Atlético Mineiro U20 – Match Report vs Galvez U20 (04/01/2023)

Atlético Mineiro kicked off their 2023 Copinha campaign with a 1-0 victory over Galvez. Atlético were tactically flexible. At times when in possession, they lined up in a 3-4-3 formation, which then became a 4-2-3-1 during other moments in the match. Despite coming into the fixture as red-hot favourites, it took almost an hour for Galo to break the deadlock, with Cadu’s long-range effort striking the post, before rebounding into the net off the the back of the unfortunate Galvez goalkeeper.

Youth Ratings

1 – Ready for the first team
2 – Good, potential to be first team
3 – Decent, could make first team squad
4 – Decent potential, unlikely to make it to first team
5 – Unlikely to make first team

Yan Phillipe

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 17/05/2004
  • Current club: Atlético Mineiro
  • Career: Atlético Mineiro
  • Position: Attacking Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Yan Phillipe is currently regarded as one of the biggest jewels in Atlético’s academy. So much so, that he was handed his Brasileirão debut back in November. The 18-year-old lined up on the left of Atlético’s attack, though he frequently drifted centrally, occupying the left half space.

During the first half, Yan struggled to impact the game. Atlético’s generally disjointed attack led to a lack of rhythm in the final third and, in turn, Yan rarely found himself with possession of the ball in threatening areas. Despite his overall absence of influence early on, he did still manage to highlight his innate footballing intelligence. On two occasions, the attacking midfielder attempted swift give-and-gos with team-mates, though in spite of his sharp movement once releasing the ball, the return pass never arrived. Yan was visibly – and rightly – frustrated that his peers were seemingly not on his wavelength.

Within the opening 15 minutes of the second half, we saw the great, and not-so-great of Yan Phillipe. In the 49th minute, the teenager was put one-on-one with the Galvez keeper, by winger Alisson Santana. An extraordinarily heavy first touch on his weaker left foot enabled the onrushing ‘keeper to collect the ball — a glaring opportunity, that he’d usually bury, gone. But less than 10 minutes later, a neat one-touch layoff by Yan to striker Cadu, led to the forward firing the ball home from 25 yards.

Yan may not possess blistering pace over long distances, but his initial burst – paired with his usually wonderful control and balance – enables him to evade opposition players. He only found himself in a position to travel beyond his man on a couple of occasions during this match, but he did so with ease. His physical build is decent, if not brilliant. Still fairly slight in stature, as you may expect for an 18-year-old.

Rating – 2

Yan Phillipe would probably tell you himself that he was wasn’t close to his best during this match, but even during an uncharacteristically poor performance, he still managed to show flashes of brilliance. As previously mentioned, Yan has already debuted for Atlético’s first team, and I expect him to become a regular in the future.

Alisson Santana

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Age: 17
  • Date of birth: 21/09/2005
  • Current club: Atlético Mineiro
  • Career: Atlético Mineiro
  • Position: Right Winger
  • Preferred foot: Left

Alisson Santana lined up on the right hand side of Atlético’s attack. The way I’d describe Alisson is; a bit rough around the edges, but highly talented. Immediately, he began to showcase his ability to both hold width and drift into the right half space. Throughout the match, the 17-year-old posed Atlético’s biggest and most consistent attacking threat.

Technically, Alisson is accomplished. His first touch both when isolated and when under pressure enabled him to stand out. His dribbling style is unorthodox, but effective. He almost lulls opponents into a false sense of security by slowing right down to a walking pace, before swiftly accelerating away. His naturally long strides mean he looks slightly gangly when running at pace, but he’s deceptively quick over both short and long distances.

Alisson is well developed physically for his age. Relatively tall, he protects the ball well when put under pressure. He’s still to learn how to fully utilise his physical capabilities, though this is no great surprise given the fact that he’s not yet even 18-years-old. The winger’s balance is another impressive aspect of his profile — able to slalom in-and-out of challenges without too much trouble at all.

Alisson also boasts impressively clean ball-striking. On a couple of occasions, the teenager struck well-hit shots with little back-lift from outside of the area, though to no avail as the Galvez goalkeeper matched him well. In addition, he showcased a decent level of composure when in the final third, as he slid a perfectly-weighed pass into the path of Yan Philippe; a pass that should’ve ended up registering Alisson his first Copinha assist. Occasionally, the 17-year-old played few sloppy, careless passes. Simple passes that you’d expect him to make with ease. Potentially this could be chalked up to fatigue.

