Creating Without the Ball

By Alex Trukan

Most of the work done by the strikers shown on the TV and appreciated by fans is when they’re in possession of the ball: goals, assists, one on ones. That’s what matters the most, but we, as coaches especially, should also focus and appreciate all the work behind the scenes: subtle movement to create space, dropping down into midfield, body position to play forwards. All of these things have influence on the performance of the team. Striker’s movement in the final third is one of fundamental team tactical component that not only creates chances for himself, but also helps in the build-up play of the whole team.

Starting position and playing between the lines

Basic position of the central striker (number 9) in a 1-4-3-3 system would be between two central defenders of the opponent. That provides him an opportunity to be able to

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Shape and Support in the Midfield

By Alex Trukan

The system with a three midfielders operating in a triangle is widely known and implemented all around the world. Over the last years, numerous variations of this tactics have been developed and used what has led to the successes of the teams like FC Barcelona or Bayern Munich. One of the crucial components of this system are movements of the midfield three, which not only enable more effective build-up play but also support forwards in the final third of the pitch.

Starting positions – basic shape

When the defenders are in possession during building up play from the back, three midfielders form a triangle with a point down (defensive midfielder being positioned closer to own goal than the two offensive midfielders). That creates some defensive cover and great attacking potential with

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The Benefits of Immediate Pressure

By Alex Trukan

Red Bull Salzburg was a revelation in the 2013/2014 season, winning the domestic league, cup as well as knocking out renowned Ajax Amsterdam in the Europa League. In the current season, the club is also leading the league with 10 points above second Rapid Wien and four matches to go. However, it is not the results that drew the main attention to the club from Salzburg. The club has become widely known for its ultra-high pressing, attacking style of play. Pep Guardiola, a coach of Bayern Munich, after playing a friendly match against Red Bull Salzburg managed by Roger Schmidt at that time, stated: I’ve never played in my career against a team that has played with such a high intensity’. The philosophy which has been brought to the club by Ralf Rangnick, Red Bull global technical director is unique, controversial and at the same time fascinating to analyse. One of the tactics used by Red Bull Salzburg is ‘counter-pressing’, which can be defined as a defending strategy that is aimed at regaining possession after losing it, taking advantage of the opposition defensive disorganisation in the transition to attack.

False narrowness in the attacking phase

If Red Bull Salzburg was using full width and length of the

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Attacking Tactics of the Champions

By Stevie Grieve

This is the second of two posts looking at Barcelona’s methods and tactics from the Champions League Final versus Juventus. This week we look at Barcelona’s attacking process.

In the Juventus analysis, I looked at how they would try to stop Messi, which forced Barcelona to adjust and look for alternative routes to goal – they would often switch play and attack from Neymar and Jordi Alba.

If Alves was high, Alba stayed deep and vice versa, or if both were high, Busquets stayed deep to form a 3v2 situation at the back and cover the defence in the pre-transition phase.

They looked to play less of a positional game behind the

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Defending Tactics of the Champions

By Stevie Grieve

This post is the first of two looking at Barcelona’s methods and tactics from the Champions League Final versus Juventus. This week we look at Barcelona’s defending process.

Set Pieces; Pique the spare man in mixed marking system

Barcelona have only conceded one goal from set pieces all season while Juventus are a dangerous team from them, so this may have been a game where Barcelona may have been legitimately worried about conceding from a set play. With Barcelona’s lack of height in comparison to Juventus, Gerard Pique’s role in defending set pieces would be key – the only player other than Sergio Busquets and GK Marc-Andre Ter Stegen above 6ft2 and capable of competing in the air.


As the ball is delivered, we see Pique is the spare man with

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Juventus Attacking Plan

By Stevie Grieve

This post continues our look at the Champions League Final between Juventus and FC Barcelona. This week we look at Juventus’ attacking process.

Isolate the centre backs 1v1 in wide areas

When playing with 2 centre forwards in a defensive based system, the natural idea is to isolate the centre backs 1v1 in transition, and to try and take them on and go direct to goal. For Juventus, both strikers are quick and good in 1v1 play, so isolating the centre backs in wide areas would be a natural way to play with 2v2 at the back.


Mascherano is dragged wide by Morata who takes 1 touch and

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