The Perfect Defensive System #4- Total Football + Gegenpressing

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

In this new series called The Perfect Defensive System,we invite you the reader to contribute posts on what you think is the best defensive system. This defensive system doesn’t need to be something which has already been implemented,it can be something from you imagination or from your tactics in Football Manager. So if you think you are better than Jose Mourinho at parking the bus,then send in your contributions to

Over a few months now, I have looked to develop my own style of play for the future game: one which is dynamic and fluid. In his book, ‘Teambuilding- the road to success’, Michels states that “you need to first control the opposition if you want to play and attacking style of football”. With my ideas on the future game being based around positional fluidity and rotation, an attacking style of football, I babe first needed to develop a defensive strategy. Here it is, if you have any queries, or have found any loopholes in the system, please let me be known by writing in the comments.

The strategy I look to play will implement to combine two contrasting systems: Totalfootball’s high pressure and Germany’s Geggenpress, (the counter press). To begin, here is what the side’s ‘base’ formation will look like:

unknown (3)

Lib= Libero
Rwb= Right wing back
Lwb= Left wing back
If= Inside Forwards.

So, the moment the team lose the ball, we will begin to use a high press in order to try and win the ball back as quick as possible. The skill level of the team will determine how long we press to win the ball back. For example, a top class team will press for around 8 seconds. If the team win the ball off the opposition, then obviously we will penetrate, as sides like Barcelona look to do. However, if the team do not win the ball back after the time allocated to press high and aggressively, then will then use a medium press, meaning each player will press to within 3-5 years of the opposition. This will push the opposition back. This is pressing to delay- delaying whilst the team setup in the Geggenpress formation, which will look like this:

View post on

The wing backs have pushed back to create a back five. From here, we are able to begin the Geggenpress. The next step for this to work is for the team to tilt slightly. This creates small spaces for the opposition to move into the middle third, as well as for us to suffocate the opposition by reducing the amount of space the opposition have to operate in the middle third. The tilt will look something like this:

View post on

As you can see, the right wing back and right Libero have tilted slightly to suffocate the opposition. The box is the space we won’t the opposition to move into, the tilt contributes to this happening. Once this has happened, we press and win the ball back in the middle third, and look to counter attack.

I will now show how the system covers all defensive principles of play.

The defensive principles of play:

1. Press or delay
2. Support
3 Balance
4. Compactness
5. Discipline

– The press or delay is covered by the high pressure to win the ball back followed by the medium press to delay, allowing the team to get into the Geggenpress formation.
– The support comes from the effective pressing; by pressing aggressively and as a team, then the support will always be there.
– The balance comes from the 3+1 base whilst in possession. When attacking, the 3 liberos and one CDM will sit back to provide balance to the team. This is similar to what Marcelo Bielsa does.
– The compactness comes from the Geggenpress formation; a five at the back and 3 midfielders close together will keep the pitch compact, but with enough room to allow the opposition to move into the part of the middle third we want them to so we can win the ball back
– The discipline comes from the press, when and how to press (triggers) and also the tilt; when to tilt.

Like I said at the beginning of the article, I would appreciate it if you’d leave a comment with any feedback, positive or constructive, to help me to improve this defensive strategy.

Read More

Football Tactics for Beginners: The Low Block

What is the low block? The low block is generally referred to a football team's defensive shape without the ball. Generally the low block consists...

Football Tactics for Beginners: Defending Corner Kicks

We are all afraid of it. It is the 90th minute, your team is up by one goal and the opposition is about to...

Football Tactics for Beginners- The Sweeper Keeper: From Lev Yashin to Manuel Neuer

Germany’s Manuel Neuer has been widely credited as one of the finest goal-keepers of his generation, and quite rightly too. The Bayern Munich shot-stopper...

The Diminishing role of the Stopper Center Back in the Premier League

Defending and its place in the modern game has spawned a quagmire of critical debate. Back in 2014, when Gary Neville’s article in the...

The art of the long throw and how to counter it

Since the dawn of time, mankind has yearned to to throw stuff really far. Rocks, spears, shapes in the night club, to be human...

Football Tactics For Beginners-The Christmas Tree Formation

  Football is a result oriented business. Whatever succeeds, earns fame for itself and for its conceiver. And if it captures the imagination of spectators...

Football Tactics for Beginners: Tactical Periodization

What is Tactical Periodization? Tactical Periodization is a coaching methodology which is used to train football players with respect to the tactical context of the...

Football Tactics for Beginners

English Football and its “Get Stuck-In” Mentality

It was a glum group of players and supporters who filed out of Matlock Town’s Causeway Lane ground in 1982. Hyde United had lost...

Barcelona Vs Real Madrid:The Dream Team vs The Galacticos

An imagining of a match between two famous El Clasico sides. The 1992 European Cup winning Barcelona team, known as “The Dream Team” versus...

Dr. Carneiro or: How I should learn not to stop the game and love the boss

Hundreds of journalists this week have condemned Jose Mourinho for his treatment of Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn after they wrongly ran onto the...

Hungary – The Golden Team that never quite made it.

When you look back at the history of past World Cup winners and European Championship winners the usual names by in large stand out....

FC Start and The Death Match

“Without belittling the courage with which men have died, we must not forget those acts of courage with which men have lived.” – John...

Lifted Over The Turnstiles: Scotland’s Football Grounds In The Black & White Era

This most comprehensive book about old Scottish football grounds ever published, Lifted Over the Turnstiles contains almost 200 photos of 42 football stadiums here...

Football And Alcohol

      “When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.” Football and booze go a long long way back, in...

What if Pep’s Barcelona played against Sacchi’s AC Milan?

Pep Guardiola has re-invented football so much in the past decade that one wonders if the game is still the same that was played...

Cruyffism through Spain

Spain has developed a unique commitment to technical football which has put them in good stead to make the past decade a period of Spanish dominance. The story to this dominance begin decades before hand when Cruyff decided that Barcelona would be the club he would next manage after his time at Ajax was over. He would create a cohesive identity for the club which kept the vision while finding success. This vision began with a number of manager who came before Cruyff but after Cruyff left, there would be many managers in Spain who would use his methods to discovery their own success.