Former Barcelona man Xavi Hernandez is widely considered one of the best midfielders of all time. In his hay-day with both Spain and Barcelona, Xavi formed one of the best midfield triads the game has ever seen, alongside Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets. He won twenty-five major trophies with Barcelona and three for Spain, before moving to Qatar ahead of the 2015-16 season. He then went on to finish his career in style, winning the Qatari league in his final season at the club in 2018-19. The very next season he was named manager of the squad and soon afterward completely revolutionized Al Saad into a near unstoppable unit in the QPL. The Spanish midfielder has quietly gone about his business at Al Sadd, playing in Guardiola-esque ways and doing del-Bosque-esque things, winning six trophies in two seasons so far. Barcelona are keeping a close eye on the now 41-year-old, and in time we may see one of the game greatest ever midfielders become one of the game's greatest ever managers. Here is a tactical analysis of Xavi Hernandez's Al Sadd.
Although youth players generally don't have the capability to switch play all the way from one end of the field to the other, changing the point of the attack is a crucial element to any format of the game and essential for coaches to teach to their players. It doesn't matter how old they are, players will always try to go into pressure when they can simply change direction and try to switch play to the other side. Here are the basics of Switching Play, in the quest to help coaches translate the necessary elements of the tactic to their players.
Transitional moments are an understated, underrated and under-coached part of the modern game. How a team sets up after winning or losing the ball can make or break a team. As a result, today we dissect the basics of attacking transitions. Attacking transitions can be defined as the moment of time between gaining possession and going on the attack right away. In more complex terms, it is the reshaping and restructuring of the team to set up for the attack after winning the ball. Attacking transitions are also closely connected to the concept of counter attacking. Integral elements to attacking transitions include the decision of when to dribble vs. when to pass, width, verticality and speed. In this article, we will touch on all of these aspects, with example diagrams to a team's first introduction to transitions at the 7v7 stage, playing 2-3-1.
Nearly every single professional team these days strives to play out from the back. Gone are the days when a goalkeeper would launch the ball up the field to a fast/tall striker to chase on to or nod down. Build-up play has become more and more important in the professional game and youth teams are beginning to take notice too. From a youth development perspective, playing out of the back is far more beneficial for all players than just one player kicking it up the field as far as they can in hopes that a fast, physical player will get on the end of in.