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!
Borussia Dortmund had a season to forget in year one after Thomas Tuchel. With the Peter Bosz experiment having failed, it’s Lucien Favre’s turn to usher in a new era for the Black and Yellows. It was evident after only a few training sessions that the Swiss remains a coach with a ruler and calliper.
“We found a lot of problems when attacking a 5-4-1 when the striker is marking our holding midfielder and 10 players are defending so deep. We are thinking about how you could attack against that system.” – Pep Guardiola when previewing the 2018/2019 EPL season.
Belgium with their so-called “golden generation” could be a real challenger for this World Cup, since their overall quality puts them among the best national teams. Although their individual quality doesn’t mean anything, if the players are not being put into a functioning structure. Marc Wilmots’ tenure showed us the negative side of that, therefore it was necessary to hire a coach who is able to solve this problem both from a strategic and from a tactical perspective. After his first 3 games Roberto Martinez found a solution, implying a 3-2-4-1 system, which looks to be the most optimal choice the Belgians could use.