Rating – 2

Had I been someone who’d never heard of, nor watched any of the players who featured in this match prior to kick-off, I’d have assumed Alisson Santana was the most highly-rated player involved. Extremely raw, but an impressive base-level of talent that can most certainly be built upon. A first-team player in waiting.

Cadu

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Age: 18
  • Date of birth: 24/05/2004
  • Current club: Atlético Mineiro
  • Career: Atlético Mineiro
  • Position: Striker
  • Preferred foot: Right

Carlos Eduardo, better known as Cadu, was deployed as a striker in the win over Galvez. It became apparent relatively early on in proceedings that Cadu isn’t just a ‘back to goal’, or ‘play off the shoulder’ sort of striker; he likes to drop in and link play, too. Plenty of variation in his movement. Atlético’s number 9 would routinely find himself in-between the lines, either in an attempt to create space for Yan Phillipe and Alisson Santana to attack, or to himself pick the ball up from his midfielders and attempt to orchestrate an attack.

Physically, Cadu shows promise. Relatively tall and with an adequate leap, enabling him to, at the very least, consistently challenge for aerial duels. The 18-year-old displayed a decent turn of pace — sharp enough to burst away from a marker. Cadu, at times, exhibited a willingness to play with his back to goal in an attempt to act as a focal point. He was able to hold off his marker whilst protecting the ball more often than not, though I’d not go as far as to say this is one of his key attributes.

Throughout the 90 minutes, Cadu’s movement was impressive. The timing of his darting runs beyond the last man kept the Galvez centre-backs on their toes. Though, it wasn’t only his movement beyond the last line of defence that caught the eye. On 57 minutes, the striker made a short, sharp run in towards centre-back, Daniel Borges. The ball was played towards him, but rather than controlling the ball 35 metres from goal, Cadu allowed it to run through his legs and into the feet of Yan Phillipe. Cadu then received the ball from Yan, before firing a shot which cannoned off the post, fortunately hitting the Galvez ‘keeper on the back, and going in. It was all done within a flash, but the level of intelligence and ingenuity was by far and away the most pleasing element of Cadu’s performance.

I would’ve liked to have seen Cadu in more box-related situations. Though, as previously alluded to, there was little cohesive attacking rhythm barring the sequence for Atlético’s goal.

Rating – 3

Cadu displayed a relatively well-rounded skill-set throughout the match. Going on this performance, he’s still very raw and I’d suggest has a way to go before he’s at the level needed to contribute for Atlético’s first team, but the potential is there.

Alexandre Lopes

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 17/01/2003
  • Current club: Atlético Mineiro
  • Career: Atlético Mineiro
  • Position: Centre-Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Alexandre Lopes captained Atlético Mineiro during their triumph over Galvez. The central midfielder was partnered by Vitinho in the middle of the park. Lopes offered a level of stability in the engine room. Constantly making himself available to receive and doing his utmost to distribute the ball swiftly. During the first half in particular, the young midfielder would act as an anchor for Atlético’s attacks. Sitting in wait in and around the centre circle, Lopes remained poised and ready to nip in and regain possession should he be required to, enabling Galo to sustain attacks and maintain pressure inside Galvez’ defensive half. Lopes could frequently be seen organising those around him, evidently highlighting why he had been given the captain’s armband.

At just 1.69m tall, Lopes certainly isn’t a powerhouse of a midfielder, though that’s not to say he’s incapable of holding his own physically. The 19-year-old displayed reasonable upper-body strength when engaging in duels and evidently knew how to use his smaller frame to his advantage at times. Lopes occasionally highlighted his acceleration when looking to evade an onrushing opponent.

There were a couple of instances where Lopes’ technical ability caught the eye. His capacity to bring the ball down with a neat first touch was particularly impressive. The midfielder was more than happy, and able, to attempt to use both feet when needed. By doing this, he opened up improved passing angles for himself and aided the speed with which Atlético could keep possession flowing. Lopes was relatively conservative with his passing — more safe and steady than constantly looking to progress the ball up the pitch. At times, he did play the odd stray pass. Had he done so against stronger opposition, he could’ve easily been made to pay for such momentary lapses in concentration.

Rating – 3

Alexandre Lopes was one of Atlético’s better players on the day. I’d like to see him up against more competent opposition before claiming that he’s capable of becoming a first-team regular for a club like Atlético. Receiving some minutes in the early stages of the Campeonato Mineiro would be ideal, though whether that’s feasible remains to be seen.

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