Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

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The threat Liverpool's second line poses in the middle

Liverpool can be relentless pressers when they want to, but the main threat does not come from the first line; it comes from Alexis Mac Allister winning 12 of 17 ground duels against Bournemouth in the second line.

Figure 1.1 - Alexis Mac Allister challenges the ball carrier.

Liverpool’s first line forces Bournemouth’s back-line into playing quicker. Their job isn’t to win the ball necessarily. The second line wins the ball, and Mac Allister stepping forward is key.

The Bournemouth midfielder receives facing their own goal, and then Mac Allister is there to stick a leg in and win the ball centrally. You win the ball centrally, and then your first line is not actively chasing the ball; they are ready, waiting to quickly catch Bournemouth’s back line off guard.

Bournemouth manager Andoni Iraola in the post-match press conference:

“I think we could defend better, react more quickly to these second balls. It’s really physical. They keep 400 minutes of this high intensity. They win a lot of duels in the middle. Once you become a little bit weaker, don’t arrive too early, start leaving them a little bit more space, it becomes really difficult because they take their chances.”

Figure 1.2 - Alexis Mac Allister wins the ball and passes forward to Diogo Jota.
Figure 1.3 - Liverpool on the counter, but Diogo Jota does not pass the ball to Darwin Nunez.

Liverpool could do a much better job at capitalizing on the instability of the opposition’s structure. I can’t tell if they are overthinking or panicking, but it all feels too unpredictable.

Liverpool rush things. They take a shot from far outside the box when there are multiple passing options open, or they hold on to the ball for too long like Jota did in this example. He needs to play Darwin Nunez in.

That pass to Darwin should be quick, shouldn’t even have to think. I wouldn’t say there’s a lack of chemistry between the forwards, but there is a lack of fluidness in their passing patterns. Once they build up the confidence to play those simple patterns like they did for their goals, they’re golden.

Match: Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool, 21 January 2024

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