Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

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Jan Paul van Hecke and Levi Colwill star in Brighton's counter-press

May 27, 2023 — Jan Paul van Hecke and Levi Colwill were the stars of Brighton’s aggressive and brave man-to-man marking counter-press, putting pressure on Manchester City’s midfielders and Erling Haaland.

Figure 1.1 - Brighton man-to-man mark allowing Jan Paul van Hecke to challenge the ball.

Right center-back Jan Paul van Hecke in particular was given license to challenge high up the pitch, as the rest of Brighton cut off the easier short passing lanes.

Figure 2.1 - Levi Colwill steps forward to mark Kevin De Bruyne.
<img src=https://i.imgur.com/BAbd9tV.jpg"">
Figure 2.2 - Jan Paul van Hecke wins the aerial duel against Erling Haaland.

Either one of the center-backs was in charge of putting pressure on the Manchester City midfielder that was furthest forward, while the other marked Erling Haaland.

Jan Paul van Hecke did a particularly good job winning headers up against Erling Haaland.

Figure 3.1 - Brighton collapses on Ilkay Gundogan, shadow covering every outlet left and right. Bernardo Silva is played the ball.
Figure 3.2 - Jan Paul van Hecke comes out to challenge Bernardo Silva and successfully blocks off the passing lane behind him.

Here again, Jan Paul van Hecke successfully comes out to challenge and win the ball back.

Manchester City only needed one opening though, and when Brighton’s man-marking wasn’t on point, Manchester City quickly and easily played through them.

Figure 4.1 - Brighton leaves Ilkay Gundogan free when Rodri advances with the ball.
Figure 4.2 - Ilkay Gundogan plays directly to Erling Haaland.
Figure 4.3 - Levi Colwill is caught upfield marking a man. Erling Haaland lays the ball off to Riyad Mahrez.
Figure 4.4 - Erling Haaland peels around Jan Paul van Hecke, and Riyad Mahrez plays Haaland in on goal.

Levi Colwill’s positioning meant Erling Haaland could quickly dispatch Jan Paul van Hecke with little resistance. A giant gaping hole down the center of the pitch for Riyad Mahrez to play in Haaland.

After conceding the goal from that one chance, Brighton did get one back. The goal featured a brilliant moment of pausa from Jan Paul van Hecke in the buildup.

Figure 5.1 - Jan Paul van Hecke ignores the pass to Ilkay Gundogan and decides to dribble past Manchester City's midfield into space.

22-year-old Jan Paul van Hecke has been getting off-and-on playing time throughout the season, this being only his second full 90-minute match in the Premier League this season.

<img src="https://i.imgur.com/RbMnuDS.jpg"
Figure 5.2 - Jan Paul van Hecke passes to Kaoru Mitoma. Danny Welbeck begins to make the run into space behind Manchester City's backline.
Figure 5.3 - Kaoru Mitoma plays in Danny Welbeck for the goal.

The combination of lax defensive engagement from Manchester City to stop van Hecke, along with poor positioning from Kyle Walker not to challenge Kaoru Mitoma and the space behind John Stones, led to a chance. Danny Welbeck slotted it home.

An impressive performance from both Jan Paul van Hecke and Levi Colwill against the Premier League champions.

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