against Espanyol - who despite their 2nd place are easily the strongest team in the division. So of course it was only natural that with Sadiq injured and Gutierrez out with an illness, that Schettine would get a virus. 

A still not fit Gutierrez was thrust back into the starting line up for the away trip to Espanyol and the awesome dup of Raul de Paul and Vargas who tore us to shreds in first meeting, a 2-0 loss back in November. We also had to start two back ups in defence. I was NOT looking forward to this game.

And I was right, we went into halt time 2-0 down and thoroughly outplayed after goals from Raul de Paul (who else) and winger We Lei. "RDT" added another on 70 to make it 3-0. Not a team to roll over and die however, we put the pressure on and Gutierrez scored 2 in 2 minutes to bring the score back to 3-2. With out tails up we absolutely peppered their goalkeeper with shots and I have no idea how we didn't equalise in the 93rd minute when the ball fell to Gutierrez after some sublime play by Lazo. However, it wasn't to be and once again we were unable to compete with the big boys.

The month was finished off with routine wins over Sabadell (2-0) and Mirandes (3-1).

So to finish February we remain in 5th, 5 point off Rayo who we play next month. 

We HAVE to start taking point off the big boys because they aren't dropping points elsewhere.

Here's our record so far against the promotion contenders:

Rayo Vallecano: L 0-1
Espanyol: L 0-2, L 2-3
Real Oviedo: D 0-0
Mallorca: D 1-1, L 1-2
Girona: W 2-1

Clearly, 5 points from a potential 21 isn't acceptable for a team who are expected by their owner to win the division (despite media and fan predictions putting us 4th).

In March we play both Rayo Vallecano and Real Oviedo..... I've a feeling the month of March will decide our fate!

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UD Almeria - March & April 2021

 

Now or never

After winning 3 of our 4 games in February, but losing 3-2 to fellow promotion hopefuls Espanyol, we found ourselves heading to March in 5th place. It's not all doom and gloom though as we were soon to play RayoReal Oviedo and Girona so if we can get a but of luck we can take point off them and help our own cause.

March

Luckily we had a chance to give ourselves an early boost as we played 17th placed Ponferridina. They set themselves up in a deep 4-1-4-1 which we struggled to breakdown and they eventually took the lead through a very dubious penalty on 66 minutes. We failed to get the breakthrough we needed and opened the month with a 1-0 loss. Not a great start.

Still reeling from the loss we then got the news that our starting keeper, Makaridze, injured his thigh in training and would miss a week. Marvellous.

Our game versus Real Oviedo was postponed and pushed back a few weeks due to international fixtures so what game us a bit of time to steady ourselves.

Up next came an away trip to Lugo. Again they sat deep and we struggled to break them down. It took a penalty scored by winger Brian Rodriguez to put us in the lead and it somehow stayed 1-0 despite the xG battle finishing 2.65 vs 0.73 in our favour. This is concerning going into a game against top of the league Rayo Vallencano.

Rayo Analysis

If we want to win the league then obviously we have to beat whoever is top of the league when given a chance. After carrying out a bit of @MattyLewis11style analysis on Rayo I established the following:

  • they are very dangerous down their left with their LB and LW combing for 13 assists so far
  • most of their assists come from through balls
  • Their Striker and AMC have 25 goals between them.

I decided to play my 4-3-3 formation to win the centre of the park and drop by RB to a fullback on support rather than a wingback. Also, the advantage of my 4-3-3 is that it goes for over loads on OUR right, which is their left, the place they do most of their successful attacking. 

Feeling semi-confident we started the game and things didn't go well. Rayo were completely dominating us and fully deserved their opening goal through ex-Forest striker Guerrero after 28 minutes. Still under the cosh we managed to pull one back with one of our rare first half chances when Sadiq scored a lovely goal from a tight angle just before halftime.  We managed to wrestle the game from then a bit more in the second half and took the lead when Cuenca headed home from a corner, however their lead was short lived and they equalised on 70.

Well aware that a draw wasn't really good enough for us I made some attacking substitutions and upped the mentality for the final 10 minutes and it worked. Substitute winger Corpas - back from a broken leg kept him out the entire season so far - scored the winner from a goal mouth scramble in the 87th minute. 

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April

We started April off with a 3-0 win over Las Palmas - a game I was nervous about  as they were in 10th and had just beaten 5th placed Girona 3-1 - and they never stood a chance.

That performance was followed up with an even better one in a 3-1 win over the new 5th placed team, Real Oviedo, who were in a downward spiral and had only won 1 out of their last 5. 

League position: 2nd (level on points with Espanyol who had a better goal difference).

Next up came 15th placed Albacete and these are the games I dread the most. Not surprisingly the lower placed teams sit back and make it hard to get past them and breaking them down is something we always struggle with. I think this due to having no pacey wingers... they're all pretty much the same type of player and therefore no dynamism to our attacks. 

After a dreadful first half - in which we generate a whopping 0.06 xG I switched from our 4-3-3 to our main formation of 4-2-3-1 as it seemed to be working until they won a penalty on the 60 minute mark, which they scored.  Subs were made and Carvalho, with his first touch whipped in a corner for central defender Fernandes to head in for the equaliser. 1-1. Just 10 minutes later Carvalho turned provider again, bringing down a long throw from Balliu and crossed for Sadiq to head home. Fair play to Albacete because they made our lives a misery for the rest of the game and I honestly have no idea how they didn't score, but we held out for a win. 

We'd now won FIVE games in a row and moved up to 1st place, although Girona had a game in hand. 

Our winning streak came to end end with a 1-1 draw to 5th placed Girona thanks to a Sadiq wonder goal which I had NO IDEA he was capable of:

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Espanyol won their game in hand 2-0 to put them back on top.

League position: 2nd

We finished off the month with a trip to Logrones. After dominating the first half we got the lead through Sadiq, again, and went into half time 1-0 up. They picked it up in the second half and their pressure came off with a 25 yard screamer after 66 minutes. Struggling to create we switch to our 4-3-3 and managed to secure a win from a Maras header from a corner.

Espanyol lost 2-1 to Sabadell.

League position: 1st

Conclusion: When we need to find a way to put a run together we dug deep and pulled it out the bag, beating the top of the league and eventually clawing our way to the top spot for the first time this season. An excellent place to be with one month and 5 games remaining.

