Last Friday we hosted another in-depth tactical discussion with our friends at APFA. Our guest was Tristan Thomas, who took a deep dive into the attacking philosophy and principles of Brighton and coach Roberto De Zerbi. Tristan is a coach/analyst at the professional level, most recently at Aldershot Town FC and Pafos FC. He has experience in merging the analysis with the coaching side of the game and in this webinar, he showed and explained examples of how De Zerbi's principles have led Brighton to the verge of a European spot this season. You can watch the full webinar for FREE here.
During the presentation, Tristan addressed De Zerbi's principles in three different areas: against a high press, medium block, and low block. A constant throughout the videos was De Zerbi's initial use of the double pivot in the build and how that manipulated opponent defensive structures and opened up spaces throughout the pitch. An example of that type of manipulation is in this clip below where Tristan explains how Brighton drags the opponent out of position by moving to a single pivot against Brentford. By initiating a player-to-player press, it opens up space in-between the lines by dropping a player into that space. This makes opposition coaches uncomfortable because you do not want one of your center backs to follow an attacking 25 yards into their own half and this is all Brighton needs to open up space in the final third and penetrate. (See below)
Another takeaway from Tristan's presentation was the areas that De Zerbi overloads and, in one example, it was the left half-space against Tottenham. What this does, as Tristan explains, is that it challenges Tottenham's 4-5-1 block and off-sets it's balance by drawing more players towards a specific area. I really enjoyed this aspect of the presentation as it made me question defensive distances and how dangerous it can be to manipulate that, rather than simply focusing on the shape. Again, this opens space higher up the pitch, but the technical quality that Brighton show in this moments cannot be understated and their combination play in midfield once the space opens is absolutely outstanding. (See below)