Pomposity in the extreme but we just scored a goal that is almost exactly what I’ve been trying to do with the tactic for the last 18 months of game time so I thought that it would be worth highlighting briefly to put much of my other posts about individuals, attributes and striker problems into context.
If that interests you at all, read on! (It’s just a short one) If not, sod off somewhere else 🙂
So here is the goal in question. My apologies for the quality of the video but SI, despite 4 patches, still can’t sort out the YouTube export facility in the game.
I’m guessing there are quite a few of you thinking “Perfect goal? Really?!” just now. Fair enough. It’s not the best goal you’ve ever seen, but it’s perfect for me because it epitomises the style of football I’ve been trying to get the team to play so I was absolutely delighted.
Let’s break it down.
Here, Grödig have been on the attack and my aggressive centre back has come out to close down their striker when he’s received a pass to feet. Two of the midfielders come in to put extra pressure on the ball carrier.
What I really liked, though, was the response of my other defenders who, identifying the danger of the gap left by the advancing centre back, drop off and narrow quickly to fill the space.
Once it’s won back, our right midfielder plays it into the deep-lying forward’s feet. Pellegrini, ringed in yellow, has dropped off the line to receive the ball meaning that his marker either has to follow him or leave him time on the ball.
Stepping up, the centre back leaves a gap in defence. His centre back partner (blue box) wants to come across to fill the gap (blue arrow) while the fullbacks want to come narrow in a similar manner that ours did in the first screenshot. However, none of this can happen as our left winger at the top of the screen and right wingback, just off the screen at the bottom, are threatening the flanks and forcing the fullbacks to stay wide. Meanwhile the right centre back can’t come across as he has to keep an eye on the midfield runner looking to exploit the space behind him.
The DLF lays the ball off to our roaming playmaker who is free to find space wherever he wants. Now it’s a case of exploiting what the hipsters might call “half-spaces”. The defence is trying to re-arrange as the centre half who originally pushed up out of the line tries to recover his position. By doing so, however, he’s going to leave a 15 yard gap to the midfielders who are trying to close down the ball-carrier.
Each defender has at least two of our players to concern himself with and, particularly at our level, it’s inevitable that one of them will make the wrong decision and leave someone free.
Notice our defensive midfielder, ringed in green, who simply sits there in the centre circle. He might look completely superfluous but he’s offering a vital service – the easy out-ball. At any point, should any player get into trouble, he’s open for a pass to save a turnover.
Also notice our midfield runner at the top of the screen. His run from deep has forced the defence to drop off rather than pushing up and compressing the space we’re trying to exploit in front of the defence. Without that run, we wouldn’t have the space to…
With his personal instruction to sit narrower and roam from his position, the right-midfielder (Wide Midfielder – Attack) drifts into the channel between centre back and full back. With the defence dropping off, he comes short for the pass to feet and then the Grödig left centre-back, who is having a real crappy time of it for this goal, is forced to push up again to close him down.
Once again this leaves a gap behind the advancing centre back and, once again, there is too much space for us to exploit. Our left-winger and right wingback, ringed in red, are keeping the defence very wide meaning the recovery distances for the other defenders are too long.
Note that the defensive midfielder is still wide open for that out-ball, or there’s an alternative pass to the right-back who is wide open in a very dangerous wide position.
Also, the DLF has simply continued his run from from the last picture and is in 20 yards of space. The right centre back is slow to react, probably still distracted by our midfield runner. Too late, he abandons that idea and comes across. Of course, he forgets all about that runner…
Pellegrini could happily have shot here. He’s on his preferred side and has a clear sight of both posts 20 yards out. Thankfully, we have a “team ethos” of prioritising high Decisions attributes and the striker does the right thing.
The three Grödig players desperately try to close Pellegrini down and he finds the gap between two of them to feed the ball to Alar, the midfield runner for a relatively simple finish past a ‘keeper who is trying to reposition himself quickly.
If the defence hadn’t been drawn so wide then they could have recovered quicker and smothered Pellegrini or perhaps Alar. If they hadn’t been pushed so deep by Alar’s run from deep, they could have compressed the space Kainz exploited to lay it into Pellegrini’s path. That’s movement from three players who share one touch between them in the whole move – the final shot – and yet without their instructions the goal would never have come about. It’s not always just about the people on the ball.
So yeah, not the greatest goal in the world but the perfect goal in demonstrating what I’ve been trying to do all along.