Tag: Positional Play

How to train the switch

I hope you had a nice week and like me, you are looking forward to live football.

For today I had the problem that I didn’t have that much on my mind this week, I just couldn’t find three interesting aspects that I want to go into more detail about and which are interesting.

So, if you have any questions, feel free to send them to me and I will answer them in the next newsletter.

Therefore, after a long time, I have a training drill that I would like to present to you. The focus is on switches the play during possession with a team that already knows the concept a little bit.

The field is divided into three horizontal zones and two vertical zones. It will be played 6vs6 + goalkeeper. In order to shift, attracting the opponent plays a big role for me, only this way spaces open up elsewhere. As soon as the opponent is lured, I prefer to initiate the switch via a so-called solution player. This solver usually acts with his back to the space we want to circulate the ball into and is therefore only the wall player for a third man combination. However, this wall player is of enormous importance, because he attracts the opponent for a short time and opens spaces for the players with a better field of vision, who are then allowed to play the switching pass.

Furthermore, I want to have as much width in the game as possible to open space on the ballfar side, which we then can use. Therefore, in this drill, the rule is that the two outfield players act on the line outside the field in the middle third and can only enter the field in the defensive or offensive third. They may also only dribble into the field with the ball in the offensive third.

In addition, a balanced structure is important for relocation. Last season, for example, Borussia Dortmund regularly had to contend with the problem that there was no connecting player for the switch because the side close to the ball was overloaded heavily. As a consequence, the BVB was unable to make use of the open spaces away from the ball.

To prevent this from happening, the rule in this form of play is that the team in possession of the ball must occupy both vertical zones at all times.

This could be a possible change of sides. The red team attracts blue on the left side, resolves the pressure situation by a play of the solution player and then shifts quickly and aggressively into the open space. The pass into the offensive third allows the wing to move in and red can bring the attack into the last third.

In coaching I then focus especially on attracting and solving the pressure situation through the solution player. Details like the right body position, passes into the right foot, the use of the game over the third or the correct approach of the defenders can of course also be in focus. Here the coach must tailor the form of the game to the needs of his own team.

A possible variation would be a different field shape. For example, you could play in a diamond where the middle third is normal, while the two offensive zones have diagonal outer lines. So, we still encourage diagonal play towards the goal in the last period.

I hope the game form is useful for you and inspires you to create your own game forms on the topic of game shifting. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Next week I would like to do a little Q&A, so feel free to send me your questions about any football topic.

Stay healthy and until next week




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PSG Pressing in the 4-4-2

Under Thomas Tuchel PSG have scored an incredible amount of goals in Ligue 1 this season (2.78 per match), regardless of the structure and personnel in the side. However, a team cannot base its success solely on its attacking principles and individual brilliance.  In this article I will look at PSG’s pressing structure in recent league matches and, although it has been effective, why they have conceded a number of goals along the way.

In the recent Ligue 1 games against Bordeux and Amiens, PSG set up in a 4-4-2 system with an emphasis of putting pressure on the opposition back line early, forcing defenders to play quickly.  In midfield, the two centre midfielders will go man for man in an attempt to close the space between the strikers and midfield lines with the two wide players playing narrow both in and out possession.  As we will see, when this works it can be effective but if the timing of the press is wrong, it can allow the opposition to escape the press and play through or become a threat on transition.  It is important to note that Bordeux played a 3-4-3 with Amiens operating in a standard 4-4-2 formation. 

Amiens v PSG
PSG v Bordeux

Forcing the opponent to play long

Winger jumping to 3rd centre back

As we can see from this diagram, the aggressive positioning of the strikers prevent the Bordeux back line from getting the opportunity to play forward with Neymar ready to jump on the pass to the outside centre back on the switch of play. As this happens the structure behind the initial press changes.  With Bordeux playing a 3-4-3, Bernat detaches from the back 4 and jumps onto the wing back with Kimpembe coming across to defend the long ball.  It is important to note that the two centre midfielders played with aggressive positioning, man marking Besic and Otavio and preventing Bordeux from circulating the ball through their two midfield sitters and forcing the player in possession to either play to the side and make the attack predictable or to go long early.   A consequence of a good high press is the opposition playing a long ball down the side, therefore it is vital that the centre back on the side of the ball is across quickly to ensure they are ready to defend the channel.  In this instance Kimpembe is able to get across quickly and, when the ball does go long, he is a good position to regain the ball and build an attack through heading the ball down to Veratti who has reacted well to the long ball by turning quickly in order to pick up the second ball.

