Talking Tactics: How will Gonzalo Pineda integrate Luiz Araujo into his Atlanta United side?

Despite the recent two poor results in a goalless draw at home against FC Cincinnati and a 2-1 loss on the road to Inter Miami last weekend, it is clear that Gonzalo Pineda’s Atlanta United are beginning to create more chances with more consistency as the team stabilizes their system. tactical.

With Brazilian superstar Luiz Araujo regaining his fitness in recent weeks and looking ready to finally return to the starting line-up this weekend against Montreal, how does he fit into the tactical system that Gonzalo Pineda has developed in recent weeks?

First, we’ll take a look at the way the team has been playing in attack lately. Then we’ll find out how Araujo can work alongside Marcelino Moreno and Thiago Almada. It’s not always easier to have an MLS coach working in three close attacking midfielders who all want to be on the ball in and around the penalty area.

Building figure and roles

While we often refer to Pineda’s recent formations as 4-2-3-1 (or some variation) due to the fact that a team plays with traditional center backs and a single striker, the team attacks with the back. Review some of the main features:

  • There are two accompanying players and their purpose is to maintain and extend the opponent’s width as wide as possible. This is of paramount importance. So far this season, he’s consisted of a traditional winger on one side and a full-back on the other, largely for personal reasons.
  • Three in the back, made up of two center backs and one tucked in at full back. When playing Ronald Hernandez, he’s filled that role with Lennon in front and Guttman on the right. When Lennon is RB, Gutman is tucked in and Lennon is high (although Gutman is tucked in more high up the field).
  • Marcelino Moreno and Thiago Almada play as the No. 10 under the striker, not unlike how Frank de Boer used Ezequiel Barco and Petit Martinez to play under Josef Martinez in 2019 (with the obvious caveat that the players themselves are distinctly different from that of the 2019 team).
  • Two central midfielders serve as passing stations. Their role is to position themselves as outlets for the back three to find them, then divert the ball and move it to the attacking phase.

Here is what the match against Inter Miami looked like last weekend:

It is not clear where Araujo fits this format. We know his favorite position comes inside with his favorite left-footed from the right, but Atlanta’s “winger” last several games has been right-back Brooks Lennon, and Lennon’s role is to embrace the right side. This is not the role Araujo will play. Ideally, you’d still want Lennon to take on the same responsibility he did earlier, and it could be more effective if he interferes with a dangerous player like Araujo.

Just by looking at the XI mentioned above, it seems clear that Caleb Wiley will be the player out for the side. So the question is how Pineda can get this employee to work.

You can start seeing the problem here. If you remove Wiley, who fills in Willie’s responsibility to keep the show on the left side? We know Marcelino Moreno is not a good fit for the role, and you don’t want a player like him – or Thiago Almada for that matter – to break away from the movement areas in and around the penalty area.

Pineda has the perfect player in this team that allows for an elegant solution to this problem in the form of Santiago Sosa. Sosa is ideally equipped to step back deeper into the rear triple when needed to give the team its preferred building structure.

Arrows show the player’s turning direction

You see, the lone midfielder has to be excellent. It is essential that this player does not lose the ball cheaply, and tactically the player needs a great spatial awareness to recognize the ideal positions he should take and make himself an enforcer. A healthy Emerson Hyndman may be a player who can do the job. Matthews Rossetto is another interesting option, but will he be willing/able to run the ball and find a forward pass?

All this will actually be more flexible than it appears in these schemes. Players move around the field based on their best intuition, and things rarely go as cleanly as they might seem here. This may not be how Pineda decides to move the team at all! But hopefully this post will start a discussion of how Moreno, Almada and Araujo can play together while maintaining the positive aspects of Atlanta United’s latest stage this weekend and beyond.

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