Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Erling Haaland's explosive turn-and-shoot technique

Yesterday, I shared a video of Pep Guardiola demonstrating how to orient the body when receiving the ball. Today, Erling Haaland showcases that technique and uses it to explode off his trailing left leg.

Figure 1.1 - Critical scan, check over his left shoulder, as the ball is passed.

The critical scan’s purpose is to locate Virgil Van Dijk behind him, so he can judge how much space he has to work with once he turns. With less space, he would likely need to take one less touch or possibly go near post.

Figure 1.2 - Ready the body.
Figure 1.3 - Shift right with the middle of the body towards the right, to face where he wants to turn.
Figure 1.4 - Further rotation before the ball touches his foot.

The rotation to position the hips towards the space he wants to attack is important. That’s what Pep Guardiola demonstrated in the video.

Within one motion he can then explode off his left heel. If he doesn’t rotate, that wouldn’t happen in one fluid motion. He would have to take a touch and turn. By then, Matip or Van Dijk could close down the space and block his shot.

Figure 2.1 - First touch.
Figure 2.2 - Explode off the back of the left heel.
Figure 2.3 - Fully extend the body to accelerate.

Look at the amount of power he can get out of one stride. He moves like a cartoon character. It looks fake. Full stretch like the Grinch.

Figure 2.4 - Second touch.
Figure 2.5 - Plants right foot far ahead of the ball. Right toe is pointed at the goalie.

Look at how far ahead of the ball he plants his right foot. If his right foot was pointed towards the right corner of the goal, further to the right, his shot would likely go wide. But because he plants his foot so far ahead of the ball, he has to twist his hips into the ball. This is how he generates a little bit more power in the shot.

Figure 2.6 - Connection with the ball on the inside of the foot.

Then he makes contact with the ball on the inside of the foot, towards the top of the ball. This is going to cause the ball to skip off the surface of the ground and adds some top spin.

That contact technique paired with the added power he generates makes it difficult for Alisson, difficult enough that it bundles past his outstretched left hand. He makes contact with the ball but the added spin he generates makes it too much to stop.

He makes it look simple and routine, but nothing about what he just did is simple.

Match: Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool, November 25, 2023

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