Forcing the opponent to play floated balls to the fullbacks

In the game against Amiens, PSG again gained success through forcing the opponent to play long.  In this match the two strikers looked to press with the intent of forcing the centre backs to play long or back to the GK.  The positioning of the wide midfielders allowed the strikers to press, being narrow and enticing the Amiens goalkeeper to playing a long-floated ball into the fullbacks that can trigger the wide player to jump out and press aggressively.  As we can see in the clip the narrowness of Di Maria and Draxler invite the long-floated balls but the positioning of the wingers allows them to cover the fullback on the pass.  On this pass they become aggressive with the fullbacks ready to jump on the wingers and the striker ball side ready to press the backward pass to the centre backs who then have to play long.

In possession structure leading to difficult counter pressing moments

It is no secret that the best counter pressing teams are the teams that are proactive and think about regaining the ball even when they have possession.  A prime example of this would be the use of the inverted fullback by Pep Guardiola at Manchester City who ensures that the distances between players are short enough to allow quick regains, particularly in central areas.  For PSG counter pressing is of paramount importance, particularly in a league where they will dominate large portions of the ball (Average of 61% possession per match). Therefore, it was a surprise to see them lack a counter pressing structure and allow both Amiens and Bordeux to enjoy moments of transition and break out.  This may be down to the characteristics of the players in forward areas.  Edinson Cavani is a player who is aggressive in the air and likes to play on the furthest away centre back in order to generate speed when he attacks the cross.  His strike partner Kylian Mbappe is more aligned to playing outside the width of the box, either peeling into a position outside the left centre back or rotating with Neymar to receive wide and utilise his qualities in 1v1s in wide areas.  Although two differing player profiles can get the best out the players in an attacking sense it becomes difficult for PSG to regain the ball quickly high up the field with distances between the two being so far apart.  Contrary to this Liverpool have a front 3 that are narrow and play within close proximity, thus allowing them to surround the ball quickly and either prevent the opponent from making an accurate forward pass or forcing the player in possession to make a mistake. 

Insufficient balance to sustain attacks

As seen in the diagram against Bordeux, when Veratti picks up possession of the ball Bernat makes a run beyond with Mbappe and Neymar playing close together in order to create quick combinations, however when Veratti plays through the lines to Mbappe he makes a forward run to support ahead of the ball.  This then creates difficulty when PSG lose the ball as the structure behind the ball is not set to regain quickly.  With the two centre backs not close enough to De Preville it allows the striker to dictate the situation, either receiving into feet and turning or running in behind into the space when the centre backs step up with no pressure on the ball.  In this instance the distance between Veratti and Gueye is too big which prevents the opportunity to apply immediate pressure on the ball, allowing Besic to step out with possession and play a pass through for De Preville.  Fortunately for PSG the pace of the two centre backs allows for a recovery, however in the Champions League and against better opposition and against quicker strikers it can allow teams an opportunity to create scoring chances.

Amiens exploiting the space on the sides

Against Amiens, PSG faced similar problems in possession, allowing the opponents to break out and exploit the space in the vacated fullback areas.  As we can see there is a lack of balance in centre midfield with both Gueye and Paredes on the same side of the pitch.  This then means that when PSG try to play passes through the lines for the inverted wide players they are not set up to regain the ball quickly.  In this situation, the set up behind the ball allows Amiens to attack the free space with no one ready to apply immediate pressure to Zungu when he regains the ball.  Due to the compactness of Amiens, passes through the middle of the pitch are more likely to be intercepted. Although PSG have numbers in those central areas, if they are in front of the ball when the ball is lost, they cannot influence the game.  With both fullbacks playing on the outside of the pitch, it allows Amiens to break out inside PSG’s attacking shape and exploit the spaces vacated down the sides. In this instance Zungu steps out with the ball and Bakker is too far out to recover and prevent Otero from carrying the ball into the final third.  If we look at the balance of the team on PSG’s left it is clear that no one is playing deeper than the ball.  If passes through the lines are to be cut out it creates an opportunity for Amiens to attack the space on the counter.

Timing issues

Allowing the opposition centre midfielders to play through

When playing in any shape, the key to an effective press is not just the intensity of the initial pressure but the compactness vertically (e.g. midfield to strikers) and horizontally between players (e.g. centre midfielder and wide midfielder). Only when there is sufficient compactness between units and individuals can a team press effectively.

