The Roar
The Roar

Nick Gerver

Roar Pro

Joined March 2020

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Detailed tactical analysis of A-League football/soccer matches, looking at formations, gameplans, strategies, movements, and everything else tactics. Comments/feedback? Contact me on twitter @ALeague_Apart, or visit me at www.aleagueapart.com

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I watched the Brisbane Adelaide game and am catching up on the Glory CCM game, haven’t decided whether I’ll do those ones yet!

Sydney FC 3-1 Wellington Phoenix: Tactical analysis

Thanks mate! Hopefully I’ll be able to knock another one out this week!

Sydney FC 3-1 Wellington Phoenix: Tactical analysis

Thanks!

I had planned to go through all the teams during this period but got slack and distracted with some other ideas instead. I’ll be watching the Brisbane v Adelaide game with interest to see how the sides continue with their changes in leadership (and personnel), and I’ll see if I can put some thoughts down in an article.

Preview: Sydney FC versus Wellington Phoenix

Unfortunately I think Cacace is destined for bigger things than the A-League!

I’ll be watching on jealously from Melbourne, enjoy the game!

Preview: Sydney FC versus Wellington Phoenix

Tough one to call actually! I think Sydney work better as a unit, but Wellington have better flashes of quality.

The previous fixtures between each other were very attacking, and could have seen more goals. On the other hand, I’d expect to see some lack of fluency in the play due to the stoppage/potential lower fitness.

I think a tight game – a 1-1 or a 2-1 either way.

Preview: Sydney FC versus Wellington Phoenix

Haha fair enough! Let me help you:
You: Teams are crossing more when they are losing! But why?
Me: When a team is winning, they can drop deeper defend more passively, protecting and packing players into central areas. This makes it difficult for teams to play through and penetrate the defence centrally and forces teams to play out wide instead.
You: Is it also because they are running out of ideas and just want to whack it in the box?
Me: Quite possibly. Although crossing is still a legitimate strategy – just look at how Liverpool cross the ball from their fullbacks, and how Kevin De Bruyne loves to swing a cross in.
You: Great! And there’s something about how crossing has increased over the past 5 years?
Me: Yep, especially crossing when losing. A team today is more likely to cross the ball when they are losing than compared with 5 years ago.
You: How about Home vs Away?
Me: A team crosses more when they are at home than when they are away.
You: Is that because they have more of the ball when they are at home?
Me: I’m not entirely sure, but that’s definitely on the right track!
You: Why are we crossing though? Your analysis says only 1 in every 81 crosses results in a goal! That’s crazy low!
Me: A previous analysis on the EPL showed that their numbers are surprisingly about the same as ours!
You: I guess that’s why even with such a small percentage, we end up with 51 goals!
Me: You’re really getting the hang of this, I should be paying you to understand and form an opinion based on the data!
You: Now what’s this about fullbacks crossing the ball a lot? How does this relate to anything you’ve just mentioned? It looks like you did some analysis and just decided to chuck it in on the end.
Me: Spot on.

Crossing in the A-League, Part 2: Game state, home/away and more

I agree – it’s certainly a multifaceted thing which has more factors than “we’ve coached it out of our players”. It’s one of the reasons I started writing – the commentary and punditry was a bit echo-chambery.
I get the feeling that one of the reasons has to do with playing in summer – a high intensity press is not particularly sustainable in summer, so defences are more passive and central, resulting in easier possession forward and wide. The resumption of football in a colder climates and thenproposed shift to winter could be an interesting time to watch the trends. Maybe an analysis of pressing intensity and crosses faced is in order…watch this space!

Crossing in the A-League: Where has it gone?

