Let's analyse Barca's attack

The Guardiola's Barca is on to their 3rd dream team era through Cryuff and Rijkaard. Winning the champions league last season Barca is said to be the best team ever.

Why is Barca invincible? Their are so many things said to answer to this question. Cantera, tactics, individual work by Messi, pass work, hard work, defending tight and good on the ball, etc.

It is said in particular that such skills of ball controlling, positioning, pass techniques are in high level. You will not be able to understand Barca truly, as long as you say “Barca is strong because they are superior to others in these skills” and stop thinking deeper, which is also dangerous. We are going to take one step forward and analyze Barcas attack from tactical view.

Here we listed up the main theme of Barca's attack from the large point of view to the small.

Put players into wide and equivalent position
  1. Use the pitch wide
    1. Making the distance of the pass longer.
    2. Broadening up spaces for individuals to use.
  2. Making more courses of pass.
  3. Winning the loose ball.
    1. Making the distance to approach shorter.
    2. Making the distance of cover defence shorter.

Keeping the possession of the ball
  1. Not giving your opponent time to attack.
    1. Decreasing opportunities of the opponents' attack and put mental pressure on them.
    2. Saving stamina for an attack.
  2. Mental superiority and confidence of scoring in 90 min.
    1. Quickening mind, not the heartbeat.
    2. Decreasing mistakes of passes.

Using the centre of the pitch
  1. Making more possibilities for an attack.
    1. 360 degrees angle play option= Increasing options for an attack.
    2. Not giving the ball to side-backs during the build up phase.
  2. Using side areas.
    1. Gathering up in the middle→ Use the side areas.(Switching sides)

Surrounding the vital area
  1. Middle range shot
  2. Making patterns of the through passes.
    1. 10-15m chip kick.
    2. 20-30m diagonal pass.
  3. Aggressive defense.

Deceiving the defensive concentration of the opponents- Making a space for others.
  1. Combination running
    1. Making a space by the back (on your back).
    2. Breaking through on the side areas.
  2. If two players are on the same course of pass, pass to the farther player.
    1. Two options between post play and trough pass.
    2. Making free space for your team mate by going ahead of him.
  3. Pulling your opponent together by one-two plays.
    1. Basic one-two plays
    2. Advanced one-two plays.
  4. Receiving in the central point among the opponents.
    1. Side steps and back steps.
    2. Keeping equal distances from the opponents surrounding you.

Standing parallelly in front of your opponent
  1. Head and tails of inside kicks.
  2. One touch in two steps style.
    1. Keeping your head up.
    2. Changing the direction of your body.
    3. Circling with the ball (dribbling in circle).
  3. Changing space of your trap (switch of “receiving space” and “deceiving space”).
    1. By turning.
    2. By moving.

Looking around

3 concepts of “Head and tails of inside kicks”, ”Combination running” and “If two players are on the same course of pass, pass to the farther player” are especially important to understand Barca. Without understanding of these concepts, you will not find an answer to the question like “Why Barca's pass-work is so slow but invincible?”

I will add up more precise details later, but these are the main theme of Bacas attack I know for now.


Advanced way of watching football (How to become a good footballer by watching fooball)

Today, I will introduce an advanced way of watching football (on TV). It is very important what you think during the football game. What you can gain from it will differ by what you think during the gamel. Here, I will introduce the way how you can make most of watching football from the point of a footballer.

1. Choosing a good game

What for are you going to watch football? It is to become a good footballer.
To do that, choose a game with lot of plays that will be a good model to you. But please don’t mistaken it. A good model to you means it’s a play you might be able to do. It is not to jump over the opponent and try to head the ball like John Terry when your height is 150cm, or to demand your self to kick the ball more than 40m with accuracy that of Gerard Pique when you are still U-15.

Of course, if you compare the game of U-15 and professional league, it is different in many ways. Ability such as kicking the ball and sprinting, so as the distance of players, and overall the tactics differs. Therefore, if you try to learn something from games way beyond your ability, it is normally useless in your games.