It is rare for the player who initiates the first press to win the ball, therefore there must be support around the presser to ensure players are ready to regain the second or third pass.  In the early stages against Bordeux the visitors managed to evade the press due to the distances between the midfield line and forwards.  As we can see the distance between Sabaly and Neymar is too big to influence the wingback when he receives possession. Sabaly is then able to find a pass into Besic who can then play through into Hwang behind the opposition midfield. There are a number of issues in this instance that allows Bordeux to play through the lines and attack PSG’s back line.  

Firstly, the distance between the strikers and the centre midfield players are too big. Although Mbappe and Cavani apply pressure there is a lack of support from behind, meaning that if Bordeux can find Besic or Otavio they can then turn under no pressure and play forward. Secondly when the ball does go wide Neymar is too deep and unable to influence Sabaly when he receives the ball. When Sabaly is able to find Besic, Veratti leaves his slot on the first touch of Besic, rather than when the ball is travelling.  This then gives the Bordeux midfielder time to play through and evade pressure.  

Again, PSG were able to recover the situation and allow the ball to go out for a throw in, however, if we look at the Dortmund’s second goal against PSG in the Champions League, teams with higher levels of quality can exploit the space through poor defensive positioning and a lack of awareness of space behind the opposition lines.


It is no secret that PSG will continue to dominate Ligue 1 this season and go on to secure the title fairly convincingly. In possession, they have a number of attacking options that allow them to break down opponents in different situations based on the characteristics of themselves but also the opposition. Out possession, it is clear to see that Thomas Tuchel wants his team to regain the ball high when possible and although they have the capabilities to defend high they can still be exposed to counter-attacking moments and being played through due to a lack of compactness. Although this will have little impact domestically it may be the fine line between success and failure in the Champions League.

Why small teams can be successful with positional play

It´s been a while since my last piece written in English. Over the summer, I took a break – didn´t watch any football and focused on other things I wanted to learn – and that was brilliant. I didn´t enjoy analysing and writing about football that much anymore, and I would say that you could see it because the quality of my work went down.

Therefore, I needed this football-free time span, focusing on improving my statistics knowledge, my university grades and read many books giving me new stuff to think about.

However, I love football, especially, when a team plays and attractive and dominant style. That´s why I am back because I want to introduce you to Christian Fiel´s Dynamo Dresden. Usually, a middle-class team in the second German division, they caught my eye due to their modern and dominant approach – uncommon in the 2. Bundesliga.

Although, Dresden plays an attractive style of football (you are going to find an in-depth piece about their playing style soon on The False Fullback) the main reason I´m writing this article is the narrative that only the best teams with the best players can use positional play in order to be successful.

Especially, in Germany the common view on football is characterize by the believe that only compact defensive combined with fast counter-attacks is the way small teams can be successful.

Of course, learning to attack by using specific concepts of positional play is probably harder than to defend deep and counter-attack, however, the long-term benefit of establishing a carefully planed offensive concept are probably higher.

In order to show you where a team like Dynamo Dresden can create advantages which will lead to more goals and more wins in the long team, I´m going to analyse their structure in build-up and a real-world scene from their 4-2 loss against Karlsruher SC, the typical 4-4-2 counter-attack/long-ball team.

Creating superiority by positioning well

Before we dig into the specific scenes, I want to introduce you to the main concept of positional play, creating superiorities to end up in an advantageous situation.

There are different kind of superiorities like qualitative, numerical and positional.

  1. Qualitative superiority

Qualitative superiority means getting your best players in their preferred spots against weaker opponents. The best example is a winger against a fullback. If Neymar is facing Matteo Darmian on the wing, his team has an advantage. It not necessarily has to be a dribbler on the wing, it could also be a taller striker in the box, or a more skilled and intelligent midfielder in the centre.

Dynamo Dresden, for instance, does not have individual superior players, however, if one of their fast and skilled offensive players receives the ball between the lines against a taller but slower defender, he has an advantage.

  • Numerical superiority

Numerical superiority is self-explanatory. If you have a numeric advantage it is easier for you to play your way through the defence or score a goal in the box. Because the goalkeeper of the team in possession is more involved than the other goalkeeper, the team in possession naturally has a 11vs10 advantage. All the team in possession has to do is finding the free player by moving the ball intelligently.

Numerical superiority often occurs in a smaller context. For example, in build-up, many teams either use a back-three or a midfielder who drops between the centre-backs in order to create a numerical advantage when they are pressed by two strikers.

Rarely teams play man-against-man in modern football because of the risks a man-vs-man approach has. In modern days era, teams try to close the ballnear space leaving spaces on the far-side open. Therefore, numerical superiority can occur when the team in possession moves the ball quickly enough and finds those spaces.

