Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tactical Talks - Part II

Countering Point 2 of Opposition Dynamics

As stated previously (re: section Opposition Dynamics of Tactical Talks – Part I), this tactic would largely be employed by teams like Atletico Madrid or Villareal, very much teams we need to win against, if we are to win the league. Broadly speaking…
  1. A 4-2-3-1 formation, which is more of a 4-4-2 can be the preferred way to deal with pressing teams. This formation means that we beef up the midfield, and concentrate on stretching the play to the flanks. Before Mourinho re-introduced the magic and effectiveness of defensive double packs to football, most of the teams pretty much pressed play against us and got a result as well. However, in the Galacticos Era, Mark I, we used a diamond 4-4-2 on most occasions, where we stretched play down to the wings and then made our kill down the middle. But back then we had a Zidane or Guti down there in the center, who was capable of making that kill, which brings me to the next point
  2. Having a slightly deep lying tre-quartista of supreme quality is essential against such teams. Teams which press invariably tend to leave gaps which can be exploited to brutal effect, if you have a supreme midfielder orchestrating the midfield. We tried to play this pressing game against Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu and suffered the 6-2 because of Xavi. Zidane has retired and Guti is plying his awesome trade in Besiktas (off the pitch entertainment included), but we have Mesut Oezil, Kaka and Alonso; players capable of playing that final ball, but nowhere near the quality of the three masters stated previously. If you ask me, I think Kaka is past it already and those who wait with beady eyes for the resurrection of God’s chosen child are just kidding themselves (and that’s just a feeling). Anyway, Oezil and Alonso (with Canales as back up) are the two guys whom we can look upon to play this role realistically speaking. Even if they do not possess the quality as that of a Zidane or Xavi, they are certainly players worth their salt and can triumph against most of the sides that would use this formation against us
  3. You might think that I’ve stated a 4-2-3-1 as a preferred formation, but haven’t talked about it. It is because we’ve already been using the 4-2-3-1 for the first 6 match days and as such we all know its merits and demerits. While we can beef up the midfield with a 4-2-3-1 against such teams, we run the risk of restricting width and being too narrow, but then again pressing teams will leave gaps and a 4-2-3-1 would be very effective too. I for one, think that a flat 4-4-2 would be invitation for suicide against these teams for the simple reason that it is rendered ineffective against teams which play a pressing game. These generally employ a striker and a support striker that plays like an advanced tre-quartista (in the hole between our defence and midfield), but actually holds the ball in counter attacks or attracts players and lays it off to the real striker while counter attacking
Countering Point 3 of Opposition Dynamics

This approach would be taken up by very few teams in the world viz. Barcelona and Bayern Munich and considering the fact that we play Barcelona at least twice every season and that these matches are often the title deciders in a season, we need to be spot on with our tactics under such oppositions. Juande Ramos made us play against Barcelona man to man after a season of counter attacking and it was an absolute carnage. Pellegrini made us beef up the midfield and play a high backline; we were pretty during the entire match and with some inspiration in the final third could’ve won as well, but the high backline killed us. I do not have much to add in here, except…
  1. 1. This is Mourinho’s territory; he is simply the best man out there to tackle such teams and I trust his judgement implicitly. I’d be more than happy to play like how Inter did, provided we win against arguably the best Barcelona side of my time
  2. Matches like these need mavericks (re: point 3 of Team Dynamics), those players whom you cannot tie down to any game plan, and who need to be on top form in games like these. If you’ve not already figured that out, these are the matches where our 94 million euro investment is justified. This is the match where we need Ronaldo to be at his devastating best
  3. These are the matches where the fans need to stop being romantic and think practically; the fickle madridistas need to keep their hankies in their pockets and if they do get them out, it should be only to wipe the tense sweat off their bros. And yes, they need to be the quintessential 12th man

We seem to be heading the right way and I would like to see some experimentation with the formations when we’re faced with the different types of oppositions outlined above. The current lack of goals is only a temporary thing I hope, though I will not dismiss it as simply a by-product of a state of transition given the fact that the state of transition has lately become the permanent state of affairs at Real Madrid.


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