The main problem with xG as a concept is that it is only assigned a value when a shot is taken. So if no-one gets on the end of a cross, the xG value is 0.
So a perfect cross that puts a scoring opportunity on a platter which the striker just can’t get to gets an xG of 0, while a hit and hope cross that a striker gets the tiniest touch on might get an xG of say 0.1…which doesn’t necessarily match the value we place on either cross.
There’s a concept called non-shot xG which assigns xG values to every spot on the pitch, and looks at the probability of scoring from wherever the ball is – but that’s a bit too complicated for me!
Wyscout (where I got my data from) defines it as: A cross is considered successful if the next touch is by a teammate. Someone linked an article which suggested that the six seconds after a cross delivery were just as relevant as the cross itself. https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2017/feb/12/football-crossing-premier-league

Crossing in the A-League: Where has it gone?

Thanks Chopper! I do plan to have a look at the other teams in the league, hopefully will manage to get through everyone before the season picks up again!
While I’ve highlighted a few points, it’s certainly difficult to break them down – the points I outlined aren’t easy to implement and take advantage of, especially a coordinated and organised pressing move, which would need a lot of training ground effort and would require a certain level of fitness.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few changes to make Jay O’Shea provided with a bit more freedom to run in from deep to attack the box with someone dropping in to cover accordingly. Maybe Muratovic pulling further off the front line? Or rotations with the wingbacks or attacking midfielders?

The Fowler tactics that inspired the Roar's revival

Thanks for all the positive feedback!

The Fowler tactics that inspired the Roar's revival

The Melbourne City game was a great example of how to nullify Brisbane.
Block passing lanes, high press, with the team shifting up accordingly – if passing lanes into the second line (central midfielders and wingbacks) are blocked, Brisbane find it very difficult to bring the ball forward. Followed up with a high press, the ball will often find its way to Young (GK), who will play long.
Compact centrally at the back – Brisbane struggle to play through a packed defence. Holding them up at the 18-yard line means they will struggle.
Draw defenders out from the back line – the centrebacks will come out of defence to stamp out play in between the lines, while the wingbacks will press hard on the wings. If able to draw both players out, a forward can make a run into the wide space vacated.
Gamble with overlapping centrebacks – there’s a fine line between not tracking the centrebacks as they go forwards, and opening them up in behind on the counter. I’m not really sure about the answer with this one – WSW showed how effective this can be, but you also don’t want to give up free crossing opportunities everywhere.

The Fowler tactics that inspired the Roar's revival

I’d say it’s a bit of both – the change of players allowed them to better implement the tactics they wanted to play.

Brown provided a solid left wingback, and as you mention, Hingert back from injury meant he was able to play the right wingback slot. From there Neville is freed up to go back into the centre of defence, and the three centrebacks seem to have a good chemistry.

With McDonald coming in, Muratovic and Wenzel-Halls don’t play attack midfield as much (they still lack a bit of creativity, intelligence and guile for these positions for my liking), while
O’Shea can drop into centre-mid where he can dictate play better.

Amadi-Holloway is an interesting one. On stats, he seems to be the most productive player up front for the system, but has played very few minutes since January. My gut feeling is that Muratovic fits the patient possession based game better, so Amadi-Holloway is relegated to the bench, where he provides a fantastic option for a plan B when Brisbane are struggling to play through a defence, or to help hold up the ball when winning.

The goals from the drubbing against Sydney were all due to them playing a slightly higher line, which Sydney used to cut them apart – Brisbane’s centreback’s aren’t the paciest.

The Fowler tactics that inspired the Roar's revival

I gave myself a pretty tight timeframe of a week to put this together, although it was only from time spent outside of work. Ended up with a few later nights and certain members of the household not too happy 😂 !

I watched most of the games since mid-Jan, and they were an absolute joy to watch! Because Brisbane are very consistent in the way they play, after I’d seen a few, I was able to speed them up while watching. It definitely makes things a lot easier once you know you’re looking for certain shapes or actions/triggers. Although the appearance of their 3-2 shape and the 5-4-1 popping up kept me on my toes a bit.

The Fowler tactics that inspired the Roar's revival