The Perfect Defensive System #4- Total Football + Gegenpressing

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...
Nick Witts
Journalism student at Cardiff University, 20 years old, MUFC supporter.

Latest Posts

Serie A’s Last Outsiders Part 1: Hellas Verona, 1984/1985

With the 2020–2021 Serie A underway, there is a general sense of uncertainty about a league that has fallen from the heights of its...

Have Opponents Got Used To Liverpool’s 4-3-3 Formation This Season

Liverpool are conceding goals at an alarming rate when you consider that they only conceded 33 Premier League goals throughout last season’s title-winning campaign....

A brief history of the footballing aesthetic (and its gradual death)

The death of football at its most beautiful peak, is nigh ‘Football is the beautiful game.’ A statement we have heard since childhood. Words which...

Southampton 2-5 Tottenham: Mourinho’s reply to his doubters

For the first time in his storied career, Jose Mourinho started a league season with a defeat. Facing a freshly reinforced Everton at home,...

How will Gareth Bale fit in at Spurs-A look at Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1 formation

Multiple top-tier sources including BBC and the current Tier 1 Journalist Fabrizio Romano have confirmed that Spurs are in talks with Real Madrid over...

Fulham 0-3 Arsenal:Tactical Analysis – Willian, Gabriel superb in Arteta’s 3-4-3 formation

Lineups and Formation Fulham Fulham lined up in a 4-2-3-1. Rodak was preferred to new signing Areola in goal. The back 4 had Odoi (right), Bryan...

The European Resurrections of Ever Banega

It seems fitting that Éver Banega’s final bow in European competition involved him lifting the Europa League. Barring a surprise reversal in the future,...

Football Books

Foul- The Beautiful Game, An Ugly Truth [Book Excerpt]

The clip-clop of football boot studs on concrete echoed through the tunnel over the hum of distant crowd noise. A drenched team of players...

Best Football Analytics Books

We have compiled a list of the best football analytics books for the casual football fan. Football analytics and data science/machine learning in general...

The Best Football Books of 2019

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2020, we have compiled a list of the best...

The Best Football Books of 2018

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2019, we have compiled a list of the best...

5 Books every Soccer fan needs to read before the FIFA World Cup 2018

The FIFA World Cup is just around the corner and it's the perfect time to brush up your history and facts about the World...

Football Tactics for Beginners: Pressing and Counter-Pressing

Introduction:

The idea of pressing is to put pressure on the ball with the intention of winning it back off of the opposition. By forcing the opposition to complete an action in a pressured atmosphere, every aspect of that action is made more difficult. An action consists of both a decision and the execution of that decision – if these two aspects can be manipulated correctly, the opponent will lose the ball. Successful examples of this high energy style of play can be seen in the Borussia Dortmund side of 2013 who narrowly lost in the UEFA Champions League final that year.

Advantages:

The system can be tailored to expose particular weaknesses identified in the opposition. For example, if it is recognised that the passing ability of the players playing in the oppositions defence is limited then you would organise your team to press from the front.

The idea of pressing also forces the opposition to play their normal passing game under pressure, meaning the ball can be turned over through positional play and running off of the ball. This can help take the onus of the defence to do the ‘defending’ as it done by the whole team at large in this system.

It is also important to mention the idea of counter-pressing whereby if a team is pressured and loses the ball when attacking it will seek to win it back instantly as opposed to settling into a defensive shape. For example, it is widely acclaimed that when the Barcelona side under the tutorship of Pep Guardiola lost the ball, they are were given 6 or 7 seconds seconds to win it back. If they did not do it in this time they would then settle into shape. By doing this they are able to win the ball back high up the pitch and disrupt the opposition’s transition from defence to attack. Speaking about this style of play, Barcelona full-back Dani Alves said, “Pressing is difficult to pull off, but when the team manages it well, there is no better way to win games. You must see where the ball is likely to go, then react immediately to press the opponent or intercept any pass. When we lose the ball, we want to win it back immediately, which is when this tactic is so good and works so effectively.”