  • Positional superiority

The third form – and probably most difficult to understand – is positional superiority. Compared to qualitative and numerical superiority, it isn´t quite as visible. To have a positional advantage means to be better positioned than the opponent.

On an individual level, one could imagine the following scene. The team in possession has the ball on the left side, trying to cross it into the box. While the defender has to observe the ball and his opponent constantly, the striker can create a positional advantage by moving on the blind side of the defender, forcing him to either watch the ball or follow his movement. Consequently, once the cross arrives in the box, the striker is in the more advantageous position because he can see his opponent and the ball simultaneously.

This search for superiority should end in being in an advantageous position which either can be via a free man or another form of superiority. Certain tools are necessary in order to create those superiorities, we will identify a few, while analysing specific scenes of Dynamo Dresden. However, at this point we can conclude every team in possession should try to create superiorities because it will lead to more goals.

Furthermore, the tools in order to create superiorities are rather simple, however, the execution is difficult and depends on small details. Although you need technically gifted players, a few guidelines from positional play would help every team, simply because even less skilled players can perform better in advantageous situations. Because one thing is crystal clear, having more time and space makes it easier for every player no matter which level of skill he has.

Positioning and applying pressure

Before I´m going to analyse one scene in detail, a quick introduction into the playing style of Dynamo Dresden. Under their coach Christian Fiel they are using a 5-2-3 formation which transforms into a 3-4-3/3-2-5 in possession with the wingbacks moving high up the pitch.

The structural advantages of Dresden

Because Dresden´s positioning and ball movement is very good, it is hard to press them effectively. On the other hand, Dynamo has several options to advance and create goalscoring opportunities because their build-up is well-structured.

For instance, the ball-near striker would press the LCB using his cover shadow to block the passing lane to the DM. In order to reach the DM nevertheless, Dresden could use the third-man concept. The second striker has to decide whether he wants to stay in his position in order to tighten the centre or press the CB immediately.

Even if the striker presses the CB, the diagonal passing options help the ball carrier to play a pass with the first touch to the DM.

If striker would stay deeper to cover the centre, the CB would still have the option to switch to the far side where the RCB would have space available.

The third possible scenario would be that the striker who pressed first would drop in order to close the passing lane to the left DM of Dresden while the other striker presses the CB. Then, a pass directly back to the LCB would help Dynamo because the LCB would have more space available.

The possibilities of playing through the centre

One could ask himself whether the defensive midfielders of Karlsruhe could simply press the DMs of Dresden. While this is possible, the numerical superiority of Dresden in the centre, gives them multiple other options to progress the ball.

For instance, Dresden focuses on the movement without the ball and constantly uses tools like the third-man concept to free-up a player. In order to use the third-man concept, it is important that the midfielders do not stay on the same horizontal line. Again, diagonal passing lanes offer multiple advantages for the team in possession. Diagonal passes are naturally harder to press because the receiver often faces the opponent´s goal.

In this particular scene, the DM closer to the ball can move higher, creating space between the line of strikers and midfielders of Karlsruhe. Although KSC´s DM can apply pressure immediately, the DM of Dresden can escape this situation with a simple layoff pass. Here, we can see the use of the third-man concept in a simple example in order to get behind the first line of pressure.

The DM who receives the ball, in the end, is in an advantageous situation because he not only has the necessary space to operate but he also faces the opponent´s goal once he receives the ball. Once again, the numerical superiority of Dresden in the centre leads to tremendous advantage. The striker in the yellow-marked space can be reached immediately after the DM receives the ball facing the opponent´s goal. Due to the overload in the last line (Together with the wing-backs, Dresden forms a 5v4 situation) the striker can destabilize the defence with a simple layoff pass if one of the centre-backs is following him.

This leaves the second DM of Karlsruhe in a precarious situation. Either he steps up pressing the DM of Dresden who receives the layoff pass, risking that he is too late and gets overplayed. Or he stays, trying to close the space but leaving the DM of Dresden with time and space in order to plan the next attacking move of the Saxonians. Furthermore, if he tries to press, his timing has to be perfect, if he starts too early, the DM who plays the layoff pass does not have to play that one but rather can use the space. If he is too later, Dresden´s second DM has already too much time controlling the ball.

Positional superiority against a 4-4-2 – the halfspace progression

However, the well-structured build-up of Dresden offers further advantages and routes the ball could travel. Important to add here is that the clear guidelines in positioning are crucial for the success of Dresden in terms of advancing the ball in higher zones.

