Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics


As Malmö manager Henrik Rydstrom says, “You think you see everything, but there is so much going on.” Their overloads promote quick passing through diagonals that breakdown closed defensive structures, which traps the opposition attack in their own end.

Figure 1.1 - Malmö forms a diagonal ladder structure. Elison Makolli passes to Sebastian Nanasi, and Nansi lays it off to Erik Botheim.
Figure 1.2 - Erik Botheim immediately plays one-touch to Sebastian Nanasi, and Nansi passes to Isaac Kiese Thelin.

It’s not immediately apparent where the runners will exit this diagonal or how the ball is intended to enter the box, but that diagonal allows Malmö to adapt and react on the fly.

When Sebastian Nanasi and Elison Makolli peel off, that traps the opposition in their own half because their midfield four has to follow the runners to compensate for their back-line’s lack of preparedness.

Malmö is organized, and Häcken is now reacting.

Figure 1.3 - Isaac Kiese Thelin holds the ball up and plays it back to Erik Botheim.
Figure 1.4 - Erik Botheim rolls it back to Isaac Kiese Thelin.
Figure 1.5 - Isaac Kiese Thelin plays the ball one-touch back to Erik Botheim, and Botheim shoots at goal.
Figure 2.1 - Illustration of this quick passage of play from Malmö.

Malmö manager Henrik Rydstrom speaking to Sky Sports:

I have this image of us as pickpockets when we overload. Maybe not so much pickpockets, more like close-up magicians.

You think you see everything but there is so much going on — one player drops, another moves away — and then suddenly, boom, we steal this thing that everyone thought they had their eye on.

It is like when you hide the ball in one of three cups and then move the ball. You see everything in front of you, but then we fool you.

The close proximity of the players allows Malmö to quickly ping the ball around like they’re in a pinball machine. Which makes it hard to defend and win back the ball. The opposition defense has to wait for a mistake.

It’s another way of defending with the ball because if Häcken intercepts a pass, eight of their players are behind the ball, chasing.

Match: Häcken 2-2 Malmö, 20 May 2024

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