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Category: Football tactics

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Ederson leads the way as a ball-playing Premier League midfielder in gloves

Rules may have stayed the same since 1992 but modern football’s best teams tend to have 11 outfield players, one of whom can use his handsIn January 1912, two members of the Football Association’s Rules Review committee went to White Hart Lane to watch…

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Play the United way: how Mourinho can unhinge Manchester City in derby | Jonathan Wilson

All Mourinho’s instincts will be to kill the game but going for broke represents his best chance of another famous winWhen people said they wanted José Mourinho to make Manchester United more like Alex Ferguson’s treble winners, this, presumably, isn’t…

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Pressing is risky but the best way to ruffle Pep Guardiola’s feathers | Jonathan Wilson

Tottenham came unstuck when they pressed high at the Etihad last season but it was preferable to their timid performance against Manchester City at WembleyTottenham would press them, push high up the pitch, even from goal-kicks. They’d be aggressive an…

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Manchester United’s shambolic investments lack a grand design | Jonathan Wilson

Jose Mourinho’s side were astonishingly passive against Juve but amid his post-match bluster there was the kernel of a pointThe problem with modern European football is how stratified it has become. With resources now divided so unequally, how, realist…

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How should Mourinho fix Manchester United’s defence? By attacking

Manchester United seem incapable of doing the thing José Mourinho’s teams are renowned for so the manager must change his approachThere are times when you wonder whether the gods of football have almost too pronounced a sense of irony. Not content with…

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Mourinho’s career is like the plague. Has he run out of people to kill? | Barney Ronay

Manchester United’s trip to face Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea offers a clash of styles on and off the pitch and starts a defining run of matches for Mourinho One reason put forward to explain why the great plague did not just keep on ravaging the human rac…

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The Pep commandments: how lessons learned at Bayern stymied Liverpool | Jonathan Wilson

Pep Guardiola went back to the basics of Cruyffism at Anfield and in doing so showed new-found flexibility and pragmatismEighteen games into Pep Guardiola’s second season as manager of Bayern Munich, his side lost 4-1 at Wolfsburg. It was their first d…

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Liverpool and Manchester City full-backs hold key in top-of-table clash | Jonathan Wilson

Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola have both reined in their attacking instincts this season, aware of leaving gaps in defenceIt is all about the full-backs but these days it is always all about the full?backs. From a tactical point of view Sunday’s meetin…

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Why is David de Gea exceptional for United and indifferent for Spain? | Jonathan Wilson

Goalkeeper is an outstanding shot-stopper but does not excel at passing and this is reflected in how Manchester United playDavid de Gea has been named in the PFA team of the year in five of the past six seasons. He has been Manchester United’s player o…

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How Chelsea may line up under Maurizio Sarri this season

Jorginho will be key in midfield but Gonzalo Higuaín and Sergej Milinkovi?-Savi? would really give the squad some heftBy Martin Laurence for WhoScoredHaving been in the pipeline for a few months, Maurizio Sarri’s arrival came as a relief for the majori…

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How Russia 2018 saw claustrophobic football crowd tiki-taka off world stage | Jorge Valdano

The changing of the tactical guard at the World Cup was marked by early exits for Germany and Spain, and now the pace and aggression of France shows the way forwardWhen France won the 1998 World Cup, they brought cross-culturalism – which in football i…

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How Russia 2018 saw claustrophobic football crowd tiki-taka off world stage | Jorge Valdano

The changing of the tactical guard at the World Cup was marked by early exits for Germany and Spain, and now the pace and aggression of France shows the way forwardWhen France won the 1998 World Cup, they brought cross-culturalism – which in football i…

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France v Croatia: four areas where the World Cup final can be won and lost | Jonathan Wilson

Kylian Mbappé and Mario Mandzukic offer very individual forward threats but the clash of two midfields boasting energy in abundance could be mesmerisingGiven how Croatia struggled to deal with the pace of Raheem Sterling in the first half against Engla…

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Croatia v England: where the World Cup semi-final could be won or lost

Five tactical posers for Gareth Southgate and Zlatko Dalic, from England’s set pieces to setting up around Mario MandzukicThe big decision Zlatko Dalic has to make lies in midfield. Does he play Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic deep with Andrej Kramaric in…

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If Belgium are to beat Brazil in their quarter-final, how can they do it?

Mexico highlighted the vulnerability at right-back, where Danilo and Fagner have struggled to fill Dani Alves’s shoesThere was a spell, for the first 20 minutes or so, when it seemed Mexico might be able to trouble Brazil. Carlos Vela was getting the b…

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Possession lost on the World Cup stage as defences learn to adapt | Jonathan Wilson

Tactical postmortems must also factor in those things which cannot be planned for, as Spain and Germany can attestNo side, perhaps, is ever so much itself as when it is going out of the World Cup. When teams – or at least those with aspirations to the …

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Colombia set-piece prowess spells out warning to England

Still waters run deep for last-16 opponents whose Juan Quintero is a proven dead-ball specialistIt was a moment that Idrissa Gana Gueye would surely rather forget. The Everton midfielder’s casual application to defending Senegal’s near post from a corn…

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‘I love football because it’s the opposite of science: contradictory, primitive, emotional’

These days we know someone ran 12.345km during a game. An admirable figure but did he run to help? To get in the way? As he ran, did he think? We need the context. If not, let’s leave the numbers for something elseLet’s not allow the uncertainty of res…

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World Cup’s lack of goals is down to issues that stretch back decades

Low strike rate has its roots in the bunker mentality created by the growing gulf between rich and poor and the lack of time more talented teams have to develop attacking tacticsIt did not take long – it never does – for all the pre?tournament hype to …

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Pragmatism could be decisive factor in World Cup success | Liam Rosenior

The glut of goals from set pieces suggests that those coachable, controllable moments could be more important than a team’s style in open playHave you noticed that England are all the rage in Russia and I’m not talking about their clothes, their social…