The World Cup is over and quickly becoming a distant memory, but the World Cup has been one of interesting tactics and spirit. Plenty of twists and turns and unexpected results have only made it better to watch. But one of the stands out spirits of the competition was the host nation themselves. Prompted by playfootballmanager.com I am going to attempt to win the World Cup, with South Africa.
The key to manage this South Africa team is to play to their strengths. As we seen in the World Cup many of their players posses great pace, strength and discipline, attacking on the counter. It has been a trend in this World Cup to play two holding midfielders, giving extra strength at the back, crowding out any AMC or advanced play makers and in possession allowing for space between the lines. Looking to win the ball as soon as possible and quickly distribute it to players further forward.
Jonathan Wilson cites Arrigo Sacchi, who proved to his own Milan players that team shape is highly effective when in training he played a game of 5 organised players v 10 others giving them 10 minutes to score, only rule was if they lost the ball they would need to start from 10 meters into their own half. This is what I am going to rely on as well as a lot of luck in the draw and maybe a few penalty shoot-outs.
World Cup 2010 has been interesting as we have seen how the successful teams have played two holding midfielders, Spain have done so to help ball retention and break the opposition down, giving alot of ability for their full backs to bomb forward. But Germany using it to protect their not so solid defence, while effectively and efficiently attacking their opposition on the counter. The latter is something that I am attempting to emulate.
Starting with plenty of time till the World Cup finals, the friendlies starting with Serbia and an African Cup of Nations, will give me plenty of chance of development. But to put down my aims for how I want South Africa to play is as follows
- Plenty of protection at the back, reducing space around the goal and reducing the opposition to shots from far out
- Quick efficient counter attacking
- Don’t be afraid to let the opposition have the ball, discipline of shape will mean they can’t be effective with it
A 4-5-1/4-3-3 shape with the two holding midfielders will look to get the ball from defence to attack quickly, Piennar will act as a playmaker in wide areas as it will be a position on the park where he will get alot of space between the lines, looking to draw out defenders and create space he can pass into for the Mphela, who will use his pace and off the ball skills to move around intelligently as a poacher.
Although Serbia did not boast greatest creative threat, they are strong and have some players that can change the course of a game as well as, aswell as a tall target man in the shape of Zigic. As you can see from the screenshot below we looked to reduce the space in the middle. Stankovic’s has plenty of room in front of him but he can’t run toward us because there is little space to run into. He could pass left to his #9 but again they would be controlling the possession but very little place to go. The areas of worry are that their full backs #2 and #3 who have alot of space as my full backs have not got tight enough to them. A good pass to particularly #2 could open up a better chance. I quickly ask my team to play a little wider and thankfully Stankovic hit a long shot that troubled no one.
Again in a similar situation in the second half we see that there is no place to go. There is an available pass for #17 but again as my team won’t be look to be drawn out of position he would need to turn around and beat both my #6 and two in centre back s (#4 and #5). This time after asking my side to play wider and get closer to their wingers, my wingers have come back in support and have plenty of cover against a pass to #11. We out number Serbia giving us spare men to move around quickly in the move.
Our first goal came from a wonderful crafted direct freekick, intelligent movement from my defender caught a static Serbia defence and headed home a great delivery. The Serbia goal from a Rob Green style howler.
But our second goal though shows exactly what I was looking for in my team. Resulting from a Serbia corner I was looking to use pace and quick counter attacking in order to get the goals that we would need so preciously. From the next shot of the game you see that once the corner has been taken and hit away, we are on the front foot. Quickly the team looks to get into position while Mphela has miles of space to use his pace to run into while our #10 gets wide and finds himself with another great big hole to run into and #10 fights his way to the middle to offer a shorter option. None are needed and Mphela manages to compose himself in the box, jinx past one defender who managed to get back and score a wonderful goal.
Again when we look to attack we did so in numbers. Parker (#10) receives the ball and the 4-5-1 setup easily shows why it is important for the wingers or other players to create the attacking advantages by getting 3 men quickly into attack. The ball is played forward and we already see that our central midfielder (#8) gets into a good position running from deep to receive the ball in front of the defender. While we now have a two v two, Serbia have been teased out of shape. Serbia’s number #18 will need to either stick with our #11 creating space for Modise (#8) to attack and #9 moves inside to add another threat. In the end Serbia leave us with little option for Modise further in the attack but to shoot. A better player may have held it up and pass across letting the Serbian defence be dragged out. His shot troubles the keeper who parrys it and under pressure the full back hits it for a corner.
This was the story of the game though and showed from the off that my tactics where doing the job that I wanted them to do. We finished the game 2-1 and never looked like being troubled. Creating 3 clear cut chances from 13 shots and Serbia hitting 14 shots, 10 of them long. Great figures that demonstrate the best use of the ball. Being the underdogs did suit this tactic, but against sides that were going to equally defend as hard it would have trouble. I will look at the changes I made to get at teams I expected to beat.