The first variant of inverted wingback use within a coordinated team move. Miguel Ángel Ramírez, coach of Independiente del Valle (Ecuador).
The CMR drops deep to drag the marker which creates space for the right wing-back to move inside. This pulls central defender out of position. Central forward drags away second CB allowing his teammate (CML) to receive the ball in half-space.
The analysis doesn’t mention the positioning of two wingers. They stay wide, stretching the backline which creates crucial space in the central corridor and half-spaces.
The second variant:
Depth is created by DM dropping deep between the center backs and the CML moving high in line with the CF. This allows the CF to drop deep creating space behind his back that is attacked by CMR. As the CMR drags away the marker, WB makes an inside run exploiting the space left by the CMR.
While #Paulinho makes a great run and #Coutinho pulls off a magnificent pass, the key move is made by #Jesus. His off the ball movement stretches the defensive unit creating space for the runner from deep. A brief video analysis focusing on individual movement from Brazil striker that allows Coutinho to show his brilliance.
For the most part of the game, Croatia was happy to control the match tactically. They didn’t do so by possessing the ball comfortably, but by facing Argentina generally without the ball and not letting any chances to be created on the opponent side thanks to their great defensive organisation.
To read more about Argentina v Croatia match and truly understand the match dynamics, head over to The Half Space. The author explains in depth how the teams stood on the pitch and their offensive/defensive organization.
About the author:
Kristóf Bakos, Football fan and analyst from Hungary. Opponent Analyst at ASR Gázgyár between 2016-17. Currently a free agent. Co-Owner of @thehalf_space.
Since the start of World Cup Qualifications in September 2016, Iceland scored 16 goals from set pieces. That is 41% of all their goals. In defensive phase, they are hard working and compact using 4-4-2 defensive shape. On offense, they are extremely vertical, counter-attacking team.
Apart from Sigurdsson, Iceland lacks technical ability and the team plays to their other strengths. Physical strength, height, speed, teamwork and work rate. Due to lack of technical skills, Iceland is heavily oriented towards set pieces. Their long throw-ins and corner kicks have been extensively analysed. Goal kicks frequently pass under the radar as rarely they are treated as a possible threat to the opposition.
Iceland takes them seriously and looks to take the most out of them. Here’s a brief analysis of their direct play from the back.
You don’t need the ball in order to dictate the play. A clever positioning and closing down can force the opposition to play where you want them. But that is only the half of the full story.
Creating an efficient pressing trap, and training it, is one of the most difficult coaching tasks. As the game is so fluid, it is difficult to predict how exactly will it go. However, it all starts with individual roles and duties.
Here we will take a look at a pressing trap that is set to provoke a diagonal pass towards the weak flank. This difficult to execute pass is a pressing trigger for the team.
You will notice a few points on how it works in theory and how little it takes to break down and how dangerous that can be.
Just as an attacker is instinctively attracted towards the ball, a defender is attracted towards a striker. During the attacking phase, we use this to drag the defenders out of position and create space. However, coaches frequently neglect this when they coach defensive phase.
On all levels from youth to the elite, we see defenders tracking the attacker on a run into depth, behind the back line. In this video, I’ve tried to explain when this shouldn’t happen and why it is a liability for a team when it does happen.
The best players aren’t only those who can dribble at speed or those that score goals. Some players can do that, but all players have to think quickly. All other conditions being equal, the ability to make a right decision in a split second is what makes the difference between the top, and an average, player on all levels.
While offensive phase has a tendency to get more creative and free of strict rules as we progress further up the pitch, the defensive phase is its mirror picture. It gets more structured and bound with rules as the opposition gets closer to our goal.
The defender needs to be aware of his position, the ball, his teammates and the opposition. It is difficult to track all that at the same time, and communication becomes a fundamental part of the game.
