This week's MSC Breakdown takes a look at a specific problem and will solve it with the help of a tactics board. We have recently started a new partnership with NL Tactical Board who have a fantastic product with no-lose magnetic technology and easy-to-read surface. You will never lose a magnet again! They kindly sent MSC a complimentary board and Gary uses it to solve the challenge below. They are also offering MSC followers 20% OFF their orders, using the code: MSC20. Click here to take advantage of it!
How do you make your 4-4-2 press flexible?
There are a number of advantages to using a 4-4-2 diamond to press. Firstly, if you are playing against a back four, it offers you an opportunity to put early, aggressive pressure on both center backs. This in itself can restrict the opponent's ability to progress possession and create an initial overload. It also has the flexibility in allowing your wide attackers (#7 and #11) on either side of the diamond to 'jump out' and press opposing full-backs. The diamond itself can also manage central rotations and protect passing lanes to opposition forwards, often showing them wide and allowing you to then apply those pressing triggers with wide attackers or full-backs. (See below)
When we are looking at pressing systems in the modern game however, we must respect the fact that it's now common practice for an in-possession system to adjust quite early in the game. Scouting and analysis are now presenting coaches with additional time to prepare for different pictures so I think we must anticipate the opponent's changing their system when they are faced with challenges that a specific press may present them. In this week's MSC Breakdown, we use the NL Tactical Board to adjust to three ways that the opponent may look to adapt to the press.
One simple adjustment that an opposing team may decide to make is to build with two holding midfielders against the diamond. With 'double sixes' you can cause the diamond two major issues. Firstly, the center backs now have an option for an outlet in the initial press and, with the attacking midfielder covering two players, there's a good chance that they can find a blue holding midfielder with time and space to play forward and break the press. Secondly, if the ball goes out to one of the full-backs, the holding midfielders can potentially provide support quicker as they now have less ground the cover. This is a huge ask of the attacking midfielder to cover both players and again inevitably leads to a press being broken.
2. Back Three Build
With the center backs under immediate pressure in the build, it is quite normal for an opposing coach to look for a solution in that initial scenario and bringing a midfielder down to create a back three can do just that. Turning it into a back three in the build now gives the opposition a natural overload when, along with the goalkeeper, can expand to a 4v2. No matter how aggressive the pressure is here, it's extremely difficult to have success pressing and, with the central three under the first line of pressure, it also allows the full-backs to get higher and potentially unbalance the diamond there too. (See below)
3. Game State and Fatigue
Even if a press is successful, there will be times during a game against a quality opponent that you will be asked to defend in a medium or low block. Even if you are winning, you may decide to manage the physical demands of the players for periods of time and may look for ways to still present your opponent with challenges in doing so. When a diamond is pushed back, it can often 'flatten out' and this can be an issue when interior spaces can open up for opposing forwards. Having a plan in place to deal with this scenario can reduce the impact of the opponent and also provide you with more energy to press when the opportunities do arise.
In the video below, Gary takes a look at solving each of these three scenarios with the diamond and how he would communicate that with the players, using the NL Tactics Board. If you enjoy the board, please use the code: MSC20 for 20% OFF your order. Offer ends soon!!!!