It won't be an easy month though, but more to come on that later.

Special mention goes to Umar Sadiq - you'll know from earlier posts that I found him frustrating as our starting Striker and he even lost his place to Gutierrez. However, he kicked on and won his starting job back with some great performances. Not only his 5 goals over the last 8 games, but also his energy and the way he creates chances for himself.

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UD Almeria - Strength of Schedule

So, here we are. One month to go in the season and we find ourselves top by one point over the mighty Espanyol with Rayo Vallecano in 3rd place with a game in game.

To look at the remaining strength of schedules in a concise way I've calculated the average league position of our opponents. As you can see, Rayo will have it all to do if they are to take advantage of their game in had and make a final push as they have the hardest run-in. Ours is harder than Espanyol, made even more apparent when I noticed our first game is against the bottom of the league which skews the rest of the averages even more (removing Alcorcon makes the average rank of our last 4 opponents 10th). 

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I still make Espanyol the favourites to win the league. 

Our starting left wingback, Centelles, will miss the rest of the season through injury.

Good news: we win our first Manager of the Month award of the season.

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Worrying news: Despite taking a team predicted to finish 4th, to a position where they're top with 5 games to go, the owner only gives me a B.... the highest grade of the season. If I don't win the division like he demanded it's entirely possible I'll get sacked.

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Here we go.......

 

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UD Almeria - The Final Month

Top with 5 games to go... we can't blow it now... can we??

So, to recap we headed into the final month, with 5 games left, a single point ahead of Espanyol. Rayo Vallecano have a game in hand, but the hardest strength of schedule from the remaining games. We'd be without our starting left wingback, Centelles, who picked up an injury. Although his replacement is better in terms of key attributes, we played much better going forward with Centelles in the team. 

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Alcorcon (a)
Games versus the bottom teams give my mild panic attacks but this one was relatively routine. We won 2-0 thanks to goals from Sadiq and Corpas. Alcorcon DID do well and created some decent chances but as soon as I switch to the 4-3-3 we dominated. The win meant we'd at least qualified for the playoffs.

Meanwhile Espanyol could only draw with Logrones, giving us a 3 point cushion at the top.

REAL ZARAGOZA (h)
The game I was worried about the most. 5th in the league and the boasting the best defensive record. We aren't great at breaking down teams and they did a great job of frustrating us. When we DID get a good chance their keeper was on top form and kept us out. Neither the 4-2-3-1 or the 4-3-3 could get through and I was settled in for a 0-0 draw until I made two substitutions which quickly paid off. Gutierrez, on for Sadiq, played a deep cross to Lazo, on for Carvalho which seemed to have gone too far but Lazo managed to score a screamer from a tight angle.

Mirandes managed to hold Espanyol to another 1-1 draw. We now had a 5 point lead at the top.

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Leganes (h)

Never troubled, never had to get out of second gear. 2-0 win.

Tenerife (a)

Here's where things started to get exciting. Espanyol had finally got back on winning form and smashed Lugo 4-0, however our 5 point lead meant a win would seal the title!

It wouldn't be easy though as Tenerife only needed 1 point to secure safety. They also beat me to the signing of Rey Manaj who has scored 3 goals in 11 games for them, however he was on the subs bench for this game.

They pressed up very high and played with a frenetic pace in the first half and made it really difficult for us. Despite Sadiq having two good chances in the first 15 minutes, they managed to score first when Alex Munoz headed in a free kick after 18 minutes. We switched to our 4-3-3 at half time and we all over the in the second half. Espanyol were winning so our lead was down to 2 points. Luckily, super-sub Lazo did it again and scored shortly after coming on. FT 1-1

Table with 1 game left
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Real Sporting (a)

Crunch time. One game left, 3 points ahead of Espanyol with the same goal difference. If we got beat and Espanyol won they'd be the champions. 

We managed to put the nerves aside and made our early pressure pay with a goal from the Portugese Prince, Joao Carvalho, put is ahead after 14 minutes. We went into halt time at 1-0 with Espanyol also 1-0 up. 

Sporting created some good chances and nerves were high but Robertone scored a beauty goal from 18 yards which went in off the post before Sadiq sealed the deal, AND the title for us after latching on to a through ball from Rodriguez. 

Full time - 3-0

UD ALMERIA - LaLiga 2 Champions
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UD Almeria - End of Year Review

Defence:

The most important area for me. Sorry, but this is where I always look first. Here you can see how we finished off the season compared to our mid-season rankings. We made significant improvement across the board, down to two reasons:

1 - Switching from Petrovic to De La Hoz as the midfield guardian of the defence, his higher agility and aggression allowed him to close players down much quicker and really cut down on the amount of long shots we were allowing under Petrovic.

2 - Had managed to fine tune our 4-3-3/4-5-1 which we used situationally and to close out games when required.

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Attack:

As you can see defence wasn't the only place where improvement were made. Our attack really took a step to the next level in the second half of the season, although I still think it could've been better. Sadiq changed from being frustrating and wasteful to being a bundle of energy who managed to create chances for himself out of nothing and ended up with 18 goals to show for it. 

Another major element in the upturn was our ability to switch seamlessly between the 4-2-3-1 to our 4-3-3 and back again when struggling to find a way through tough defences.

I can see two issues though, and one of them ties into one of the issues I've mentioned about the lack of dynamism in the attack: 16th for dribbles per game. One of the thing I'll be looking for is someone with pace who will run with the ball and take players on. None of our wingers really did this, other than Carvalho but he's on loan and doesn't have the greatest pace anyway.

Another issue is we've scored ZERO goals from direct free kicks. That's something we need to work on because if we want to be competitive in La Liga we need to take the most of all scoring opportunities.

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Tactical analysis:

I set myself a target of being able to switch effortlessly between a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-3 whenever the situation called for it. It took a while to sort but let's see if we got there in the end!

We used the 4-2-3-1 74% of the time and got very positive results, creating a clear cut chance every 47 minutes, whilst giving away a CCC every 133 minutes.

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The 4-3-3 is a different story, and although the limited stats available suggest it wasn't very good, we used it 21% of the time and to great effect as we'd use it to try to breakdown stubborn teams when the 4-2-3-1 was failing, by having more bodies in the centre of midfield and creating overloads AND to close out close games where we'd go cautious or even defensive when under the cosh, so in my eyes it's been a huge success - in fact looking back at the schedule shows that we won all 6 of our games when we started with the 4-3-3.

