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What is a flank press?

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I have never heard this specific phrase, but it's a generally accepted common practice to press opponent's wide players. It is achieved by either opposition instructions (often) or by utilizing roles such as defensive winger (rarely)

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I haven't heard this exact phrase either, but I think I know what you're talking about.

The goal is to congest the central areas, with a narrow shape, to force the opposition into wide areas where they will get pressed heavily. You'd often hear a phrase "using the touchline as an extra defender".

Here's an example from totalfootballanalysis' Red Star Belgrade / Dejan Stankovic analysis.


With a ball into the centre and a short pass to the centre-backs/holding midfielder out of the question, the opposition ‘keeper sent the ball out to the full-back, where there was space. However, as the ball arrived with the full-back, Zvezda’s shape sprang into action. The players were already positioned very close to one another and this compactness makes it more difficult for the opposition to play through them, especially as they approach as a unit in the high-block phase and press aggressively. The wide central midfielder leads the press and is happy to act as a winger would, coming all the way out to the full-back to challenge for the ball, with his midfield teammates retaining their diamond shape and following closely behind to make sure that they stay compact and make it difficult for the opposition to play through them.



This highlights why Zvezda have got such a low PPDA. They like to congest the centre and force the opposition out wide, where they benefit from the extra defender that is the sideline. When the ball is out wide, Stanković relies on his midfielders’ energy to get from the centre to the wing and the space around the ball-carrier quickly to ensure compactness which will make it more difficult for the ball carrier to progress. Again, the midfield’s energy is key here as the wings are naturally more open in this diamond shape but Zvezda generally retain high energy levels that help them to press aggressively as a unit all over the pitch to quickly regain possession.

It just so happens that I'm playing in a 4-4-2 Diamond / 4-3-1-2 Shape. The goal is to mark central players via OIs and trigger press on wide players. Here are my OIs and how I see it. It might not be 100% correct though.



Here I have all wide players (except the fullbacks) as well as DCL and DCR set to show onto foot that's on their side of the pitch, so MR/AMR is showed onto the right foot, etc. DL and DR as set to show onto the opposite foot of where they play. As you can see in the example image above, the opposition DL (black jersey) is forced to pass inside, but the player receiving the pass is already closed down/marked tight so he can't do much with the ball.

Both of my CMs / Wide CMs (depending on the formation) are told to close down more, and Mark Tighter. the AM and DM / Central CM are also told to Mark Tighter.


I wouldn't imagine this replicates the real word really closely, as you need other players to cover spaces and shift their positioning when one of the players steps up to close down. But nonetheless it should at least resemble how it works in the real world.

(I guess setting up the mark specific player instruction on your players could make them position better to mark central players)



Here's an example from the game. No.14 is my LCM and he steps up to close down the opposition RB and other players are somewhat marked, which is what we like to see. But he instead bypasses everyone by just zooming past them, which is a bit concerning.  (This might be due to us having set the wrong OIs on fullbacks in that game, the players were told to show the RB onto his right foot, which I did quickly change that after seeing this) Thankfully we have Tackle Harder on all wide opposition players so we did end up winning the ball back.


Edited by (sic)
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19 minutes ago, Fmhnunter said:

Thank you for the feedback. I was scrummaging through the forums for an answer when I found something about flank pressing. It is said to be closing down wide players on the flanks then marking opposition midfielders 

If you go on YouTube look up Rashidi(a mod on here) or his account Bust the Net he talks a lot about pressing triggers and traps in some recent videos and it's incredibly interesting.

Edited by Crazy_Ivan
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