With the rise of blogs like Zonal Marking, the analysis of formations is increasingly becoming a talking point among soccer fans. However, when we celebrate the clever tactics of a Wenger or Mourinho, we often leave lesser known tactics by the wayside. Today we honor those styles that never quite succeeded (often, for critically obvious reasons). For as they say, “those who cannot remember past formations are condemned to repeat them.”
Paco Huerta, Molinaseca CF, Spain – Counter-counterattack: We’ve seen how successful the counter can be. Just look at Real Madrid, who are so dangerous on the break. But that got me thinking about how one might best respond to counterattacking football…and the obvious answer is the counter-counter. Now bear with me, because there is method to this madness. The idea is to push all ten outfield players into the opponent’s half, yield possession, and allow the opponent to create a counterattack. In the event that the goalkeeper is able to stifle the onrush of attackers, the team will now have ten players ready to receive a downfield pass on the break. Of course, this requires a world class keeper between the sticks, but think of the possibilities!
Savio Boveri, AS Roccasecca, Italy – Parking the Mini Cooper: Champions League 2009-2010. Need I say more? Mourinho’s Inter Milan choked the blue and purple breath out of Barcelona in a historic 3-1 victory. They called his style “parking the bus” – put all eleven players behind the ball, wait patiently for the opponent to concede possession, and throw together an attack. But buses are bulky and expensive on the upkeep. So why not “park the Mini Cooper?” That is, put two defenders behind the ball instead of eleven. It may be a tad riskier, but it may well be more efficient in the long run.
Eduardo Ojeda, FC Buenasbodas, Spain – Dispossession: Fact: you can’t make a mistake with the ball, if you don’t have the ball. How many times have we seen a sloppy back pass, a mistimed header, or a wayward shot from Barcelona, all because they insist on holding the ball for 70% of a game or more? I’ve been experimenting with a dispossession style of football, wherein I instruct my players to give the ball away to the opposition as soon as they receive it. It’s already paying off. We haven’t missed a shot in several games!
Cyril Stamp, Wath upon Dearne, England – Really Long Ball: Long ball? Not long enough. Try the REALLY long ball. The English style of dump-and-chase may work for some, but it just isn’t ambitious enough for my tastes. The problem is, it rarely tests the goalkeeper. Here’s where the English get it wrong –they aim for the corners when they should really be aiming for the stands! The best way to force a keeper into making mistakes is giving him 90 minutes of goal kicks. He’ll grow fatigued, despondent, and oftentimes force a bad pass or produce an own goal.
Augusto Paredes, Guiratinga, Brazil – Salsa style: We Brazilians have won five World Cups all told, and a lot of that is owed to our famous samba style of play. Samba’s okay, I think, but it’s a bit silly-looking if you ask me, like you’re stepping on ants or something. So I’ve adapted the Brazilian flair to a spicier sentiment: salsa! Of course, you can’t salsa without a partner, so this style necessitates a 2-2-2-2-2 formation. Defenders will expect a traditional two-step but will be in for a surprise when they see your team scoring goals in ¾ rhythm. Now, if you’ve mastered this technique and want to get even more tactical, have the partners switch throughout the game, a la Total Football. Just make sure each player knows if he’s leading or not, or else your physio will be dealing with a lot of stubbed toes.