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Next up: player analysis. 

 

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UD Almeria - End of Year Player Analysis

I don't want to bore people (even further) by banging on about my players so I'll try to cover a lot whilst keeping it nice and concise. 

It's good to see Corpas cropping up in some of the columns below. If you remember, the winger was injured in pre-season, and then on his first start of the season he broke his leg and missed over 6 months. When he came back a lot of his stats had declined but he's shown how valuable he can be. In the end he started 3 games, came on as sub in 9 and managed to rack up 2 goals and 2 assists. 

Another player who snuck in under the radar was Lazo, a left winger and part-time AMC, who wasn't even a starter early on in the season but pops up in every column apart from the average rating one, and he ONLY JUST missed out on that. 

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Player Awards:

It's great to see Alex Centelles getting the player of the year award. At just 21, he's one for the future. It's also nice to see his opposite wingback, Ivan Balliu, getting goal of the season. Both have been key players this season.

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Signing of the season: 

I'm not going to include anyone in this as I didn't sign anyone and don't want to take the credit for someone else's signings..

Loanees In:

There some interesting players here which I may be interested in. However, none of them are worth the cost of their options. Fernandes did really well as a back up CB but I don't think he'd be good enough for La Liga, and definitely not worth the asking price.

Cuenca doesn't have an option but was great so I'm going to make an enquiry to see how much he'd cost from Villareal. I'd be interested in Carvalho at maybe the £4m mark - if I had the money - as he's still got lots of potential to develop and can produce moments of magic. And the same with Rodriguez; I'll see what LA would be looking for, but certainly no more than £3-4m.

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Loans Out:

All the players listed below are ones which would be in or around the first team or youngsters with potential. Rosic had a good season at Fuenlabrada so I would be surprised if they didn't pick up his option, same with Rahmani at Malaga as £900k is good for 7 goals and 3 assists. Olivera is pulling up trees at Penarol and I'm nervous that they'll snap him up for that money!

Aguza put in a disappointing performance at Ponferradina as he's a dead cert for the starting line up when he gets back.... but if he can't do it in La Liga 2, how can he do it in La Liga? Jonathan will challenge player of the year Centelles for the left wingback spot

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UD Almeria - Progress Update

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1 - Completed. La Liga 2 champions.

2 - Both created, tested, work well and used often.

3 - Lots of possession, most clear cut chances created, most shots on target, second most goals.

4 - Not made any signings yet, but watch this space

5 - Will need a couple more seasons to tick this one off.

 

Footballing philosophy:

It's a good job we were able to play some nice football this season because we've just received the board vision for next season.

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  • Matt_1979 changed the title to UD Almeria - Analysis, Stats & Tactics

Congratulations on your promotion! 

What are the plans to cope with the challenges of La Liga? 

Will there be any tactical implementations or is it a case of attempting to improve the quality of the squad?

 

 

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4 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

Congratulations on your promotion! 

What are the plans to cope with the challenges of La Liga? 

Will there be any tactical implementations or is it a case of attempting to improve the quality of the squad?

 

 

Cheers Matty

I'm not yet sure on the tactics... we did pretty well defensively this season so it's possible with a few upgrades to key areas (a centre back, a midfield destroyer maybe) we might be ok for a defensive stand point.

In terms of attacking play we definitely need at least one top winger......maybe two...

I've got a bid accepted for someone you and I both know well and who I've had a lot of success with previously.....

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Congrats @Matt_1979! There was a point that I was a little worried about you going up but the comparison of half season and full season really show the upturn - so massive praise to you for making that upturn.

Very interested to see how you approach next year. Whether you are going to look to improve (through attribute analysis) or back (based on statistical analysis of your current squad) because there definitely seems to be two distinct camps after a promotion.

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UD Almeria - A PRESSING MATTER!!

Can we measure how effective a player is at pressing?

I wanted to take a step away from the actual save for a moment to experiment on something which I was inspired by last night when reading the excellent book Football Hackers.

They were talking about pressing and I was thinking it's a shame there's no real way to tell how effective our players are at pressing. Then a few pages later it talked about the Passes Per Defensive Action stats which shows how many passes the opposition has before they are challenged or pressed. 

So what we need is to figure out what constitutes a "defensive action".

What is a Defensive Action?

Luckily, the book also gives us this information: a tackle, a challenge (unsuccessful tackle), an interception or a foul which is committed in a when the opposition is in the defensive or build up phase and is a certain distance away from our goal.

Obviously, with FM we have limitations. We can't select the area of the pitch any of the above is carried out in BUT as we're looking at pressing we're only really interesting in our attacking players so the chances are that any of the above WOULD be carried out whilst the opposition is IN it's defensive or build up phase.

So, in FM terms we're looking at:

Tackle attempts (tackles + challenges)
Interceptions
Fouls (I was dubious about including fouls, however a press is about interrupting the oppositions build up and I guess that's what a foul does!)

Reverse engineering

For me, a players tackle attempts over a season doesn't show, so I had to do a bit of reverse engineers (thanks Dr Google!) to figure this out using the number of successful tackles and the tackle success ratio. 

Disclaimer

Using MY team from last season isn't a great example because I only pressed around 30% of the season as my attacking players didn't have the right attributes, so I used the counter press instruction for the first month or so and then just situationally. BUT as an example of explaining my workings I think we're ok. I would expect a team who counter-presses all the time to have much higher numbers.

Putting it all together

So then we need to add all the defensive actions together for all my attacking players over the season and turn it into a Per 90 stat.

We can now see the amount of challenges, interceptions and fouls our offensive players committed per game throughout the season.

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I'd probably discount Corpas & Villar as outliers due to lack of minutes

From this we can see that my best pressing player this season (not including Corpas & Villar) was Lazo shortly followed by Rodriguez & Villalba.

Attributes for a successful counter-press

In the disclaimer above I mentioned that my attackers didn't have what I consider the right attributes to be able to employ the counter-press as a main element of the tactic. But now we need to see if the results above a reflected by players attributes.

