Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

I didn't like France’s change to a 4–5–1 vs Morocco

December 15, 2022 — During the World Cup semi-final match vs Morocco, France changed from a 4–4–2 to 4–5–1 out-of-possession in the 65th minute after the sub of Giroud to Thuram.

Mbappe was a better LW counter outlet in-behind the advanced Hakimi and he was doing a good job cutting off the pass out-wide to Hakimi and Ziyech.

France did not completely congest and overwhelm the two CBs and the pivot, Amrabat, during build up, but cutting off easy passes to the wide areas stunted Morocco’s ability to quickly build up and attack France’s WBs.

Here you can see Hakimi pushed high up the pitch with Giroud pressing. The rest of France are either man-marking or zonally marking, doing a decent job at neutralizing Morocco’s ability to play a simple pass.

Mbappe is lurking behind with only two CBs to contain him if Morocco were to turnover the ball. Which they did.

Now on the counter they have Mbappe in the clear ahead of the backtracking Hakimi bypassing the two CBs.

Giroud was subbed out for Thuram in the 65th minute with the score still at 1 — 0.

France changed their shape to a deeper 4–5–1 out of possession which allowed Morocco too much space to build up from the back and then pump balls in to box.

And with Mbappe not pressing the same way Giroud was previously, this left the Moroccan midfielders with a ton of time and space on the ball.

A more clinical team like Argentina would finish one of the chances created by this lapse in coverage. Had Morocco equalized, France would have been in trouble with one of their best penalty takers now on the bench and a still strong but weaker attack in Thuram and Munai. Luckily for them, Morocco had a lapse in judgement in defense which led to a goal.

I would have preferred to see a simple like for like substitution of Giroud and Thuram, keeping the same 4–4–2 as they had prior.

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