Post-game thoughts after playing Brasilians in O30 league


I’d like to elaborate a little on what I attempted to say during the game. (I had tried to keep my mouth shut – but am too excited right now :-) Please feel free to ignore this post as things may seem totally different in the morning. Besides, I do tend to loose track of word count so messages sometimes come out long and boring).

With that said – here’s some theory.

There are only two distinct styles of play: “playmaking” (AKA “total football” – made famous by Ajax in the seventies), and “counterattacking”:

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The most basic tactical decision is what style the team will adopt, the playmaking or counter attacking style. These styles incorporate different mentalities, they approach the game differently.

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and here are outlines for both styles:

After learning about these styles, the key point to realize is that a team must choose one or the other: nobody is fit enough to apply pressure consistently throughout entire field – you have to pick either opponent’s half (playmaking style) or your half (counterattacking one).

Playmaking style is more intuitive (“you hold the ball – you control the game”) and therefore usually most teams try to execute it – either intentionally or without realization. The thing however is that you need to be technically and physically superior compared to your opponent to play this way in a game, otherwise mistakes are punished severely.

To play counterattacking style you need to make conscious decision to do so because it’s counter intuitive: you are seemingly giving up control of the game to the other team. As benefit of this approach however, a team can play fairly efficiently against more technical and physical opponent. You do need to be disciplined to pick your moments to cross to the other half and be mentally tough because constant defending can be mentally draining. Also, the key phrase becomes “relief of pressure” (kick the ball out of your zone if you don’t see a safe pass quickly) vs. “control the ball”.

Another key point with counterattacking style is that you try to have higher number of defenders than opponent’s attackers. This way you have more redundancy built into the system. Also, because the area in front of the goal becomes crowded, it’s harder for attackers to have easy short distance shots. Giving up the middle of the field in this case is justified: you defend less space and therefore spend less effort to do so.

To apply this to our current situation, we could do something like this: three defenders, one midfield, one forward. The defenders hold the fort and do not cross the half line unless absolutely necessary/safe. Defenders actively engage only on own half. Midfielder is defense oriented as well and engages close to the half line on either side (imagine a diamond of the four: midfielder at the top in the center circle, two defenders at the sides, and one deep near own goal). Also, when midfielder is not involved into our attack (see below), he rotates with the defender who is.

For own attack – our forward has to stay fairly deep and be wandering constantly to create some space between him and other team’s defender (usually teams leave one v one in these situations – and it becomes four v four on our half in this case). When one of our players wins the ball and has an option to target the forward in one or two passes (through a connecting player) – he does so. Another player, the one who’s at the top of our defense, has to make a run opposite to the forward to create two v one (attacking teams are usually slow to return). If this player is our midfielder – all is good, everybody is in position. If it’s one of the defenders – midfielder has to take his place on defense. Two v one is plenty enough to create a scoring chance. In the worst case – it’s four v three the other way, which is not that bad (much better for defenders than two v one).

I hope it all makes sense – I can draw this before the next game if anybody cares. And another thing – if you pay attention to how our games go – we already play this way occasionally :-)

And again – this holds true only against superior teams.

Hope I didn’t offend anybody :-) It was a beautiful game – we truly can keep up with these Brazilians, final score doesn’t matter.




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