I'd consider the key attributes required to be:

Determination
Team work
Work rate

followed by:

Aggression
Acceleration
Anticipation
Stamina

So if we now look at those attributes for each of the players, along with the average figure VS the Defensive actions per 90:

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So, I can't see any direct correlation between "key" attributes for pressing and the number of defensive actions per game HOWEVER I need to again add the disclaimer that for most of the season we regrouped, rather than pressed, so I would expect these would be massively different should a manager who's team DOES press (@MattyLewis11) ran the same test.

But we can only use the data we have.

On the basis that Lazo, Villar & Rodriguez were our most "disruptive" players the only high attribute they all possess is acceleration. 

I hope this is some food for thought and if anyone has any ideas on how to further this please add a comment.

Thanks for reading.

Edited by Matt_1979
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1 hour ago, _Ben_ said:

Congrats @Matt_1979! There was a point that I was a little worried about you going up but the comparison of half season and full season really show the upturn - so massive praise to you for making that upturn.

Very interested to see how you approach next year. Whether you are going to look to improve (through attribute analysis) or back (based on statistical analysis of your current squad) because there definitely seems to be two distinct camps after a promotion.

Thanks Ben - you weren't the only one who was worried!! Luckily it was just a few small tweaks and I think the ability to be able to switch between the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-3-3 really helped!

As far as how we approach next year I think it's going to be a combination of the two to be honest.

I'm just in the process of seeing who can make the step up to La Liga, based off stats and attributes.... it's hard work!! haha

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UD Almeria - SIGNINGS!!!

At last we have signings!

I disabled the first transfer window and then didn't really feel the need to sign someone in January just for the sake of it, but now we're expected to avoid relegation in La Liga it's definitely a good time to make some!

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Not going to lie - I was hoping for more and I instantly had to rule out some key targets I had.

Backup Keeper: My backup keeper was average, Javier Belman came up as a free agent. He's 22 years old and he's got much better potential.

Defence:  With both players who filled the left centre back slot last season (Cuenca & Fernandes) returning to their parent clubs I needed a new defender who could cope with La Liga. We had two players return from loan (Peybrenes and Ibiza) but only Peybrenes looks like a good option so I still need another player. I struggled to find a left footer and didn't have the funds to sign Cuenca as Villareal wanted £6m. So, in comes Aldair Fuentes for £1.9m from Fuenlabrada. He can also play in midfield so could be a valuable addition.

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Midfield: The "destroyer"/shield of the defence role is fine. We still have De La Hoz who did so well last season, as well as Fuentes (above) who I'm confident can both do a job in La Liga. We also have Petrovic but as he found out he's not mobile enough for that role (but fine at HB when we play the 4-3-3). 

The problem lied in the Deep Lying Playmaker role. Last season it was carried out by Robertone, but he's too valuable as an attacking force to have so far back, so loan players Samu and Morlanes shared the duty between them. They're both gone, but we DO have Aguza back from his loan period at Ponferradina, who is good on paper, however, at 28 years old he could only produce a season average rating of 6.62. If he can't do it in the segunda division, I'm not confident he'll be able to in La Liga. 

To be our midfield general I bought in a player who I'm very familiar with as a free agent, having played 34 games for Monaco and notching 13 assists.

Welcome Youssef Ait Bennasser. Here's a side by side comparison against Aguza:

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Luckily, Aguza is quite flexible so can also fill the AMC role when needed.

Attacking Midfield: This is the area I needed to make the most improvements at. We lacked dynamism and lost two out or three most used wide players (Brian Rodriguez and Joao Carvalho) both are too expensive to bring back permanently.

Luckily I managed to bring in two players who are both huge improvements, both with bags of pace and dribbling ability which will massively help with the board request to play counter attacking football.

The transfer listed Myziane Maolida for £1.9m from OGC Nice and Luquinhas from Legia for a staggering £775k! Maolida is also a deadly striker if needed. Luquinhas will play as a right winger.

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Others:

As the B-team will actually play fixtures this year I've had to sign some random free agents who have a bit of potential to flesh out the team. Diego Simeone's son being one of them. He's good good technical ability but not great physicals.... will be one to keep an eye on.

Outgoings:

There haven't been any outgoings of note but I currently have a squad of 33 which I need to get down by around 10 so things should happen soon. 

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UD Almeria - August 2021: Welcome to La Liga

Whenever we go into a new season we have a sense of quiet optimism. In your head you can see your new signings making an impact and things going swimmingly. 

Then you play the games and things go as you imaged or they end up slightly worse. Ours was the latter.

We went into the first game, away against Getafe, without new signing Youssef Ait Bennasser who picked up an injury after a heavy challenge in pre-season and would miss the first week of the season. Getafe play a deep 4-2-4 so I was looking forward to some possession and hopefully being able to carve out some changes, whilst being wary of them catching us on the break. The better chances early on fell to us, but we switched off following one of their free-kicks and left a man totally unmarked who scored after 15 minutes. Just three minutes later the lead was doubled via a long ball over the top which caught Maras napping. 

We pulled one back  just after the break with Aguza playing a lovely through ball to debutant Luqhuinas who calmly slotted home. We deserved it as we were on top and looking threatening. However, the game was put out of reach when Mata (Jaime, not Juan) snuck in behind the defence to tap in from 2 yards out. 

Full time: 3-1, against Getafe who had five shots, THREE on target, and scored them all. 

We followed up with a home game versus Rafa Benitez's Sevilla in our stadium, which is undergoing a lot of renovations. Our scout report told us they were weakest down their left so I chose to start with our 4-3-3 which attempts to create overloads down out right, so seems like a perfect match. Once again, we found ourselves not being fully switched on from one of their free kicks and once again we let them score. We should've equalised on 34 mins when Sadiq blazed a header over from close range and we went into HT with more than double their xG but 1-0 down. 

On 60 minutes we switched to the 4-2-3-1 and immediately put them under a sustained spell of pressure, but on 77 mins and against the run of play Munir put them 2-0 up. All was not lost, however, as Maras pulled one back from a corner on 85 minutes but despite our best efforts we were unable to capitalise on the chances we created, including Sadiq hitting the post on a 1v1 on the 93rd minute. Another very frustrating loss... as you can see from the match stats below.

