THE FIRST GOAL IS FROM CORNER
Estonia defends with 6 players set on zonal marking plus 3 on man-marking
The Swiss scheme on corner is quite simple and aims at catching a zonal defence unprepared on set-pieces.
For Fabian Schär it is very easy to score since the Estonian defence line is very static.
There are no vertical movements done in order to rise the line and shorten the distance from the attacking players. They have the time and space to run in undisturbed.
SECOND GOAL FAVOURED BY ESTONIAN MIDFIELD LINE
In the second situation that brings Xhaka to score, it is the Estonian midfield line to be wrongly set up on the pitch.
The right flanker should cut diagonally on Xhaka rather than marking the man with in the box (red circle).
The defence is once and again static and when you play at certain levels, you cannot leave space for a shot from distance.
THE THIRD GOAL
The ball this time comes from the right side. The Estonian defender (Mets) is in the wrong position on the striker (Seferovic) marking. Mets leaves Seferovic alone in the box in the attempt to anticipate Shaqiri, however in an untidy way. The Inter fantasista is too keen in playing in short spaces and finds the pass easily for Seferovic free to shoot at Pareiko.
By Giovanni Costantino
The Italian Serie A tactical wits might attract interest from abroad sometimes. However, are they really useful?
The echo of Sampdoria’s all-forward kick-off style has reached also Estonia. In words to Õhtuleht, Levadia’s coach Marko Kristal described the set-up as an attempt to bring some surprise into the game or simply pressure the opposition (Lazio) since the beginning of the game. ‘There’s a chance that the coach has simply watched too many NFL play-offs,’ concluded jokingly the Levadia’s gaffer.
Is it really the case? We asked our tactician, Giovanni Costantino, UEFA B licenced coach and youth coach at FC Futura Juniorit, the youth teams of FC Futura Porvoo (Finland).
‘This set-up it is used to give unpredictability to the kick-off,’ explained the 30-year-old coach from Sicily ‘in the initial minutes of the game, it helps not giving any benchmark to oppositions about the formation that will be used.’ Was NFL an inspiration for you? ‘We don’t watch American football in Italy to get tactical inspirations, I am quite sure as a lot of people implement this in Italy,’ explained Giovanni ‘this is just a psychological move to get some advatanges.’
Giovanni stresses the fact that also Zdenek Zeman has been implementing this trick. The Bohemian coach (recently fired at Cagliari Calcio) showed the same set-up at kick-off both in Pescara (see video at bottom) and more recently with Cagliari (see picture on the right in the game against Inter).
Does Giovanni believe in the effectiveness of this scheme? ‘I’ll tell you what my course teacher was telling me: ‘’if you prepare this, you can do 1-2 times each game. If you do it more, then you will get sacked.’’ Obviously he was meaning that if you kick off the ball quite often, it means you let in too many goals…’ Zeman’s ears are certainly whistling right now.
‘I don’t prepare them for my games,’ confesses the young coach born in Messina ‘I prefer to spend time to prepare set-pieces.’
Levadia’s 1-0 win over Nomme Kalju on Matchday 23 was a significant result in the title chase, moving Levadia to within three points of leaders Flora and above Kalju in the table, but it also brought into focus the tactics deployed by the top teams in the league.
The title race has been back and forth so far, with no team significantly taking control of proceedings. Indeed, Flora appear to have taken advantage of not being involved in European competition, and Infonet’s recent revival has lifted them in to 4th place, leaving them just four points off Kalju in 3rd.
Teams from Sillamae in 5th place downwards are dispatched relatively routinely by the big boys, barring a few anomalies (Kalju’s recent 0-0 draw at Narva for example), giving rise to the theory that the title will be won and lost in the matches solely featuring the top 4 teams. As all of the teams appear set in their tactical ways, this may very much be the case.
RdS has been scrutinising each of their strategies, and here we give you tactical analysis of each of the protagonists.
Current leaders Flora are one of many teams to deploy this formation. Luigend and Lepistu form a solid central midfield partnership, providing cover in the middle and support for the full backs.
Alliku and Logua are industrious, and like to drift inside to link up with Beglarishvili in the centre. They play a quick passing game, and very much focus on their four attackers linking up with each other.
