The 4-4-2 Pitfall Evident in Sampdoria vs Napoli [Quick Take]

As often discussed, the 4-4-2 is both a classic and still highly utilized formation in football, benefited by clear roles and a simple structure. However, it is also a setup that risks a fair deal of overexposure. The recent match between Napoli and Sampdoria evidences this balance to perfection.

For the first portion of the game, Sampdoria dominated possession and dictated tempo. With crisp forward-back-forward passing often culminating in dangerous crosses, the hosts looked the more likely side to score. Napoli, once having won the ball back in their defensive third, were principally limited to long passes to (or towards) their center forward, sent in with an obvious disclaimer that supporting attackers would be sparse and slow to catch up. Despite this, Victor Osimhen linked up well with Insigne and found the opener. But it was the tactical drift that occurred next which ushered in the ultimate, not-so-close-after all 4-0 score line.

As stated, for the first portion of the match, Napoli were starting their attack from deep within their own half and Sampdoria’s back line took up high positions to try and contain them. Napoli settled for hopeful long balls which most often resulted in a change in possession and yet another wave of Sampdoria attacking pressure. But as the half dragged on, Napoli gradually increased their possession in the middle third of the field. And by the half hour mark, Napoli’s 4-3-3 was finally able to assume its attacking shape; Sampdoria did not condense their 4-4-2 defensive shape well enough in response, catalyzing their collapse. As Napoli passed and moved, the space between Sampdoria lines grew, which we see quite clearly in the second goal: a simple pass from Napoli goalkeeper to a remarkably unmarked advanced midfielder cut between Sampdoria midfielders and defenders with ease and kicked off a brief but effective attacking sequence… 2-0. Napoli’s two other goals boasted similar properties, as the play between lines quickly became too much for Sampdoria to slow or close down.

Ultimately, this is the risk of a 4-4-2. The flat lines, though wonderfully spring-loaded in possession, can be broken and bypassed by composed, skillful opposition. Most sides employing a 4-4-2 compensate for this risk by condensing the space they must defend as significantly as possible, either setting up shop in their own defensive third (“parking the bus” so to speak) or opting for a high press (which may look a little like an “offside trap”). As seen in the quintessential case of Napoli vs Sampdoria, failure to do so can result in scoreboard catastrophe.


Fox in the Box – Mastermind Monthly Magazine – September 2021

In this month’s edition…

-> RB Leipzig 6-0 Hertha Berlin – Tactical Analysis
-> How Ruben Dias Became City Captain
-> Why left-sidedness exists in football
-> All episodes of the Longball Preview Show
-> All episodes of Futbol Masterminds
-> Top 100 Footballers of September 2021
-> Q&A

TheMastermindSite.com
MONthly magazine

Fox in the Box
September 2021

Read the full September issue here.



more quick takes with jeremy barnes

The Flag-Bearers of Football Formations – October 2021 – Quick Take

Although we all love the beautiful game, we may watch for different reasons. Some tune in as a family tradition. Others for personal or professional interest. And still others purely for the sake of entertainment. Here, today, I hope to add one more reason to your list if it’s there already: watch to learn. Specifically, to learn how a football club compiles individual contributions of skill, athleticism, intelligence, and desire, and stations those facets of the game for collective success. This is my working definition of football tactics inherent to formations. 

Quick Take: Tottenham’s tactical tweaks are a subtle genre switch

Tottenham Hotspur are a team in transition. And with all the surrounding newness, it’s easy to expect (or, in some cases, hope for) complete novelty, an immediate replacement of old, bad habits and tendencies with new, good ones. Unfortunately, this forecast is more fanciful than fair. Tottenham Hotspur are a team in transition. And with all the surrounding newness, it’s easy to expect (or, in some cases, hope for) complete novelty, an immediate replacement of old, bad habits and tendencies with new, good ones. Unfortunately, this forecast is more fanciful than fair. Squad rebuilds are a function of two factors working in dichotomy: time and money. The greater one becomes, the lesser the other can be. In this way, football clubs with immediate access to financial capital can regenerate a squad in short order. For everyone else, it takes time. But even as a slow reconstruction in progress, managers can face significant pressure in the form of tactics reimagined. Realistically, teaching and optimizing a new system of play takes additional time and risks subpar performance in the interim, while simple replication of previous methods will surely be seen as short-sighted redundancy. Into this predictable but unfortunate conundrum stepped Nuno Espirito Santo, a manager who recently traded Wolves’ black and yellow for Spurs’ white and blue. 

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What Newcastle fans can expect of Paulo Fonseca and his tactics

After sacking Steve Bruce on October 19, it appears that Newcastle United are now inching closer to selecting their next manager. With Paulo Fonseca still, shockingly, out of a job following a successful year with Roma last year, Newcastle are taking heavy interest in bringing the highly touted manager into their ranks. So with that, we take a look at what Paulo Fonseca could bring to Newcastle and why the move could be exactly what Newcastle fans have been calling out for.

Bundesliga 2021-22 Matchday 8 – Tactical Review

The Bundesliga continues to entertain as ever, with intriguing tactics, goals galore, and surprising results. Matchday 8 saw Bayern smash Leverkusen to shreds, Freiburg secure another key result over a Leipzig side still struggling to find form, and Wolfsburg lose again, this time at the hands of high-flying Union Berlin. Here is our tactical analysis of some of the key matches.

Julian Nagelsmann – Bayern Munich – Tactical Analysis

Since taking charge of Bayern Munich, Julian Nagelsmann has only carried on his fantastic managerial reputation, with the Bavarians winning six of their opening eight matches. In that time they’ve scored a whopping 29 goals, playing an incredibly effective and attractive brand of football. Here is a tactical analysis of Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern Munich in 2021-22.

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