Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

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Germany adjusts Gundogan's position to open space central against Denmark

Germany made an adjustment from the match against Switzerland to open space central against Denmark for Robert Andrich by having İlkay Gündoğan stay ahead of Jamal Musiala and Leory Sané. This gave them time to play vertically to runners ahead.

Figure 1.1 - Granit Xhaka provides the long cover-shadow, and Remo Freuler provides the short cover-shadow. İlkay Gündoğan is ahead of Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala.

Switzerland used their long cover-shadow and short cover-shadow to deny Germany time in the center of the pitch. İlkay Gündoğan, as he normally does, sits ahead of Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala, closer to the ball.

Figure 2.1 - İlkay Gündoğan is behind Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala, with Robert Andrich in a pocket of space.

Against Denmark, İlkay Gündoğan sat behind Jamal Musiala and Leroy Sané which opened space for Robert Andrich, Toni Kroos, or Jamal Musiala when he dropped into that space ahead of Germany’s back line. Denmark did not defend as well as Switzerland did, but it helps to have more time and space to work against a similar defensive structure.

Germany manager Julian Nagelsmann talked before the match about why he started Leroy Sané ahead of Florian Wirtz:

We didn’t have enough deep runs against Switzerland. Leroy is a player who embodies that very well. Flo also generally has good runs, but he’s more of a player who wants to have the ball at his feet and creates things from there by dribbling or by two-touch actions with final passes. Leroy is someone who can offer a lot of depth himself because of his pace.

Denmark are, of course, extremely powerful in the air and physically very, very good in their back three. On the ground, they do have problems against agile players. Leroy is someone who can bring what was a bit lacking against Switzerland. He trained very well, from the substitute training last week up until yesterday, and made a good impression. I’m choosing between two world-class players, so the decision can only be a good one.

In order to facilitate ‘deep runs’ with short to medium-length passes through, you need to receive the ball central. If you are denied space central, then you would have to play longer-range passes. Longer-range passes are effective, but they are more effective when paired with short and medium-length passes.

Figure 3.1 - The ball is played into İlkay Gündoğan's feet; he passes back-and-forth once with Jamal Musiala; Gündoğan passes to Robert Andrich; and then out to Joshua Kimmich.

The periods in which Germany had the most joy were when they got the ball into the feet of İlkay Gündoğan because the space was already created for Andrich. Receive central, attract the defense to the ball, play out to the free man, then play the ball through to the runners from deep.

I noticed that Germany were much more forceful with their runs. There was one wave, then the next, then the next, and those runs were at full speed. It was coordinated, and the players had to fully commit to their run for it to work. It was an effort to overwhelm the space ahead and in around Denmark’s defensive line.

Match: Germany 2-0 Denmark, 29 June 2024

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