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What's the Best Pressing Shape From Goal-Kicks?

Since the rules were adapted and center backs routinely position themselves alongside goalkeepers in the 6-yard box, it now appears that pressing systems must take this new picture into consideration. With more attacking teams using pre-planned routines from goal-kick restarts, we have seen a common trend this summer and it seems that pressing teams are having a different formation for this than they are utilizing for the other moments of the game. In this week's MSC Breakdown, we take a look at the most common press that has been used at the Euros and the Copa America this summer - and why it may become the best way to manage goal-kick restarts in the near future.

Below is a YouTube breakdown detailing the pressing shapes. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe to our MSC YouTube page.

Below are the positional details shared in the breakdown:

Role of Center Forwards (9/10)

  • Perhaps the biggest benefit of the 4-4-2 pressing shape is that it allows you to put immediate pressure on the opposition center backs

  • It also allows you to manage with the 4v2 in the initial build to prevent central penetration, with one center forward pressing and the other 'screening' the defensive midfielder. B ody shape is really important when you are pressing in this way and the two center forwards must work together effectively for this to be successful.  

Role of the Wide Midfielders (7/11s)

  • They can be initially positioned on those inside channels as this allows them to perform three key functions:

1. Invite a pass to a full-back (low value with numbers behind the ball) 

2. Screen the opposition passes into those inside channels

3. Deal with midfield rotations and still preserve the shape

Role of the Central Midfielders (6/8)

  • The system also suits the two midfielders who can create a simple ‘press-cover-balance’ relationship as opposition midfielders drift into pockets and look for the ball.

  • Depending on the philosophy of the coach, the highest midfielder can become a marker, while the covering defender can be more zonal. This role can switch throughout the press if communication and game understanding are high. 

Role of the Back Four

  • The advantage of the defensive line is that they have an initial 'plus one' advantage, but they will probably require that extra number at the highest level as players rotate into higher spaces.

  • They can also one of the the central midfielders back is the opponents overload the back line.

  • The 'cover and balance' element should allow defenders to follow opposition forwards if they drop deep to receive.

If you would like to follow up with Gary Curneen about personal consultation, please email him at:

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