Tighe's Tactics Board: Analysing Brazil vs. Chile and the Reactive Sampaoli

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterNovember 21, 2013

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 10:  Chile Coach Jorge Sampaoli gestures on during the Spain v Chile international friendly at Stade de Geneve on September 10, 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland.  (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Chile may have ripped England to shreds at Wembley on Friday evening, but they found their level in Toronto as they took on a stubborn Brazil side and lost 2-1.

It was an altogether different story to the one in North London—where La Roja were gliding across the turf while dispensing with Roy Hodgson's side, holding the ball at arm's reach like the bully on the school playground—and while it didn't garner another victory, it taught us a lot about manager Jorge Sampaoli.

Specifically, it underlined just how incredibly tactically reactive he is, and how heavily he's tuned into what's happening on the pitch.

Chile arrived with a game plan not too dissimilar to the one adopted against the Three Lions: For the first eight minutes, they dominated the ball, looked to spark quick counterattacks and trusted their ability to play out from the back, starting with Claudio Bravo (GK).

Brazil barely touched it, but the flow of the match took a dive when Marcelo Diaz, Chile's regista-esque playmaker, limped off with a niggle.

BT Sport/YouTube

Diaz and Gary Medel are instrumental in working the ball through tight spaces, avoiding high pressing and bringing the attacking skill players into the game. With Charles Aranguiz also missing, Sampaoli had no conduit for the ball to pass through.

Straight from dominating to being dominated, Marcos Gonzalez tried a risky ball out from the back, and Oscar intercepted and laid it on a plate for Hulk to finish. Diaz and Sampaoli cringed on the sidelines and Medel turned to his teammate, mouth agape and arms spread wide with inquisition.

The importance of the role Diaz carries out was highlighted inside those five excruciating seconds.

It's a dangerous game to set your team up with a focal point that cannot be replaced, and the goal sparked a swarm of Brazil pressure that Chile struggled to ride out.

Sampaoli's original substitution at the time of Diaz's injury, Jean Beausejour, was not a like-for-like change, and with no conduit in deep midfield, the tactician sent Alexis Sanchez into a deeper position to shoulder the burden of picking up passes.

He's in deadly form and his feet are electric, so receiving the ball in space and turning is no issue for him. He skipped close to 10 challenges in his first few forays forward alone, but the issue was that he essentially became a box-to-box midfielder.

Sanchez is a vertical player, a perfect fit for this Sampaoli system, but he lacks the passing finesse or experience in this role to make it work.

BT Sport/YouTube

A moment in the first half illustrated exactly this, as after receiving the ball on the half-way line, he turned and fired a wild, lobbed pass into no man's land—failing to pick out the run of the Jose Pedro Fuenzalida.

Sampaoli wasted no time in making his second substitution (after just 22 minutes), bringing on Jorge Valdivia as a No. 10 for the aforementioned Fuenzalida.

Eduardo Vargas shifted into a more permanent forward role, Sanchez resumed his role further to the right of midfield (but still not as a true striker) and Valdivia came in to pull the strings.

BT Sport/YouTube

It worked a treat, and the slick Chile passing moves started appearing once again. Sanchez decided to use Valdivia as a one-two magnet several times, allowing him to pick up speed and enter dangerous areas outside the box.

It's one-third of a "meaningless friendly," but it's passages of play such as these where coaches and managers outline who they really are.

Sampaoli is a bright spark, one of the world's leading managers despite being tucked away in South America for so long, and he outlined just how willing he is to change things in Toronto on Wednesday night.

Replacing Diaz and Aranguiz will be near-impossible should they sustain injury at the World Cup, but you can trust Sampaoli to find a way to do so—even if it takes him 13 minutes to work out how to use what he's got on the bench.