Bayern’s Failure to Stop Messi

By Stevie Grieve

In the Champions League Semi Final between Barcelona and Bayern Munich, the score was decided by one player’s ability to find space when there is little available, despite Bayern Munich’s best attempts to control the space around Lionel Messi, particularly in the 1st half.

For the 1st half, Bayern played wide and looked to enter the attacking phases from the CF drifting wide then playing 1v1 on the side and attacking from there, while Barcelona played more direct from central zones in transition, looking to use Suarez’ tenacity behind the Bayern defence, or with lots of circulation which kept the ball and looked for a breakthrough from quick combinations around the goal or in 1v1 play.

The 2nd half changed for Barcelona when Iniesta, Neymar, Messi and Rakitic all played directly through the channels, looking to cut inside and combine with centrally based players; Suarez or Neymar on the last line of the defence, with Alba and Alves staying deeper and making late runs outside the play.

The main danger was always through an ‘inverted’ player, cutting inside, particularly Messi from the

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Flexibility of the 4-2-3-1 System

This is a short excerpt from Coaching the 4-2-3-1 Advanced Tactics by Stevie Grieve. The book takes a detailed look at how to get the best out of this very popular formation.

When changing formation, there are many variables that can come from this, mainly from an attacking and defensive positioning starting position basis.

Some players’ roles and responsibilities change, although not drastically. In a 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 some players responsibilities stay the same, mainly the back 4 and central striker. The back 4 as always must protect the goal and defend as a priority, then support the attacking phase secondary.
Full backs in very attacking teams can allow wingers to play slightly more infield if they wish, or if the winger stays on the touchline, provide deep support or an under lapping run to offer an extra option if places under pressure. The runs from the full back can open up new solutions when the ball is with the winger.

Some wingers can commonly play 1v2, so the

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The Proper Use of Give and Goes

By Sean Pearson

Session Length: 90 mins

During my days as a trainer, a lot of head coaches were (and still are) obsessed with the give and go, as if it’s the lifeblood of being a good team. While it is definitely a great combination to get behind opposition lines of defense it is not the be all and end all of attacking. Players and coaches alike need to understand it is a tool to use for specific scenarios to progress an attack, not to be used all the time as different scenarios will not allow it.
So to keep coaches happy and work on the give and go I developed a session that constantly worked on using the combination in the

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Atletico Attack the Strong Side

By Stevie Grieve

Atletico Madrid may not regain the Spanish League title that they earned last season, but Diego Simeone has kept them competitive in 3 competitions with arguably a weaker starting XI than last season, losing Goalkeeper Thibaud Courtois, Left Back Felipe Luis and Talismanic Striker, Diego Costa all to Chelsea. Simeone replaced these players with players of similar playing profiles;

Jan Oblak and Guillherme Siqueirha from Benfica, Mario Mandzukic from Bayern Munich, while adding mobile attacker Antoine Griezmann from Real Sociedad. This has given them a team with similar profiles in each area from last season while arguably a weaker team, other additions such as creative midfielder Cani, have given them more options Siqueirha is an attacking left back, Manduzkic is the

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Lyon’s Attacking Movements

By Stevie Grieve

Lyon have been this season’s ‘surprise’ package in Ligue 1, with a team of cast-offs who have proved unsuccessful at other clubs and academy graduates, staying in the top 6 would be the realistic aim and top 3 would’ve been ambitious. As it has unfolded, Lyon have been one of the most attack minded teams in the league, scoring 60 goals in 31 games, and having the best goal difference in the league.

Some of the success has come from the emergence of Nabil Fekir and the continued improvement year on year of Alexandre Lacazette, the return to form of Yoann Gourcuff, and a stable 4-4-2 diamond formation, with attacking full backs providing the width when the dual strikers are more central.

Lyon use a fluid formation and one of the reasons for this is the above mentioned Full Backs, the fluidity of movement from the strikers and how they stretch the field when in possession.

Basic Shape; 4-1-2-1-2 becoming 4-3-3 becoming 2-1-4-3

LyonAttack1

Both FBs (black circles) are very high, on the line of the

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Juventus Compact Defense

By Stevie Grieve

Massimiliano Allegri was appointed Juventus coach in the summer after the departure of Antonio Conte to the Italian National Squad, and has tried to adapt the Conte 5-3-2 formation and solid defensive system, to a more expansive 4-4-2 diamond formation, using the energy or Pogba and Marchisio in central midfield while giving Tevez and new summer recruit Alvaro Morata more freedom of movement by playing a front 2 with an attacking central midfielder giving a central presence behind them.

This has led to success in the Champions League this season, and currently leaves them in an almost untouchable position at the top of Serie A. A large part of this is the coach and team’s ability to alter the 4-4-2 diamond and change to a 5-3-2. In the game v Borussia Dortmund, Andrea Pirlo was unavailable and inside the 1st 20 minutes, Juventus lost exciting midfielder Paul Pogba to injury.

The coach reacted to this by changing to

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