Fullbacks’ role in Pep Guardiola Tactical System
At FC Barcelona Pep Guardiola started to revolutionise the way of envisaging football, through the positional play that is characteristic of him. He drew inspiration from his coaches and he evolved with the passing of time, coming today to Manchester City with values held in what is his way of thinking about the game.
One of Pep’s more significant revolutions up to now, in what is the intrinsic English culture, was at the start of the offensive process. This is with goalkeepers as the starting point for choosing what the best area is for progression with the ball, with the full-backs positioned out wide (wings), and the central midfielder appearing between the position of the full-backs (creating a fake diamond) and the full-backs, depending on the pressure from the opponent, positioned in the central area, with mobility to see the game and run down the wings to provide continuation to the process of the offensive set-up.
Pep Guardiola implemented this process, of the full-backs positioned in central areas, to:
- optimise the areas for passing that often become non-existent when there is a lot of pressure from the opponent on the full-backs in the first building phase
- outdo more opponents in the circulation (according to the pressure that is exercised by the opponent)
Teams with this tactical richness build offensive processes, whilst taking the context and the time of the game into account, and not always applying the same objective to resolve the problems of pressure that the opponent causes.
This always depends on the present demands, and serves as a hypothesis to resolve moments of the game so that the team manages to come out with a numerical advantage at the start of the offensive set-up.
Kolarov and Zabaleta are now the reflection of this idea of Pep Guardiola, already applied in FC Bayern Munich and now being seen again in Manchester City. The wingers, derived from this idea are positioned along the wings (out wide), which often allows receiving the ball without any pressure and enhancing their qualities in the ball distribution/dribbling/1vs1’s.
In this new playing model of Manchester City, the full-backs have opened up a range of possibilities that participate in various forms in the team’s offensive set-up, thus establishing different forms of interaction, whilst always being aware of which players are their teammates and which opponents they are going to interact with.
Joao Nuno Fonseca
Senior Football Match Analyst
Joao Nuno Fonseca hold an MSc in Sports Training with specialisation in Football under the guidance of the Professor Jose Guilherme. Start his professional career during University in Academica de Coimbra – 1st Division Portugal, as match analyst for the historical club. Won the Portuguese Cup in 2012 against Sporting Lisbon. Currently is Senior Football Match Analyst for ASPIRE Academy in Doha – Qatar and U19 Qatar National Team.