Coming to Stamford Bridge Arsenal had to win the game in order to keep themselves in the title race. It was always difficult as they were on low morale after shock defeat against Watford at Emirates. Injuries to Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny away with Egypt squad made it even tougher challenge. In the end, Wenger had little to chose from. He opted for Oxlade Chamberlain alongside Coqueline and Mesut Özil in the midfield. Iwobi and Walcott were kept on wings while Sanchez kept his place as a central forward. Rather unusual pair in the center of midfield had to face the best center midfield pair in the Premier League – Kante and Matić.
On the other side, Conte had no worries regarding his first eleven. No injuries, no suspensions and only doubt was Willian or Pedro. In the end Spaniard got the place as the right sided attacker.
Chelsea doesn’t change the first eleven, and they didn’t change their approach to the match against Arsenal compared to the previous game when they faced Liverpool. Conte has full confidence in his team when the opposition has the ball and Chelsea was happy to give it to Arsenal.The host came out of the dressing room with clear idea to sit tight and get Arsenal on counter attack.
Wenger, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have the nerve, desire or confidence in his team to sit out the match and play counter attacking or any kind of patient football. He is all about possession and that is what he wanted on Stamford Bridge.
When Chelsea had the ball in their defensive third Arsenal was resolute to press them tight and win the ball high up the pitch from the first whistle. Once they were in position to set up an attack, Arsenal were pushing the defensive line very high. At the beginning they started with Özil on the left and Iwobi in the center, presumably to keep physically stronger players against Kante and Matić. Shortly after they conceded they had reverted back to Özil in the middle.
Above we see Arsenal in attacking third looking to find a way around Chelsea defence. Central midfielders are connected with red lines while attackers are blue. You can see how Walcott was cutting inside while Iwobi holds his position on the left touchline to keep five men defence stretched (full back Gabriel holds the other side). Throughout the match Özil was exchanging place with Sanchez trying to drop deep and unsettle the defence. However, the central area was covered with two disciplined defensive lines. As none of creative players or attackers on Arsenal team sheet were particularly inspired, the visitors found hard to get anywhere despite pushing numbers forward. Note also the space where almost both teams are positioned, it isn’t more than 20 yards in depth.
In circumstances where Arsenal had to meet the top team in the league after a loss, and they needed the win to keep their hopes for the title alive, they often committed eight to ten men on Chelsea’s half. After going a goal down their desire to get an equalizer pushed them even more forward. However, the pressure really got to them as none of their advanced players had shown any inspiration to threaten the hosts.
The image above really illustrates how Arsenal’s impatience and pressure were benefiting such an organized team Chelsea is. As whole squad pushed forward very high they really compressed the space (those 20yds from previous image) reducing themselves possibility to move around Chelsea’s defence. As Arsenal defensive line is very high up the pitch, and both full backs advanced into the attacking zones, whenever Chelsea managed to win the ball in their half (15 times), they had 2v2 opportunity in the center of the pitch. From these positions Chelsea was able to create numerous counter attacking opportunities since Koscielny and Mustafi couldn’t cope with Diego Costa and Hazard. Once Pedro, Alonso and Moses got higher up the pitch as well, Arsenal was often a man short while defending.
If we take a look again at the same situation we can see another feature of Conte’s team. David Luiz has stepped up into the midfield to make a clearance, Moses recognized it and didn’t run forward to his “normal” position at the right wing. The same process went on with Pedro who held back his run forward in order to keep the team shape intact. This might be a small adjustment but it tells us how well organized Chelsea is. They are very fluid in their movement when situation calls for it and in few seconds a third of a team change their lines but the team overall organization remains intact.
This kind of concentration in defence gives confidence to two forward players who can then be fully creative and free to play to their instincts. In the end, Hazard scores a wonder goal few moments later.
To conclude, Chelsea wins again due to their impeccable team performance while Arsenal crushes under the pressure unable to create anything substantial while the game was still in their reach. Without the patience to shift Chelsea around and organize slowly they pushed forward in numbers disregarding the counter attack threat. This in the end only helped Chelsea to achieve one of the easiest wins this year.
