Tactical Thinker: How to stop the long-ball specialist…

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In all the discussion about tiki taka, possession-based, beautiful football, long passes often get a bad reputation. However, long passes can be extremely effective, and the best teams in the world know how to intermix both short and long passes into their build-up, in order to effectively break down the opposition. The likes of Ederson at Man City, Joshua Kimmich at Bayern Munich and Mats Hummels at Borussia Dortmund frequently utilize long passes to unlock the opposition’s defense, giving their team a different edge from all the possession-based football. While these players may not be your traditional ‘number 10’ playmakers, they play a vital role in creating chances for their team and kickstarting attacks. So with that, today we ask the next question in our Tactical Thinker series. How do you stop the long-ball specialist?

Do you pressure a long-pass maestro and force them into errors? Do you sit back and wait for the long-pass? How do you balance the line in between the two? Share your answers via the form below, and be on the lookout for the follow-up article, where we’ll share the very best answers and give our take.


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Here are some of our favourite long-ball specialists to study before giving your answer…

-> Ederson Moraes – Manchester City
-> Joshua Kimmich – Bayern Munich
-> Mats Hummels – Borussia Dortmund
-> Paul Pogba – Manchester United
-> Pablo Aguilar – Cruz Azul
-> Presnel Kimpembe – PSG
-> Rodri – Manchester City
-> Marcelo Brozovic – Inter Milan
-> Virgil Van Dijk – Liverpool
-> Jorginho – Chelsea


MORE FROM OUR TACTICAL THINKER SERIES…

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This past weekend, Mohamed Salah claimed the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year, with more individual awards soon to follow. Individual awards are fraught with controversy within a team sport that relies on all eleven players working in tandem, and sometimes fail to acknowledge those that didn’t do the flashy bits on a football pitch, but performed like their lives depended on it week in and week out. On both accounts, that’s what often makes the Team of the Year an intriguing award to follow. When it comes to the PFA Team of the Year, it becomes all the more fascinating to see who the pros themselves had the most difficult time playing against this season, and who they felt deserved to be remembered for their role in making the 2021-22 season special. So with that, we ask you to pick your PFA Team of the Year, if you were one of the pros.

The best young players outside of Europe’s top five leagues in 2021-22

We take a look at the six best (or the six most submitted) young players outside of Europe’s top five leagues, who have been catching the eye in 2021-22. But not only that! We also take a deep dive into the discussion vaults, describing where each of our youngsters could end up next season, both in stylistic fit and reported rumours.

Solving Manchester United’s defensive concerns

It’s no secret. Manchester United are struggling defensively right now, despite having very capable players all over the pitch. In David De Gea, they have one of the best goalkeepers in the world. In Lindelof and Maguire, the Red Devils have a defensive pairing that spearheaded one of the league’s sturdiest defensive structures last season, and led a Europa League charge. Ahead of them, they have two defensive warriors in Fred and McTominay, who will never be world beaters, but are very competent in what they offer. Despite that, Ralf Rangnick’s team have conceded 10 goals in their last 5 games, floundering under the German’s style of play. So what’s amiss?

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