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As you can guess by the title, this will be about possession. More specific possession with an intent to attack, to outscore the opposition. Secondly, if you have the ball you can not concede goals. Due to this getting quite long, I will include a table of content here. So what will be the inspiration for this project? Firstly and foremost of course the current Manchester City manager, philosopher, serial winner - Josep Pep Guardiola. Along with that there will automatically be inspiration taken from Guardiola's mentor Johan Cruyff, inspiration will also be taken from other figures from Guardiola's career, such as Juanma Lillo, Marcelo Bielsa, Louis Van Gaal et.al. Cruyff is probably seen as the godfather of Total Football today, even though he started out as a player for Ajax under Rinus Michels during the 60s and 70s. Mostly famous for their pressing, passing and complete players. Michels wanted his players to be able to play in any position all over the pitch, and in a team holstering stars such as Johan Neeskens, Ruud Krol nobody really came close to Cruyff who was this teams heart and soul. He started often out as a striker but was usually allowed to go where he pleased, because there have not been a footballer post (nor pre) Cruyff who had a better understanding of space. He always knew where to be, when to be there. Master of movement and understanding of the game. Michels Ajax utilised the 4-3-3 formation. After his playing career Cruyff had a successful managerial career, most famous for his Barcelona dream team playing a re-invented form of total football. The team bolsted some world class talents especially in the offensive zone, Romario, Stoichkov, Hagi and Laudrup. were all players of the highest standard. One of Cruyffs finest gifts was to spot true talents. Worth a mentoning from this team is also Pep Guardiola and the man with the horse kick for a left foot Ronald Koeman. Alltogether this elaborated nicely with Cruyffs focus on individual brilliance, flair full attacking football, always utilizing wingers hugging the line on each side of the pitch to stretch opposition defenses, otherwise Cruyffs team was very individual driven, the talents were given time and space to shine. When it came to defensive instructions Cruyffs methods were very laissez faire. One of his most famous motivational speeches ahead of a cup final was plain and simple “Go out there and enjoy yourselves”. This mixed with his confrontational personality is probably why he never seemed to last very long at any managerial post. Cruyffs Barcelona utilised the 3-4-3 formation. The image is a bit off but it shows some of the players at least. Worth of a mention is that spain had a foreigner rule that stated just 3 foreigners was avalible for each game. As a consequence one of Koeman, Stoichkov, Romario or Laudrup missed every game in the leaugue. Louis Van Gaal was inspired by Cruyffs Barcelona and based a lot of his Champions League winning Ajax side from 95 on his formation, even though Van Gaal was much more system based than the individualistic Cruyff. For Van Gaal the system always came first, he was always very clear what he wanted from every role and every player in the team. Nevertheless Van Gaal saw it as his own duty to entertain the crowd. The CL winning 95 team was based almost exclusively on own products and had some players returning after their foreign careers was winding down. How was it possible to win the Champions league with such a team? Well the own youth players were not your average lot. This was a true golden generation. The team bolstered future stars and seasoned pros such as Edwin Van Der Sar, the De Boer brothers, Edgar Davids, Jari Litmanen, Marc Overmars, Findi George, Frank Rijkaard, Danny Blind, Clarence Seedorf, Patrick Kluivert, Nwanko Kanu. One season before the CL glory another special player left this team, Dennis Bergkamp. Van Gaals Ajax Utilised the Cruyffian 3-4-3, even though Van Gaal after this period exclusively went to 4-3-3. Marcelo Bielsa is a very system driven manager, always demanding every player to fulfill his duties, when it clicks the attacks will be direct and effective, everything is rehearsed and has pre set patterns. Bielsea is a big advocate of video analysis and is always extremely well prepared. He often adapts his formation to have a spare defender, so facing 2 striker system he uses three central defenders. Facing 1 forward he will use two central defenders. Bielsa's biggest success came during his stint at Chile, where he managed a team including stars such as Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Gary Medel, Claudio Bravo, Eduardo Vargas and Mati Fernandez. All of those players are perfect examples of what Bielsa demands, hard work comes first. Ability to carry out his instructions is important and finally, the ability to make something unexpected with the ball. Pep Guardiola and Total Football v3, or Juego de Posición (eng: positional play). Pep has so far managed three teams with great results. The main abilities Guardiola looks for in a player are often the same abilities he bolsted himself as a player “Guardiola was a highly creative, hard-working, nimble, and elegant player, with good anticipation, tactical awareness, and an ability to read the game”. Regarding JDP “ it consists of generating superiorities behind each line of pressure. It can be done more or less quickly, more or less vertically, more or less grouped, but the only thing that should be maintained at all times is the pursuit of superiority. Or to put it another way: create free men between the lines.” - Adin Osmanbasic for