The advantages of having a player who doesn’t defend

We often look at a player who doesn't defend as a detractor. Players are told from a young age that they must defend, regardless of their position on the field. In many respects, this is true. But when you get to the professional level, roles can evolve in novel ways, and even incorporate a player who has limited defensive responsibility. It was refreshing to see two teams so clearly implementing a tactic around their attack-minded superstars at the 2022 World Cup, simply by having them prioritize the attacking side of the game. With that, I wanted to provide a potential argument into why having this type of tactic can actually be a valuable feature to a team going forward, without ruining their chances in defense.

France 3-1 Poland – Match Analysis – 2022 World Cup

Even despite six of their potential pre-tournament starters now missing, France continue to be one of the most electric sides at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Supercharged by the vibrancy in attack of Kylian Mbappé and masterfully supported by Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud - France's front four quartet work together wonderfully to bring out the best in one another. The French put on a dominant display on Sunday, rolling to a rollicking 3-0 win over the Poles in the Round of 16. Here is our match analysis.

Game of Numbers #10 – Thuram’s Tormenting Transitions

Daniel Farke's men completely outclassed Dortmund on the break, particularly via the use of quick play through the vertical channels. The man that led that entire process was none other than Marcus Thuram - who recently featured in our 'Direct Goal-Scorer' breakdown. Thuram's a quintessential model of the role, as someone who constantly endeavours to run behind an opposition defense. He's the first outlet in transition, and this makes him absolutely integral to the team given that much of Monchengladbach's brilliance this season has come on the counter. Combine that with Dortmund's own problems at the back and the strange omission of their best transitional warrior, and Edin Terzic set his team up for a disaster.

Dortmund 3-0 Copenhagen – Match Analysis

Edin Terzic has enjoyed a positive start to the season, even despite some of the kinks in the system clearly still being worked out. Dortmund have lost just one game since the start of the campaign, achieving six wins and one draw in the process. No clearer have their principles of play come to life under Terzic this season than against FC Copenhagen, where the Black & Yellows picked up three points in their first UEFA Champions League match of the season. Here is our analysis of Dortmund's big win.

Breaking down the phases of the game

Chances are, if you're getting into tactics and analysis, you've heard the word "phase" or "moment" to describe the events that transpire across a football match. But what are these so-called "phases"? As part of our Intro to Football Analysis course, we break it all down. This article will give you a sneak-preview into the course, set to be launched in Fall 2022. Here's everything you need to know about the various phases of the beautiful game, and how compartmentalizing the game in this manner can allow you to achieve greater success in your analysis.

UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Final – England 2-1 Germany – Match Analysis

England have finally done it. For the first time since 1966, England have won a major international tournament. Sarina Wiegman's team have been the undeniable best team at this summer's Euros, conceding just 2 goals, and scoring 22 in the process. After a hard-fought battle with Germany in the final, England came out as deserved winners of the tournament, but not without the help of their mighty substitutes. Here is our analysis of the match, and the brilliance of England all summer long.

Atletico Ottawa vs. Valour FC – Tactical Preview

Atletico Ottawa have caught the eye at the start of this season, as the most tactically intriguing team in the league. Carlos Gonzalez's team achieved two back to back wins to start the campaign, playing different formations in and out of possession. Valour have a mammoth task as a result, and need to hit top gear in finding Moses Dyer early on in moves. Here is our tactical analysis.

Pacific FC vs. Halifax Wanderers FC – Tactical Preview

No team in the Canadian Premier League has enjoyed a stronger start to the season than Pacific FC. James Merriman's team have been a well-oiled machine through and through, with a front four firing on all cylinders, and a cast and crew working behind the scenes to best support their fluidity up front. Not only have Pacific had a successful start from a team perspective, but as individuals working to serve one another within Merriman's 4-1-4-1. Here is our tactical preview of Pacific's match against HFX Wanderers FC.

How Crystal Palace shocked Arsenal – Match Analysis

Under the influence of Patrick Vieira, Crystal Palace have put on a show this season, beating several of the league's most formidable sides. Shock wins against Manchester City and Nuno's Spurs will live long in the memory of Palace fans, but few of their performances can top this past weekend, when they creamed Mikel Arteta's … Continue reading How Crystal Palace shocked Arsenal – Match Analysis

How Southampton’s attacking transitions vary between phases of the game

After a slow start to the season, Southampton are one of the in-form Premier League teams at the moment. Fielding a 4-2-2-2 on paper, the Saints recently picked up unexpected points against some of the league's biggest hitters - Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester United. Results in tow, Southampton’s implementation of quick and progressive attacking transitions have them climbing the league table, playing with a distinct style and groove.

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. 

Borussia Dortmund 5-2 Eintracht Frankfurt – Tactical Analysis – Marco Rose’s First Game

Borussia Dortmund got off to a flying start in their opening matchday fixture against Eintracht Frankfurt, with Oliver Glasner's side looking completely out of sorts. Marco Rose's men on the other hand completely took the game to Frankfurt, with Haaland, Reus and co. in full flow. Here is our tactical analysis of Dortmund's first match and all the wonders they accomplished.

Train of Thought – How rewarding one-touch goals can improve players’ dribbling

The mental side of the beautiful game is at least as important as the physical side, but is often neglected by coaches in training sessions. In this series, Travis Norsen, author of Play With Your Brain, will discuss small tweaks to standard training exercises and the large positive effects they can have on players’ decision-making and soccer intelligence. This week, Travis explores how rewarding one-touch goals can improve players' dribbling.