Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

We took Eden Hazard for granted

July 17, 2023 — We took Eden Hazard for granted. The little shifts of weight. The small changes of direction to deceive a defender. This being one of those moments.

This clip from the match against Tottenham in 2016 that secured Leicester City their title popped up in my feed.

Figure 1.1 - Eden Hazard receives the ball and does a one-touch pass back to John Obi Mikel.
Figure 1.2 - Once he releases the pass, he immediately moves, drawing his marker backward.
Figure 1.3 - Movement continued.
Figure 1.4 - Hazard stops on a dime.
Figure 1.5 - Plants his foot and then creates separation between him and the defender.
Figure 1.6 - John Obi Mikel passes back to Eden Hazard.
Figure 1.7 - As the ball rolls to Hazard, he checks over his shoulder to see where the defender is.

This is the point to watch closely. The magician is at work.

He was a master at manipulating his body to make the defender do what he wanted.

Figure 1.8 - Hazard moves his right foot to draw the defender to the right.
Figure 1.9 - Defender takes the bait, and now Hazard has created space between the two defenders converging on him.

That move to shift his right foot back, to make the defender think he was going to try to pivot off it, to his right, down the wing.

Then the touch and scan to his left once he has the defender behind him sold that he was going to the wing.

That’s the difference.

Figure 1.10 - Hazard takes a firm touch to the left and quickly shifts his hips, so he's in line with the ball.

Hazard has both defenders at this point. It’s done. They’re both sold.

Figure 1.11 - Hazard maintains his balance as he takes a second touch out of the attempted tackle.
Figure 1.12 - And he's out.

He used the movement of his feet and hips to create the space, and then his low center of gravity got him out of the attempted tackle.

These little moments that go by in a flash, within a couple of seconds, are what we take for granted. It was routine then. Expected. It’s not routine for most.

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