A couple of weeks ago, there was a great post-game interview with Pep Guardiola after a Premier League match against Manchester United where he points out to the interviewer Geoff Shreeves, that the movement of the ball is more important than the movement of the players. "Everybody has to be in position," Pep explains as he describes how his teams progress and maintain the ball. The detail in his teams centers around timing and positioning, rather than the amount of passes. Guardiola has always talked about how possession is not the ultimate aim of his teams and instead how they look to move the opponents to free up important spaces higher up the pitch. This interview did get me thinking however and more specifically around how we talk about beating pressure higher up the pitch.
If you are coaching or building a possession-based team, the chances are that you will inevitably face opponents who look to combat that style by sitting a little deeper and getting compact. Although this can frustrate teams and coaches, we must work with our players and systems to develop solutions in these situations. It's well known that you can either go 'over, around, or through' defensive blocks, but I think as a coaching community we need to dig a little deeper in terms of how we are communicating this with our players. Yes, there maybe space available in wide areas, but timing plays a huge role in how we can potentially exploit this. In addition, one action or behavior can offset another tactically so we may need to move the opposition one way in order to create space somewhere else.
Below is a recent video that I made describing two details where initial movement in wide areas creates space to play through, and then how enticing the opposition by playing through centrally can open spaces in wide areas. The training footage I have used is from my work with Racing Louisville FC and is a simple 9v9 game described in the video.
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