Saturday, September 3, 2016

Counter attacking with possession

Building from the back AKA Salir Jugando AKA La Salida Lavolpiana




For me, there are two types of coaches - reactive and proactive.
Those who respond to some unanticipated event only after it occurs and those who are designed to anticipate possible challenges. Those who deal less in creation than destruction and those who deal in ideals not in countering those of others.



That leads us to two major footballing styles, ideologies, philosophies. Whatever you wanna call them. 
Reactive teams take defending as their starting point. First priority is not to concede goals and defend as a compact unit. They allow opponent to have possession. Ball movement causes a player to react and move in a certain direction, which in turn affects every other movement and possible option on the pitch from there on in. When the opponent loses the ball, the reactive team try to strike on the counter attack. 
Proactive teams take attacking as the starting point and their first priority is to have possession. Their playing style and team organisation is attuned to put opponent under pressure so that they will make defensive mistakes. The goal is to find numerical superiority. To find the free man (3rd man) by moving the ball, positioning, or player movement.



I've always preferred proactive style of football. Xavi has said 'The one who has the ball, is the master of the game' You can always be inventive and be the creator of your own success. Counter attacking football has always been synonymous with reactive football. But in Barcelona's latest game against Athletic Club they did something wonderful and the same time paradoxical. They had possession, but at the same time they played counter attacking football. How is that possible? The answer lies in Ricardo La Volpe. 


Building from the back (Salir jugando in spanish) is something Ricardo La Volpe practiced with his teams since 90's, most notably with the Mexico national team in 2006 world cup. In 2005-06 Guardiola played at Dorados de Sinaloa under Juanma Lillo, during a time when the Catalan coach could approach building from the back, salida lavolpiana. He brought that style with him to Barcelona in 2008 and made it famous. Today almost every team in Spain use this, some more, some less. 

What made the Athletic game so special was that Ter Stegen made (62) and completed (51) passes. Most from any goalkeeper in a La Liga game since 05/06. And just two of them went past the half way line. 



 









Two proactive teams faced each other. One had the ball and the other wanted the ball. Barcelona knew that Athletic would come at them, pressure really high, force them into making mistakes and try to beat them with their own game. But Barca went one step ahead. Inventive. They had the ball, so they are the masters of the game. What Barca did was that they said come at us, pressure us high, but we are not afraid. We know our technical abilities, we have other plans. We invite you to our own third, which means your defense will be on the half way line. If we can overcome the first and second line of pressure by using those 4 following tactics below, we are through. We have space and time then, just like a counter attacking team would have when they sit deep and start a counter attack as soon as they get the ball. 


There was four ways Barcelona played from the back against Athletic and try to break it down.



11 comments:

  1. Hi Allas. Great article and videos as usual. I find the concept of the 12th man quite interesting. Would you mind elaborating? Thanks.

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    1. thanks for noticing it. it's 11th actually, not 12th I changed it, I made a mistake. 11th man is the goalkeeper and they use it as an outfield player. thus it's 11v10 and they can find numerical superiority once someone comes to press the goalkeeper.

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    2. Thanks. Makes better sense now. Find the free man in possession/in between the opponents lines is the goal of positional play.

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  2. The article is so demonstrative....i am a Barcelona fan but this article helps me to see their game in a completely new light.....post more articles like this.................

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  3. superb analysis allas. you elaborated it really well. - chiu-

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  4. Great analysis. Much credits to Lucho for this possessive-counterattack style. The role of Ter Stegen is very important & I think he is gonna thrive as he will be getting more games to play. However, it will be interesting to see how they will camouflage the tactics against the teams who decide to not cross the half line mark & park a ship.

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    1. I will be interesting; hopefully ter Stegen acting as a sweeper will be helpful here, too, in pushing up the lines and picking up long balls quickly. Apart from that, we hopefully have the firepower to find a way through the packed defences; we did, mostly, for two years now. Adding Alcacer, and Gomez (hight) adds to the muscle. With Umtiti we also have another aerial threat, apart from Piqué and Suarez.

      Thanks for a fantastic overview of their strategy, Allas! Very elucidating.

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  5. Very good analysis and well illustrated. By sucking the opponent forward you create the space behind them. But this tactic won't work if you are losing 0-1 and the opponent is defending deep.
    Then you must play the high pressing game.
    Thank you for the analysis.

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  6. Waited for a long time to see your new upload. Great to see you back again, champ. Keep it coming.

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  7. I have so much respect for you man you just don't know. Just keep it coming.

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