Thursday, December 13, 2007


Missing the Point - brief update

A small postscript to my previous musings about the possibility of setting out one's team without a central striker.

In the December edition of World Soccer, which I received in the mail yesterday, there's an analysis of the tactical schemes adopted by Arsenal's esteemed manager Arsène Wenger over the years, from his early days in France, through his time in Japan, to his many memorable Arsenal sides.

His first season as head coach was at Nancy, the modest French club which is, in fact, punching significantly above its weight in Ligue 1 this season. Wenger's basic team line-up for that 1984/85 campaign is listed as 4-4-2, but it's 4-4-2 with a twist, as the accompanying text explains:

In midfield, two workhorses supported two attack-minded players; Ivorian François Zahoui, who roamed wide and through the middle, and Uruguay's Ruben Umpierrez, both playmaker and top scorer. Up front, the small, lively Robert Jacques and Fabrice Picot were essentially wingers; the main goalscoring threat came from deep.

That is seriously interesting. Always liked to think of the 2 wide midfielders as attackers (as in the Roar), but this is a new twist. I'll be thinking on it.
does the recent roma squad also fit this description? i have heard them referred to as a strikerless team. unfortunately the only recent game of theirs i saw was their drubbing at the hands of man u.

this would be a very interesting strategic twist for a team like the roar to try ... don`t have a natural goalscoring frontman? don`t use the position.

also interesting for maybe a sydney before bridges arrived. whilst brosque did his best as a front man, he ain`t didier drogba.

A very slight variation on this formation is also quite common in Brazil (4-2-2-2 or 4-2-4) - with the forward men far more separated than we see in modern times, almost with two #10 kind of players coming through as key goal scoring threats.

It is what the Brail NT tried at and failed at this year's world cup, with Kaka Ronaldinho as those midfielders.

The problem however is that they failed to separate the forwards. Ronaldo and Adriano aren't exactly the best out floating out wide and bringing their midfield counterparts in to the game, rather they are looking for their service. As a result when looking for width Kaka and Ronaldinho were forced out wide, or perhaps worse the fullbacks are forced far too high too often exposing the defence.

It's a great system, so far removed from what is the norm these days. I'd love to go to Brazil or such to see it done properly with proper players (though perhaps the re-emergence of Robinho this year may see him help Brazil do it?) even at a junior level somewhere.
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