How to stop the long-ball specialist

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.

Tactical Thinker: How to stop the long-ball specialist…

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?

Why Wout Weghorst is perfect for Burnley

Without Chris Wood, Burnley seemed destined for relegation in 2021-22. Sean Dyche has done brilliantly to keep the Clarets in England's top flight for nearly a decade now, but this season has not gone as planned, and COVID interruptions have caused them to play the fewest amount of games so far. They sit bottom of the table as a result, and before today, had no genuine goal scoring threat in the team. But all of that has now changed in the blink of an eye, with a stunning surprise signing of Wout Weghorst from VFL Wolfsburg and Louis Van Gaal's Netherlands. In this tactical analysis, we break down why the Dutch forward is the perfect fit for Burnley, and why Weghorst swapped the Bundesliga giants for the Premier League minnows.

Pressing From The Front – Top 10 Centre Forwards In Europe

Pressing from the front is an essential tactic in the modern game. Most of the best teams in the world deploy a high press to some degree, attempting to win the ball back in the most dangerous areas of the field. One of the most important players to a team's ability to press from the front is the centre-forward. The team's centre-forward, or striker, is responsible for setting the tone, intensity, angle, and first act of pressure. So this Christmas day, we've analyzed the best strikers in Europe when it comes to pressing from the front in 2021-22, attempting to identify the very best of the art. If you have a team that loves to press from the front, you should be tweeting your managers tomorrow, telling them to get these men through the door. But before we get into, let's first establish the criteria for the compilation of our list.

The evolution of the goalkeeper

oalkeepers need to have strong psychological skills, and always back themselves to perform. Even when they are full of confidence and everything they touch stays out of the net, that can all change so quickly. If a goalkeeper slips up, it usually results in a goal, and that inherently makes their position so much more difficult than any other.

Thomas Frank – Brentford – Tactical Analysis (2020-21)

Since taking over in 2018 from Aston Villa's Dean Smith, Thomas Frank has turned Brentford from an average to below average Championship side, into a nearly unstoppable one, with now two back to back playoff finals in two seasons. Frank's tactics emulate the same principles as some of the world's best managers and teams in the modern era, with unique takes that have turned The Bees into one of the most efficient sides in the division. Even if they can't make it happen in the playoff final for the second year running, Brentford appear as though they will be in the Premier League sometime very soon, due to their excellent recruitment, and Frank's exceptional management and tactics. Here is our tactical analysis of Thomas Frank's Brentford in 2020-21.

Adi Hütter – Eintracht Frankfurt – Tactical Analysis

In the merry go round that is the Bundesliga managerial landscape at the moment, Adi Hütter has officially been announced as the next Borussia Monchengladbach boss. The announcement came just days after leading his team to a massive win over third place VFL Wolfsburg, with Die Adler in poll position to qualify for the UEFA Champions League next season. Monchengladbach on the other hand, sit just eighth in the table, after a stop and start second half of the season. Part of Gladbach's lack of form could be down to the other big managerial announcement of 2021 in the Bundesliga - Marco Rose's imminent arrival at Borussia Dortmund. However, Hütter's achievements with Frankfurt are monumental in comparison to Gladbach's disappointing season. That makes it all the more confusing why he would leave a side about to participate in the UEFA Champions League for one that is not guaranteed European football next season. Nonetheless, the surprise announcement gives us the perfect opportunity to eulogize everything Adi Hütter has accomplished at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Julian Nagelsmann – RB Leipzig – Tactical Analysis (2020-21 Edition)

Julian Nagelsmann never made it as a player, thanks in large part to knee injuries that forced him to retire before his career even got started. However, that change of path allowed the German manager to take up coaching at a young age and after briefly working under Thomas Tuchel at Augsburg, Nagelsmann worked his way through the ranks at 1899 Hoffenheim, leading them into the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history. After three incredibly successful years with Hoffenheim, Nagelsmann departed the club in 2019 for RasenBallsport Leipzig. Due to his fantastic success with a club that is now firmly one of Germany's elite clubs, Nagelsmann is now one of the most sought after and respected coaches in the world, at 32 years of age. This is a Tactical Analysis of Julian Nagelsmann's revelations with RB Leipzig, as he looks destined to become the next big thing in football management.

Marco Rose – Borussia Monchengladbach – Tactical Analysis (2020-21 Edition)

After two successful years with Red Bull Salzburg, German coach Marco Rose made a return to his home country to take on the role as Borussia Monchgengladbach manager for the start of the 2019-20 season. Rose has continued his success with Gladbach so far since taking charge and has only enhanced his reputation as a manager, with 50% of his matches won and his team well within the hunt for the top for again. Under Dieter Hecking, Gladbach had a win percentage of 43%, and played primarily in a 4-4-2 Diamond or 4-3-1-2 shape. Rose has since changed Gladbach's formation to primarily a 4-2-3-1, focusing more on quick transitions and the importance of fullbacks in build-up phases. His side haven't been spectacular this season, but they've been missing a few key figureheads and at the very least have continued to play some fantastic football. Now that Rose looks prepared to take over at Borussia Dortmund in time for next season, we take an in-depth look at the tactics he's deployed in 2020-21. Here is our updated 2020-21 tactical analysis of Borussia Monchengladbach under Marco Rose.