Primera Division Tactical Analysis

Alianza Lima 2-1 Universitario: Bengoechea rights his wrong as Alianza complete ‘remontada’

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Thirteen seconds.




That’s how quickly it took Alberto Quintero to score the fastest goal in the history of the Superclásico. Universitario were poised to extend their unbeaten run, end their six-match winless skid in the rivalry and pull closer to the Copa Sudamericana places.

However, Alianza Lima coach Pablo Bengoechea didn’t back down. Two astute changes from Bengoechea to start the second half swung the momentum of the match, Universitario couldn’t cope and Alianza completed the remontada.

Quick-fire Clásico

Alberto Quintero’s opener was almost scripted. In five swift passes, Universitario took the ball from the centre-circle and into the mouth of the goal.

Credit should go to Roberto Siucho for the pass. It fooled every Alianza defender, who, for whatever reason, decided to back up towards the byline, even though there was only one Universitario player in the box. As a result, Luis Garro was caught watching the ball and this allowed Quintero to execute a darting run to the top of the box.

It was a disastrous goal to concede for obvious reasons. However, the positioning probably bothered Bengoechea to no end.

‘Playing the long game’

Anyone who has followed Alianza Lima for the past couple of seasons are well-aware of their deficiencies at full-back. It was evident that Universitario coach Nicolás Córdova wanted to target the flanks from the off, and it paid off with an early goal.

The goal was also very direct. A long ball from Angel Romero to Aldo Corzo opened the space down the right for Roberto Siucho, who cut it back across for Alberto Quintero. Universitario, justifiably so, stuck to their route-one, counter-attacking strategy for the remainder of the match.

This produced mixed results, because the majority of their attacks were created down the flanks. One of those opportunities was a carbon copy of Quintero’s opener.

Javier Nuñez, who was technically the central playmaker, drifted to the left with Quintero cutting inside.

Heat maps via SofaScore

Siucho was a proper winger, although he didn’t hesitate to move into the central channels, either. But it was the deployment of Germán Denis that was crucial. The 37-year-old, who has been crucial to Universitario’s resurgence, was dropped incredibly deep. This has been common since Denis joined La U, although it made Alianza’s job a lot easier.

Denis only won two of his eight aerial duels, which is obviously not ideal. Without a central presence, the wingers had nobody to pick out in the box, and it also enabled Alianza to grab control of the game.

Airball

Unlike Denis, Alianza Lima striker Mauricio Affonso was far more efficient in the air. He won seven aerial duels, and unlike his Universitario counterpart, he spent most of the game in the penalty area.

Heat maps via SofaScore

Alianza was aided by the fact that Angel Romero partnered the young Bryan Velarde at centre-back in place of the injured Alberto Rodríguez. But credit the hosts for winning those headers in the penalty area. If not for goalkeeper Patrick Zubczuk, who was absolutely outstanding, the defending champions would’ve equalized a lot earlier.

But eventually, that success in the air paid off for Alianza with Gonzalo Godoy’s equalizer.

Vílchez, Quevedo turn the tide

It was apparent that Universitario was content to sit back and absorb pressure, as they’ve done during this seven-game span.

However, La U’s expected goals against (xGA) hovered around 6.2 during the six-match unbeaten run. Sporting Cristal actually mustered seven shots on target (17 in total) in midweek, dominated the second half, but could not convert.




Alianza had the edge for this reason. They finished the match with eight shots on target, although Zubczuk did everything possible to keep Universitario in the match, including saving an Alejandro Hohberg penalty. Bengoechea just needed more control in the centre, which is where Óscar Vílchez came in handy.

Vílchez and Quevedo checked in to begin the second half, which completely changed the match. The former was able to quickly circulate the ball in the final third and it created a few fantastic chances. Meanwhile, the latter helped stretch Universitario on the wings.

Thanks to Vílchez’s presence, Universitario had to worry about two areas: The crosses to Affonso and any potential through balls via Zone 14. Eventually, the Uruguayan striker pounced in that central channel to bag the winner for Alianza.

Conclusion

This wasn’t the greatest Clásico in terms of quality, although it did not lack entertainment. Both sides were hoofing long balls up to their target men, until Alianza realized that La U weren’t going to threaten their back line.

Bengoechea acted quickly, threw on Quevedo and Vílchez, which kickstarted a dramatic comeback. Alianza is now unbeaten in seven straight Clásicos and open up a three-point lead in third place in the aggregate table.

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