Positional play - pressing and space
Creating triggers to decide Football today progresses to a stage which the identity of the teams is based on many different game philosophies (regarding the coach?s ?fingerprint?) which rely on game principles (in a micro or macro perspective) and must have to have a coherent connection in terms of dynamics. I will try to express some ideas about what it means to ?read pressing? and play with free space. Let?s do it then? Check the videos at www.brunoromao.com/single-post/2017/12/08/Read-the-pressing-and-the-space
To start it is important to talk about the centre of the game. The ball area should have permanent relations of coverage (position) and mobility to keep possession. These good relations will allow the team to move the opponent and the ball. It is key for Attracting defenders to create other spaces as well as screening the area, checking before (checking before with the “vision/neck”) position of the ball, where the opposition is, and most importantly how is it moving, if they are organized or not in the pressing.
Game vision will allow the players to establish a good relation between dynamics and positional play. This balance gives the players the safety/confidence to build up or createchances where the defensive transition is prepared. Reading the quality and direction of the pressing will allow, in most cases, being able to creating space without movement. So, here it is key with mobility (opposite movements, open body angles, stop and screen…) and positional play for good possession the coordination between the players to hold space and confidence in the teammates for the progression of the ball.
When the area of the ball is being screened its vital that the player identifies the opponent’s numbers as this will create space in vital areas (behind the midfielders and in the opposite channel). This switch of the point of the attack has to have pace to create a quick chance, or if the opponent is defending well, the defensive block will move down, and the possession progresses. To get the ball moving a good 1st touch is vital to pass and attract the pressing (play outside to get inside) or to control with a good body angle to connect with other player/space. This 1st contact with the ball will allow for possession timings, the patience with the ball balances the team and also gives time to organize the lines (attacking preparing the ball loss moment).
Practically the player will have some “tools” fin hand or decision making. Identifying the pressing will determine the direction of the opponents run and many times, outside the ball area, the proximity of their lines and to realize if there is defensive coverage or not. After this it is important to move (or not!!!) because the space will open up and those free areas created can be used. Midfielders, for instance, can use space behind opponent midfield line without great movement but with good screening. The same example for the striker using the offside space when the defensive line slides and drops to get the front of defenders in the moment where an opportunity of pass is created.
Attracting the opponent lines will permanently will make them search for organization and continuously run without the ball and, if the possession is secure (if it has personality even under pressure), the ball will move naturally. Variation in the offensive game can be an important point and switching the point of attack in width (lateral passes to make opponent slide) or depth (vertical passing to break lines), may be a way to create the space, with short/long passes. As an example, the forwards have to permanently read the defensive line coordination with the “neck/vision” because like that they can search for the ball in frontal support (in front of defenders) or in the space behind the defensive line.
I finish by relating these principles with the exercise design. There is no point in working principles with “recipes”. It is important to create contexts based in game situations in which the players will use these tools in a continuous, consistent and coherent base to identify the pressing and make the opponent run. Screen the area and see the space, after, use it.
Sobre Bruno Romão
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