This situation perfectly shows the positional superiority established by Dynamo. Although, the scene presents a 3v3 situation on the left-side, the positioning of Dresden´s players created different options. If Karlsruhe closes down one, another opens. In fact, this is probably one of the best definitions for superiority. No matter how the defence tries to defend it, the team with the ball just have to choose another route helping them to advance.

“It’s a game of position, not possession! It’s about how you place yourself in relation to the others on the field when you have the ball and where you should be so that you can continue pressing when you lose it.”

– Domènec Torrent, Ex Guardiola Assistant

The positioning of Dresden leads to the positional superiority in this scene. While Karlsruhe defends with two players on the same vertical line, Dresden sets up a triangle leading to diagonal passing options for the centre-back. Therefore, the centre-back has three passing options he can use depending on the movement of the right winger and right-back of Karlsruhe.

First of all, the pass to the wingback is the first option for the left centre-back, however, also the less threatful for the opponent because the wing is naturally a space where the defensive team has the advantage of using the sideline to defend, resulting in isolations for the ball carrier.

Nevertheless, a pass to the wing can be still useful. Especially, when the player occupying that space is positioned high-up the pitch. Then a team faces the trade-off between overplaying a defensive line or gaining more space. Furthermore, a quick change in rhythm can catch the defence out of position. For instance, a pass to the wing could mean an extreme increase of the speed at which the attack is played. When the wingback increases the speed once he receives the ball and the offensive players sprint into depth, the defence can make two mistakes. Either they aren´t able to defend a throughball quickly enough or they fall too fast leaving space in the centre for the defensive midfielders of the team in possession.

Therefore, the defence can´t completely ignore the wingback and only focus on defending the centre. By moving out of position, the right-back or the right winger of KSC can press, however, the positional superiority of Dresden adds a cost to every movement of KSC´s players because it opens other passing lanes.

When the right winger of Karlsruhe (marked red) moves out to press, he has to orient towards the side earlier enough. If not, the wingback of Dresden would have too much time to overplay him. Therefore, the space available for a pass between the lanes to the LW. This is one of the passes regularly observable during Dresden´s build-up.

Once the LW receives the ball he has the advantage because he has the inside line, while the right-back is positioned wider due to the threat provided by the wingback. The ballnear centre-back faces the striker because Dresden has the numerical superiority in the last line. Although he could press the LW, the striker of Dresden would receive more space. Alternatively, the ballnear DM of Karlsruhe could close the passing line. Then it would be most profitable for Dresden to switch to the other side or attack the centre via the CB.

There are several additional options for Dresden when they establish an even superior positioning. Quite often their back-three stays rather flat instead of diagonally. Although, the angle to pass the ball to the DM would be less optimal, Dresden´s halfbacks could hurt the defence even more if they move slightly forward. This position can be established by either advancing with the ball or being already in that position.

Now, the striker of Karlsruhe has a harder time pressing the centre-back effectively because the halfspace is open for a dribbling. Due to the fact that the striker would have to press more from the side, the CB can protect the ball easier.

When the LW of Dresden moves more to the left side and pulls the FB with him, the striker can be a potential passing option for the ball carrier causing issues for KSC while applying pressure which leaves open spaces somewhere else.

Furthermore, once the fullback of Karlsruhe focuses too much on the movement to the sideline in order to press, the LW can always start a run behind the defence and Dresden can use a long ball to hurt the defence. Therefore, several different options to advance arise due to the positional superiority of Dresden in this zone.

Applying pressure and the third-man concept

The first scene against Karlsruhe illustrates why applying pressure by dribbling and passing the ball into tight spaces is crucial. After switching the ball from the left halfspace to the right, their right-centre back moves forward while getting pressed by Karlsruhe´s striker.

Due to the back-three of Dresden and the two central midfielders moving in the channels Karlsruhe struggled to press the build-up effectively. The diagonal passing options created helped Dresden to overplay the first line of pressure. Due to the diagonality in build-up, the strikers couldn´t use their cover shadows effectively. Dresden not only created numerical but also positional superiority due to their positioning and patient ball circulation.

Here, the left centre-back of Dresden was pressed by the right winger of Karlsruhe. Consequently, the switched the ball to the other side to make use of potential open spaces.

Due to two midfielders in the centre, both strikers of KSC had to hold their position in order to close the passing lane into the midfield. Therefore, they could start their run once the ball travelled to the next centre-back which gave Dresden´s players a few seconds to control the ball. This little extra time made the difference between reacting to Karlsruhe´s pressing or actively trying to use the space which was opened due to the higher pressing.

