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…

Tactical Thinker: Relegated stars that should stay in the Premier League next season

Norwich and Watford made 2021-22 a notoriously bad season for the Premier League’s bottom two clubs. Luckily, the fight away from the final relegation spot ended full of entertainment and intrigue, with Everton, Leeds and Burnley battling it out to stay alive. Ultimately, the Clarets would succumb to relegation on the final day, even despite a late push under new management. Now with Burnley, Norwich and Watford heading down to the Championship, we asked you to conjure up the names of the players you think should stay in the Premier League in 2022-23. We received a multitude of responses from our readership, and these were the most common names to hit the board, and the clubs that could be best suited for their signatures.

Tactical Thinker: Which relegated stars are set to stay in the Prem?

After the conclusion of the Premier League season and the subsequent relegations of Norwich, Watford and Burnley, we ask you to conjure up the players that you would keep in the Premier League next season. Whether it’s likely to happen or not, we want to know who you would take at your club next season, or who you think would excel at a Premier League team in 2022-23. Answer our latest Tactical Thinker below!

Picking the 2021-22 PFA Team of the Year

It’s that time of year! In this week’s Tactical Thinker, we asked you to name your PFA Team of the Year, as though you were one of the pros making the difficult selection. After a countless number of responses, we compile the top eleven players as voted by our own stack of pros – you, the readers. Here is our PFA Team of the Year, from the TMS community.

Tactical Thinker: Picking the PFA Team of the Year

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.

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