Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

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Spain allows space wide to push fullbacks inside

Spain have been doing this all tournament, but it became clear after the Germany match that they are fine with allowing space out wide to limit space central. Fullbacks Dani Carvajal and Marc Cucurella almost bait the pass wide to push inside.

Figure 1.1 - Fullbacks Dani Carvajal and Marc Cucurella track runners inside, allowing space wide, and Lamine Yamal marks the far-side fullback.

You will see Dani Carvajal and Marc Cucurella checking over their shoulders to see an opposition winger or fullback wide, but they’ll ignore them. You can see from their body language and face that they naturally want to go out to mark them, but they restrain that instinct and stay inside.

On their right side, Lamine Yamal tracks the fullback back if they make the run forward. Nico Williams on the left side isn’t as defensively disciplined as Yamal.

Figure 2.1 - Marc Cucurella pushes inside, putting pressure on a forward, and Germany switch out to Joshua Kimmich behind Cucurella.

Spain wants the center of the pitch to be compact. It is a risky game to play. They did the same thing against Croatia, but neither Croatia nor Germany could put in a good enough cross or header when the ball went wide to out-score them.

They will either, A, very quickly get the ball back because this chance is too hard to ignore for the opponent, or B, they’ll get scored on from a cross.

It would be hard to talk them out of defending like this because, to be fair, it has worked. They’ve conceded two goals and kept three clean sheets, a defensive record bested by their next opponent, France, who have only conceded one goal and kept four clean sheets.

Match: Spain 2-1 Germany, 5 July 2024

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