In Albert Prosa, they've got a proven, clinical striker, who has good pace and strength, and he is also a good link-up player with his team-mates behind him.
Where Flora are perhaps weakest is in their lack of an out-and-out flair player in the mould of Allan (Kalju) or Manucho (Infonet). If they are pressed enough and not given time to work the ball around as they like, they don't always have that extra edge to get the ball where they need it.
Alliku, Beglarishvili and Logua are tricky players, but they are happiest when they are part of a quick-moving attacking unit.
- Good quality attacking players who are able to move the ball around quickly
- A proven striker to lead the line
- Lack of a genuine flair player
Levadia are the only team in the top four that resist 4-2-3-1. Their bog-standard 4-4-2 has attracted claims of archaic and out-of-date thinking, but in Teever and Ivanov they have a dangerous partnership, which is Levadia's biggest strength.
Subbotin has been a revelation this year, coming in from the right-wing to smash in an impressive number of goals, while Elhussieny provides trickery and reliable ball control on the left. Levadia like to get the ball wide to these two, and this forms a huge part of their approach
Levadia's two central midfielders are expected to participate both defensively and in attack, which puts more responsibility on their shoulders than in the other teams. They have the quality to perform their duties accordingly, but against teams that play three in midfield, they occasionally struggle to get hold of midfield.
In their recent 2-3 reverse at home to Infonet, this was particularly prevalent. Nahk and Melts put their focus on stopping the central midfielders feeding the wingers, while Aidara was able to break away when on the counter in the absense of a specifically defensive-minded midfielder.
If they can get the ball wide and feed the two strikers like they did against Kalju recently they are going to win more games than not, but if a team can pack the midfield and cut off the supply to Elhussieny and Subbotin, they might stand a chance.
- Two strikers who know where the goal is
- Tricky wingers who contribute both goals and assists
- A numerical disadvantage in the centre of midfield can lead to a surrending of control
- A lack of flair in the centre of midfield
Kalju are another team who use 4-2-3-1, often reverting to 4-4-1-1 when in defence.
Tarmo Neemelo usually leads the line for the 2012 champions, and his strength and hold-up play make him an ideal target man. Where he does lack, however, is in pace and flair, but his goalscoring record cannot be argued with.
Allan's absence on the left-wing for the remainder of the season is a huge blow for Kalju. His pace and trickery mean he has the ability to win matches on his own. Damiano Quintieri is often used on the wing, and despite seeming more at home in the centre he is a reliable option with his all-round quality.
Wakui is the nucleus of the team, operating in the trequartista role behind Neemelo and aiming the pull the strings in Kalju's attack. Wakui's movement is one of his biggest strengths, but the Japanese seems to go missing in the big games when crowded out by, say, a two-man defensive midfield.
Where Kalju have the most options is in the centre of midfield. There isn't such a focus on defensive responsibility, but Reginald offers a more defensively-minded option. Mool and Vunk are proven players at this level, with Prates offering something more attack-minded.
Kalju have struggled to create chances against the bigger teams, with Neemelo receiving insufficient support in attack. With or without Allan, a lack of support in the centre to meet crosses has been a recurring theme, as Kalju like to play wider than, say, Flora, and seem to stretch themselves too wide.
When chasing the game, a familiar sight is that of balls being lumped into the box to little avail. Ball retention isn't much of a problem, but clinical play in the final third can be, and if any team might suit a 4-4-2 it would be Kalju.
Putting Quintieri alongside Neemelo would give the attack balance, with Wakui and Reginald performing opposing roles in the centre of midfield, but the pitfalls of this formation are the same as what Levadia occasionally suffer, something which coach Igor Prins is obviously keen to avoid.
- Good wingers who can beat a man and put in a good delivery
- A proven goal-scoring target man up front
- Differing options in central midfield
- Poor support in the final third, particularly for crosses
- A lack of link-up between attackers
Infonet's pre-season ambitions of qualifying for European football appeared to be a little ambitious after a quarter of the season had passed, but a recent resurgence has coincided with a return to form for Manucho and Aidara.