So, choose a game with good plays but is not so away from your level. For example, World cup or nationwide tournament of your age. Those players might have the same problem you have. They play under same pressure, same situation and looking for solution. Try to copy the way how they approach to the problem and you can make use of it on the pitch.

Conclusion 1. Learn from the top level of your age and make use of it in your games.

2. Watch the same game over and over

If you come across a good game, tape it and watch it over and over again. At first, confirm how the goal went and catch the flow of the game. Second, watch 5-10 min before the goal, thinking carefully about why the goal was made. The third, concentrate on one player and follow him during the game.

If you watch the game over and over again, you will gradually know more precise details of the game which you will not recognize the first time. You will be able to watch other player precisely as well, by knowing what will happen next in the game beforehand. Most likely, essence of football is hidden behind those precise details.

The ex- Japanese national team coach Okada was answering to the interview, that he made decision to change the system before the World cup, after watching the national game over 5 times.

Conclusion 2. You will have better understanding of football, by watching the same game many times.

3. Pay attention to one player

Learning good plays start with finding a good player. Of course, a good player means a player with great performance and contribution to the team, but here I will also introduce a way to choose a player suitable for you to learn. That is to choose a player who plays in the same position and is similar to you in physical abilities.

When a player who’s in a same position and similar physical abilities to you is showing good performance in higher level, there must be something to learn from. Try watching him carefully in slow motion from about 10 sec before he gets the ball. Pay attention to every single act he does and do imitation right there. You might come up with new moves and ideas. Also, try to imagine that players vision and then play. Then, you will know the play is more difficult than it looks and recognize you’re not really able to do just a simple play on the pitch.

Conclusion 3. Try to follow a player in same position with you, stop or watch in slow motion when he gets the ball and you will recognize something new.

Having these things in mind while watching the game, even a boring scoreless game will become very interesting.

*Add 1.

There might be an opinion that it is better to watch in the stadium because you will not see the whole pitch on TV. But you cannot stop or watch in slow motion if you watch in the stadium. The advantage to watch the game on TV is you can tape it and give yourself more time to think about football. Watching in the stadium requires higher understanding of football, because you have to understand what is happening on the pitch real time. So, if you want to watch in the stadium to learn more, the best way is to have a person with high understanding as a commentator beside you. Watching in the stadium have its good and bad.

*Add 2.

I have come up with this way of watching football, when I was watching the play of Cesc Fabregas during U-17 World cup 2003. It was astonishing how Cesc, who is not so different in height with me, rather slender, is making pass in the mid field without loosing the ball. I wished to play like him and understood structure of his football little by little, by carefully analyzing him.


Basic training for "One touch in Two steps dribbling"

One touch in two steps style is one of the core of my football theories. Here, I will introduce you a training which will smoothly teach you to dribble in this style.

It is much more valuable to do training like this, than to train something trendy like freestyle moves or juggling, which is often useless on the pitch.

Fundamental training for all the footballers

Please train with your dominated foot prior to the pivot foot, since you will normally dribble with your dominated foot during the game. The part where you touch the ball is a little bit outside of your instep, on the line of your ankle to your middle finger of your foot. It is the most stable part to control the ball. The toe will be too stiff, outside and inside won’t be suitable for running. This way you will get the most flexible touch.

If you do it for the first time, it will be very stressful to “rub the ball with your instep.” It is because usually, you will not straighten your instep like this, When you walk or run. Also the ball would not roll as you want.

To solve this problem, lift your knee as much to straightening your instep. Therefore you will not scratch your toe on the ground. Although, to do it is actually difficult. Excuse my experience, I have trained for 3 months when I was 18 and finally able to do it.

The standard line will be to dribble in one touch in two steps style at 60-70% of your maximum speed. The key is to keep the interval of landing steps as usual as running. If your right footed keep the rhythm at same beat “ting dong ting dong ting dong ting dong”(RLRLRLRL)

At first your dominated foot will stay up in the air “paper piper paper piper”, but since if you can fix the rhythm at same interval, you will be able to dribble in this style at high speed. Than you will be able to carry the ball through the pitch.

