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Category: Football tactics

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Sarri needs to compromise or risk Chelsea suffering at Manchester City | Jonathan Wilson

Manager likes to play his way regardless but Chelsea’s win over Guardiola’s side in December was not down to his masterplanSometimes things in football just happen. The most extraordinary victories can be achieved by teams whose tactical schemes have s…

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Sarri needs to compromise or risk Chelsea suffering at Manchester City | Jonathan Wilson

Manager likes to play his way regardless but Chelsea’s win over Guardiola’s side in December was not down to his masterplanSometimes things in football just happen. The most extraordinary victories can be achieved by teams whose tactical schemes have s…

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False nine: ancient tactical curveball still retains the power to shock | Jonathan Wilson

It is 125 years since the first false nine and its history since is fascinating as much for its failure to become a dominant tactic as for its many successful applicationsAt times it feels in football there is nothing new, merely the reinvocation of ol…

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Solskjær’s approach shows players are not sets of data, but humans | Jonathan Wilson

The Norwegian’s man-management at Manchester United has been top class – but the game against Tottenham will show whether he has the tactical nous to beat the bestNobody realistically doubts that Manchester United’s game against Tottenham on Sunday rep…

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2018 in football tactics: France and Real Madrid did it their way | Jonathan Wilson

Press and possess is the method of many leading teams but Didier Deschamps’ side in Russia and Real Madrid before them picked up the biggest prizes playing in their own mannerThe same basics everywhere: it would be easy to believe that football in 2018…

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Even a José Mourinho gripped by defensive dogma was better than this | Jonathan Wilson

This feels like a manager shaking a kaleidoscope and hoping for the best – clinging on until you can throw Marouane Fellaini at a problem should not be a long-term planSome time, this purgatory must end. Some time, even a board as laissez-faire as Manc…

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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…