How tactics became a topic of discussion in football

Is it a transition game or an acquisition game? 4-4-2 Diamond-shaped or flat? Three or four defense? What about medium or low mass? Even if you never ask yourself these questions, they should fuel discussions during the Euro and underscore the increasing importance given to tactical analysis in the specialized media, with the power of statistics and scholarly commentary. In the Netherlands, the 3-5-2 scheme chosen by coach Frank de Boer since the start of the competition is almost a national affair.

Does this justification threaten to make football a business Geeks Who think they are omniscient, data fed and disappointed in the game, as its critics think? Before answering this question, to understand the current madness, we must go back to the role we took on the field in the mid-2000s, when football achieved a tactical revolution.

“Game plans, which previously depended mainly on players’ talent and management of their impulses, are becoming more and more complex. raw material The analysis became more consistent and attracted the attention of the public and the media, summarizes Christoph Koechly, journalist and football specialist, in particular the world. Pep Guardiola’s arrival on the Barcelona bench in 2008 prompted him to understand the technical and tactical springs of his team’s quality of play. “

The era of “super trainers”

He and his rival Jose Mourinho, who managed to crown Porto and then Inter Milan in the Champions League, technicians with charismatic and pioneering personality, and then inaugurated the era of “super coaches”. While Spain won it all, between 2008 and 2012, with its evolving game, Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa laid the foundations of the cult that he later sparked.

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The game changes and calls for new tools to understand it. Tactical vogue began under the influence of the statistical culture of American sports, but two Britons pointed out: Michael Cox, host of lead blog Zonal Marking, and Jonathan Wilson, journalistic author The Inverted Pyramid: The Global History of Football Tactics (Heart of the Pyramid: A History of Football Tactics, Orion, 2008).

Read also: Pep Guardiola, coach and tactical genius

In France, Marcus Kaufmann (So he presented) or Florent Toniotti, who participated in the “Data Room” program on Channel + (2014-2016) and now heads the media platform Cuparina, are the pioneers. The unexpected success of 500 pages of How do you watch a football match? By Rafael Cosmides, Gil Juan, Christophe Koechly and Julien Mamont (Solar Editions, 2016) confirms demand.

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Tess Larson

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