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With our next game against Atletico Madrid there was no time to feel sorry for ourselves. Sadiq was relegated to the bench for his unforgivable misses in the first two games and was replaced up front by Myzaine Maolida. Despite Koke hitting the post for Atletico after just 6 minutes, once again, we created some good chances. At this level you can't relax for one moment though, especially against Luis Suarez, who scored a good header after 20 minutes. We immediately had a chance equalise through a penalty but Robertone's effort was very well saved.

The game was very open with lots of chances at both ends, but not matter how hard we tried we couldn't break through. Young striker Gutierrez came on as sub and did well, unlucky not to score after forcing their keeper into two very good saves. Simeone's men wrapped up the game with an absolute thunderbolt from 18 yards on 75 minutes. Another game we definitely should've done better with, as once again shown through the xG battle: We notched up 2.06 but failed to score. Madrid scored 2 goals off 1.82.

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So as you can image, I'm ending our first month in La Liga very frustrated. The good sign is we're creating some good chances but not able to put them away. A few personnel changes to the line up and with Bennasser fit again we should be able to take the next step, despite our next game being against Barcelona.

Gutierrez looked good whenever he came on as sub so I planned to put him into the starting line up and seeing how he does over the next month.... OR SO I THOUGHT.

A busy transfer deadline day!!

I was hoping for another quiet deadline day as I like to get my business done well in advance to avoid and knee-jerk decisions, however, Juventus managed to scupper my plans when they matched Gutierrez's release clause of £4.1m. Dammit. 

Maolida can play as striker but that would mean I go until January with only 2 good strikers on the team, and that would also leave a hole at the left wing slot where he's the usual starter. 

As I'd not got any options I felt comfortable spending a few million on I hit the loan market and managed to bring in TWO attacking players:

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Pinnamonti comes in from Inter and should provide a good option as back up to Sadiq (who is on thin ice) or Maolida and the wonderkid Yusuf Demir who we've loaned from Dortmund, who will start on the right wing, allowing me to move Luqhuinas back over to his preferred left wing. 

We have 12 days until our next game versus Barcelona. Which is good as I've got plenty of tinkering to be doing!!

However, we DID get some good news!

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Thanks for reading.

 

 

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UD Almeria - September & October 2021

After opening our La Liga campaign with three straight losses we'd hoped for a easier start to September, but that wasn't to be as next up were Barcelona. We DID have one reason to be cheerful though, in that the stadium expansion was complete and we had a full house of 20,000 fans packed in to support the boys in red and white.

We gave a first Almeria start to new back-up keeper Belman and loan returnee Peybernes in the centre of defence, in a hope to tighten things up a little. Things were looking mildly improved as we'd kept them to just 2 shots up until the 22nd minute when Messi volleyed home a Coutinho cross. Our counter attacking gameplan was working well and twice in the first half we caught them in a 3v2 break but were unable to make either count. We had a great chance to equalise when substitute Pinamonti smashed a shot against the crossbar just minutes before a Maras own goal on 56 minutes put the game away. Despite the 2-0 loss we kept them to just 5 shots on target and 50% possession. 

Four games, four losses. Oh boy.

With our heads held high we faced Levante three days later and Pinamonti got a start up front. The decision was a smart one as he banged in a hattrick as well as missing a penalty! Maras made up for the own goal against Barcelona with a headed goal from a corner, in an enthralling 4-2 victory! 

Feeling like a corner had been turned, but still slightly panicky about our defensive efforts we were held to a 1-1 draw against bottom team Granada, in which Pinamonti scored again. 

A game versus top of the league Real Sociedad saw us drop the two CMs into the DM slots and, despite being absolutely battered, we took a first half lead through Maras's second headed goal in two games, this time from a Lazo freekick. Makaridze, back in goal due to Belman picking up an injury, made two top notch saves from Isak before they FINALLY scored through Illara after 70 minutes. Once again we showed resilience and held out for a 1-1. 

A decent month!!

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October

We started October with a 2-1 win over Mallorca but then found our bubble burst by lowly Alaves who we dominated but fell behind to a very well worked goal on 13 minutes. We finally scored when a low Centelles cross was bungled in by an Alaves defender and we were caught on the break on 85 for a 2-1 loss.

Up next were 4th place, and heavy favourites, Osasuna. We soon found ourselves behind from a corner after just 2 minutes before their lead was doubled through a nice header from Calleri on 18. I can't overstate how much on control of the game we were, however on 37 minutes, Calleri scored his second goal to put us 3-0 down at half time:

Osasuna: 3-0 up on 4 shots on target & 0.69xG
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We came out in a 4-2-4 but were unable to find a way through. Pinamonti pulled one back on 80 minutes but it was too little too late.

After another very leaky defensive display we opted again for our new 4-2-3-1 Deep formation against Athletic Bilbao, which has a Segundo Volante and a Half Back providing added protection to the back line. It means we're more reliant on counter attacking but we have some decent pace up top. As expected we were under the cosh but found ourselves 2-0 up from a Robertone penalty and a Peybernes header 10 minutes later. Capa pulled one back for Bilbao in the 92nd minute but we held on for a 2-1 win. 

October came to an end with a trip to Real Madrid. Belman was back in goal and we were forced into a few personnel changes due to only 3 days break since the Bilbao game. Aside from a few long range effort we managed to keep Madrid at bay for the first half, although it took us until the 36th minute to have our first shot on goal. We were happy to be heading into half time at 0-0 but a crunching tackle by left back Centelles saw him given a straight red card. Dammit. 

Off came Pinamonti and on came the backup left back. Very defensive = On. Time wasting = On. Tempo = very low.

I have no idea how we did it, well, I do. Belman made some amazing saves. 

Full time: 0-0.

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Summary:

Despite some dreadful performances, and some even worse defending, we had some glimmers of hope that we can survive this season. The thriller against Levante and the wins over Mallorca showed we can dominate games and win, and the results versus Bilbao and Real Madrid showed that we actually CAN put in solid defensive efforts. Pinamonti has scored 5 goals in 8 games, but I'm still waiting for Luquinhas and Moalida to kick start their Almeria careers and nail their place in the first team. 

The 4-2-3-1 Deep seems to be the formation to stick with, I just need to figure out the attacking side of things to avoid the front 4 being isolated. 