The former leads the line with aplomb. His sheer athleticism and eye for goal have been the difference in several matches this season, and without him Infonet are much worse off.
Aidara sits in behind Manucho, and offers a similar athleticism. Valov has also found some form, showing the sort of performances that might not have been expected from him in recent weeks. Semakhin has been deployed ahead of his usual right-back position, and depsite a lack of genuine pace and skill, his industry and distribution have taken many by surprise.
Stalwart Konstantin Nahk still oozes quality on the ball, and provides a reliable defensive midfield option alongside another proven player in Tanel Melts.
Infonet are a team that like to mix up their attacking approach. They can get the ball through to Manucho via the athletic Aidara, or through the use of the wingers and overlapping full backs, who like to get forward. Their wingers aren't the strongest in the league, and a lack of depth in the squad has occasionally hindered them when Valov, Aidara and Harin have been out of form.
Their central midfielders perform their duties well, particularly in their recent 3-2 defeat of Levadia (see above). Manucho is their talisman, and without him they would really struggle. In the 4-2-3-1 system favoured by many, a player like Manucho is absolutely essential to lead the line on his own.
Aidara provides some additional flair, but his inconsistency and decision-making have been called into question at times this season, and it seems a lack of overall quality and depth in the squad could be their undoing.
- A talismanic striker who would find a place in any Premium Liiga team
- Two reliable central midfielders
- A lack of consistent, quality attackers to support Manucho
- A lack of squad depth
With Flora, Kalju and Infonet playing the same formation, their matches are often close affairs, with a focus on individual battles and the ability to break down the opposition's midfield.
Flora appear to be able to retain the ball better in their attacking unit, with Infonet's pace on the counter their focus. Kalju don't appear to have struck a balance in their team, something which has seen them struggle in these games.
Matches involving Levadia differ somewhat...
4-2-3-1 vs. 4-4-2
As can be seen from the graphic opposite, the key movements should centre around the defensive midfielders of the 4-2-3-1 system, as was the case for Infonet in their 3-2 defeat of Levadia on Matchday 21.
Their patrolling of the space in front of their defence cut off Levadia's supply from midfield, and limited their ability to get the ball wide.
Aidara's freer role behind Manucho allowed him to get in to the space behind Levadia's midfield on the counter, and to draw the defence to him. This created space for Manucho, whose flair thrived in such space.
Levadia's strikeforce didn't get the supply they needed, with the ball hitting the Infonet defensive-midfield wall on several occasions.
This approach is effective when the team is set up right, but for Kalju against Levadia on Matchday 23 it didn't pay off.
A static striker given no support and a technically-gifted trequartisa lacking some flair aren't conducive.
Flora's attacking unit can hold the ball better in these types of games, and they seem to have better balance, allowing them to play their way up the field.
It looks like Flora’s title to lose, despite their philosophy not quite going the way they wanted. Levadia are their nearest challengers, but a reluctance to conform to a 2-1 setup in midfield could work against them against the stronger teams. If they can forge their way down the wings in the big games, they will be there or thereabouts.
Kalju’s lack of creativity at the sharp end has seen them fall short in big games, and a similar lack of a back-up plan will see them continue to hit brick walls until they can make their attack work.
Despite Infonet’s apparent master key to the big games, their lack of squad depth and reliance on Manucho can’t go on forever. How long they can keep up their current run of form remains to be seen, and their underdog tag means they don’t feel the pressure of the teams above them. This could be their undoing though, with a lack of experience also undermining them every so often.
Chris Johns' Premium Liiga final table prediction
El clasico is one of the most important matches in Estonia, for tradition, for history and for teams level.
Flora and Levadia didn't have a good start of the season but they always offer many interesting situations when comes to tactics.
Flora's opener comes from corner kick.
As you can see all Levadia players (pictue below) are practicing man-to-man marking style.
From the picture below, you can see that Levadia place one player on each goalpost and two player outside the goal using zonal marking.
Corner kick is long and goes over all players' heads. Levadia defender's header (picture below) clearance wasn't good as he probably thought to be under pressure.
The situation was really dangerous for players and in these moments, what is important, it is the reactivity.
