This is the first of what I hope will be a series over the course of the season that analyzes in detail goals that we both score and concede. For its debut I will use the goal Citeh scored against us on Wednesday. So, start up the YouTube video and follow along. I’m going to tell you where to pause and what to look at:
0:28 Yaya takes out the ball. We have our two centerbacks (CB’s) behind him and the two fullbacks (FB’s) on each side a little further forward. This is the more traditional definition of a back four. However, this being Barcelona that will quickly change. Citeh is in a 4-5-1.
– 0:32 This is where the mistakes begin. Let’s take them one at a time.
- We should always have at least three men back or in position to help in case of a turnover. Our two CB’s are getting in position to flank the lone Citeh striker on both sides. That’s fine. Meanwhile, Yaya is in the process of taking out the ball which means one of the two fullbacks should stay back to cover for his absence until he delivers it and comes back. However, both of them advance, leaving acres of space between Yaya and the two CB’s, sort of like the “Too much separation between the lines diagram” in my last post. How do we know which one of the FB’s made the mistake? We should always have a player on each side of the field playing right against their respective touchlines on the wings to keep the opponent as horizontally spread as possible. Look at the video. You’ll see Jeffren on the right already having that covered on his side whereas Pedro has cut into a more central position which means nobody is stretching the field to the left. Thus, Maxwell is doing the right thing by moving up the left to play as an “extremo” and spread the field to that side. Montoya should be staying back.
- At the risk of attracting the apocalyptic wrath of the Yaya, I will question his decision making on this one although I think I can understand was his rationale was. Again, look at the video. Citeh is playing their five man midfield line tight and horizontal. Our whole midfield line (minus Yaya) and forwards are behind them. Yaya is thinking that we have a five on four opportunity if he can get a through-ball past the Citeh five man line. This is ambitious considering that Jeffren and Maxwell were wide open on the wings. However, this is the Yaya we’re talking about so of course he’s going to go all in. So he readies to put a through-ball past the Citeh five man line. The thing he does not consider is that although we have a 5-4 advantage on one end, this means that if we lose the ball then we will have all our forwards and midfielders minus Yaya behind five Citeh midfielders and a striker. It’s a tradeoff but Yaya bets the house.
– 0:33-0:34 The Yaya tries the risky through-ball. At the last second, the center man on Citeh’s midfield line reads his intentions correctly and runs back to pressure Busi. Hindsight is 20/20 but at this point Yaya is probably regretting not having passed to Guddy, Jeffren or even Maxwell. The Citeh center-mid does not reach Busi in time to steal the ball but is about to reach him in time to pressure him. Also, note Jeffren. When he sees Montoya running up, he cuts in thinking it’s an overlap. I can’t blame him for this because all he probably sees is Montoya who conversely had a much clearer view of the whole field before he advanced. Meanwhile, Maxwell is probably confused by Montoya’s advance and retreats from his own which is a good safe decision by him even though he should have been the one advancing instead of Montoya.
– 0:35 Busi receives Yaya’s pass but is immediately pressured from behind and in front. He takes and ambitious/risky decision and tries to play a “wall” or “one-two” move with Bojan but the pressure of Citeh’s center-mid results in his pass going astray right to the feet of a Citeh CB. Maybe he should have taken the safe route and played it out to Jeffren or the out of position Montoya but I put a little more blame on Yaya for putting him in this position. Bojan is facing back to try to receive so he can’t immediately turn around to pressure and thus the Citeh CB has a clear view to pass to the waiting Citeh midfield. The result of Yaya’s gamble? It’s now four against one in the middle. Since that “one” is Yaya, this would usually be considered unfair odds (for Citeh that is). However, since Montoya is out of position on the right, Maxwell has wisely retreated on the left, and the two CB’s are busy in the middle flanking Tévez, there one huge hole on the right.
– 0:38 Ireland was brilliant here. He comfortably receives since it is four against one and is in the process of playing a one-two with Tévez who has wisely retreated to play as a forward pivot seeing as how he is double teamed. Bojan is furiously trying to catch up with Ireland but is too far behind. Meanwhile Petrov has hit the jets on our right wing (their left) and is already past the backtracking Montoya. Also, Maxwell has our left wing covered. Now, Ireland has a decision to make before he even receives the ball back from Tévez.
– 0:39 Bojan is finally catching up to Ireland but it is too late. Montoya has already been burned to a crisp by Petrov at this point his shirt should have read “French Toast”. Ireland then makes a pass which takes some quick thinking and great vision and one touches it to Petrov. If he had taken even one extra touch then Bojan would have either stolen it or committed a tactical foul. Notice Puyol. Our Captain Caveman screws up by keeping Petrov onside. However, notice how he spends one split second staring at Petrov, apparently seeing Montoya’s mistake and vacillating on whether he should stay with Tévez or go after Petrov. That split hesitation meant he did not look at Ireland in time to get back so as to put Petrov offside. Mistake by the Captain although it was a hard decision to make considering the other screw-up’s before he committed his own.
– 0:42 Great pass by Ireland. Perfectly weighted. Montoya is vanquished and Petrov has a one on one with Pinto. Maybe Pinto should have run at Petrov to make himself bigger but I can’t blame him for losing such a clear cut one on one in so much space.
– 0:43 Citeh scores. Everybody gets pissed off.
I hope that was at least somewhat insightful. So, what did we learn?
1) If Yaya is taking out the ball, only one FB should advance. We need at least three men behind when an opponent plays a single striker. Especially a dangerous one like Tévez.
2) There are two sides to every gamble. Sometimes they result in a goal but at other time we get something like this. Yaya gambled and lost. He got impatient and went for the homerun, advancing too far and putting himself and his defense in a bad spot although his mistake was exacerbated by Montoya’s error. If Montoya had stayed back we very well may not have conceded.
3) Our attacking style has a price.
4) Kids make mistakes. If we start playing younglings, it’s almost inevitable to get a few situations like this although hopefully they won’t cost us as much.
If I never post again, it’s because the Yaya unleashed his rage at me and disintegrated me with his mind. Hopefully he’ll be merciful and let me live but we’ll have to wait and see. 😀
PS Part II of the Ball Pressure article is almost done.