Tactical BS: An Introduction

Tactical BS is a writing series I will add to frequently. In Tactical BS, I will analyze a single single tactical trend, a specific aspect of a team’s game plan or performance, from a single team in a single game.

Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola’s decision to go man-to-man against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final

The thing about soccer is that each match contains a countless number of tactical decisions that are made by the Manager before the match, or by players in the heat of the moment. Strategy is hard to prepare for and act on. Think about it. 22 players on the field at once. There are no timeouts. One 15 minute break sandwiched in the middle of two halves of consecutive soccer that are always at least 45 minutes long. A single player doesn’t have the availability of getting tactical help from a coach and games rarely if ever follow set plans. Players get hurt. Players get red cards. Opposition teams counter your tactics. Opposition players are better than you. Players lose confidence. Players get fatigued. Players may just flat out disagree with the manager’s tactics and act on that disagreement. And let’s be clear: any and all of those occurrences happen incredibly often. When players are on the field they are alone. You can’t ask coach about adjustments when things don’t get your way. Improvisation is necessary at almost all times. Each player has to digest a ton of information from the ball and 21 others around them to determine how they will act at every single moment in the game.

With that being said, it’s easy to see why there are a countless number of tactical trends that could and do appear over a single game. Each of these trends are important to the outcome of match. And just as individual players’ decisions impact the game’s tactics, larger more widespread tactical trends impact the game’s other tactics as well. When these personal decisions and team’s tendencies are put together over 90 minutes, you get a soccer match.

Former Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp employed a highly effective form of intense counter-pressing while leading his side from 2008-2015.

So I can’t analyze all trends. I can’t even analyze all the important trends. They’re pretty much all important, and they all grow and feed off of each other.

Thus, in Tactical BS I will analyze a single tactical trend, from a single game—It’s direct and indirect effects, the players involved (could be a whole team), the success or failure of the tactic, the response from the opposition, the evolution of the tactic in the first and second halves, the evolution of the opposition’s response. These trends can be lineup decisions, substitutions, formations, player tendencies, team-wide pressuring or lack thereof, etc… The goal is to figure out how a tactic fits within the overall scheme of a game, and find its relationship to other events in the game.

My first Tactical BS will be focusing on the opening game from Euro 2016, France vs. Romania.

But whatever, it’s all BS anyway


I am currently studying computer science at USC but hail from the great Houston, Texas. Follow me on twitter @therealschoen

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