martedì 26 giugno 2012

How to cover those midfielders

How to deal with teams like Germany, where there is an attacking midfielders in front of two central, mobile, midfielders? Or with teams like Spain when they play with a player such as Xavi Hernandez, able to move up in the way to make Spanish formation switching from a 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 during the game? Germany's strenght starts from the movement of Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Ozil drifts often towards the right of the field, leaving open spaces for the upcoming Schweinsteiger or Khedira. Jogi Löw moved his midfielders in the way to have one of them always covering the others. There are two different ways to react. Some teams are structured with two hlding midfielders, like Holland was. Holland lined up Nigel de Jong alongside Mark van Bommel. They had the task to follow in a near to man-to-man coverage Ozil and Co. But when the Deutsch superstar moved on the flanks, while Wesley Sneijder stayed high up, his movement left the other holding midfielders outnumbered 1 vs 2 in the middle of the pitch. That happened in the Schweinsteiger's goal: De Jong picked the first runner, Van Bommel had to chase the second runner and no one picked Schweinsteiger. 
Other teams stayed in a strict zonal marking, like England and Greece. They opted to pack that central pitch zone. Against Germany yet, the Greeks had Grigoris Makis, Kostas Katsouranis, and Giannis Maniatis covering the middle in a zonal marking way. The second Germany's goal was coming from a Khedira's run that found the German player in the right position. But two Greeks midfielders, Katsouranis and newly insterted Georgios Fotakis, those nearest to the ball, made no mistakes, covering their zones. Makis too was covering the zone near to the penalty box, taking a look to Schweinsteiger. It was Maniatis, now moved to right full-back position, that had to cover better Khedira. This kind of central coverage allows the teams to have not players drawn out of position but can leave an attacking midfielder over the midfield's line, free to exploit spaces.

Portugal too plays in a zone mode in the middle of the pitch. The trio of Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, and Raul Meireles cover midfielders on their zones on the strong side, leaving free the weak side and leaving the attacking midfielders to their defenders when they break into. That changed a bit against Czech Republic, when Veloso tried to chase Czech's attacking midfielder Vladimir Darida. In that game, Portuguese midfielders tried to follow man-to-man the players on their zone with the ball on the strong side.

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