Disadvantages:

One weakness to this system of defending is that it can be bypassed by using a more agricultural, direct style of playing. Should the opposition be able to switch the ball using a diagonal pass, or find an outlet by more direct means then it becomes more difficult to win the ball back by harrying the opposition.

The system also requires extremely high fitness levels in order to be executed. Players have to be able to close down options for the opposition by applying pressure to the player in possession. It is often hard to execute this style of play for the full 90 minutes without having trained extensively. One example of a team playing implementing this style of play without the required fitness levels to press for the full match is the Liverpool side under Jürgen Klopp. Whilst his side have become proficient in pressing, there have been examples this season where his side have tapered off against opposition around the 70 to 80 minute mark.

The system also requires high levels of communication and cohesion whereby if the front players begin to press it must be communicated and recognised by the midfield so that they can back them up and make the correct movements. If this is not completed with efficiency, then players are often seen closing down without support to no avail.

Example:

If we imagine that the ball has be passed from the right sided centre back to the right back in this situation, the team pressing would put pressure on the right back and aim to cut off options.

pressing football

Conclusion:

The system is dependent on high levels of fitness and communication. If executed efficiently, the team pressing can gain a stranglehold on the gain and prevent the opposition from settling into a passing rhythm. The hunt for the ball must be coordinated. If done without cohesion, defending can become disjointed and make passing through the lines easy for the opposition.

Related

Total Football and it’s impact on the modern game

The popularism of the “Catennaccio” in the 1960s by Helenio Herrera was game-changing in that it focused its tenets on defending and the art...

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-Compactness

If you have the ball you must make the field as big as possible, and if you don’t have the ball you must make...

Latest Posts

Serie A’s Last Outsiders Part 1: Hellas Verona, 1984/1985

With the 2020–2021 Serie A underway, there is a general sense of uncertainty about a league that has fallen from the heights of its...

Have Opponents Got Used To Liverpool’s 4-3-3 Formation This Season

Liverpool are conceding goals at an alarming rate when you consider that they only conceded 33 Premier League goals throughout last season’s title-winning campaign....

A brief history of the footballing aesthetic (and its gradual death)

The death of football at its most beautiful peak, is nigh ‘Football is the beautiful game.’ A statement we have heard since childhood. Words which...

Southampton 2-5 Tottenham: Mourinho’s reply to his doubters

For the first time in his storied career, Jose Mourinho started a league season with a defeat. Facing a freshly reinforced Everton at home,...

Don't Miss

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...

‘The Diamond demolition’ in the Kolkata derby

The year was 1997, and on the 13th of July, the stage was set for the biggest clash in Indian football – the Kolkata...

Súper Dépor! The rise and fall of Deportivo La Coruña

At the Start With the exception of a 2nd place finish to Helenio Herrera’s Atlético Madrid in 1948/49, Deportivo La Coruña have historically plied their...

  The different methods to Marcelo Bielsa’s madness

The current Leeds United manager and arguably the most influential coach in modern football, Marcelo Bielsa is the subject of this analysis because I’m...

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....

Transfers

How will Coutinho fit in at Arsenal: Arteta’s new look 4-2-3-1 formation

English outlet, Express are reporting that Arsenal are considering a loan deal for Barcelona's record signing, Philippe Coutinho. The report indicates that Coutinho might have...

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

Three best Premier League transfers of all time

The Premier League is famous for its lavish spending on player’s transfers. Top clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United have been spending...

Where will Kai Havertz play for Chelsea? A look at Lampard’s exciting 4-2-3-1 formation for next season

There have been several rumours surrounding Kai Havertz's transfer to Chelsea and Havertz's current boss, Peter Bosz has indicated that the winger might not...

Man United expected lineup against Sheffield United: Pogba & Bruno to start together for first time

Manchester United salvaged a draw against Tottenham in their first game post the lockdown. Their performance improved after the substitutions of Paul Pogba and...