Here is an amazing sample video.

Advanced way of dribbling: one touch in two steps style

I have been saying in this blog that how playing in one touch in two steps style is superior. One of the contents are→”Dribbling of Messi one touch in two steps style” and series of Two touch ball controlling.

Most of the star players showing great performance in Europe, are dribbling in one touch in two steps, proves the superiority of this style. Since some of the players like Pedro and Fleb are dribbling with both feet, this is not the only best though... But it should be known to more people, since such phrases often used by coaches like “accuracy of first touch”, “passing with wide vision” and “playing towards the goal” will be enabled by playing in this style.

What is “One touch in two steps style”?

As maybe you can guess from the name, it is to touch the ball one time in every two steps. Its most likely to touch the ball only by your dominated foot. Most of the left footed players are dribbling like this. As i guess that the part of the brain they use is different from right footed players.

Playing in this style means that you always put the ball in the same position, whenever and wherever you face toward. And you place the ball forward and little bit outside to diagonal direction of your dominated foot. It’s not to change your position depending on where the ball is, but to automatically change the position of the ball (by centimeters), which allows you to control the ball as you want.

Players who are playing in this style, give me the impression that the ball is sticking to their foot. It will naturally allow you to move with the ball. Also, by pushing the ball forward anytime, it will teach you how to use the space on the pitch during the game.

Fundamental advantages of one touch in two steps style

These are the advantages of playing in one in two steps style.

  1.  Can kick the ball anytime→ Can make pass or fake to kick the ball anytime.
  2.  Can change direction anytime→ You can shield the ball anytime.
  3. The ball stays in same position to you, so you don’t need to look at the ball→ Can keep your head up and have wide vision.
  4.  Can kick the ball with your body staying in same position every time→ you can pass the ball stronger by keeping the balance of your body.

What is the most important in football is making decisions. If you are able to play in this style, you can keep the ball and have right vision at the same time. Which is very important to play in higher level of football.

Playing in this style will allow you to look, touch the ball (controlling the ball and dribbling), and kick the ball (passing and shooting) at the same time. In this style, these 3 things are taken as same phenomenon. This will make the players to feel the flow of the game and to control the ball as natural as breathing. Many players in the top level who naturally trick others out, do not separate controlling the ball, dribbling, and kicking. They play smooth like flow of water.

Further advantages of one in two touch style

These are further possible movements able to be played after by playing in one touch in two steps style. I have listed movements that are able to be done smoothly by slight preliminary action.

・ Inside kick
・ Outside kick, toe kick, chip kick *1
・kick fake (using outside or inside of your foot)*2
・Make a turn to 180 degrees angle(outside or the sole of your foot)
・To dribble thorough to the side of your dominated by outside or to the side of pivot leg by inside sample movie→messi dribbling running at the speed
・ Mathews fake sample movie→Sir.Stanley Matthews
・ Double touch movement (inside of your dominated foot→ inside of your pivot leg or outside of your dominated foot→ inside of your dominated foot)*4
・ Scissor move by your dominated foot*5
・ Change of rhythm of taking steps
・ Matador turn
・ Dribbling toward the goal while taking one on one

*1. Only slight preliminary action is needed to kick the ball because the ball always stay by the foot.
*2. It is rather like a kick cancel than a kick fake. In this style, kicking and controlling the ball are possible in same posture. Therefore the opponent will have difficulty in reading your mind. In the midfield, not even without a kick motion, if you look around and take your leg (which is kicking the ball) back a little while dribbling in this style, sometimes the opponent will open the way for you by itself.
*3. You can turn using your outside with slight preliminary action, while stopping the ball using your sole is more likely to be guessed your motion by the opponent because your knee is up high a little. But stopping the ball with your sole will allow you to play the ball in any direction, which is usually unexpected by your opponent.
*4. Double touch movement is effective when you want to dribble through jammed are. But normally double touch with inside of pivot leg→inside of dominated foot is expected by opponent because your preliminary action is too big. So it is better to double touch with your outside of dominated foot→inside of dominated foot if you want to dribble through the side of your dominated foot.
*5. Since in one touch in two steps style, you will always keep the ball at your dominated foot, scissor move with your pivot leg is not very effective. It is like showing your opponent you are trying to dribble through him. But players who is both footed are not likely to be included.