Best player for this was Alliku that scored first goal of match.
You can see on the following picture the body position of players.
Antonov (nr.6) didn't read so good the situation and it was too easy for Alliku to reach the ball first.
Action start from left where El-Hussieny (picture below) was one-on-one against Flora's right fullback.
Flora's defenders line is not perfect, the distance between players is too great in this situation.
Teever (picture below) is against 4 Flora's defender but again the defensive line is too outstretched. Instead of covering the space, they try to take the ball away from Teever's feet.
Teever, after good control of the ball, makes a pass on the right to Rättel.
n the following picture the situation is quite clear.
Flora’s defence and midfield lines are highlighted in red. You can notice how and why they didn't work so good together, especially because they are almost on the same line. The left midfielder of Flora (in the red circle) didn't control Rättel (top of the picture) and he moved easily to the center ready to serve the upcoming Subbotin who smashed it past Toom.
We have asked our tactician, Giovanni Costantino, to take a look at Kalju’s game against Viktoria Plzen and tell us what went wrong.
Regardless the final result, Nõmme Kalju vs. Viktoria Plzen was an historic achievement for the Estonian club: reaching the Third Qualifying Round of Champions League happened only once before in the country’s football history.
It was an award to the good job done by Kalju over the past years.
Obviously, there is a big gap between Kalju and Viktoria for a couple of reasons: the competitive level of Czech football back home is higher than the Premium Liiga one and Viktoria themselves have a good European experience. They know very well that details are really important at this level.
All the four goals came from set-pieces: important situations during a game of football if you consider that around 30-40% of the goals netted come from those. It is like a game into the game. We can agree that football is a sport where situations matter and on set-pieces all coaches are aware that is easier to implement some schemes to score goals.
Let’s have a look at the four situations that let Viktoria leave Tallinn with a robust 4-0 advantage on the return game.
In this situation Kalju was hindered by the fact that the number of Viktoria’s players in the box was exactly the same as theirs (picture below). As a consequence Kalju was compelled to man marking in the box without possibility of releasing a man outside of it.
In my opinion there are way too many players opposing Horvath take (two forming the wall and Wakui). They are way too much concerned about Horvath whereas at least one (maybe Wakui) must have guarded the edge of the box: Horvath could only cross the ball from that position, instead Limbersky has an open space to shoot.
Viktoria Plzen men in the box are very keen in creating space for Limbersky’s shot to go through, this is a proper and fundamental team work.
We can agree Plzen was lucky in the end considering the two deflections, however the situation was well prepared.
Here there are several and compound mistakes.
Last weekend, in the Gambrinus Liga, Viktoria performed exactly the same scheme against FK Pribam in their 4-2 away: the scheme is implemented by a short corner kick pass on the first post where a player prolongs it with a header to the second post for an upcoming teammate.
There were three players in that zone: Kimbaloula, Wakui and Voskoboinikov (picture below). Wakui was well positioned; Kimbaloula was too far from the touchline and Vosko, instead of being in Teleś box, should be guarding the edge of the main box some meters away of the smaller one.
Horvath, ca va sans dire, is completely free and asks for the ball repeatedly: apart from marking, situations like this should be immediately read however no one manages to.
When Horvath reaches the ball, there are thre Plzen players free in the box (picture below).
This is obviously never a good thing when man marking: your task is to take care and watch the player’s movement, not the ball. Kalju players are all going after the ball and forgetting to control the opponents.
Another corner kick, another mistake. Again Vosko is too close to the goal as in the 0-2 situation. Kimbaloula’s position is not useful for Kalju’s defensive set-up. A man marking would have been more suitable here (picture below)
Additionally (picture below) Duris is not closely marked, was basically totally ignore and let run all the action until he scored.
The last goal situation is very similar to the others (picture below).
The basic principle on set-pieces is always to guard the correct zone and/or implement man marking.
After 0-1 the man marking slightly improved, however when guarding the zone there should be at least two players.
If only one is available, he should always cover the first post.
Especially in a situation like this when a left-footed player (Horvath) takes the corner kick from the right: it is physically impossible that he would be able to send the ball into Teleś small box as, on contrary, the trajectory is driven outwards. The same would apply to a right-footed player taking the left corner-kick.
