Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Dembele instructs Mbappe to make the near post run

In the first half, PSG were finding Ousmane Dembélé on the far post, but Barcola and Mbappe were not making that same run. One instruction from Dembélé at the end of the half changed that, and that run opened the space for Vitinha’s goal.

Figure 1.1 - Bradley Barcola crosses low to Ousmane Dembélé.
Figure 1.2 - Ousmane Dembélé scores.

Barcelona were fairly compact, allowing space wide for Barcola and Dembélé to attack. Their first goal originated from a pass across the box to the far post, left to right, from Barcola to Dembélé.

Figure 2.1 - Ousmane Dembélé receives the ball, but no one makes a run across goal for Dembélé to cross to.
Figure 2.2 - Ousmane Dembélé telling the forwards to make the near post run.
Figure 2.3 - Ousmane Dembélé motioning that he'll whip in an in-swinging cross.

The problem was the pass was also on right to left when Dembélé received the ball, but no one was making the run. In the 42nd minute, Dembélé finally motioned to Barcola and Mbappe, but mainly Mbappe, to make that run towards the near post so he could whip in a low in-swinging cross.

Figure 3.1 - Kylian Mbappe makes the run across to goal towards the near post when Ousmane Dembélé receives the ball.
Figure 4.1 - Kylian Mbappe making that near post run again when Ousmane Dembélé receives the ball.

We immediately see the change in the second half. Now Mbappe is making that run that Dembélé was asking for.

Now Dembélé has the choice to cross early, but that run from Mbappe also pins the Barcelona defender marking him further back, opening space at the top of the box. There’s going to be a large pocket of space between Mbappe and Barcelona’s second line.

Figure 5.1 - After a corner, PSG pin Barcelona back, opening space for Vitinha to shoot and score.

That constant threat from both wings, on the far-side, will always open space at the top of the box. Pin the defenders back with runs to the near or far post, and then shoot from the space behind those runs.

PSG can really open the game up when they make those runs on both sides, not just on Dembélé’s side. There’s not a whole lot Barcelona can do to counter it, and those spaces got extenuated when they went down to ten men.

Match: Barcelona 1-4 PSG, 16 April 2024

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