“Positional Play consists of generating superiorities out of the defensive line against those who are pressing you. Everything is much easier when the first progression of the ball is clean.”

– Juan Manuel Lillo

As we could see, Dresden already created numerical superiority in the first line, according to Juan Manuel Lillo – one of the teachers of Pep Guardiola – crucial in order to attack effectively.

Furthermore, the centre-back moved aggressively forward with the ball once the striker tried to press him. By doing this, the centre-back draws not only attention towards him but also put pressure on the defence. Because at one point they have to press him, consequently their attention was drawn towards him leaving his teammates open.

Besides the action taken by the right centre-back, the structure of Dresden gave the ball carrier enough passing options. Although, the DM was hardly reachable due to the pressure applied by the striker, the centre-back had still the option to pass it wide or to look for the striker between the lines.

The right wingback was the obvious option, consequently, the midfielders focused on pressing Patrick Ebert – on the right. Here, another important point Dresden does well in general. Due to their balanced structure, they are able to move the opponent which opens holes in the defence.

Dynamo Dresden does this in particular very well, it´s not about the movement of the ball. Moving the ball is only a tool in order to move the opponent. By doing this, you force them to constantly adjust their position which leads to mistakes made over the course of 90 minutes.

“The objective is to move the opponent, not the ball.”

— Pep Guardiola

Moreover, the objective of positional play is to break through opponents’ lines. In this example, Dresden executed this thought nicely. Instead of passing the ball out wide and giving the opponent the possibility to press with the help of the sideline, the right centre-back plays a great pass between the lines to the striker. The fact that Karlsruhe had to shift to their left-side helped opening that space. The winger of Karlsruhe speculated whether the pass would be played to the wing, while the defensive midfielder oriented towards Dresden´s defensive midfielder. Consequently, the passing lane to the striker opened.

Because of the pass between the lines, Dresden applied pressure. This is another crucial principle of positional play. Sometimes you have to apply pressure by passing the ball in dangerous spaces in order to open room somewhere else.

As a consequence, the defence of Karlsruhe tried to press and taking advantage of the situational overload in the red marked space. However, the positioning of the striker allowed him to use several routes in order to hurt the defence. For one, his diagonal body position allowed him to turn around quickly and use the space behind the centre-back.

Important to add here is that it is the ball-far centre-back who had to follow the striker, therefore, he was diagonally behind, and the striker had the advantage to turn in either diagonal direction without giving the centre-back a possibility of intercepting.

The reason why the ball-far centre-back had to push out was the numerical superiority Dresden created by pushing the wingbacks high up the pitch. As a consequence, the left-back of KSC had to defend the RWB while the RW of Dynamo was able to occupy the ball-near CB.

Another advantage of the numerical superiority for Dresden was the space created on the far-side. Interestingly, the KSC midfielder who pushed forward to press the back-three didn´t cover his position properly giving the LCB a tone of space on the left.

Therefore, the striker of Dresden had three options to hurt the defence applying the third man concept. Both would make use of the numerical superiority Dresden created. Either he plays a layoff pass to the DM who could easily switch to the left side (blue space), or the striker would try to play the throughball to the right winger and therefore taking advantage of the space opened. Also, the left winger performed a diagonal run offering another option while simultaneously opening space on the left. The third option would be to start a dribbling and disbalance they defender who tried to press him.

The last option named could be a perfect example for qualitative superiority. The CB was taller and slower and less mobile than the attacker, thus, giving the striker the advantage of acceleration and agility. He could simply use the speed of the CB to unbalance him by quickly turning in one direction with the perfect timing.

However, the numerical superiority in the last line can have one major disadvantage in this situation. Only two players can apply pressure immediately after losing the ball while Karlsruhe has more players to play out of that situation. Furthermore, the high position of the right centre-back offers KSC open space to play a long ball into. One of the weaknesses of Dresden so far this season.


This scene should show you how many possibilities and advantages arise from a more structured approach with the ball, especially adapting the principles of positional play. Those once like creating superiorities, using switches to move the opponent or incorporating the third-man concept into the build-up can be extremely valuable for every team.

Of course, it always depends on the quality of the players. If you only have physical strong but technical weak players, this approach is probably inferior to one focused on long balls and winning the duels to gain the second ball. However, even in the lowest leagues, a better structure and clear guidelines in possession can help every player. In the end, football is always about time and space. Everything is easier when you have time and space to control a ball and make a decision.