Fluminense’s tight 5v5 overloads
May 21, 2023
May 21, 2023 — Fluminense’s possession play is unique due to way they overload tight spaces. Yesterday against Botafogo, they consistently forced 5v5 situations to capitalize on their superior dribbling and ball control.
On every possession, Fluminense would choose one side of the pitch, and at least four to five players would venture over to one side, no matter what “position” they would traditionally be labeled as.
Fluminense excels at dribbling and performing one-twos, while Botafogo does not. The plan was clear:
- Work the ball into a 5v5 situation, drawing Botafogo in.
- Play out of the 5v5 into open space.
- Switch the play to the isolated Fluminense forward.
Overload-to-isolate. Overload the right-wing, isolate a forward on the far side, and then switch the play. Simple straightforward football that embraces imagination.
It’s not rigid, and there are no automations. All outfield players are free to be expressive.
Out of possession, Fluminense didn’t use anything too exotic. A simple 4-4-2 allowed them to wait for Botafogo to make a mistake rather than press and attempt to force a turnover.
An advantage of favoring one side in possession was that if Fluminense lost the ball, they could quickly regain possession because they had the numbers to overwhelm the ball carrier.
A disadvantage of favoring one side in possession is that Fluminense would sometimes not have an outlet on the far side. Once they broke out of the ball-side overload, it became a one-man show.
There was no one to pass to, and the play ended there.
Botafogo’s numerical superiority meant that it was impossible for Fluminense to retain possession once they attempted to progress the ball. The rest of Fluminense’s forwards were behind the ball carrier when that player progressed the ball out of the overload.
Fernando Diniz, Fluminense’s manager, is drawing a lot of attention because of this unique system, but I see a lot of similarities to Liverpool when I watched Fluminense play today.
Fluminense is much more conservative in the way they allocate their players. Liverpool commits all ten outfield players to one side of the pitch, while Fluminense only commits five. The rest spread across the pitch.
Both teams’ style of play is entertaining, free-flowing, and unpredictable. I look forward to watching their future matches.