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Jack Edwards
Jack Edwards

Football, Tactics PORTABLE

Team tactics as well as individual skills are necessities for playing association football. Football is in theory a very simple game, illustrated by Kevin Keegan's namely assertion that his tactics for winning a match were to "score more goals than the opposition". Tactical prowess within the sport is nevertheless a craftsmanship of its own, and one of the reasons why managers are paid well on the elite level. Well-organised and ready teams are often seen beating teams with more skillful players on paper. Manuals and books generally cover not only individual skills but tactics as well.[2][3]

Football, Tactics


Association football is characterised (when compared to other sports) by an energy-conserving style of play. This is due to the prolonged sessions of play (2x45 minutes of continuous play in a game), the large size of a pitch (standard size is 105x68 metres or 7140 square metres) as well as the limited number of changes a team has at their disposal (three or five changes per team and game). For these reasons, tactics are an important part of getting the most out of the full 90 minutes of play (plus stoppage time).

All outfield players on the pitch are assigned defensive roles of which depend to an extent upon tactics. In principle, there are two ways of defending, zone defence and man-to-man defence. In a zone defence, defensive players mainly move in synchronicity with teammates, whereas a man-to-man defence players mainly moves in relation to opposing players. Whenever defensive players are given, or give themselves, a larger degree of freedom, hybrids of the two are seen.[17] Today it is common for teams to use a combination of the two systems.

Defensive systems may pose as a strength or a weakness, as talented attacking sides are adept at profiting from the lack of defensive structure shown by subpar defensive sides.[18] Another consideration for defensive tactics is pressure width; to what extent teams allow for players to approach the sidelines when pressing wide, as contrasted to staying central, where teams who favour a wide pressing approach will allow for more than one player at or near the sidelines at a given point in time, whereas a more centered approach to defense will usually stay at one or no players at or near the sidelines at a given point in time.

The direction in which to move towards the opponent with possession of the ball may be the shortest direction. However, it may be of value to curve the defensive run, in order to channel (also called "show") the opponent in a certain direction. Different teams will allow ("show") opponents either the inside (central lane) of the pitch, or the outside (outer lanes) of the pitch, depending on the situation as well as the tactics of that particular defensive side. For example, a common tactic for a first defender is to "show" the opposing player an area where they already know that a second or third defender is located, thus making it a safe choice to lead the opponents into.

When organised, the defending team may offer little resistance until the attacking team has reached a certain height on the pitch. The pressure height, or at which field depth the midfielders start acting as first and second defenders, depends on a lot of factors, such as game tactics and situation. Higher pressure teams need to make sure to win the ball back fast enough a number of times in pressure, in order for the tactic to be lucrative (as opposed to tiring).[19] In general, defensive-minded teams will stay lower, minimising defensive risks by compressing attacking space. The pressure height may be identified by at which stage of the opposite side attacking play that the first pressure line of support kicks in.

The shortcomings of the man-to-man defence is a lack of depth when new attackers move up or down the field. The man-to-man defence also may allow for defenders to be drawn out of position, opening gaps for other attackers in vulnerable areas. This was Italy's flaw in the 1970 Final, according to some analysts.[20] To overcome this problem with depth, the man to man defence may use a 'sweeper', who is a central defender and has a free role (no assigned player to mark). The sweeper sometimes may take up a position slightly behind the defensive line, as the role often involves 'sweeping up' any attacks that break through the defence and thus add valuable depth to the defensive unit. Zone defence does not require a sweeper role, and as many teams have changed their tactics on this, sweepers today are rare.

In the case of a penalty kick, no defending players except the goalkeeper are allowed within the penalty area or within ten yards of the penalty spot and 18 yards of the goal line. A significant number of players should, however, be placed right outside the penalty area, alert to advance into the area and clear any deflection. For this purpose, sometimes the attacking team will nominate two players to run at the goal from either side of the penalty spot; timing their run so that they only enter the penalty area once the kick has been taken will hopefully give them the first opportunity at gathering the ball if it is saved by the goalkeeper. This tactic is rarely seen, however, since the likelihood of the ball being saved and then falling into the path of the attacking player is small. A particular tactic that can be used by the goalkeeper involves trying to distract the penalty taker by drawing his concentration away from striking the ball cleanly. Such tactics normally involve moving one's body, or body parts, in an extravagant manner, or through verbal comments. Famous examples of where this worked successfully include Bruce Grobbelaar in the 1984 European Cup final, and Jerzy Dudek in the 2005 Champions League Final.

