Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Schick's movement off-side to observe, surprise, and separate

Rather than staying in-line with West Ham’s back line, Bayer Leverkusen center-forward Patrik Schick moves into an offside position with separation, observes, and then checks to the ball. He is always out of view of the defender until he’s needed.

Figure 1.1 - Patrik Schick in-line with West Ham's back line.

Most center-forwards are comfortable to sit here as play moves back and forth. Always within arm’s reach and view of a center-back.

Figure 2.1 - Patrick Schick moves into an offside position behind West Ham's back line.

When Schick moves behind the center-back, he can’t receive the ball over the top because he’s offside, but he’s no longer in view of the center-back. The center-backs have to keep their eye on the ball, and can’t turn to scan to see where he is. He’s able to observe and find the weak points to attack, surprise them.

There’s also the added benefit of separation. If the ball is played over the top or through a channel, he has a head start. All he has to do is get behind the ball and he will be open, onside, for the pass central to tap-in a goal.

Figure 2.2 - When the ball is moved wide, Patrick Schick then moves ahead of West Ham's back line.

When the ball was played into the wide areas in the final third or if there was an opportunity for him to receive centrally, Schick would slip into that pocket to receive.

The center-backs don’t have the ability to touch him or see him, so that movement, where he will pop out into that pocket and when, is always unexpected.

Figure 3.1 - Patrick Schick offside.
Figure 3.2 - Patrick Schick checks for the ball.
Figure 4.1 - Patrick Schick offside.
Figure 4.2 - Patrick Schick moves to intercept the ball from that offside position.

He repeated this throughout the match and I think it added an extra level of unpredictability and made him more useful than he would have been had he stayed in-line.

It gives you the illusion that Bayer Leverkusen are always moving, constantly. That separation between the defender and receiver made it easier for them to pass within West Ham’s half.

Victor Boniface came on and brought extra qualities with the ball at his feet out wide that helped them win the game, but I think Patrick Schick did a good job trying to get open.

This isn’t a new concept but strikers who have trouble getting open should try this.

Match: Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 West Ham, 11 April 2024

Players: Patrik Schick

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