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Edited by Matt_1979
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UD Almeria - Attacking player analysis

 

As is to be expected for a newly promoted team, the season so far has been one where we've struggled to find any real consistency. This is especially relevant to our attacking players, so I wanted to do a bit of thinking out loud to look at who's performing and who isn't.

As you can see from the below table showing high-level performance, There's only really Robertone, Lazo and Pinamonti who are standing out. All of Robertone's goals, however, have come from penalties so he's not doing it from an open play point of view, especially given his xG of 5. Pinamonti started well but now hasn't scored for 4 games, and his back-up, Sadiq (who scored 18 goals in our promotion season) is yet to register a goal or assist. Lazo's figures are impressive when you consider he's mainly been used as a sub.

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Digging a little deeper we can have a look at the tremendously useful Per 90 stats:

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It's striking (pardon the pun) how much better Pinamonti is performing than Sadiq, with 58% of his shots on target compared to 27%, over double the amount of shots on target per game, and ofcourse, the fact he's scored 5 goals more. Sadiq also has an xG of 3, so with no goals to his name it's possible he's been unlucky.

Lazo is clearly deserving of a run in the starting 11 to see if he can continue these impressive numbers and keep outperforming his xG. 

Very disappointing, however, is the performance of the two new guys, Luquinhas & Maolida. I signed Luquinhas thinking he'd be an excellent creative player but he's failed to register a single assist thus far and he's not created one clear cut chance. Maolida I can be a bit more patient with as he's been used in a few different roles and from previous saves with OGC Nice & Venezia, I know he's capable to scoring A LOT of goals.... I just need to get that out of him. I'm going to give him a few games as a striker to see if he can make an impact there.

The Young Guns

We've looked a bit toothless up front in recent games which is why I've pulled this very brief analysis together. All is not bleak, however, as you can see when looking how our young guns are performing in the B-team and the U19s:

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How long would you guys give it before promoting one of them into the first team?

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UD Almeria - November & December

November: Getting Real

Starting November still on a high after our 10-men 0-0 versus Real Madrid, we came up against Real Betis.  With Centelles facing a 1 game ban from his sending off, we'd planned to start his backup, Martos, however the day before the game he broke his leg. Nice.

Having made a few tactical tweaks to the attacking side of things we looked dangerous from the first whistle and took a well deserved 25th minute lead through a Robertone penalty after Demir was hacked down. Just 6 minutes later the scorer turned provider as Robertone whipped in a corner which Maras headed home to make it 2-0. Betis finally got into gear and pulled one back with a well worked goal from Tello. They remained the better team throughout the second half and we made a couple of changes to try to keep them at bay. Two minutes after coming on, Lazo made it 3-1 and then killed the game off with a 85th minute free kick. 

Martos' replacement arrived in the shape of Rocchia, who was released from Marseille and we'd had on trial in pre-season.

We had somewhat of a rivalry game next against Espanyol, who beat us twice last season and they finished 2nd and came up with us. Seeing Raul de Thomas & Vargas on the team sheet gave me a shudder. Lazo came into the starting 11 after his 2 goal performance in the last game and Sadiq replaced Pinamonti up top. They were out bogey team no longer as we won 2-1 through two goals from centreback Peybernes, both headers from set pieces. Espanyol finished really strongly and created some really good chances. Vargas pulled one back but we held out. 

We felt quite optimistic against Valencia, who found themselves in the relegation places, whilst we had won two in a row. 

Valencia went up in the 15th minute before Lazo, playing as an inside forward, equalised with a lovely finish just 1 minute later. We were absolutely dominated throughout the game though and we eventually went behind thanks to a defensive mix-up between Centelles & Peybernes, allowing Maxi Lopez to give Manu Vallejo an easy goal. Despite Sadiq having two good chances to equalise late on we couldn't score. And neither did we deserve to, to be honest.

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December:

With the Valencia result fresh in our minds we were boosted by the owner adding £100k per week to the wage budget, which is very kind of him. 

We absolutely hammered Elche all game.... but we couldn't find a way to score despite three formational changes. Obviously they were destined to score a late one, which they did on 86 minutes. Incredibly annoyingly.

Things didn't improve against 4th places Celta Vigo who stole a 1-0 win, despite us being the better team and missing a penalty.

We'd now lost 3 in a row and were up against Villareal

Luckily, it seems Pinamonti didn't like being benched for a few games and put us ahead after 12 minutes from a defence splitting Centelles pass. The 4-2-3-1 deep formation kept them at bay, despite their best effort, and going into half time they'd only managed 3 shots and only 1 on target. We were unlucky not to double our lead with both Pinamonti and Demir unlucky not to score. We eventually finished the game off in the 82nd minute as Centelles got his second assist with a cross to Demir which he slotted in for a 2-0 win. 

Time to shine:

To finish off 2021 we had a Copa Del Rey game against Ebro. We put out the backups and three special guests. Simeone started at AMC, with the two young attackers Escobar & Boving starting at left wing and striker, who had scored 40 goals between them in the B-Team and U19's.

Unfortunately they both laid an egg as we went into half time firmly on top but tied at 0-0. Both were subbed off on 65 minutes with ratings of 6.6. Their replacements soon combined as Vada played in Sadiq who scored his first goal of the season and added he added a second with a header on 86. Vada got his second assist of the game, setting up Lazo to make it 3-0.

 

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Summary: 

So we finish the year in 14th, 7 points above the relegation zone. Sevilla are a surprise inclusion in the relegation places and unsurprisingly Rafa Benitez has just been sacked. Valencia have managed to drag themselves away which is good as they were excellent against us. 

Going forward we aren't doing too badly but I definitely need to sort the defence out. 

With the extra £100k per week wage budget, I was do some adjustments and get us around £7m to spend in the January transfer window.....

Edited by Matt_1979
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UD Almeria - Mid-year Review

Defence:

Our problem area. You'll know by now I'm defensive kinda guy. A Jose Mourinho disciple. So when I see the below stats I go a bit weak at the knees, and not in a good way.

I'm not concerned about the Interceptions & possession won stats as we've switched away from the counter pressing - that's another season I can't test my Defensive Actions stats to judge pressing effectiveness - and we now regroup to stay defensively solid, since the inclusion of the 4-2-3-1 Deep tactic. 

