Antonio Valencia [Ecuador vs. Switzerland]

ECUADOR 1-2 SWITZERLAND

Sunday 15th June, 2014 FIFA World Cup, Group E, Estádio Nacional de Brasília Mané Garrincha

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LINE UPS

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 14.38.55Ecuador: 22. Alexander Domínguez; 22. Juan Carlos Paredes, 2. Jorge Guagua, 3. Frickson Erazo, 10. Walter Ayoví; 16Antonio Valencia, 6. Christian Noboa, 23. Carlos Gruezo, 7. Jefferson Montero (9. Joao Rojas 77′); 11. Felipe Caicedo (15. Michael Arroyo 70′), 13. Enner Valencia

Switzerland1. Diego Benaglio; 2. Stephan Lichtsteiner, 20. Johan Djourou, 5. Steve von Bergen, 13. Ricardo Rodríguez; 11. Velon Behrami, 8. Gökhan Inler; 23. Xherdan Shaqiri, 10. Granit Xhaka; 14. Valentin Stocker (18. Admir Mehmedi 46′); 19. Josip Drmić (9. Haris Seferović 75′)

POSITION

Antonio Valencia was positioned on the right side of Ecuador’s midfield for the full 90 minutes.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 14.39.42

Out of possession, he tucked inside and remained quite narrow. He also dropped deep to help protect the right full-back, Juan Carlos Paredes – most notably in the first half with his side 1-0 up. When Ecuador had possession, Valencia moved high up on Swtzerland’s left full-back Ricardo Rodríguez.

In possession

Valencia’s use of the ball was simple. As the diagram below demonstrates, he almost exclusively had possession in wide right areas. Most of his passes were quick combinations with Paredes or using Christian Noboa, who was inside.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 15.31.11

The only ambitious pass he made was a cross field switch to Jefferson Montero. This was reflected with a 93% pass accuracy, while only Noboa [42] and Walter Ayoví [41] made more passes than Valencia.

Throughout the contest, Valencia was often marginalised, with much of Ecuador’s offensive play came down their left through Montero.

Going forward

Ecuador’s offensive play was orchestrated in a quite straightforward fashion. The two central midfielders – Noboa and Carlos Gruezo – sat deep, with Valencia and Montero pushing high and wide. If the ball couldn’t be moved quickly and directly out to the wingers, then the full-backs would push up and allow for a more patient build up.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 14.54.59

When going direct, it was normally Noboa who would play the pass [see diagram]. As mentioned above, his focus was more towards Montero, who had joy up against Stephan Lichtsteiner, particularly in the first half [diagram below].

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 14.57.21As a result, Valencia was often fairly redundant in the final third [as shown], but still pushed high and wide, which prevented Ricardo Rodríguez from tucking inside and covering behind Steve von Bergen to help him combat Montero and Ayoví’s crosses from the left.

Paredes

Valencia and Paredes worked as a duo both offensively and defensively. Switzerland, particularly in the first half, attacked down their right through Xherdan Shaqiri and Lichtsteiner. The former was particularly influential. When he had the ball, Valencia came narrow and Paredes marked Valentin Stocker – also quite centrally. If the ball then came to the left – usually from Shaqiri running infield, Valencia would move wide to cover Rodríguez.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 14.56.20

When Ecuador had possession, Paredes was always keen to get forward. When he had the opportunity, he’d attempt quick exchanges with Valencia [see diagram] and push on, with the latter remaining deeper. Valencia would also come inside to allow Paredes to overlap. This move was only really evident in the early exchanges of the first half, when Ecuador were on top.

More prominent second half

After a strong start that culminated in taking the lead on 22 minutes through Enner Valencia, Ecuador dropped back. Rather than attempting to build on their advantage, they sat deep in a compact 4-4-2 and looked to stifle Switzerland, then hit them on the counter through Montero.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 16.09.57

As the diagram shows, this limited [Antonio] Valencia’s involvement, certainly on the ball. Switzerland controlled possession, with Shaqiri and Lichtsteiner the main outlet down the right. This left Valencia covering Rodríguez and helping Paredes with Stocker. The latter had little impact and, as a result, was replaced after 46 minutes.

In the second half, Valencia was more prominent. Again, the majority of his work was defensive – Stocker’s replacement Mehmedi was a bigger threat, Rodríguez pushed higher and Montero remained Ecuador’s out ball – but Valencia combined well with Paredes and attempted to press Rodríguez back, though the full-back was assured and composed when under pressure.

Defensive work

A of lot Valencia’s work throughout the game came out of possession. As mentioned above, his role was to protect Paredes. By remaining narrow in front of the full-back, he allowed Ecuador to be compact and closed out the space for Granit Xhaka and Josip Drmić to move into wider roles. In the first half, Stocker was also quite narrow.

Valencia’s main opponent defensively was Rodríguez. The full-back was willing to get forward, when the chance permitted. In the first half – after Ecuador had taken the lead – Valencia sat deep in front off Paredes and was able to close out Rodríguez. In the second, with the more enthusiastic Admir Mehmedi replacing Stocker, Rodríguez was able to get forward with greater ease. Mehmedi often remained narrow to allow Rodríguez to overlap and this tested Valencia’s diligence. For much of the half, he tracked Rodríguez back, but in the closing stages the full-back was getting forward more freely, with Valencia slower to cover. This would eventually prove costly.

Caught out on winner

In the closing moments a strong run and clever cutback from Valencia found substitute Michael Arroyo in the area. His decision to take a touch allowed Velon Behrami to recover and block his subsequent shot. As he broke forward, Valencia was caught out of position and couldn’t get back on Rodríguez, who eventually crossed for Haris Seferović to score the winner.

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