Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Pass the ball into the net

Liverpool should learn from Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite and pass the ball into the net. They generate a ton of chances but there’s little control on the shot, it’s full power or nothing. Pick a corner and pass.

Figure 1.1 - Darwin Nunez hits it full power at Jordan Pickford.
Figure 1.2 - Darwin Nunez's big 100% windup for the shot.
Figure 1.3 - Jordan Pickford parries Darwin Nunez's shot with his right leg, away to his left.

Darwin Nunez is one of the biggest culprits. Rarely do you see him finesse a shot simply with the inside of his foot into the opposite side of the goal.

Think of the best Liverpool strikers; Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres, Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish, Michael Owen, etc. They get the ball on the break, size up the goalkeeper, pass the ball into the opposite corner, and then celebrate. They don’t need to put a hole net.

Michael Owen on Darwin Nunez’s finish in the 35th minute against Brentford:

That finish from Darwin Nunez yesterday was insane. I can’t stop watching it. And I can’t begin to explain how difficult a skill that is. Moving at pace, the ball running away from you, being inside the box with no room for error. Incredible. BUT, it is also further proof that if he is to get closer to becoming the great player many people think he can be, he has to adapt his way of thinking. I mean, to even consider that finish is madness.

It’s a 1 in 10, 2 in 10 finish at best. Learning to slot, dink or go round the GK is a far more productive way to score and will increase his chances to 4 or 5 in 10, thus massively increasing his end return. I’m really not trying to rain on his parade as that goal was pure class. But I’d rather see it when Liverpool are 3-0 up, not at 0-0.

Figure 2.1 - Luis Diaz inside the foot volley, on the run, directly at Jordan Pickford.
Figure 2.2 - Jordan Pickford parries Luis Diaz's shot with his knees.

Luis Diaz is one of the forwards with more finesse in his game, but he gets underneath this shot.

It’s a tough technique on the run. Inside the foot volley, if he gets underneath it, it likely won’t matter if he puts this either side of Pickford. There’s not enough power.

If Diaz hits it towards the ground to bounce he might have been able to sneak it underneath him.

Figure 3.1 - Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez free on the back post for the tap-in as Andrew Robertson attempts a volley.
Figure 3.2 - Andrew Robertson volley with the outside of the left foot.
Figure 3.3 - Andrew Robertson whiffs the volley.

If you’re Andrew Robertson, you have to take the shot, in my opinion, but the pass is on across goal if he chooses to simply pass it with the inside of his foot.

But the Liverpool default is the spectacular. Outside the foot, with his left foot, on the opposite side of the body to which the ball is coming from. That is super tough to try to execute. Hard to make contact let alone get the accuracy to place it across goal, on the ground, below a diving Pickford.

If he’s going to shoot it had to be like that to get it across goal, because he needs the power to beat the Pickford’s reflexes.

Figure 4.1 - The ball falls to Jarrad Branthwaite and he passes it into the net towards a diving Alisson.
Figure 4.2 - The slippery ball slides underneath Alisson.

Jarrad Branthwaite doesn’t attempt anything spectacular. He doesn’t try to get full power on the shot. It’s a simple solid pass.

The smart part is that he aimed his shot towards Alisson’s left. If he tries to go for the corner, Alisson has a chance at a fingertip save. When it goes towards him, it slips underneath, and trickles in. The pitch was wet, the shot on the ground was always the preferred method because the ball is slippery.

Get the ball on the ground, make it awkward for the goalkeeper. Placement and accuracy over power. If Liverpool placed their shots they’d outperform their expected goals.

Updated, 25 April 2024, to add the Michael Owen quote on Darwin Nunez.

Match: Everton 2-0 Liverpool, 24 April 2024

Players: Darwin Núñez, Luis Díaz, Andrew Robertson, Jarrad Branthwaite

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