What IS standing out is that we're ranked 13th in terms of shots faces, and shots on target, yet we're 16th for goals conceded. These, combined with us conceding 26 against an expected goals conceded of 22, make me think an upgrade at goalkeeper is probably needed. 

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Looking at our main defensive players - defensive midfielders included - we can see a couple of things immediately:

1 - Neither of our regular starting centre backs have more than one tackle or interception per game and the highest of the two has a 55% headers won ratio. I don't think I'm happy with that and having checked the detailed player stats for the league, neither are anywhere near the top 20 for centre backs. 

2 - We have an interesting battle in the defensive midfielder role: Fuentes, the regular starter, is better in the air (not surprising given he's 6'5") but last season's starter De La Hoz, is more active in terms of tackles and interceptions. 

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Even though Fuentes has played well in midfield (7.01 average rating), he's a natural defender and may do well dropped back, allowing De La Hoz a good run in midfield.

Maras, our "star" centre back has received a lot of transfer speculation due to his £6m release clause. To be honest, he's solid but doesn't excel anywhere so I'm hoping someone will come in and give me the £6m.

If anyone sees anything I've missed, please shout up.

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UD Almeria - Mid-year Review

Attacking:

This is why carrying out analysis like this is so important! I thought that attack was another problem area for us as in some games we look utterly toothless and uninspiring. HOWEVER, look at the stats below:

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Very impressive, especially for a newly promoted team expected to be in a relegation scrap, and a dumb-ass manager who thought they weren't very good attacking-wise.

Whilst we are just above average in terms of shots on target and conversion ratios, and 7th in goals scored, we're actually 3RD in expected goals and clear cut chances created!

So it's clear the issue lies with our finishing ability as we now know we're creating very good chances.

I was expecting to having to make major investments into the strikers in this January transfer window I MIGHT get away with some extra finishing practice in training..... or just adapting the way we deliver crosses or passes to our strikers. As you'll have seen from the look at our strikers in an earlier post you'll know I'm yet to settle on who the wingers should be.

I thought Luquinhas would be an excellent creator whilst Lazo, Demir and Maolida would fight it out for the goal scoring winger, cutting inside and getting on the end of through balls and back post crosses..... but it's not turned out remotely like that.

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UD Almeria - More analysis....sorry.

I wanted to take a look at our best player, the Argentinian Lucas Robertone and his performance in the AMC slot and if we can deem it as good enough, or if alterations to his role need making. 

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He's played most of the season as an Attacking Midfielder on support duty in the AMC slot and has put up 3 goals (all from penalties) and 2 assists (both from corners) so from open play he's got no goals and no assists - which after 17 games is worrying, when you consider we've scored the 6th most goals in the division so far. 

Last season it seemed EVERY team, bar Barcelona, was playing a 4-2-3-1 so I wanted to carry out some analysis against the other AMCs...however it seems this season everyone has changed to a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2, with only three other teams still using an AMC:

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As you can see from the stats above (aside from Joao Felix definitely under performing) is that whilst Robertone is doing well in the passing metrics - no doubt helped by his killer balls trait - he's well behind in terms of the shooting ones. He's clearly getting good chances, as shown by his xG, but he's having the least amount of shots on target per game and has the lowest shots on target ratio.

I think I'm going to change his role from AM(S) to an AM(A). Despite me not purposely setting out to dominate possession, we're ranking 4th for overall possession with 54% so I think I can let go of that a little to favour more attacking play from the AMC slot. Plus, Robertone likes to get into the opposition area so playing in a more attacking style should suit him, where his finishing (12), first touch (14), technique (14), anticipation (13), composure (14) and off the ball movement (16) should all be massively beneficial in him being able to be much more of a goal threat.

 

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Yes his passing isn't great for a AMC creator type, let him off the leash and attack/shoot more often. His assist metric looks good, but actually his assists are from corners not open play. Just because he tries killer balls doesn't mean they're successful.

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7 minutes ago, Djecker said:

Yes his passing isn't great for a AMC creator type, let him off the leash and attack/shoot more often. His assist metric looks good, but actually his assists are from corners not open play. Just because he tries killer balls doesn't mean they're successful.

Yep, I’m liking your chain of thought. Get him to be a little more selfish and get into the box more. Even get some long shots in (15 rated)

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Just stating that due to Robertone being on penalties it would significantly boost his xG value. I think the game sets these at 0.8xG if memory serves me right. 

His key passing is what stands out for me (AP on attack) rather than support maybe?  

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27 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

Just stating that due to Robertone being on penalties it would significantly boost his xG value. I think the game sets these at 0.8xG if memory serves me right. 

His key passing is what stands out for me (AP on attack) rather than support maybe?  

Cheers Matty, is it 0.8xG? and he's had 5 penalties, missed 2, so they would be equal to 4xG..... which would leave him with a non-penalty xG of 2.24 which leaves him 3rd out of the 4 selected.

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1113409854_Titlesmaller.jpeg.f43055dac49b729710621f382b968692.jpeg

UD Almeria - Tactical Overview

I wanted to give an update on new tactic - which isn't so much as "new" but just a slightly adjusted version of the 4-2-3-1 which got us promoted last season.

We started this season poorly and were shipping a lot of goals so I dropped the two CMs back into the DM slots, changing the Deep Lying Playmaker to a Segundo Volante and the defensive CM to a Half Back.

You can see the difference it's made and luckily we've played 8 games with each tactic: 

tactics.thumb.jpg.46540465ab40760517fb98fb985b0862.jpg

We've conceded half the number of goals with the new version and also scored 1 more. The xG and xGA also tell their own stories.

Playing-wise I've kept the same principals to allow us to we able to get past most counter-presses employed by the larger and better teams:

Look at all the room for activities! Defenders in blue, midfielders in red.
368000098_Tacticantipress.thumb.jpg.e4a30cea4c270362e6577d197b6245b0.jpg

 

Our two centre-backs have split to allow the Half-back to drop deeper, whilst the Segundo Volante sits on the next level. This staggered approach gives the CB on the ball FIVE passing options, with the AMC dropping deeper from his advanced starting position to make himself available. 

Ideally I'd like the wingbacks to be a bit higher, but we'll work on that.

From a defensive standpoint you can how well protected the defensive line is by the two defensive midfielders. We defend narrow to remain compact and force opponents out wide - if they can score from a cross then fair play to them, as we all know, crosses are low percentage efforts.

