Technique and Tactics

Positional play and build up: Diaz role in Chile’s team

Author: Francesco Farioli

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Copa America has always been one of the competitions with the best news on the global football scene. Looking at the images from the Mexico-Chile match, it is clear how the key to interpretation for Chile revolves around Diaz in the phase without ball possession (skilled at acting as a shield for the defence and, when needed, falling back as a fifth defender), but especially during the build-up phase.
We can identify two build-up models that combine continuously: positional play and building up.

With Claudio Bravo in possession of the ball, Chile forms a diamond made up of Diaz (top tip) and Bravo (bottom tip) and the two centre defenders on the sides who open up and drop back to provide a better passing trajectory. The two inside midfielders tighten up behind the striker, thereby freeing up the lateral corridors which are occupied by the two external backs who step up quite a bit. The wings start wide and then move in to challenge the opposing defensive line and to create space for the outside backs, creating the ideal conditions for developing a lateral 2 v 1 situation.

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Diaz is the cornerstone of Chile’s positional play, but once the ball moves, he becomes essential for building up. His movements, the dynamic way he occupies the space, favours the rotations and movements of the lateral chains that wait for his central movement to begin. Examining the movements, we can identify four predominant ones:

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Support/shielding movement in front of the defence in order to maintain the distances and to be ready for a negative transition through preventive marking and rational occupation of the spaces.

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Wide movement by Diaz to occupy the outside back’s position. His movement allows the fullback to move up on the forwards’ line and, at the same time, it allows the inside midfielders to receive the ball at the centre of the pitch, attacking the space freed up by Diaz moving out.

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Movement of attraction through the combined rotation with the inside midfielders to free up the lateral deep attack. Diaz and an inside midfielder move in to provide a short solution and the other inside halfback attacks the lateral space.

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Spreading movement and redistribution of the defensive line. Diaz dribbles and falls back between the two centres, creating positional superiority with a three-player construction. This movement favours the rotation of the lateral chains (outside forwards inside, outside backs forward and spread wide) and a good balance in the event of a negative transition.

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Francesco Farioli
Aspire Academy (Qatar Football Association), Senior Goalkeeper Coach, Video Match & Performance Analysis.