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Tactical Analysis: The Secrets of Dominance in football

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Tactical Analysis: The Secrets of Dominance in football – sustained dominance through clear JDP ideas, top physicality and technique for execution

People don’t get it, football is all a matter of who gets where first. Liverpool and Man City taught everyone the secret of success: sustained dominance through clear JDP ideas, top physicality and technique for execution.

Others are now copying. Both Man City and Liverpool are the best because of the quality + confidence of winners/coaches game plan, but that’s it. Now Chelsea are up there with them. Arsenal next.

Sustained dominance is built on a singular palette of demanding tactical ideas. It must be refreshed every 3-5 seasons with new blood who are still fresh to those ideas. Of course, this requires proactively replacing/slowly phasing out high quality players so it’s hard/costly.

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City can do that. Chelsea can do that. City for instance over the past two seasons have bought Dias, Grealish, Cancelo as well as Foden from the academy (18-25 years: pre-prime or just in it). They bought these players for A LOT OF MONEY. These are grade 1 instant impact players.

Liverpool brought in Jota, Thiago, Konate. Only Thiago was a Grade 1 player. And he was 29-year-old and injury wracked. Unfortunately for Liverpool, 2/3 of their Grade 1 players are already declining in Firmino, Mane and Van Dijk. Even Robbo, but let’s not be too harsh.

Liverpool are not as qualitatively efficient as City at refreshing a squad and how can they be? How do you replace the differential quality of Salah without spending a lot? Mostly, it takes spending. Differential quality is very rare. No coach can escape losing such quality.


There are two ways of constantly having the ball;

– Holding on to it when you have it.
– Collecting it from your opponents as soon as they get it

Man City are the best at holding on to the ball. They are also one of the best, if not the best, at collecting it as soon as you have it.

Meanwhile, Liverpool also have these same principles. But there is one problem. Liverpool are relying too much on collecting it back rather than holding on to it. When they have the ball, they are not taking care of it well enough. They attempt to attack directly too frequently.

It is too direct for Liverpool because they try TOO OFTEN to create from low-probability ideas/situations: direct lumps forward to runners. They have been direct before but they went through Alexander Arnold a lot more before. TAA is, however, a special creator.

Trent A. Arnold is like De Bruyne, Mesut Ozil, David Beckham etc— unreal at finding people with a ball from distance. That means it is PROBABLY OK to go directly through Trent A. Arnold frequently, as Liverpool truly did previously. Now, however, something has changed a little in that dynamic

Klopp wants Liverpool to be less predictable and has been introducing a greater deal of more variety through central creators in Henderson/Thiago/Ox/Elliot etc.

Good, right? However, all of this means Trent A. Arnold is getting less of the attack ran through him than previously.

Since Liverpool are trying a lot of low-probability creation attempts, TAA is what made the difference in the margins.

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Those direct lumps forward (not crossing) to runners are now getting done by other less special creators and the paucity of those attempts are showing.

Because the attempts are low probability, Liverpool are turning over the ball to the opposition too often.

Previously, they just simply collected it back because they had great structure and physical monsters at the back. They are still doing it well.

However, more teams are now copying the same ideas in possession as Man City and Liverpool and this means that they are more efficient and effective at turning those balls into goals.

These teams can also execute because of the technical quality they possess. Arsenal, West Ham, Brighton etc.

The fundamental problem is not that Liverpool are using other creators apart from TAA (in fact, that variety is good) but that the very ideas of their creative gameplan makes them vulnerable against good, efficient teams. City are not as fast/direct for exactly that reason.

Liverpool succeeded previously because teams hadn’t matched their clarity and quality and so they could more easily win those balls back and start another attack.

Teams were just not as well-assembled and organized as Liverpool were. Even the big ones. Now that is changing.

Every single day that passes by, Liverpool’s current game model gets weaker as more clubs start going the Arsenal, Chelsea, Brighton and West Ham way. Wolves, Brentford and Crystal Palace are coming. Liverpool need to adjust or they are going to be in so much trouble.

Do you remember the first half of City vs Liverpool? Liverpool vs Brentford? Liverpool vs West Ham?

Why did Liverpool lose control of those games?

Simple: they couldn’t keep the ball well enough and those teams had the quality to consolidate.

