Only some teams manage to create a sufficient temporary spatial advantage for coming out to play, with quality, in the 1st building-up phase. As a coach you must take into consideration that a player, above all, alters and transforms situations. In this way, how can a team manager create a sufficient temporary spatial advantage for managing to attack with the ball? We see it through the illustrated example images of Manchester City, FC Barcelona and FC Porto. The Manchester City that, against the opponent’s high-press, quickly positions its central defenders out wider, thus increasing their space of intervention.

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In the same way, FC Barcelona bases itself on the same applied principle when it begins its offensive process (depending on the situation in which it occurs).

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With the above illustrated frames, taken from the Wyscout platform, it is possible to see the importance of establishing correct distances of interplay, in light of the existing situation (high-press of the opponent). In both teams (Manchester City and FC Barcelona) we can see the importance of creating situations that are favourable to the needs that the opponent imposes throughout the game. The quick change in attitude of the central defenders in providing width, in the 1st building-up phase, is decisive when domination of the ball possession is desired. It is possible to see the differences in the next frames of FC Porto, a team that also has the principle of dominating and having the ball possession, but which saw its 1st building-up phase limited because its central defenders didn’t adapt that which is their way of playing to the situation that existed at the time (high-press of SC Braga).

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At this moment in the game, Casillas was obliged to play a long ball, because the areas for passing to the central defenders were limited due to the press of the SC Braga players. Width in the 1st building-up phase, i.e., taking advantage of the maximum space of the pitch as well as creating constant support for the midfielders to provide continuity to the play, is necessary.

Joao Nuno Fonseca
Professional 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. Former Senior Football Match Analyst for ASPIRE Academy in Doha – Qatar and U19 Qatar National Team.