Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

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Inter collective movement

It’s a routine thing, but the smoothness of this moment for Inter between Acerbi and Mkhitaryan when they handed off responsibility of Depay and Barrios to one another stuck out. The timing of the movements is telepathic. Inter coordinate as one collective not individuals.

Figure 1.1 - Francesco Acerbi follows Memphis Depay out to the wing.
Figure 1.2 - Francesco Acerbi hands off responsibility of Memphis Depay to Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Pablo Barrios begins his run central.
Figure 1.3 - Francesco Acerbi follows Pablo Barrios.
Figure 1.4 - Francesco Acerbi hands off responsibility of Pablo Barrios to Henrikh Mkhitaryan. He follows Memphis Depay.
Figure 1.5 - Pablo Barrios and Memphis Depay continue their runs.

It is this moment when Mkhitaryan simply jogs forward as Acerbi retreats. Inter’s outside center-back will normally follow forwards that drop in the half-space.

There is no hesitation. There is no stutter step. There is no look back at Acerbi to see what he wants. There’s some verbal communication but most of it looks to be non-verbal. And Bastoni is normally filling this position, not Acerbi. The understating is there so much that they can make a change and still maintain some semblance of the same understanding between players.

It’s like a tired parent changing their kid’s diaper. 87th minute in a hard fought match, legs are tired. They are going through the motions without thinking.

They know through repetition where each player should be, who should be assigned to, who should be in this zone when the ball is here or there.

Figure 1.6 - Henrikh Mkhitaryan follows Pablo Barrios forward.
Figure 1.7 - Inter trap Atlético Madrid in a 5v2.

Then that coordination allows them to think about other things and better pin Atlético Madrid back into a 5v2 like this.

Less mental capital spent on coordinating movement. More mental capital spent on gaining an advantage over the opponent.

Match: Atlético Madrid 2-1 Inter, 13 March 2024

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