Roberto de Zerbi’s team show us one of the most interesting positional play approaches recently. The concept of positional play became very popular these days, still a lot of coaches and teams misinterpret it and just throwing the concept around without a deeper understanding. Although, Sassuolo is a good example for the opposite.
Just by looking at the numbers, we can see that Atalanta is 3rd (70) in goals scored – after PSG (75) and Bayern (73)- amongst the top 5 league teams, and 1st in shots per game, leading with 20,1 attempts -just for comparison, Barcelona have 12,7 (scored 63), Dortmund have 13,8 (scored 68), Juventus have 17,5 (scored 50), and the closest is Manchester City with 19,4 (scored 68). As these numbers looks very intriguing, this analysis will focus on their strategy in possession (link can be found at the end of the article).
Such as set-pieces generally, throw-in strategies are often neglected, even though some simple guidelines could easily help to utilize them better. A great example for that is Liverpool, who even hired a throw-in coach, Thomas Gronnemark, in order to increase their effectiveness in this part of the game. Since Liverpool has a very high success rate (around 70% or maybe even more) in maintaining possession after a throw-in (just to put that into context, usually the average is around 50% at best). This article focuses on the main principles, movements that Liverpool use during throw-ins.
On December 2nd, 2018, Holstein Kiel travelled to MSV Duisburg and convincingly won 4-0. Last season, under the command of Tim Walter (now the coach of VfB Stuttgart), Kiel gained popularity as a high-pressing, possession-hungry side, using a variety of unique actions and structures not used by other teams. Kiel were identified as promotion candidates, but inconsistency lead to a 6th place finish. Amid this inconsistency though, were games where their approach couldn’t have been much better, with their win against Duisburg perhaps being the best example.
After the last years’ Spanish domination in the European Cup Finals, English football finally took over for this season, with 4 teams representing in this season’s 2 Cup finals. If you followed the development of the english football lately, the shift was quite predicted and inevitable. Both teams have an important thing in common: conscious building in every aspect of the game throughout the last years, mixed with patience, allowing the 2 head coaches to improve their game model -5 years for Pochettino, 4 and half for Klopp.
In the last games of the season, Leverkusen used an interesting approach in their positional play, creating a 3-2-2-3 (midfield-box) staggering from the initial 4-2-3-1 shape, which basically changed the whole dynamics of their positional play.
31 games in, Jena was 8 points away from safety.7 games later, they finish 1 point ahead of the relegation zone. Coach Lukas Kwasniok introduced his own table for these 7 games and put it in the change room. They won 6 of the games.
According to several statistics (expected goals against – xGA, shots allowed, passes allowed per defensive action – PPDA) Eibar is on the top of the rankings in the La Liga. Therefore I decided to take a look into their defensive organization, analyzing their main principles and movements in their main 4-4-2 system (in high-press/mid-block/deep-block, plus their 4-1-4-1 system), whilst also highlighting their main weaknesses.
The basis and main principle of Liverpool’s 4-3-3 pressing system is to keep the ball at the central zones, therefore preventing the be moved by horizontal circulation, which usually -if done well- stretches the defensive structure both in the vertical and horizontal axis.
I detail the possession and positional philosophy of FC Barcelona and Pep Guardiola!