Game of Numbers – #2 – Walker & Cancelo Back Where They Belong

Leave it to Manchester City to always be doing something interesting from a tactical perspective. Tactics were bound to change at the Ethiad with a new striker entering the door. City even made strides to accommodate Erling Haaland by purchasing yellow shirts for everybody. But the real tactical change against West Ham United came out from the back, with the re-emergence of an old City favourite that quietly died down in 2021-22. In large part, Bernardo Silva's 'Bernardo Silva Role' meant that the City fullbacks were responsible for inverting less in build-up phases, as the Portuguese playmaker drifted toward the ball to help the Citizens break through central corridors instead.

Game of Numbers – #1 – Lucas Paqueta & The Bernardo Silva Role

In our latest analysis series: Game of Numbers, we break down the various tactical undertones of the modern game, most notably the roles that individual players hold on the pitch to help their teams explore avenues for greatness. Positions are often broken down into 'numbers' to describe the areas of the field that a player may operate. This series aims to illustrate the ever-changing, fluid nature of those roles, and the ways in which various footballing teams may use the same players in the same roles to completely different effect. This is Issue No. 1, featuring the following: Lucas Paquetá & The 'Bernardo Silva Role', Joachim Andersen's 'Quarterback' Role vs. Arsenal, and Musiala's Masterclass vs. Eintracht Frankfurt.

Keira Walsh – Player Analysis

Keira Walsh is brilliant. You know it. I know it. And thanks to the Women's European Championships, the whole world knows it too. In today's masterclass, I dissect that brilliance in a long-form Player Analysis, helping you and I come to a greater understanding of how you too can play (or coach) with the brilliance of Keira Walsh. Here is our analysis.

Explaining the Deep-Lying Playmaker – Player Role Analysis

The 'Deep-Lying Playmaker' is one of the already attributed player types that we have adopted within our system. Also known by its Italian name 'Regista', the 'DLP' is tasked with setting the tempo of the match from build up to progression, all the way to creation. They sit in front of the defensive line as an 'Anchor', but hold a more offensive, progressive and possession-oriented role than the other two 'number 6' types within our 'Anchor' persona. Their role is in both helping create space between the lines, and then breaking lines, recycling play, or even changing the point of attack upon receiving the ball, so that their team can advance up the pitch, beat an opposition's press and seek spaces closer to goal.

Explaining the Anchor – Player Role Analysis

Anchors tend to play at the base of a midfield three, holding the midfield together, and allowing others to work their magic up ahead. Their role is in both screening in front of the defense to disallow progressive passes forward, particularly into the opposition's striker, and to 'anchor' the midfield by holding everything together as other members step out of position or drift into the half-spaces. Unlike the 'Midfield Destroyer' they do not need to be overly active in defensive phases on sheer statistical contributions, but should be equally active on the hard work done off the ball to shift, shuffle and slide with the play.

Explaining the Midfield Destroyer – Player Role Analysis

The 'Midfield Destroyer' continues to be alive and well in the modern game, and encapsulates some of the most highly regarded and sought after defensive midfielders on the planet. The 'Destroyer' is essential to defending in transition and stunting attacks before the opposition reach the final third, within the wider umbrella of 'Anchoring' the midfield and screening in front of the back-line. Casemiro and Yves Bissouma would qualify as some of the best around, with Óscar Valentín and Benjamin André performing as two other fantastic emblems of the fearless persona behind the 'Midfield Destroyer' player type.

How Cavalry’s staggered shape stunned Edmonton – Match Analysis

The Cavs started the season in a 3-4-2-1 formation, suffering two embarrassing losses to York and Atletico, and a stagnant draw against Forge. After realizing the slow-moving car wasn't quite motoring the way he wanted it to, even despite the gas pedal being pressed, Wheeldon Jr. was right to identify a new vehicle. Now in a flexible 4-4-2 shape, Cavalry have been utterly dominant in both of their matches since, both in and out of possession. On this particular occasion, they completely stunted Edmonton's progress going forward, and massively exploited space in exactly the right areas through staggering their personnel across the pitch. Here is a quick tactical analysis of Cavalry's commanding 3-0 win over FC Edmonton.

Why Bruno Guimaraes is being tracked by Europe’s elite

These days, every single club in the world is in search of a top quality defensive midfielder, either to provide back-up to an already existing world star, or to transform their team in completely new ways. It seems inevitable that players like Declan Rice or Yves Bissouma will make a step up to one of Europe's elite clubs soon, but another lesser known name that's been catching the eye this season is Olympique Lyonnais' Bruno Guimaraes. Here is an analysis of why the Brazilian is turning heads, and why he should be on the radar of every single top club in Europe.

Matteo Guendouzi – Tactical Analysis

One of the more impressive Premier League players this season and just about the only Arsenal player who's made an impression, Matteo Guendouzi is enjoying some of his best football at the moment with Arsenal. The 20-year old French midfielder certainly has his best days still ahead of him, but already looks to be a … Continue reading Matteo Guendouzi – Tactical Analysis

Coaching the 3-2-3 (9v9)

Over the past year of coaching 9v9 soccer, the 3-2-3 has become my favourite formation to use. I am a firm believer that the formation of any team should not be based around a club identity or a coach's personal style of play, but rather based around the team's style of play and the personnel of the team. However, I have found that the 3-2-3 is fantastic in suiting nearly every type of player and the simple and easy variations that can be created using the formation such as shifting into a 3-1-3-1, allow coaches to tweak and change their style of play to fit the needs of the vast majority of youth soccer players.

4-3-3 vs. 4-1-4-1: Tactical Flexibility

In the post 4-4-2 era, teams all over the world play a variety of different formations. These formations change game by game or even within games, so it is becomingly increasingly difficult to nail professional teams down to just one single formation. That being said, two of the most popular formations in the world right now are the tactically flexible 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1, both of which have been used heavily by Pep Guardiola throughout his career. Ultimately the formation has to suit the players that you have and their developmental, psychological and physiological characteristics. But the 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1 are two very similar formations. The 4-1-4-1 is perhaps a little more physically demanding and tactically complex, while the 4-3-3 is perhaps more rooted in wing-play and the collaboration of the midfield triangle. Although these formations are very similar, they can offer a team a completely different dynamic, depending on how a manger or coach wants to implement them. 

The Rise of the 3-1-4-2

In terms of formations and tactics, one of the major surprises of the 2018-19 season in Europe has been the rise of the 3-1-4-2. Although the formation is only a very minor spin on the popular 3-5-2, seemingly a host of teams around Europe have implemented this formation, and not just in Italy where back-three … Continue reading The Rise of the 3-1-4-2

Playing in a Midfield Three

In the post 4-4-2 era, the 4-3-3 is one of the world's most popular formations. Not only is it attack-minded but it is inherently possession-based by providing an extra man in central midfield. That is one of the prime reasons why a midfield three has become the first choice of many managers around the world. … Continue reading Playing in a Midfield Three