A must-win game for both the teams, Inter Miami and New York City in MLS is back tournament to remain in the quest to qualify for knockouts. Inter Miami and New York City both lost their previous two group stage games and found themselves in a spot of bother. Inter Miami look to avoid their fifth straight defeat since the formation of the club owned by the former Manchester United star David Beckham. The teams provided a full intense action for the 90 minutes. In a closely contested match, New York City edged past Inter Miami 1-0 as they wait for the other results to go in their favour to qualify for the knockouts.
The key factor in this match for both the teams were not being able to find spaces in the final third, the result of some good defending by both the teams. This tactical analysis will explain the tactics of both the teams. This analysis will highlight the key areas of the match for both the teams.
Ronny Deila’s men started with their usual 4-2-3-1 formation for NYCFC. The back four remained almost the same with just one change compared to the last match. James Sands played as defensive midfielder swapping with Maxime Chanot who played as a centre back in this match. Although there were some changes in midfield. Jesus Medina played as a centre midfielder while Valentin Castellanos played as the lone striker. The midfielders out wide were Ismael Tajouri and Alexandru Mitrita. Both of them did not start in the last match. The key player not in the starting 11 was Maximiliano Moralez who started as a substitute due to an injury.
Diego Alonso the former Atletico Madrid striker has been tinkering with his formations for Inter Miami. Three different formations in three games. In this match, Inter Miami started with 4-2-3-1. They started with the same centre in comparison to their last match while Dylan Nealis and Mikey Ambrose played as full-backs. The major change was Juan Agudelo playing as the lone striker. Their key player was Rodolfo Pizzaro playing as their number 10.
New York City
New York City building from the back
NYCFC tactics to attack was to build from the back. They wanted to try to attract more opposition players in their defensive third to create the spaces in the midfield.
They would do this with the help of two pivots. The centre backs would split wide whenever Johnson would have the ball. Furthermore, one of the defensive midfielders would also drop in to create more options for the Johnson. In this picture above it can be seen how one of their defensive midfielders has dropped back so close to the goalkeeper. So even though two of New York City player are marked Johnson can still play the ball on the right-wing or in the centre to Alexander Ring who has open space to receive the ball. This approach also allowed their wing-backs to play up high on the pitch to support the wide midfielders or wingers.
The above picture shows NYCFC goalkeeper Johnson Pass map. It can be clearly seen that every time Johnson would receive the ball the players would drop down to support him in order to build from the back. The stats show that 90% of his passes were made inside the own third and majority of them close to the 18-yard box and few even inside the box.
Inside Runs and Switching the play
As the middle of the pitch was compact and not much space was given even in wider areas by Inter Miami, New York City came with different tactics to attack. Their wide midfielders would try to make inside runs so it can create spaces for overlapping fullbacks in the wing to then cross the ball in the box. Here in the above picture, Mitrita plays the ball to Tajouri. He then runs inside and since Tajouri is surrounded by the opposition defenders he plays one-touch pass back to Mitrita who has run inside. The black arrow indicates the run by Mitrita in the blue square area. The picture below is the sequence for the above scenario. The ball is then passed diagonally to the full-back on the left side in order to switch the play. The left-back then crosses the ball in the box.
NYCFC made 162 lateral passes almost the double of what Inter Miami made. This indicates their switching play style.
NYCFC tried to block the passing options and create the pressure on the opposition player with the ball by isolating him and not allowing the space to move around. Further, they made sure to not leave Pizzaro unmarked who was Inter Miami’s key player and also created some troubles for NYCFC in this match.
Here in the above picture, it can be seen how there are four players trying to put pressure on the opposition player with the ball. He does not have much space to move around and also not any safe passing options except the forward pass. It should be noted that Pizzaro is also marked here and there is the NYCFC player ready to put pressure on him. They also created numerical superiority in midfield this way. In the below picture is one more example of putting pressure and blocking the pass options but in the wings.
It can be seen how each of the Inter Miami players is closely marked and also the player who has the ball is being pressurised. Again to be noted that Pizzaro or the player who will receive the forward pass in other scenarios is also marked creating pressure on him to play quick football. This resulted in the loss of ball due to lack of options and space to move around.
Inter Miami tactics
Playing through wings
Inter Miami’s majority of chances came through the wing and mainly right-wing. 55% of the Inter Miami’s attacking play came through wings. They made 10 crosses which were double of their opposition in spite of the opposition having 60 per cent of the possession.
Here in the above picture, it can be seen how Inter Miami have formed a triangle shape. This allows the player who has the ball two options to pass the ball. Player marked with number one passes the ball to the player with number two who plays a one-touch pass to the number three who is unmarked. Player number three then moves forward on the right-wing to deliver a cross. The player who is marked number three in the above picture puts a cross in the box to Agudelo who is one on one in the below picture. Agudelo runs inside the box and uses his strength to heads the ball low down to the goalposts but Johnson makes a good save denying them the opening goal.
Lack of support during a counter-attack
One problem that Inter Miami faced was lack of support to the forwards during the counter-attack. When they would be out of possession all the players would drop down except the lone striker who would play high up on the pitch. So if the opposition loses the ball Inter Miami either have to wait for the players to go forward and build the play or make a long pass to the lone striker and hope he can take the ball forward and wait for the support or beat the opposition players and dribble past.
Here in the above picture, a lob pass is played to Agudelo – marked with the white circle. He then moves forward with the ball. Till he gets more support the opposition players have dropped back and now it is 1 v 3 situation against him. The options for him is to either hold the ball and pass back or move to the left and take on the opposition player on 1 v 1 and wait for the support in the box to cross. He tries to dribble past but unfortunately looses the ball. This kind of situation happened a few times during Miami’s counter-attack.
We look here at the defensive tactic used by Inter Miami to nullify the threats from the opposition back. Inter Miami started with high intensity. The first attack by New York city came after eight minutes. They adopted the tactic of pressing up high on the pitch. In the above image it can be seen they have five players in the opposition final third. Each of the opposition players is closely marked by each Inter Miami player. Here the opposition player near the Inter Miami player marked as number three receives the ball. The only option the NYCFC player has to play it back either to the goalkeeper or to beat the Inter Miami player 1 V 1. In this scenario, he beats him 1 V 1 but later loses the possession due to lack of options.
Forcing opposition wide
Another tactic used by Inter Miami to defend was compacting the middle and forcing the opposition to play wide. Here it can be seen how each of the opposition players is marked by Inter Miami in the centre. Also, the last line of defence is have positioned themselves perfectly to put NYCFC striker in an offside position. So even if the long ball is played and the NYCFC striker tries to run behind the defence its an offside. The only option NYCFC player had was to pass the ball wide which is marked with a blue arrow. NYCFC had only five shots from which only two were on target. This shows how hard NYCFC had to work in order to create attacking opportunities.
It was a tightly contested match between the two teams battling out to stay alive in the competition. Football is a game of small margins and one mistake in the defence by Inter Miami and a good finish by Tajouri resulted in NYCFC edging past the opposition. It won’t be wrong to say even though statistics show NYCFC had a fair amount of possession they were not able to break the opposition defence easily. Inter Miami, on the other hand, were not clinical in the final third and once again conceded in the second half. They created few opportunities but some good defending from NYCFC did not allow them any goal. A draw would have been the fair result for both the teams but in the end, NYCFC took the three points.