How can you identify what is effectively happening in the game? What interpretation can you have about a moment in the game? In truth, I feel that nowadays we sometimes try to quantify that which often cannot be quantifiable…this is because we must understand what the game can transmit to us. For me there are “sensations” that the game transmits – the qualitative side of the game and that which can be interpreted! Knowing how to interpret that the concept is the most important thing and taking into account that the same moment of a certain game isn’t going to happen again. A team is a living organism that is always in constant change towards that which is the chaotic side of the game and what the opponent transmits.

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It is seen with this image that when Antonio Conte’s Chelsea changed their offensive tactical positioning to play with 3 central defenders (there is similarity to what happened in Euro 2016 with his Italian team), it led to his wingers having greater interpretation and freedom in the vertical movements into the space.

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He brought something to his game that I find absolutely fascinating, which is creating doubt in the opponent at the time in which his team enters into the last third, or in other words, at the time in which there must be decisions/judgement from the opponent, they don’t know whether or not they have to mark the winger that is on the wing.

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Through generating doubt he creates something decisive in top-level football – time to attack the space!

All of this that I have just written is described as the qualitative side of the game. It is always going to depend on the interpretation of the game that each coach/observer/analyst has, or in other words, giving meaning and shape to the situations that form the game as a whole.The qualitative understanding of the game shall always have to be contextualised with what the moment in the game is, who the intervening players are and in what way of all this relates itself.

We all want to win; it doesn’t seem to me that there are conscientious trainers that do not work/train their team to win. There are various ways of doing it and each one defines a strategy to adopt, because the context and the engaging culture has and shall always have a lot of influence.

There is a phrase that has been with me for some time since I read “The art of war”, where Sun Tzu writes:

“All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved”.

As a professional these words very much mark my thoughts before, during and after a game. In short, they create a fascination in me for the analysis of the game in a common sense of understanding the strategy behind a game.

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.