The knockout stage of an international tournament always serves as an emphatic reminder of what we all would claim to know: even the best laid plans can prove insufficient over the course of 90 minutes of football. And while the team who keeps their shape is often assumed to be in the ascendancy, adaptation undoubtedly preempts success; that is to say, some of the greatest examples of tactical prowess in sport are evidenced when the first blink leads to the last laugh. For instance, during their Euro 2020 round of 16 clash versus Wales, Denmark employed at least THREE different formations, modifications which ultimately tipped the result in their favor. Here, we take a closer look at the incentive and effect behind each change.
Recently, I did a second Aston Villa Tactical Analysis discussing how Dean Smith's side went from narrowly escaping relegation in 2019-20 to now being genuine contenders for the Europa League in time for next season. The same could be said of West Ham United. Although David Moyes' side escaped relegation by a greater margin, they've also been better than Villa by a narrow margin again this season, just in a much different place in the table for both. Like Aston Villa, West Ham United are also contenders for a place in next season's Europa League with their performances in the league in 2020-21. With Villa being one of their top challengers for a top six finish, doing the double over the Lions has also boasted well for the Hammers as they go into the final third of the season. Here is a tactical analysis of West Ham United since they shifted from a 5-4-1/3-4-3 formation to a 4-2-3-1.
In all the uncertainty over managing a football team these days, Christian Streich is one of the longest serving managers in Bundesliga history. The now 55-year old coach took over Freiburg in 2011 following a role as the team's assistant coach for four years, and remains the top man in charge to this day. Over the past weekend, Streich achieved one of his team's most formidable results ever, beating Borussia Dortmund for the very first time since he joined the club. Freiburg now sit 8th in the table, with the European places certainly within reach. Here is a Tactical Analysis of Christian Streich's SC Freiburg.
After missing out on Champions League football on the final day of the 2019-20 season, many might have thought Leicester City's early season form of last year might just have been a stroke of good fortune and nothing more. But their stellar play has continued at the start of 2020-21 and other than a few disappointing losses to West Ham and Aston Villa, the Foxes have been flying high to start this campaign. After eight matches, Brendan Rodgers' side sit top of the table, with six wins so far. Significantly, they've experimented with different formations and a host of different, less luxurious players in the absence of talents like Ricardo Pereira, Wilfred Ndidi, James Maddison and of course Ben Chilwell, who left for Chelsea. Their impressive form after missing out on Champions League football last year definitely deserves further examination, so here is our early season tactical analysis of Brendan Rodgers' Leicester City in 2020-21.