Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

The Netherlands line of pressure all moving at once

Like a line of thunderstorms, the Netherlands’ second line rushes the ball carrier all at once. This unique pressing pattern is effective at overwhelming a team like Brazil because it allows their players to move with more freedom.

Figure 1.1 - The Netherlands' second line waiting to jump.
Figure 1.2 - The Netherlands' second line jump at the same time to suffocate the ball carrier.
Figure 2.1 - The Netherlands' second line sprints to the ball carrier all at once.

At first, they lie in wait, and then pounce as a unit together. The diagonal they create in the press signals the direction they want the ball to be played.

They did this a lot immediately after losing the ball. They didn’t allow Brazil to advance past their second line. It wasn’t a half-hearted effort. It is all or nothing; everyone joins in.

Figure 3.1 - The Netherlands surrounding the ball carrier.
Figure 3.2 - Going in for the tackle.
Figure 4.1 - The Netherlands' second line jumps forward, taking turns lunging at the ball carrier.
Figure 4.2 - Lunge for the tackle.

Once they commit to the press, everyone has to also commit to the tackle and get a foot in. Brazil can never feel comfortable on the ball. Each touch is met with a lunge.

Figure 4.3 - The Netherlands' initial pressing line, moving as one.
Figure 4.4 - The Netherlands' second line of pressure pointed to Brazil's left.
Figure 4.5 - The Netherlands' second line of pressure pointed to Brazil's left continued.
Figure 5.1 - The Netherlands prepares to jump out at the ball.
Figure 5.2 - The Netherlands' line of pressure towards the ball carrier.
Figure 6.1 - Illustration of the Netherlands' line of pressure.

The diagonal that forms is the most prominent and consistent figure, though. I’ve never seen a team do this. I am imagining someone yelling “now!” like in medieval times in battle, and then they charge.

It is effective against relational play because relationalism promotes play in close proximity. By charging as a unit, the opposition can’t advance. There is a wall ahead of them in the space where they would want to create their own diagonal. Counter the diagonal with a diagonal press.

Match: Netherlands 2-0 Brazil, 3 July 1974

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