Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Luis Enrique asks us to review Mbappe's press

Luis Enrique after PSG’s second-leg Champions League match against Barcelona:

You have to review Mbappé’s press. Today he has been the undisputed leader of our team. Review the press of the entire team, it has facilitated that three can press five and we could then be 4v3 in our backline.

Figure 1.1 - PSG press heavily with Kylian Mbappé shadow-covering Pau Cubarsí.

Kylian Mbappé shadow-covers Cubarsí, which forces Ronaldo Araujo to be the ball-playing center-back.

Because of this, Dembélé can move back to mark Cancelo on PSG’s right-wing, which then also means Hakimi can stay back to be the +1 in that 4v3 versus Barcelona’s front-line.

Barcelona’s double pivot of Pedri and De Jong are closely man-marked, Gündoğan is closely man-marked, and Barcola switches between loosely marking Koundé and pressuring Araujo with his curved press to cut off the pass to Koundé.

Figure 2.1 - Kylian Mbappé shadow-covering Pau Cubarsí.
Figure 3.1 - Kylian Mbappé shadow-covering Pedri when Pau Cubarsí is on the ball.

If Cubarsí got the ball, then Mbappé would look to cut off the horizontal pass. This allows the players in that front-line for PSG to shift their focus to other players, to man-mark, so the back-line doesn’t have to jump out and they can protect that 4v3.

Figure 4.1 - Kylian Mbappé shadow-covers Joao Cancelo until Ousmane Dembélé can get over to mark him.

If Dembélé allowed Cancelo to get too much space, Mbappé would then switch to cutting off the horizontal pass to him, until Dembélé could get back into position.

I thought Mbappé’s awareness was phenomenal to keep track of Cubarsí’s position and position himself correctly based off what his teammates were doing across the pitch.

Figure 5.1 - Kylian Mbappé shadow-covers Pau Cubarsí.
Figure 5.2 - Kylian Mbappé shadow-covers Pau Cubarsí.
Figure 6.1 - Kylian Mbappé forces Pau Cubarsí back.

No matter the angle, Mbappé’s job was to block off the pass to Cubarsí. PSG obviously saw Cubarsí as a major passing threat. The moment he got the ball, PSG worked as hard as they could to quickly get the ball out of his feet, backwards.

We unfortunately didn’t get to see this tactic play out over 90 minutes because Barcelona went down to 10 men in the 29th minute, but I think teams can learn from this. It’s effective against teams that have a good ball-playing center-back to block off, pass heavy midfield, and an ineffective front-line in the air.

Match: PSG 4-1 (6-4) Barcelona, 16 April 2024

Players: Kylian Mbappé

Back to top Share on Twitter Email this post Copy link