https://spielverlagerung.com/ The team so far considered to have mastered the JDP most is Guardiola's Barcelona team. With his Barcelona team Pep was always targeting to create space for the central players to combine and and create, mainly through the half spaces. This style was patient and relied on short passing. The pressing was intense and the target was to win back the ball quickly. One key aspect was when Busquets joined the defense and the wing backs pushed forward, mainly Daniel Alves. Outstanding players of this team were probably Messi, Xavi, Busquets, Alves and Iniesta. Guardiola's second great team were his Bayern team, Including stars such as Neuer, Lahm, Alonso, Müller, Robben, Ribery, Thiago and Lewandowski. This team was at his appointment already the best team in the world. Pep was hired to rework and finetune Jupp Heynckes team which was playing fast and direct football and a kind of soft gegenpressing practiced by a lot of german teams. This combined with Peps JDP created a team that at times produced thrillingly fast possession football. A perfect blend between keeping the ball and attacking with pace. The defense often pushed very high to take advantage of the worlds finest sweeper keeper and his abilities to act as a 12th outfield player. Neuer possessed such abilities with his feet that he probably would have been able to play in other positions as well. This team was probably the team during Peps tenure that was the most vertical, putting emphasis on moving the ball forward rather than lateral (sideways). This team wanted to create space for the wingers to use the halfspace. This team also made the inverted wing back popular (Lahm when not playing as a standard midfielder, Alaba) Peps current team is Manchester City which in my opinion is a great compromise between the verticality of his Bayern and the patience his Barcelona team had. The pressing fine tuned to block passing lanes if the ball is not quickly recovered. The passing is patient or quick during different phases of the game. The team have often used one inverted wing back for number superiority in the central areas. The width have often been kept by wingers and or wing backs. The players this team want to create the half space opportunities for are the double 8s Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. If Neuer was the keeper setting a new standard for where the goalie positioned himself and the ability to use his feet. Ederson has all of this but also the best long distribution the world has yet to see, beeing able to pass the lengt of the field with precision. Key players in this team I would say are De Bruyne, Silva(s), Sterling, Agüero, Ederson and Fernandinho. This leaves us with some key aspects of JDP. RM key aspects: *Pressing. *Short passing. *Complete players (wanted his players to be able to play in any position all over the pitch.). 4-3-3 JC key aspects: *Individual brilliance, lots of freedom *Finesse rich attacking football. *Wingers hugging the line. *Three at the back. 3-Diamond-3 LVG key aspects: *System driven. *Clear and strict roles. *High press and defensive line. *Short passing. *Entertaining football was the objective. 3-Diamond-3, later 4-3-3 MB key aspects: *Intense pressing *Spare man in defense *Quick vertical passing PG (Barcelona) key aspects: *Create space for the central players in the half spaces. *Re-invention of the False nine, a central attacker dropping to midfield for numerical superiority. *Patient and relied on short passing. *Extremely good control of the ball - press resistant players. *Moving opposition laterally. *Win back the ball quickly. *A midfielder joined the defense and the wing backs pushed forward. 4-3-3 at the peak. PG (Bayern München) key aspects: *Create space for the wingers in the half spaces. *Attacking with pace (vericality). *Played out of the back, but with varied passing range. *Utilized sweeper keeper. *Inverted wing back(s) supported the midfield. *Intense pressing. 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1 and some more, very flexible. PG (Manchester City) key aspects: *Half space mainly used by the double 8s. *Mix of Bayern and Barcelona, vertical and lateral passing patterns. *Playing out from the back, with players capable of hitting the longer pass. *Blocking passing lanes. *High defensive line. *Uses counterpress at (long) periods during games. *Inverted wing backs used at times. Very flexible and varied formations even though 4-3-3 is used as a “mother shape”. This are some of the most common and fundamental pieces: *Short passing. *Intense pressing. *High defensive line. *Maximize usage of half spaces. *Have at least one player on each side using the full width of the field (to use lateral passes). *Versatile players, intelligence and technique favoured over physique. *Using different methods to gain numerical advantages (attacking wing backs, inverted, midfielders dropping, forwards dropping and sweeper keeper. *With this advantage, create overloads with extra and or free men. Then Switch play to other side. Some more inspirational quotes from Guardiola himself. -JC used to tell me that if I was fouled, it was on me, because I held on to the ball to long. -Attack is based on innate talent, defense is about the work you put in to it. Defensive strategy is absolutely essential if I want to attack a lot. -Tiki-Taka is a load of ****. Passing for the sake of passing. I won’t allow my brilliant players to fall for all that rubbish. -I would rather die going forward than stay alive defending. -All I do is look at the footage of our opponents. Then try to work out how to demolish them. And some said about Guardiola. -He has shown