Real Madrid’s coverage of this game was hilariously bad. Real Madrid TV did, in fact, turn out to be showing it (it just wasn’t on the English channel), but the presentation was a split-screen of the Juvenil A match and CD Tacon’s first home game of the season.
To make things even better, the audio kept switching back and forth between the two games, so I was hearing a different commentary team every 10 seconds.
Add all of the above to the terrible camera angle — it was way too flat and zoomed in so much you couldn’t see more than 5-8 players at a time — and it was basically impossible to figure out what the hell was going on. It got better around the 20-minute mark, when a kind soul on twitter directed me to Footters on Facebook (it had a stream of just the Tacon game). But it flickered between 10-pixels on screen to semi-clear images periodically throughout the second half.
All of this is to say, apologies if this review isn’t as in-depth as the last one.
CD Tacon manager David Aznar stuck with the 4-4-2 formation he’d been using all preseason, keeping Sofia Jakobsson on the right flank after she was the lone bright spot in the 9-1 defeat to Barcelona. He also kept almost all the other personnel the same, with the exceptions of central midfielder Malena Ortiz and Lucia Suárez García. They were replaced by Thaisa Moreno and new signing Osinachi Ohale, respectively.
Sporting Huelva lined up in what was ostensibly a 4-2-3-1 formation, but it appeared to switch around a ton throughout the game (I might’ve just not been able to get a grasp of it due to the camera angle).
Sporting Huelva Hold the Majority of Possession to Open the Game
As has been mentioned before, CD Tacon don’t possess the personnel to play the type of controlled, possession-based system that you see most elite teams engage in. Though Tacon have made some world class signings (i.e. Jakobsson and Kosovare Asllani), most of the squad and the vast majority of the defense still consists of Segunda-level players.
So, even though they weren’t facing a team of Barcelona’s quality (Sporting Huelva finished 14th out of 16th in the Primera Iberdrola last season), Tacon still struggled to build out from the back. That allowed Huelva to start on the front foot, where their deep ball possession was not contested thanks to the same lack of pressing seen in El Clásico.
Huelva made use of this advantage by getting in-behind Tacon’s defense early in the game to test goalkeeper Yohana. Other than that, however, their attacks mostly broke down in midfield thanks to two reasons: their direct approach and Tacon’s defensive work.
Huelva also lack the technical ability to create intricate passing networks on the ground and mostly chose to go direct from goal kicks, lump balls into the channels, and play vertical into midfield. Tanaka and Giménez played especially advanced at times, with Oliver often being the only one in central midfield. But the general inaccuracy of their passes made an already inefficient approach untenable and they mostly caused themselves trouble with cheap turnovers.
Fullbacks Esther and Samara did extremely well one-versus-one against Huelva’s wide players and central midfielders Thaisa and Kaci were sharp in midfield. They weren’t afraid to throw their body around and put in hard tackles, which helped Tacon in a game that seemed to be defined more by physicality than technical play.
CD Tacon Nab a Goal Off of a Defensive Error & Get Into Their Counter-Attacking Groove
Huelva’s attacking inefficiency led to Tacon eventually seeing more of the ball, but Las Blancas were also unable to do much against a set defense. It took an individual mistake in the 22nd minute for the breakthrough to finally occur:
Jakobsson latched onto a botched interception off of Kaci’s long ball and calmly dribbled the keeper to score.
The goal gave Las Blancas some much needed confidence and suddenly their transition game poked its head out of the grass. Only a couple minutes after scoring, Chioma Ubogagu was released down the left and she squared a ball that just missed the feet of Kosovare Asllani. Asllani combined well with Jaboksson on the break, soon after, to release a long-range shot on target.
Given Tacon’s deficiencies in slow possession play, it was clear that Aznar had set his team up to excel on the break. As soon as Tacon won possession, Thaisa and Kaci picked their heads up and looked to spray the ball wide to talented ball-carriers Jakobsson and Chioma, who broke down the flanks instantly. Asllani would either drop to provide an alternative progressive option or would shift over to the right to combine with Jakobsson.
Based on the flow of the game, most of Tacon’s play went down the left, away from their most in-form attacker — Jakobsson. Late in the second half, Chioma and Jakobsson swapped wings thanks to their offensive positioning on a free-kick and Tacon soon scored.
Kaci did great work to win the defensive duel and launch the counter, where Jakobsson mimicked her brilliance vs. Barcelona and delivered a gorgeous cross to the far post. Poacher extraordinaire Jessica Martínez met the delivery and scored her second header of the season to double Tacon’s lead.
CD Tacon Adopt a Conservative Stance in the Second Half & Score a Late Third Goal
The second half was a little more uneventful as Tacon chose to be cautious with their lead. Malena Ortiz came on for Thaisa in the 46th minute and Chioma and Jakobsson became a little more conservative with their positioning. Aznar didn’t exactly ask his team to park the bus, but Tacon tended to throw less players forward on the break and were mostly content to clear Huelva’s attacks.
For Huelva’s part, they made three substitutions right after the half and tried to execute their original strategy more earnestly. The results were the same.
As the game approached its final 10 minutes, Huelva tired and Tacon began to break again. Asllani started to get more touches and Jakobsson tortured the opposition fullback (and whatever help she received) with her dribbling ability.
In the 84th minute, Tacon countered off of a corner kick and Jakobsson slipped Asllani through on goal with a neat through ball. After a tough time against Barcelona and a frustrating game vs. Huelva, Asllani finally had her moment and she made no mistake, calmly dinking a shot past the keeper:
David Aznar’s apparent decision to build a counter-attacking identity appears to be a positive one. Tacon don’t have the tools to play a more complicated game and it isn’t a bad idea, regardless, to build your strategy around getting your most talented players running in space. It’s even less of a bad idea when one of those talented players is Sofia Jakobsson, who has been involved in every single Tacon goal this season (depending on whether you think Jessica got a touch on the pass to Asllani); she’s scored 1 goal and provided 3 assists in 2 games.
Nevertheless, Aznar can still improve his defensive scheme. Some pressing from the forwards might’ve completely overwhelmed Huelva’s poor ball players and it would be good preparation for the better teams in the league. As we saw vs. Barca, Aznar’s passive 4-4-2 medium block allowed for Tacon’s underload in midfield to be exploited and limited their ability to create turnovers.
CD Tacon take on Logroño, who finished 11th last season, next Sunday.