I think these are the techniques which has been refined and selected by those players who are required to make their thoughts and play faster, to play in the top level of football.
All the other techniques are thought to be only one of the options and not as effective.

Two touch ball controlling

In one touch in two steps style, to always have the ball under your control(in front of your dominated foot) is very important. Lesser the time from you get the ball till having the ball under your control become, you can put your head up and settle down faster. To do that you have to watch the ball carefully on your first touch. Then on your second touch, you can control the ball perfectly and put your head up at the same time. jump to→”The reason why two touch ball controlling is effective” for more details.

When two touch ball controlling is done as written above, you will have better first touch and vision on the pitch. This is what you call “playing with wide vision”.

Challenging play

The goal of playing in one touch in two steps style should be always to have the ball under your control no matter how fast you're dribbling.

It is very important to always have in mind of taking shot by controlling the ball in front of your dominated foot. Showing the opponent that you can take shot anytime will give you advantages near the goal. This is so called “playing towards the goal”.

Shooting from the middle after two touch ball controlling or to put the ball aside from the opponent on your second touch and shooting are frequently seen in the top level of football. This will allow you to make way for a shot by moving the ball just a little or go to the other direction after observing your opponent carefully, even when you are dribbling towards the opponent at high speed. The ball will stay at your foot and can take shot the moment after dribbling through your opponent. Therefore play to only deceiving will decrease.

As it was in the explanation, one touch in two steps style is natural in physical structure and will give you advantages in the game by giving many options from one preliminary action. It is also expected to develop the accuracy of first touch effective vision in the game, and thoughts toward the goal.

Dribbling of Messi (Where Messi is using to control the ball)

Do you know where Messi is using to control the ball while dribbling? Looking at the video below carefully, you can see him control the ball with the near part of the toe. Also he is spinning the ball backward as he pushes the lower part of the ball.

Who else can dribble like this? Normally, to have better control of the ball, you would want to control by using instep or near part of it. It seems to be a little difference but very important. Not that I have actually seen him dribbling in real life, but I’m guessing the defenders who actually do would see it as very odd.

Later, I have come up with whom else dribbles like Messi. They are small kids or those who just started playing football. Guessing, they are dribbling freely and the way they feel the least pressure physically. As they move on, they will be taught to correct their dribbling by their coaches and lose their natural style of controlling the ball.

Messi is said that his football style hasn’t changed since his childhood. His naturally acquired skills through playing football in his childhood could be said as gifted.

I think Kagawa from Dortmund and Miyayoshi from Kyoto Sanga FC also dribble the same way. It is maybe because they are used to dribbling in small steps. It could be said that it’s difficult for standard players over age of 15.

So, what I recommend you to do is to control the ball with your instep. →Basic training for “ One touch in two steps dribbling” I have found out this way of dribbling by watching Cesc Fabregass. Personally I think Cesc Fabregass has the most flexible touch on the ball in players who is still active.

One more important thing, when Messi is cutting the ball to other direction (turning with the ball), he does it like reaping the bottom of the ball. He lands his left foot and touch the ball, almost at the same time.

The reason to do this is not just to lift the ball up a little, but to put weight on your left leg, which will be the first step to push your body and accelerate. Touching the ball like rubbing it by foot is important, but your body wouldn’t move agile as you think only by doing this. What you need to have in mind is to take a proper step and to put weight on your dominated foot to enable drastic change of direction.

Two important things to dribble like Messi are dribbling with your toes and to cut the ball to other direction which will be the first step to push your body and accelerate.