Football coaches and technical manuals such as Soccer Skills and tactics,[24] and The Soccer Coaching Bible,[25] often use visual symbols and diagrams to demonstrate the principles described above, and to link principles to historical games. The following examples combine technical coaching observations with championship play descriptions at the World Cup level as in Brian Glanville's World Cup, (1994).[26] The written descriptions are diagrammed for the reader to better understand various football tactics and skills as they are applied in the real world, at the highest levels.

This tight system however involved a "collapsing" approach that while packing the Italian penalty area and denying the Brazilian forwards much space, left relatively large gaps in midfield. See "Standing Off" defensive discussion above. Brazil's superb skills exploited this weakness, showing especially that any defence (whether man to man, zone or other variants) can be beaten using the principles of both width and depth. The weakness of the man to man system was also exposed. Italian left back Giacinto Facchetti dedicated himself to winger Jairzinho, shadowing him tightly wherever he went. Jairzinho cunningly moved off the right flank, opening gaps for others to follow as can be seen below. See "Switching the attack" and "Swapping wing men" above for discussion of this aspect of offensive tactics.

Envelopment in attack: the central cross. Attacking an opposing side from the flanks using crosses from the wings is among the oldest and most effective football tactics. An attack from the flanks uses width to stretch an opposing defence creating gaps in the goal area to be exploited. While the direction of the lateral cross is not as straightforward as the through-ball, both types of passes serve to split an enemy defence, in view of striking at the vital central area of the goal. This example, the legendary confrontation between keeper Gordon Banks of England and Pelé of Brazil at 1970 FIFA World Cup Group 3 match, captures the two types of attack in one snapshot. It also serves to illustrate the difficulties in defending against both types of passes.

Direct free-kicks are a key part of attacking in football, and can lead to many goals. Numerous feints and ruses are tried to fool the opposition, including having attackers join the "wall." A successful free kick from the 1970 World Cup- Brazil vs Czechoslovakia, illustrates how the technique works. Brazilian forwards Jairzinho and Tostao cunningly joined the end of the defensive wall as the Czechs set it up. As Pelé backed off and feinted as if to take the kick, both Jair and Tostão began to move off, creating space. Roberto Rivelino ghosted in from the side to shoot powerfully into the gap for a goal.

There are many formations and tactics being employed be various teams, with hundreds of subtle distinctions branching off from them. Here, we give a coach's guide to the most common, what you'll need to make a success of it, and an example of a team you could study to get it's best version.

The weakness of the 4-4-2 formation is the rigidity and amount of work expected of the two central midfield players. In modern football, it's more fashionable to have at least three players operating in and around the centre of the pitch, leaving a two-man central midfield short of bodies.

In contrast to a number of the tactics discussed above, the high pressing game is one that is built from how you play off the ball, rather than on it. At it's core, the high press works on the precedent that the higher up the pitch you win the ball, the short distance you have to go to get into a goal scoring position.

What results is a team that play an incredibly high line, with all ten outfield players harrying and hustling the opposition when in possession. Teams who adopt other tactics will often let the opposition hold possession in their own half, safe in the knowledge they can do little harm so far from goal. What makes the high press stand out is that this harassing of the opposition occurs no matter where the ball is.

For it to work then, you need ten outfield players who press as an entire unit. It can be one of the most tiring tactics to implement for players, as they are required to get in the faces of the opposition for a full 90-minutes, but it's rewards can be huge. Defending starts at the very top of the pitch, so select a striker who is unselfish, mobile, and doesn't mind getting involved in the physical side of the game. 041b061a72


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