Real Madrid Femenino came away with a 3-1 victory over the newly promoted Eibar in Sunday’s Primera Iberdrola match. Despite the loss, Eibar will be proud of their performance and may even feel hard done by, as Madrid were only able to break through after Asllani scored two penalties that resulted from handballs (the second of which looked quite harsh).
Some of the reasons for Madrid’s offensive struggles on the day could be put down to David Aznar. He declined to select a ball playing central midfielder, leaving Teresa Abelleira on the bench, and Madrid’s attacking game plan looked a little one-dimensional.
However, the majority of the credit has to go to Eibar and coach Iker Dorronsoro, who designed a well-organized defensive system that seamlessly transitioned from high pressing to deep block defending.
Eibar Femenino defended masterfully in yesterday's game, with @realmadridfem only able to break the deadlock thanks to 2 handballs.— Om (@OmVAsports) November 9, 2020
Here is ️ analysis of Eibar's pressing (1/3):
Music By: "After The Fall"
Track Name: "Pieces (Extended Version)"
Released by Chill Out Records pic.twitter.com/z4TiLY7MWk
Pardon the ~8 second blackout starting at 1:54 — the video resumes normally after that.
Eibar pressed out of a 5-4-1, with the right winger — Anola Aparicio — stepping out of midfield to create a 2v2 against the center-backs. Then, depending on where Las Blancas decided to play the ball, Eibar’s 2nd pressing line and right wing-back would adjust accordingly.
The structure didn’t always map out exactly as how Dorronsoro might’ve wanted, but that is inevitable in football and players must possess the recognition and tactical intelligence to fill the correct spaces and re-solidify the defensive shape.
Nowhere was this more apparent when Eibar transitioned out of their deep block into a high press and back into a deep block again. The way all the moving parts worked in unison to maintain compactness, shut off passing options and lanes, and maintain pressure on the ball was a thing of beauty.
Eibar's organization in a deep block & ability to transition to pressing & back to a deep block again were tremendous. The players' work-rate & recognition were sublime, though there were some things Real could've done better.— Om (@OmVAsports) November 9, 2020
Music Credit: LAKEY INSPIRED
Track Name: "Blue Boi" pic.twitter.com/mBGwtMrAxh
Of course, no tactical plan is perfect and there was one occasion where Madrid managed to cleanly break through the press.
BONUS: The one time we cleanly broke Eibar's press came from when Asllani dropped off the front line and received a vertical pass.— Om (@OmVAsports) November 9, 2020
The result should've been a goal. pic.twitter.com/vdqJNdAjeK
The moment manifested from Asllani’s deep movement and ability under pressure; she spun away on the half-turn and played a pass to Olga Carmona without taking a second to deliberate.
There is little doubt that such a play is difficult to repeat endlessly, but it is worth asking whether Madrid did enough to put Asllani in these positions so that the press could’ve been challenged more often. If they had managed to manufacture a greater number of these situations, the All Whites might not have had to rely on the fortune of handballs to pick up the three points.