In this case, against Sarri's EIbar team, the narrowness is amplified due to their 4-3-1-2 formation. We re-group, rather than counter-press and play with a low line of engagement, again, trying to make the team as compact as possible. 

40879205_Tacticsdefence.thumb.jpg.a7e7a81c2a6e1b7a482bdf65861c1095.jpg

In the red triangle you can see how the Shadow Striker, Segundo Volante and Half-back are working together to close off the middle of the park.

Edited by Matt_1979
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4 hours ago, Matt_1979 said:

Cheers Matty, is it 0.8xG? and he's had 5 penalties, missed 2, so they would be equal to 4xG..... which would leave him with a non-penalty xG of 2.24 which leaves him 3rd out of the 4 selected.

0.76xG if I recall!

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1 hour ago, Matt_1979 said:

1113409854_Titlesmaller.jpeg.f43055dac49b729710621f382b968692.jpeg

UD Almeria - Tactical Overview

I wanted to give an update on new tactic - which isn't so much as "new" but just a slightly adjusted version of the 4-2-3-1 which got us promoted last season.

We started this season poorly and were shipping a lot of goals so I dropped the two CMs back into the DM slots, changing the Deep Lying Playmaker to a Segundo Volante and the defensive CM to a Half Back.

You can see the difference it's made and luckily we've played 8 games with each tactic: 

tactics.thumb.jpg.46540465ab40760517fb98fb985b0862.jpg

We've conceded half the number of goals with the new version and also scored 1 more. The xG and xGA also tell their own stories.

Playing-wise I've kept the same principals to allow us to we able to get past most counter-presses employed by the larger and better teams:

Look at all the room for activities! Defenders in blue, midfielders in red.
368000098_Tacticantipress.thumb.jpg.e4a30cea4c270362e6577d197b6245b0.jpg

 

Our two centre-backs have split to allow the Half-back to drop deeper, whilst the Segundo Volante sits on the next level. This staggered approach gives the CB on the ball FIVE passing options, with the AMC dropping deeper from his advanced starting position to make himself available. 

Ideally I'd like the wingbacks to be a bit higher, but we'll work on that.

From a defensive standpoint you can how well protected the defensive line is by the two defensive midfielders. We defend narrow to remain compact and force opponents out wide - if they can score from a cross then fair play to them, as we all know, crosses are low percentage efforts.

In this case, against Sarri's EIbar team, the narrowness is amplified due to their 4-3-1-2 formation. We re-group, rather than counter-press and play with a low line of engagement, again, trying to make the team as compact as possible. 

40879205_Tacticsdefence.thumb.jpg.a7e7a81c2a6e1b7a482bdf65861c1095.jpg

In the red triangle you can see how the Shadow Striker, Segundo Volante and Half-back are working together to close off the middle of the park.

How are you finding the SV? Can you post the main man's attributes...as you know attempted this role with Santos historically and used to find that after 70 mins the SV was always dead due to the high demands. 

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10 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

How are you finding the SV? Can you post the main man's attributes...as you know attempted this role with Santos historically and used to find that after 70 mins the SV was always dead due to the high demands. 

Here's the main man so far. He's not doing too badly at all. I've never had to replace him, but I've only been playing him on a support duty. I might try an attacking duty in this cup game I've got next and see how differently that operates, but I like the role..... gives me the safety of the the double pivot and a bit more dynamic than the DLP.

Thoughts on Bennasser?  And any recommendation from your time with the SV?

image.thumb.png.27f7367670c6ad852a38acbd3010602e.png

Edited by Matt_1979
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I noticed that your keeper doesn’t have many clean sheets. Couple that with one of the lowest regaining possession stats and it’s a good thing that your attacking side of the team keeps the ball so well! Could you be conceding soon after losing possession?

Looking much better after the alterations to your tactic.

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7 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

I noticed that your keeper doesn’t have many clean sheets. Couple that with one of the lowest regaining possession stats and it’s a good thing that your attacking side of the team keeps the ball so well! Could you be conceding soon after losing possession?

Looking much better after the alterations to your tactic.

Thanks? I’ll go back and look at the goals we’ve conceded and keep an eye on it in future. 
 

I double checked the  ‘keeper stats for the league and Belman is actually 7th for shots saved % so he’s not doing THAT bad. 

But I’ll be the first to admit I know very little about keepers. Just look who’s got the best star rating and throw them in

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15 hours ago, Matt_1979 said:

Thanks? I’ll go back and look at the goals we’ve conceded and keep an eye on it in future. 
 

I double checked the  ‘keeper stats for the league and Belman is actually 7th for shots saved % so he’s not doing THAT bad. 

But I’ll be the first to admit I know very little about keepers. Just look who’s got the best star rating and throw them in

Sorry, I definitely could have worded that better.

That’s good your keeper is in the top 10 for shots saved.

It’s  the one position on the field that even stats companies were a little lower on knowledge if good or not. I remember statsbomb released these articles at the time Chelsea and Liverpool bought GK, with Liverpool getting top marks, while Chelsea a not worth the money review. They’ve since stopped doing articles and podcasts sadly.

Edited by Sonic Youth
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It's definitely worth thinking about the kind of keeper you want relative to your team. With a high line I look for a sweeper-keeper with good anticipation and decisions. If I have monster aerial CBs, I care less about aerial reach.

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8 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Sorry, I definitely could have worded that better.

That’s good your keeper is in the top 10 for shots saved.

It’s  the one position on the field that even stats companies were a little lower on knowledge if good or not. I remember statsbomb released these articles at the time Chelsea and Liverpool bought GK, with Liverpool getting top marks, while Chelsea a not worth the money review. They’ve since stopped doing articles and podcasts sadly.

 

6 hours ago, Djecker said:

It's definitely worth thinking about the kind of keeper you want relative to your team. With a high line I look for a sweeper-keeper with good anticipation and decisions. If I have monster aerial CBs, I care less about aerial reach.

I’ve been having a look at GKs this morning. The coaches report for the starter,Belman, is that he’s a good LaLiga2 keeper…. So obviously he needs to be upgraded. 

I play with a standard line so still need a good shot stopper and my CBs aren’t amazing in the air so command of area is a must. 

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