Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

The opposition's structure when Malmö overloads a wing

When Malmö overloads one of the wings to crowd around the ball, don’t watch them, watch the opposition defense and how their shape is manipulated by their movement. It is nearly impossible to man-mark them, which makes maintaining shape more difficult.

Figure 1.1 - Kalmar shifts over to defend against Malmö's overload on the right-wing, as they switch to the left-wing.
Figure 2.1 - Kalmar attempts to collapse on the ball as Malmö overloads the right-wing in transition from defense.
Figure 3.1 - Kalmar shifts over to defend against Malmö's overload on the right-wing as they switch to the left-wing.

Modern rigid defensive shapes aren’t made to follow all this movement. You can’t have a center-back follow center-forward Isaac Kiese Thelin when he moves from the center of the pitch to the wing. It’s too hard to track the movement of the midfielders. The best you can do is shift as a unit.

Shift as a unit, and then the free man is there on the far-side. We normally say overload to isolate, but that underplays it, that is an acre of space.

Figure 1.1 - Kalmar contract central leaving Malmö space open to the wings.

It is the law of expansion and contraction. When Malmö overloads the wing, the opposition contracts around the ball. When they break out of that overload, the opposition expands, and then they attempt to contract around the ball.

When they contract, the wings are open. More often than not, when the ball was switched out to the left-wing, Kalmar overcommitted to the left-wing, which left the run from the right-wing, the pass to the blind side of the defenders because they were all facing towards the left-wing, more open to be played into the box.

Malmö are one of the most interesting teams in Europe right now because they’re doing things most teams in Europe do not do. They are a must-watch.

The overload and movements are not random either. It is coordinated; each player knows what weaknesses to exploit, where to run, and when not to make a run. It is not reckless, not illogical, and they have other methods to work the ball into the box.

Match: Malmö 5-0 Kalmar, 24 May 2024

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