Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Brighton move without thinking

September 25, 2023 — Brighton moves in ways that I’ve never seen from a team. Players execute movements without thinking. All 11 men are aligned.

If player X receives the ball here, player 1 overlaps, player 2 makes a run through the half-space, player 3 pushes wide on the far-side to open space centrally, player 4 holds his run to pin a defender. Each of these movements depends on the angle, speed, and position of the pass.

Figure 1.1 - Ball is passed to Pervis Estupinan who is on the overlap, then Kaoura Mitoma makes a run to the top of the goal area

Once Kaoru Mitoma saw that Pervis Estupinan was going to attempt an overlap, he knew exactly where to place himself. He aimed his run for the top of the goal area. The cross whipped from Estupinan landed right on his head for the goal.

What makes Brighton special is the speed at which they execute these automations and the depth of the movement. All ten outfield players move with a specific purpose, making it hard for even those in the stands to track, like me. Other teams move to occupy space, but Brighton moves to move the opponent.

You need to watch for who is holding their run, who is making a run, who is backing up to make space for someone making a run. Everyone is on the same page.

Automations don’t hamper creativity; they set guidelines for which players can deviate, allowing for freedom on the ball.

It instills confidence in everyone because they know what each player will do. You would be more confident in attempting a dribble or pass if you knew where the next pass could potentially be.

Lewis Dunk speaking to The Mirror:

“We practice so much that we know every scenario. One presses from this angle and one presses from that angle. We know where the ball should go to pass the pressure. We know it inside out and do a lot of hours on it.

Football-wise, since the new manager at Brighton has come in, I see football in a completely different way. I picture it differently, and that is the biggest thing. Football is not what I thought it was.”

They can more easily predict where each player will be because each player has a job. They’ve been coached to arrive at this area when the ball is passed at this angle. If I move here, I know I’ll have X amount of options when I arrive there.

Even without a quote, I can tell by watching that they practice this so often that any player, no matter the primary position they play, could fill in and perform those same movements in another position. This gives the manager the ability to chop and change the lineup without seeing a significant drop-off in possession.

Roberto De Zerbi has made Brighton a tactical petri dish for which the entire footballing world watches to see what it creates. But only in possession. Out of possession, Brighton isn’t impressive yet.

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