In these situations, who is zone marking, must place himself some meters away from the goal.
In the following picture, there is a good example of man/zone marking mix on a corner kick (the screenshot is from an Italian Serie A game, AS Roma vs. AC Milan, corner kick is taken by AS Roma)
Goalkeeper’s box is covered by two AC Milan players (in white) A placed on the first post and B on the second.
It is important that A and B would communicate with each other, because B can observe developments in the penalty box much better than A and can warn him on what to do earlier.
With the first qualifying round of Europa League completed, we go into next week when the second qualifying round will mean the debut in this competition for the Estonian Champions, Nõmme Kalju.
We have asked our tactician, Giovanni Costantino, to take a look at Kalju´s game as a whole ahead of the challenge with HJK Helsinki: flaws and virtues.
Before introducing Nõmme Kalju style of play, we shall describe in few words what Estonian football in general is: non-prolonged possession, few tactical game, rare technique with just some quality players making the difference during matches featuring mostly physical football.
This time we will analyze the draw between Kalju and Sillamae Kalev (0-0). Sillamäe is a good side too but the results in Premium Liiga so far are not as good as the chairman expected this season.
Nomme Kalju can be considered top-notch for quality of players in Estonia; the club can coount on a good technical staff made up mainly by Igor Prins (head coach) and Getulio Fredo (assistant coach and head coach before Prins joined Kalju from Levadia). Getulio is a brazilian coach with a lot experience and last year the league title came almost undisputed.
One of the main issues that I have noticed in Kalju´s game build-up lies on the coordinate movements between central midfielders (either Ceesay or Puri, sometimes also Wakui when he is lined-up deep-lying) and defence line.
Basically, the central midfielder are way too distant from the defence whereas they shall get closer and collect the ball to restart the action.
In the above situation, it would be preferable that among the two midfielders, one would go to collect the ball and the other go across the midfield line to cover the space. Take a look at the gap between the two midfielders and the defence line and how close they are to each other: it gives a lot space to the opposition to exert pressure on the defenders and make them commit mistakes.
The immediate consequence of this situation is that in many occasion, the central defender holding the ball, opts for a long ball to the main forward (this happens especially when Kalju plays the 4-2-3-1 and the only striker is nr.99 Neemelo). The striker will try to use his head to pass it forward to closer teammates and continue the maneuver (as shown in picture below).
A lot of goals scored by Kalju came from similar movements.
However, when squaring up with sides like Sillamäe, it is quite awkward to implement this scheme: in fact you can notice that the Easterners are covering the space with 3 men against 2 Kalju strikers, in this situation it is quite difficult to find the way to the goal.
In the second half you can find similar situation featuring the other Kalju´s forward, Voskoboinikov. Signed at the start of seaon, the 30-years-old international is often employed in the 4-2-3-1 as lonely striker shifting with Neemelo, or in partnership in the 4-4-2 Prins has also been implementing during the season.
Voskoboinov has more skills in his feet to play the ball compared to Neemelo, however you can see (picture below) that the style of game is the same as when Neemelo is in. It´s not a case they have been renamed ´The Twin Towers´ when playing together up front.
Also in the above situation, Sillamäe are covering the space and itis very difficult for Nõmme Kalju to find a solution to score a goal.
During that fixture, Kalju had few problems in finding a way to score a goal in general: Sillamäe implemented a defensive system that didn’t give to Kalju the opportunity to have prolonged ball possession when trespassing the midfield line. In the following picture, you can notice how Sillamae cover all the pitch with many players in defensive position.
Let´s analyze now two positive things about Kalju´s game which make them one of the best sides in Estonia.
We will view both at a offensive and a at defensive situation.
The offensive situation is coming from the right side. Kimbaloua (French youngster who made a big name for himself in Estonia as refused Norwich academy to come to the Baltics) is holding the ball there.
At that moment, all Kalju players are covering in a good way the offensive line:
In the above situation Kimbaloula´s got many options:
- he can pass the ball back
- he can do a 1 -2-1 vs. the defender
- he can pass the ball short if a teammate gets close
- he can cross the ball to the nearest of furthest post
Having all these options is very important as it gives opportunity to players to find the best solution.
