Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Germany's press release

Germany has a move to release pressure and open space for the third man central to receive, triggered by the pass to Toni Kroos. The two players in the half-space make a run across the field, dragging defenders with them, which opens space centrally and wide.

Figure 1.1 - Jonathan Tah passes to Toni Kroos.
Figure 1.2 - Runs are made when Toni Kroos receives the ball.
Figure 1.3 - Joshua Kimmich and Maximilian Mittelstädt are free, and Julian Wirtz pulls back into space.
Figure 1.4 - Toni Kroos passes to Julian Wirtz.

It’s like taking a deep breath, in and out. Those runs are the breath out, as the forwards run away from the ball. The breath in is then the run back to the ball. It’s a pressure release valve.

And then Wirtz turns, and he has Mittelstädt or Kimmich to play in down the wing.

Figure 2.1 - Antonio Rüdiger is under pressure.
Figure 2.2 - The runs of Ilkay Gündoğan and Jamal Musiala drag defenders back, opening space centrally for Toni Kroos.

The forwards read when their back-line is under pressure and make the run. Then that drags France back, opening up space for Toni Kroos.

Once Kroos receives, he can either switch to Mittelstädt or Gündoğan, and Musiala will check back to receive the ball.

Breathe in and out.

Figure 3.1 - Jonathan Tah passes to Toni Kroos.

Added note that Toni Kroos often dropped to the left of Jonathan Tah. That opened room for the midfielders to drop into the space he previously occupied.

Figure 3.2 - Toni Kroos passes to Robert Andrich.

France fell right into the trap to track those runs. Had they stayed still, that space wouldn’t open, and Kroos would be forced to go through the wings or back to the goalkeeper.

This is one of the main reasons why I would like someone with a bit more pace at right-back to take advantage of that space wide. If you have the threat of pace from Mittelstädt on the left and pace on the right, that would force France to pin their full-backs wide, opening even more space centrally.

Joshua Kimmich does bring a lot of composure to that right-back position when he gets forward, and he’s comfortable dropping deep to help in the build-up.

Match: France 0-2 Germany, 23 March 2024

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