me 200 videos and taught me concepts: when to move out with the ball, when to mark, where to position myself. He is incredible. Javi Martinez. -He watches the oppositions previous 6 matches, plus targeted highlights provided by his head of analysis. Carles Planchart. -My job is to bring you to the last third; your job is to finish it. The last third was freedom for us. But when Pep has a plan, you respect it. Thierry Henry. Info: I have continued playing on this save: 4-4-1-1 a very flexible tactic and the long term development now managing Manchester City season 24/25. This leaves us with the in game interpretation of this. As formation goes I will use two of my slots for different versions of a 4-3-3 (4-1-4-1 wide). The last slot will probably be some experimenting to see if I can get the dutch 3-4-3 with a diamond midfield working. But for now, I will focus on the both versions of 4-3-3. They are quite similar and I use one of them away and the other one at home. I will begin with the latter. For starters I wanted the team to follow a lot of those principles. I decided that a great starting point was this Guardiola quote: I would rather die going forward than stay alive defending. According to this the teams mentality could not be Very Defensive, Defensive, Cautious or Balanced. If I then add this quote: Attack is based on innate talent, defense is about the work you put into it. Defensive strategy is absolutely essential if I want to attack a lot. I think that Very Attacking is also out of the question. Also probably the Attacking mentality because it leaves the defense quite un attained. This leaves us with only the Positive mentality left standing. Positive mentality leads to knock on effect on a lot of Team Instructions. The following TIs will be altered due to the mentality. Width - Increased, We will play wider. Passing directness - Increased. We will be playing more direct. Tempo - Increased. We will attack with more urgency. Defensive line - Higher. We will defend closer to the half line in possession. Line of engagement - Higher. We will engage the opposition deeper into their side of the pitch, Press intensity - Increased, We will work harder to regain the ball once the opposition pass the line of engagement. Risk - Increased. We will take bigger risks with the ball, players will have more creative freedom. All together that puts us up to a good start for what I want to achieve, but for us to be able to play progressive, attacking possession football we will need to alternate quite a few of those. In possession we will need to use shorter passing. To better keep the ball under control, controlling the play. We will play out of defense, this will lure opposition forward to press our defenders, creating more space for the players fielded further up. The players in the team will mostly be intelligent and technically gifted, physique will just be a bonus, hence we will use low crosses which is beneficial for smaller players, who maybe wont beat a center back in a duel but with cleverness and quickness can beat a defender. We will also work the ball into the box, this will help us looking for clever passes in and around the box, it will also reduce the number of crosses and long shots which means more possession for us. The players will also be allowed to be more creative. This will hopefully break down stubborn defenses, I also think it will be necessary to get the play to look fluid enough with positional interchanges at times. We will also use focus play through the middle, mainly not to funnel play here but to change mentalies of central players (GK, CD, DM, CM with defensive duty). The mentality for said players will be slightly increased, leading to the possibility to use defensive duties without them getting to conservative. Lower Tempo will be used for better control of the game, to have players using that intelligence to make great decisions hopefully leading to higher possession numbers and more killer balls. Regarding the transitional game the team won't use that many instructions. We will use distribute quickly, if the goalkeeper sees an opportunity to launch a counter or get the ball forward fast I want him to go for it, the team overall uses short passing and lower tempo so it will mix things up if the keeper does something uncharacteristic. When said keeper is Ederson with 20kicking and 18throwing he will be extremely well suited to do so. The last one we will use is counterpress, a lot of the previously mentioned managers have used a high pressing system often trying to recover the ball as quickly as possible, counterpess will help with this. It will also help cutting out passing lanes for the player with the ball because often 2+ players from different areas will press the opponent currently holding the ball. And now to the part that is most important to Guardiola, and the part he allegedly spends most time practicing. How do we defend? We will try to restrict the area the opposition has. To achieve this the defensive line will be much higher. The line of engagement will be much higher. The pressing will be extremely urgent to complement this. We will also try to stop the opposition to play out of defense, hence we will prevent short GK distribution. This will all be very aggressive instructions putting a lot of pressure on the central defenders. A tool we must give them to cope is the option to practice and perfect the offside trap. The collected Team instructions I will use: If you made it this far..well thats a good effort! Hopefully sooner rather than later I will discuss roles, positions and the players who will carry out the work. But for now, Im happy with this for a start.