Knowing Pep Guardiola's level of footballing intelligence, we thoroughly trust his judgement. However, within the commentary surrounding what Atletico did on the day to achieve a result, as an undoubtedly all-out defensive approach, the 5-5-0 has become overstated - almost as a metric for evaluating Atletico's solidity. In actuality, the 5-5-0 rarely ever took centre stage.
A little over a week ago, we asked you to give us your top of the line ideas on how to stop the long-ball specialist. Every single professional team has at least one of these players in their side, yet it remains a relatively undiscussed discourse. When you take into account the inherently unattractive dogma surrounding the notion of a long-ball ravaging through the beautiful game, there's even greater negative connotations toward something that in reality, is incredibly elegant. So with that, here is our analysis as to how to stop the long-ball specialist, with your answers intermixed along the way.
After the departure of Nuno Espirito Santo at the end of last season, Wolverhampton Wanderers hoped their next manager would have the gusto to turn the club back into a Europa League challenging team. While Bruno Lage wasn't the flashiest of appointments, the Portuguese manager has surpassed fan expectations, turning Wolves into one of the best defensive units in the league. Despite scoring just 14 goals in 19 league games, Wolves sit 8th place in the table, on 28 points. That in large part is due to the excellent tactical balance of Bruno Lage's team, their sound defensive structure, and the fact that every single player has completely bought into his ideologies. Here is a tactical analysis all about Bruno Lage's Wolves.
Antonio Conte's Spurs, as expected, have gotten off to a flying start. Conte's team have gone unbeaten in their eight Premier League matches so far, playing some fantastic, easy on the eye football in the process. The variety in their attacking play has helped the team to 14 goals in 8 matches, with just 5 conceded in the process. In our recent analysis of Conte's team, we posited that the team only had one key dilemma to solve - what to do against low-blocks who want to sit very deep against them. As opposition teams sort Tottenham out, Conte's quest to combat the low-block appears to be growing all the more difficult by the match. They failed to claim victory against 10-man Southampton earlier in the week, and yesterday had to wait until stoppage time for Davinson Sanchez's winner. So with that, we take a quick look at how teams like Antonio Conte's can disrupt a low-block and generate scoring chances, taking examples from Spurs' own 1-0 victory against Watford at the weekend.
Nobody gave Sweden a chance at this summer's Euros prior to the tournament beginning, and even now after topping their group they will likely continue to be underestimated. But the Swedes have been more than defensively solid enough to demonstrate that they could have what it takes to challenge even Europe's elite at this tournament. Here is our tactical analysis of Sweden at Euro 2020.
One of the main problems facing big teams nowadays is the deep-block, because of the lack of capabilities of most other teams by comparison. Smaller clubs often resort to the deep-block as a solution in their matches against the big teams, and therefore, coaches need to find a solution to this dilemma that they face in many matches.
Over the past decade, the emphasis on attacking play in the beautiful game has grown and grown. Coaches and fans are increasingly more excited about the attacking moments of the game, rather than defensive moments. Defending has become an afterthought, and teams that set up to defend are often deemed "boring" and "dinosaurs" by fans around the world. But defending remains an integral component to the modern game, and often it can be seen that teams with the better defense structures (Atletico, Manchester City, etc.) often win more football matches.
Sean Dyche's Burnley have managed to stay in the Premier League for five seasons in a row now, even reaching the Europa League in 2017-18. Despite that, many providing commentary over the game consistently pick the Clarets as favourites to go down each and every single season. In reality, Burnley never look in any danger of going down. This season it appears as though it's going to be another one in which Sean Dyche's men will steer clear of the drop with relative ease. Dyche's men play a gritty, unconventional brand of football, and their resilient 4-4-2 low-block has troubled even the best of teams and managers. Most recently, they became the first side to win at Anfield for over a thousand days. Here is an updated tactical analysis of Sean Dyche's Burnley, their tried and tested 4-4-2 system and their compact, long-ball style of play in 2020-21.
Sheffield United were one of the most impressive sides in the Premier League last season, in their first season back in the top flight for over a decade. With overlapping centre-backs and a highly rigid 3-5-2 formation, Chris Wilder's side were one of the most exciting and tactically intriguing sides to watch in 2019-20. With the fantastic performances of the squad as a whole, Sheffield United finish in 9th place last season, winning or drawing 26 of their 38 games. Perhaps most impressively of all, they conceded just 39 goals, the fourth lowest total in the league. After their fantastic performances, nobody would have expected them to struggle this badly in 2020-21. It could have been predicted that without Dean Henderson and Jack O'Connell they might compete in a relegation battle this time around, but nobody predicted them to be one of the worst sides in Premier League history. As things stand, Sheffield United are heading towards the lowest points total in the history of the league, and currently hold a Premier League record for longest winless run. Chris Wilder's side have been bad to say the least, and this Tactical Analysis will attempt to uncover exactly what has gone wrong for the Blades this season. Here is our Tactical Analysis all about Chris Wilder's Sheffield United in 2020-21.