Inför Mjällby-matchen

På lördag är det ännu en av de där viktiga matcherna som GAIS säsonger i allsvenskan brukar bestå av; ett gott resultat anses nödvändigt för att klara av att hålla näsan ovanför vattenytan.


Emellanåt har man emellertid lite extra motivation till att önska ett gott grönsvart resultat och tre sköna nya poäng. Bilden ovan visar det första jag ser när jag kommer in på mitt kontor varje morgon. Nej, det är inte min kollegas handduk som jag tänker på.

För övrigt tycker jag Jonathan Wilson skrev en bra krönika om fördelen med 4-2-3-1 gentemot ett 4-4-2, som jag tycker tydliggör varför hur GAIS kunde komma in i matchen mot Malmö genom att släppa en anfallare för en kreatör på mittfältet:

To begin with, if the playmaker operates close to the holding pair, the team cannot be ”broken” into attacking and defensive sections as Holland and Argentina were at the World Cup (which is an advantage for those sides that believe in a possession-based approach). By definition, by being only a short pass away from the creator, the two midfield holders are more involved in the attacking aspect and at least one of them can be encouraged to press forwards at times, as Xabi Alonso did for Spain, and as Seydou Keita does for Barcelona. So immediately the range of attacking options is increased.

There is also an impact on the creator himself. Playing a touch deeper offers him three advantages. He is nearer the two holding players, who can be considered his protectors, which makes it harder physically to intimidate him, while his more withdrawn position means he is farther from the opposing holding midfielders, harder to pick up and thus likely to have more time on the ball (not that Xavi or Cesc Fábregas really needs more time on the ball; one of the joys of watching Spain or Barcelona recently, or Holland or West Germany of the 70s, is their willingness to give the ball to a man under pressure, trusting his technique to release it and change the angle of attack).

The creator is also more likely to receive the ball facing goal – or at least to have time to turn so he is facing goal – with three team-mates ahead of him (as opposed to one ahead and two alongside) and the potential of others breaking from deep, and so he becomes something more like an old-fashioned playmaker than a second striker who tends to receive the ball with his back to goal. That, in theory, should make the transfer of ball from back to front quicker and thus make a side more penetrative (the example of Chile’s 3‑3‑1‑3 at the World Cup suggested that leaving players perpetually high up the pitch helps in terms of pressing and regaining the ball quickly, but can lead to the retention of possession at the expense of penetration). As Juan Román Riquelme points out, a playmaker is only effective if he has players available for whom to make the play.

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