Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics


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More driven passes from Andre Onana and less lofted passes

A part of Andre Onana adapting to Manchester United is adjusting the way he distributes the ball. The high lofted passes don’t work. He has begun to drive through the ball, which gives the man receiving more separation from the defender.

Figure 1.1 - Driven pass, wide right.
Figure 2.1 - Lofted pass, wide right, for Inter in the Champions League Final.

The driven pass wide gives Jérémy Doku and Nathan Ake zero time to react, turn, and close down the full-back. Diogo Dalot can take a touch and have 5 yards of space to operate in.

The lofted pass brings Jack Grealish and Nathan Ake into the mix. Repeat this enough and the opposition’s defense will begin to predict that pass, and close it down.

With the driven pass, even if the defense predicts it, they don’t have enough time to close down the ball.

Figure 3.1 - Lofted long pass.
Figure 3.2 - Leaning back as he makes contact with the ball.

Then when you lean back at the point of contact to get more airtime, you lose accuracy. Passes are more wild and unpredictable.

You bring the defender into the mix and the man attempting to head the ball down doesn’t get that same separation.

Figure 4.1 - Driven long pass to the left.
Figure 4.1 - Puts his knee over the ball and finishes then through the ball.

You don’t want Marcus Rashford jumping up in the air, contesting a header, up against Kyle Walker. You want it fizzed into him so he has that separation to have a chance when the ball falls.

Figure 5.1 - Driven long pass.
Figure 5.2 - Puts his knee over the ball and finishes then through the ball.

At Inter, the lofted passes worked because you had specialists in the air like Lukaku, Dzeko, Lautaro Martinez to win you headers. They could deal with a man in their back.

You want to give Hojlund, Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Garnacho, Antony, etc. time and space on the ball. To give them that time and space they need it passed to them at speed. Don’t allow the defender to gain an edge and use their physicality to muscle United off the ball.

He wasn’t putting enough pace on the pass to start the season, but recently he’s begun to change things. Need more driven passes and little to no lofted passes.

Match: Manchester City 3-1 Manchester United, 3 March 2024

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