While the difference in individual quality between two London teams isn’t so great, the difference in team organization, ideas of how to break the opposition and concentration to stick to the plan shows who is really the team and who is much less so at the moment.
The “bastard” free kick and amazing penalty save from Mignolet put a stamp on the most interesting Premier League clash of the week which ended the nightmare Liverpool was experiencing this month.
Chelsea came to Anfield at the worst moment for the hosts who barely won against a fourth division team this year. Even for that they needed second leg replay. Liverpool had lost three consecutive games, dropped out of two cups in three days and had to face the best team in country.
However, Liverpool had already beaten Chelsea this season and the good news was that Sadio Mané finally returned from the African Cup of Nations and the whole squad was fit to play. Chelsea, on the other hand, had few problems before the match. All players fit, excellent form this year with only a loss against Tottenham. While Liverpool had a lot to lose in this match, Chelsea could take it calmly, keep tight at the back and wait for their chance and that is exactly what they did.
They sat back leaving Liverpool with the ball and little idea how to break down the defense.
If we look at the same image from the Liverpool perspective we see the general idea Liverpool uses in their attacking third. Forwards (red lines) constantly change places. Coutinho is dropping back while Firmino and Lallana are more flexible and take turns in dropping deeper and making forward runs. In this instance it is Lallana who starts from deeper position and makes a run behind the defense.
Midfielders (blue lines) operate under broadly similar principle. Henderson plays as a holding midfielder while Wijnaldum and Can are making turns in forward runs from deep. In this instance, it is Can who breaks behind the Chelsea midfield line.
Above we see the Liverpool positions and a passing map that reveals James Milner as a link between the defense and the midfield. If you keep in mind the Chelsea formation that is quite a reasonable choice as down the flanks Liverpool has natural man advantage. However, once the ball gets to the central area, to Coutinho and Jordan Henderson, links between players perish.
If you get back to the second image, you see why as well. Eight Chelsea players are behind the ball and three most advanced Liverpool players are cut off between them. The only space Liverpool has is in wide areas and Chelsea is happy to concede in order to keep the middle of the pitch sealed off.
Note also the positioning of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard who are both high up the pitch not participating effectively in the defensive phase at the moment.
While Liverpool did well without the ball, closing Chelsea down and forcing mistakes and clearances, they had a lot of trouble getting in the goal scoring position.
However, after conceding that free kick, Liverpool was playing quicker, with more will and desire but didn’t substantialy change their approach. They were always looking to get into scoring position by outplaying packed middle.
The second half didn’t see a significant change from Chelsea but Liverpool made an important addition to their attempts to penetrate the defense.
Liverpool recognized a weak spot in the zone defended by Moses and Azpilicueta. There was not only a potential height advantage when Can made his forward runs in the area, but also a weak link when Liverpool would overload the right flank and quickly shift the ball to the other side – behind the back of Moses.
This move was performed four or five times and each time it was more dangerous than anything Liverpool did in the first half.
Once Liverpool equalized the match went into the realm of will and work rate and both teams were on brink of scoring. Chelsea kept the pressure on counter attack with great help from Kante who managed 16 successful tackles (of total 29) in a match that sprung quick counter attacks. Liverpool, on the other hand found confidence after scoring and kept pushing.
Image above expresses the expected goals from created chances. You can see that, despite everything, the hosts created much more than Chelsea with 1.44 goals against 0.3 (penalty not included). Numbers tell us that, on average game, Liverpool would certainly score a goal from created chances while Chelsea would need three matches to get lucky enough and convert one of their chances into a goal.
However, football isn’t statistics only and the situation on the pitch is heavily affected by the result. In the end, Chelsea got what they wanted while Liverpool will be happy to have avoided the fourth defeat in a row.
This analysis was first published at soccerspecific, a coaching education platform with the mission of creating and sharing the highest quality of coaching information in order to positively impact player development around the world.