The CAF Champions League group stage clash between Ethiopian giants St. George and defending CAF Champions league holders Mamelodi Sundowns played out to a 0-0 stalemate in a match which took place on Saturday at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville. Joburg Post gives an analysis of the game:
Even though St George used man marking defensive scheme, with a low defensive block that had two compact lines of four and five, for most of the match, Sundowns still had worrying moments in dealing with the quick counter attacks that were initiated by Tesfaye Alebachew with serious threat coming from the wings. Their top striker, Adane Gebreyes worked really hard in establishing a line of confrontation with was deeper with the clear intention of allowing Sundowns to establish their build up situations but restrict deeper penetrative passes into the final third.
Their defence was in many ways reactive and less proactive and their compactness, ball-oriented movements and ability to control the movements of Sundowns front two gave them a lot of balance and control.
Their 4-1-4-1 man marking deep pressing scheme, gave them very few offensive possibilities. Their only threat was coming from a few counter attack possibilities which broken down mainly from poor decision making and or a lack of aggression. They never attempted to press higher up the pitch during Sundowns build up and seemed comfortable with allowing them to build from the back. This allowed Sundowns to find stability and dominance, in possession but really lacked penetration.
Using the aggressive movements of their fullbacks was then the logical solution for Sundowns to take advantage of their horizontally organized defences (defensive, midfield, and offensive lines of pressure), as most players did not want to leave their lines and join another defensive line –especially when using a structure that closes its lines and reacts to the movements of the opposition.
Because of the ultra-defensive structure, they lacked focal point that would direct their counters attacks or to help them establish play in Sundowns half. This limited their final third possibilities in the first half.
In the end, St George’s resolute defence helped them to an important point away from home, which stands them in good stead for their next continental fixtures at home against Tunisian giants Esperance on May 23rd and DR Congo’s AS Vita Club on June 2nd 2017.