The offensive set-up of any team shall depend on the technical quality of its executors (for allowing continuity of the process) and on the level of interpretation of the various possibilities (intelligence in seeing the game as an interaction). Above all, it is about organising the team into different lines (vertical and horizontal) in order to disorganise the opponent and to get to reach their goal area in a favourable situation.

Over the years I have analysed many elite football games. An aspect that deserves highlighting when studying a team in their offensive set-up is the positioning of the players that cease having a role in the process. Those that stay behind the line of the ball, such as the defensive midfielder, the centre-backs and the full-backs.

The Match Analyst  Image-1-1030x496

In this recent example of Unai Emery’s PSG it is possible to see that 8 players were involved in PSG’s offensive set-up process, positioned in the last third of the field of play. Curiously 8 opposing players were also involved in the defensive process, with 4 players remaining on each team.

The Match Analyst  Image-2-1030x496

At the time of PSG losing possession of the ball, it is possible to see that the 2 players of the opposing team enter into the counter-attacking process, bringing about a 2vs2 situation with PSG’s centre-backs. A lack of permanent awareness and vigilance allowed space for this to happen.

The Match Analyst  Image-3-1030x491

In this image it is possible to see the positioning of PSG’s players at the immediate moment of losing the ball. PSG were in the offensive set-up process, but when Monaco recover the possession of the ball Bernardo Silva was unmarked – with space to receive the ball and allow the continuity of the counter-attack.

The Match Analyst  Image-4-1030x496

If this was the positioning of PSG’s centre-back, Bernardo Silva probably wouldn’t have had the possibility of continuing the counter-attacking process.

The Match Analyst  Image-5-1030x491

The decompensation in positional terms of PSG’s centre-backs meant that they conceded a goal in this counter-attack.
In this example of José Mourinho’s Manchester United, it is possible to see that despite the equilibrium of the players that do not participate in the offensive process if they lose the ball, the forward was unmarked (without the necessary vigilance/awareness of the centre-backs).

The Match Analyst  Image-6-1030x499

To avoid these types of situations, it becomes essential to have players that are capable of controlling the space-time, i.e., that are capable of seeing that they have to be aware and be vigilant of the opponents that do not have a role in the opposing team’s defensive process.

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.