Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Burnley's basic shape in and out of possession

August 4, 2023 — Burnley used a 3-2-2-3 box midfield with an inverted left-back against Real Betis in a preseason friendly. Goalkeeper James Trafford pushed forward to form a back-four in the first phase.

Figure 1.1 - Burnley form a 4-2-2-3 with the goalkeeper pushed forward.

The frequency at which goalkeepers are pushing forward into the back-line in possession is something to watch out for this season.

That extra man gives the team in possession a huge advantage. Burnley used this method to retain possession but weren’t that effective at working the ball into the other half. Once they got past the halfway line, they more often than not lost the ball.

Figure 2.1 - Same build-up deeper in Burnley’s own half.

Ameen Al-Dakhil inverted from left-back to form the double pivot with Connor Roberts. When James Trafford pushed forward, Vitinho would push wide.

If Burnley loses the ball on their left, Jordan Beyer’s side will be the one to target because both Dara O’Shea and Vitinho are pushed to the right. The goalkeeper’s side is exposed. He leaves, and it’s a 2v1 versus Beyer.

Figure 3.1 - Burnley loses the ball and Ameen Al-Dakhil stops his run forward.
Figure 3.2 - Jordan Beyer pushes infield.

When Burnley loses the ball further up the pitch, Al-Dakhil stops his run so that he can rotate back to left-back. Beyer moves infield, and they form a back-four.

This transition is very smooth. You can tell they’re well-coached to remain aware and cautious of the fact that they will likely lose possession. Al-Dakhil is on his toes, ready to stop and rotate back.

There’s no second-guessing; everyone just moves fluidly.

Figure 3.3 - Burnley defending in transition.
Figure 4.1 - Burnley back in possession switch back to the 3-2-2-3.

Then when Burnley regains possession, it’s right back to the box midfield. They were very impressive last season, dominating in the Championship, and I’m very excited to see what Vincent Kompany has up his sleeve to overachieve in the Premier League.

This was a basic preview documenting their shape. I’ll be watching them closely.

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