Florian Wirtz Acceleration and Deceleration
January 21, 2024
Florian Wirtz is an expert at combining acceleration and deceleration to manipulate the position of the feet and hips of the defender, creating space.
Slowing the dribble towards the defender locks the defender’s hips, making them less mobile. But you can’t wait too long to take that next touch into the space you want to attack because if the defender can get both feet pointed towards Wirtz, he’ll have the necessary range of motion to stick a leg out.
Wirtz times that touch with outside of his right foot to perfection and even uses his hips to fake the move to the left, when he intends to dribble right.
Every great dribbler does this but Jérémy Doku is another that I recently wrote a post on. Wirtz doesn’t have the raw speed that Doku has, but you don’t need it in the smaller spaces if you have the timing down.
Once the defender has to do a full 180, Wirtz sold him to the left, he has the move locked.
And then Wirtz doesn’t immediately force the pass, like most would. He waits till both defenders are close to draw the most attention to himself, to open space for others.
Now the man receiving the pass has space and he drags the defender in which creates space for Alejandro Grimaldo on the wing.
It goes back to what Pep Guardiola said about attacking the center-backs:
“If the central defender has to step out, everything opens up; the whole defence becomes disorganised and spaces appear that weren’t there before. It’s all about breaking through lines to find space behind them. Open, then find.”
First a pass and move to both create space and enter into the space inside the box.
The hop Wirtz does is genius because look at the amount of separation he has to the defender. That one hop and the stop locks the defender in. It decelerates their turn to challenge the ball. The defender is forced to continue to point their body away from the ball.
And then in the end, he has the space to get the shot off. Most would receive, take two touches forward, and then perform none of the stutter steps to accelerate and decelerate. They’d take the touch and get their shot blocked.
This ability to read when to both time a movement and judge what speed to execute said movement, is what separates the good dribblers from the world-class dribblers.
Match: RB Leipzig 2-3 Bayer Leverkusen, 20 January 2024