Friday, 18 November 2011

4 points on Brisbane 1-1 Wellington

Here are 4+ tactical points on Brisbane's one-all draw with Wellington.

1) Wellington are the Stoke City of the A-League. But in a good way, unlike Perth. 
The Nix, like the Potters, rely on; 
- Fearsome target men to provide an aerial threat and hold-up play; Chris Greenacre and Kenwyn Jones
- Tricky conventional wingers to stretch the play, provide creativity, cross the ball; Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etheringon for Stoke, and Leo Bertos, Daniel and Paul Ifill for Wellington
- A generally counter-attacking style, sitting deep to restrict space behind and between the lines, then breaking with pace and aggression
- An extremely well organised, motivated and familiar defence; for instance Wellington's backline of Lockhead, Durante, Sigmund and Muscat has been largely identical for the past two seasons, which is fairly unique in the A-League

It was this highly organised and familiar relationship between the defenders which allowed them to restrict Brisbane so effectively.

2) Brisbane could do with with a Plan B
This is the second week in a row that a team with a highly defensive game plan, camping on the edge of the box, has drawn with the reigning Champions, who had previously dispatched four teams with various pressing strategies.

Sitting deep is so effective because it restricts the space behind and between the lines. With less space in midfield to operate, it becomes harder for Brisbane to maintain a passing rhythm. With less space between the opposition's goal line and the defence, Berisha and Danning are restricted from unleashing their fearsome acceleration. It also increases the chance that vertical through balls behind the defence will run too close to the opposition keeper. 

Berisha's and Danning's best chances against the Nix came when the opposition backline advanced high. Early in the first half, Paartalu was able to split Durante and Sigmund with a magnificent pass that Berisha latched onto, but he was called offside. Late on, Danning was able to accelerate past Lockhead with Berisha for support, but his heavy touch squandered the opportunity. 

So what can Brisbane do about it? They could try signing a physical target man, like Ibrahimovic for Barcelona or Llorente for Spain. Or they could try using Broich as a False Nine on a more permanent basis, foregoing the central striker. His flair and technical ability in close quarters, deployed close to the opposition central defence, could become the keys to every stubborn defence in the league. Think about it; when Barcelona are presented with a massed defence, it is Messi as a False Nine Guardiola turns to, to tip the balance.
3) Broich is undoubtedly one of the most intelligent footballers in the league. 
Take for example his free kicks; against Victory, he anticipated the jump, so went for a low free kick that scored. Anticipating Wellington's wall wouldn't jump, he flicked the ball over for Berisha to finish. 

An apt metaphor for Brisbane's style; you can literally put a wall in their path, but they'll find a way around. 

4) Fullbacks as wingers; seems legit
Late on, Daniel was substituted for injury, with new signing Tsattalio, a nominal fullback, deployed on the wing. Although his impact as such was fairly minor, deploying an attacking fullback as a conventional winger has become a popular trend in Europe, and was reminiscent of Gareth Bale for Tottenham, Seamus Coleman for Everton and Matthieu for Valencia.

The obvious advantages are that a modern fullback is more like an old-style winger anyway; with the wingers cutting-in, the fullback is expected to advance and provide width. But attacking fullbacks are able to provide that same aggressive intent with defensive awareness, which means they are able to restrict the advances of the opposition's own attacking fullback. 


FootballCore said...

Great article. Although Brisbane had quite a few chances that they should've put away. The Issy chance was a terrible miss. All those chances went in against Adelaide hence the 7-1 score line. I do think the defensive counter attack stratergy is the safest route to play Brisbane. However I think the Roar will improve as a result.

Pass and Move said...

Cheers for the comment FootballCore, its much appreciated.

It's not as simple as 'chances taken vs chances squandered'. Adelaide were playing a high line, and were terrible in their pressing. It was the exact same tactical result as Australia v Germany at the World Cup. Wellington however, especially after their goal, sat very deep, restricting space so that Berisha couldn't accelerate.

Plus as noted above that Wellington backline are highly familiar, whereas Adelaide were using a whole new central defensive pair and right fullback.

Thanks again, do come back

Hamish Alcorn said...

Thanks for your work once again P&M.

As you know I've considered myself, against the words of Ange, that a Plan B may be necessary. I'm still open minded, but was interested yesterday to read this article, a response to England's recent victory over Spain, asking a similar question about Spain: Does Spain Need a Plan B.

The article is well argued, and it's answer is 'No'. I am not comparing the Roar to Spain, but there seems to be parallels.

Pass and Move said...

Cheers Hamish

But Spain DO have a Plan B. Del Bosque can throw on Fernando Llorente to win high balls, and he scored from such a cross two mins after he took the field against Scotland.

Michael Cox argues in this piece that its less a Plan B, but variation.
For instance, Pedro Rodriguez, frequently overlooked, is Spain's only top class winger. Fabregas offers a slightly different interpretation of the passer in midfield, by providing driving runs.

As for Brisbane, getting a target man is a possibility, but not one I would personally like to see. To unlock Central Coast's massed defence, we saw Broich as a false nine for about 10 minutes, and it worked perfectly, creating that goal for Nichols.

Thanks again Hamish

apholden said...

Brisbane may come to regret not adding another passing midfielder to their squad, seems to me they're going to need Broich in the front three more often as the season progresses. Cheers for the analysis again PM.

Pass and Move said...

Cheers apholden, thanks for the comment

Interesting point that, but Ange called Luke Brattan, formerly of the youth team, the best passer at the club. NOT recruiting another midfielder makes perfect sense if you consider Brisbane are very consciously trying to emulate Barcelona; they want their own version of La Masia, with youth players already perfectly accustomed and familiar with the style of play, as opposed to new recruits having to forget old methods and learn the new ones. .

On a related note, by my reckoning that makes Central Coast, Heart and Brisbane the best clubs in the comp at youth development.

zzygan said...

It really does seem that Brisbane need a plan B. Berisha is playing pretty well, and does look pretty good for the most part. It would also be interesting to see if Broich could play in the Spain/Fabregas role (aka the false 10). He doesnt seem to be a natural striker, so maybe that role would give Brisbane a better outlet for getting through the massed defense.

Pass and Move said...

Berisha needs space, if the opposition deny him space, he can't use his pace. I'm just about to publish an article about the False Ten but for Heart. Berisha isn't a False Nine though. As suggested above, Broich might fulfill that role

Thanks for the contribution zzygan