Imagine losing the ball so frequently against teams that have the likes of Sane, Foden, Saka, Kimmich, Lukaku, Partey, Kroos, Fati etc?(These are either breaking the line passers or outlets).

They will punish you. This is why City play so safe and robotic until they are ready to attack the box. They respect the opposition more.

Maybe you don’t like how City play football, maybe you feel Liverpool are more exciting, more human—good, but the truth is that City’s football is the product of a perfect thinking process.

If computer algorithms could play football, City’s football will be the most advanced right now compared to Liverpool’s.

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Pep has been playing the most advanced form of football possible in the game ever since his coaching career started. Guardiola is the perfect thinker(maybe?), one of the greatest minds in soccer and his model is always prepared to beat even the good teams with good players.

Basically, every City game is a game from the future. In 50 years, when AIs start playing football, you will remember this little article and this City side.

People forget that football, ultimately, is another game and that all games tend towards resolution. Tic tac toe. Chess. Soccer.

Tuchel’s Chelsea often achieve the same robotic feeling as Pep’s City because of the insistence on safe possession and safe progression to the opposition final third.

Arteta’s Arsenal are the next to evoke this same feeling(Now this statement could look stupid).

Klopp is an emotional coach. He wants to rouse the crowd, get their blood pumped, their fists flying and their throats breaking. He is a Roman senator, arms astride, robes flying, high in the Colosseum, the sun rising behind his shoulders and a crowd baying for blood and honor.

While soccer is the closest game to the human condition in its roots, its accessibility, in its communal nature and ability to produce moments that stick in the mind like meat in the teeth, it is ultimately another game that is meant to be resolved. Pep is the whirring computer.

Ultimately, the computer will win against the senator, even if the senator has his moments. The only reason that the senator is still in the fight is because he has learned a few things from the computer himself. Klopp’s Liverpool have been slowing down.

However, Klopp does not have the process that birthed Pep’s ideas/conclusions. His thinking is different, less efficient, more flawed and more human.

Liverpool lose the ball despite having the ability to keep it because the soul of the team’s possession ideas is not pure.

They just won’t. Why should they respect Brentford that much? Why should they fear West Ham? Play brave, play without fear. Play for love, honor and country. Play as free men. Play for your families and your fans in the stand. This produces exhilaratingly intense football.

Meanwhile, City can play with a kind of fear against good teams (especially in Europe). They can play with a kind of trepidation, a trance-like thing where they go through the process, where they keep the ball but with no life in it.

City are a bloodless team and this has stopped them from total domination.

Guardiola’s Barca were different because they had players who considered themselves the best in the world and never fell into the kind of self-doubt Pep’s City have sometimes fallen in.

Pep basically needed more fearless players. Players who never second-guess themselves.

This is why KDB always plays in Europe.

Ruben Dias.

Phil Foden.

More than anything, these players have brought an injection of fearlessness into City. They can play with blood on their nose.

READ: Three of the Most Common Football Tactics Explained

This means City are more functional than before when it gets scrappy. When things don’t go smoothly according to plan. That mentality is important because of the kind of surprises football can throw up.

All Liverpool needs is new ideas. Klopp has pinned teams so much lately and it has become so predictable in a way. It’s is time for a reassessment game plan from coach Jürgen.

But What is JDP?

JDP stands for Juego de Posición as known in Spanish. JDP is Offensive Concept.

Why is JDP an Offensive concept?

Juego de Posicion comes down to giving the offense a set of guidelines to play within a structured scheme. The playing field is divided into specific zones with four vertical lines and some horizontal lines.

The players will have specific tasks and responsibilities within these zones depending on the phase of the game. The unique thing about this concept is that the options are predetermined by the position of the ball. If the ball is on the left wing at midfield, then the zones that must be occupied are entirely different than when the ball is on the right half of your own 18 yard box. The team must use continuous ball-oriented shifts when in possession. These shifts must be coordinated to give the team as many passing options and running lanes as possible while simultaneously causing the opposition problems. Short passes, switched balls, and the rotation of the ball’s position are all important tools that are defined by the complex positional tasks assigned to the players.

Tactical Analysis: The Secrets of Dominance in football

GOAL: The goal of “Juego de Posicion” is that the zones and the tasks within them are flexible and can be occupied and used by different players. There are usually problems in the implementation in training or the adjustment and understanding of the players.

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