Build-up and attacking strategy with a focus on width

Author: Joao Nuno Fonseca

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Goalkeepers needs to have a clear vision of the players at their disposal to create building-up play situations. It is paramount to take note of the characteristics inherent to the players that shall translate the keeper idea for starting the building-up play supported from behind onto the pitch.

The goalkeepers, the “lighthouse” of the team, must analyse the moment quickly and know what circumstances their teammates are positioned in – if they are being pressed or not, if they could in any way, above all, continue the building-up play.

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In this example it is possible to see that, at the start of the game, FC Porto’s central defenders do not give full width to their positioning on the pitch, whilst having the limits of the area as a point of reference. This facilitated SC Braga at the time of going to press the playmaking, whilst also taking note of Casillas’ characteristics. Therefore, in the circumstance of a given moment of the game – in this case in the building-up phase – the potential ball receivers (central defenders, central midfielders and full-backs) must have a high capacity of resilience to the pressure that is exercised by the opponent at this time. In this same way, the goalkeepers must always be in a position to receive the ball for facilitating the continuity of the play.

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There are various examples in FC Barcelona in which Mascherano transmits this urgency of quickly occupying the best space for receiving the ball in a better position in light of the pressure from the opponent. They create a positional superiority with certain players in specific spaces which always change in response to the pressure that is applied by the opponent.

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In Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, there is also this need from the players involved to quickly occupy the best place for receiving the ball in maximum width on the pitch.

In short, this article has the purpose of pointing out that a team needs to create the best structural and functional possibilities so that the offensive set-up works by enhancing the interactive capabilities of the players that intervene. All of thisfits into an alternate responsibility, i.e., it always depends on the present demands that the player has to adapt to so that the ball and the team may attack with a convenient advantage.

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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.