Additionally, if they manage to cover the front line with many players, the opposition defenders can go under pressure and make mistakes which means chances for the attacking team.
Let´s have a look at the defensive situation now.
The situation above offers a nice example of good defensive situation, not very often appreciable in Estonia.
Defensive line is well lined-up and Sillamae players who are close to the ball, have 4 Kalju players that don’t them give a chance to play as the passing channels are all shut down.
Compactness and defensive concentration are the fundamentals if you want torecover the ball and avoid suffering a goal.
Welcome to this new section of ´Rumori di Spogliatoio´ where I will analyze goal situations from a random match of the weekend action.
We will focus on Kalev (dark kit)-FC Infonet (white kit) – Matchday 13 – two clubs that will fight until the end of season to avoid relegation to Esiliiga.
After 6 minutes Infonet scores the opener with Kalimullin.
Kalev’s goalkeeper has already big responsibility for this goal for two reasons:
- the shot has not great power
– the shot is aimed at the post he is supposed to defend
When Infonet conquer the ball, the positions are the following:
Considering the imaginary ball line, there are 4 Infonet players and only 3 Kalev ones behind that: whenever defending players are less than attacking players, there are always big troubles for the defending team.
In this situation we can see that Kalev central defenders do not coordinate their movements as one of them is trying to get the ball back and the other one instead of covering the position, he is trying to recover the ball too.
Left and right backs are not in the correct position either as they should never be behind the line of the central defender.
In this situation, it is an easy task for Infonet to score a goal when you have 4 forwards against just one defender. The Kalev´s nr. 77 is trying to cover the central zone however it´s basically impossible to do that; the nr. 26 is in a terrible position and he is running in the wrong way: he should run toward the central zone where the attack is coming from
Second Infonet goal is at minute 51 with a through ball.
At the moment of the pass, we have 4 Infonet players (still not in correct position, however they´re in midfield) and 5 Kalev ones: in this very moment, Kalev don´t have any set-up line, the players are far from each other and a team stretched over 80 mt. is a vulnerable one.
Here comes the big mistake: the central defenders should always be a few meters behind the right/left full backs in order to cover the space in similar situations. In the goal situation, it is an easy task for Smirnov to score as left full back and central defender are very slow.
Now let´s analyze what happened at minute 75´ when was Kalev to score.
Following a throw-in in the box area the ball is back passed to nr. 23 who sends it in the box.
The Infonet defense line is not badly set-up however, nr.5 (the one in the middle of the above picture) makes two gross mistakes: – on the moment of the cross, he stays where he is and he doesn´t rise up to leave the opponent in offside position; – he is behind the forward when he should stay in front of him. Another mistake is committed by nr.14: he is not placed in the correct position as he should stay between the man and the goal. After the cross, he is late in covering the space where the Kalev´s goal will come from.
At 78´ Infonet rounds up the score to 3-1 from a set-piece.
On set-pieces situations, the defense line must always be on the edge of the box in order not to let space to the opponent for long balls. It is also the ideal situation for a goalkeeper, as he won´t have too much people occupying his view or creating confusing situations.
On the set-piece execution Kalev is practicing man-marking however, if you observe attentively, 3-4 players are actually not on the man but just looking at ball: it is a huge mistake as it makes strikers´ life very easy.
Here you can see and understand better what I mean as we have 4 Infonet players left against 3 Kalev ones with the remaining 5 players just watching at the developments of the action, is it quite unbelievable, isn´t it?
The final score will be 4-1 for Infonet playing away.
The last goal comes from a penalty, and our attention will go on analyzing how the penalty was made possible.
Kalev players on the left side should go pressuring the Infonet player holding the ball and running. They should push him away from targeting the box and compel him to go in the corner for two reasons:
1) no danger can be brought once the opponent is pushed in the corner zone
2) defending team mates will have time to recoil and cover the central zone
Instead, this is what happens few seconds later:
Infonet player has all the space available to run in.
What central defender implemented to cover? He just left all the space to nr.18 and he was also the one to commit the foul that led to the penalty.