Welcome to the inaugural edition of Tactical Analysis where the focus is on how a team plays. This time Eion Smith looks at Chilean giants Universidad de Chile…
Universidad de Chile play a 3-4-3 system with a diamond in midfield and two attacking wingers supporting the lone central striker. The style of play, like most other teams in Chile, is influenced by Marcelo Bielsa’s work in Chile. Therefore, they press high to win the ball back quickly and look to pass the ball short at a high tempo. Everything Universidad de Chile do is very quick and precise and has been a succesful formula for them in recent years.
THE BACK 3
The back 3 of Universidad are an interesting group. The starting 3 is usually Pablo Magalhaes on the right, Juan Ignacio Sills in the middle and captain Jose Rojas on the left and these 3 are quickly becoming the settled starting backline. Many times during a game, though, they will morph into a back 4 as either Rojas or Magalhaes will push forward on their side and the holding midfielder drops in. This turns Rojas and Magalhaes into orthodox full backs when this happens and both are more than comfortable in that role. Both Magalhaes and Rojas spend a lot of time heading out wide as they tend to do so when defending as well as attacking. Sills is the dependable covering defender should Universidad be countered on and stays very central at all times.
THE MIDFIELD DIAMOND
The midfield of Universidad de Chile is an interesting one. Charles Aránguiz and Gustavo Lorenzetti are listed as wide midfielders but they don’t act like them. Both have an almost free role where they are encouraged to go inside and play very centrally. Consequently, Universidad tend to outnumber their opponents in the middle of the park. Also, both Aránguiz and Lorenzetti (along with Ramon Fernández) are technically very good meaning that Universidad also usually have a dominance on possession as well. The holding player is the foil to allow the other 3 to do as they please in an attacking sense but the two options for the role are very different. Ezequiel Videla is the more defensive minded of the two and spends most of his time playing as a covering centre back instead of a holding midfielder and, while not offering much going forward, provides that extra security needed for the system to work. Rodrigo Rojas is a more all-round midfielder and does not drop into the backline that often but he makes up for that with his willingness and ability to go forward. Ramon Fernández is the one player who is truly free to do as he pleases. He offers little in the way of defensive work but more than makes up for it with his fantastic return in an attacking sense.
THE FRONT 3
The front three of Universidad de Chile are unique to the side in that they are very rigid in terms of sticking to their positions. The two wide men do not come inside like Aránguiz and Lorenzetti and act as an out ball at all times for the midfield and defence. They are also expected to help out defensively and, in many ways, could be considered wing backs due to the sheer amount of work they do. They are used as the first line of defence and will often be the first to harass defenders on the ball. They may not provide as much as Fernández but they cover the most ground out of anyone in this system. The central striker (usually Isaac Díaz) is the one who does not receive the ball a whole lot but when he does has to do one of two things – put it in the net or hold it up and allow his teammates to join him. This system suits a player in the mould of Darren Bent who offers little in general play but is a deadly finisher.
There is a quick analysis of how Universidad de Chile play. Of course, don’t forget to check out The Chilean Experience every week on the blog.