Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Tottenham overcomes back post run struggles to salvage point against Manchester United

April 28, 2023 — During the first half, Manchester United’s back post was open for Tottenham to attack, and passes were being played into dangerous areas, but no one was making the run to the back post. In the second half, Tottenham made those runs and scored two goals but they could have had more.

Figure 1.1 - Richarlison takes the ball to the corner, Heung-Min Son can choose to make the run into space towards the back post.
Figure 1.2 - Heung-Min Son makes the near post run instead and no one is there to tap-in the pass across goal from Richarlison.

This is one example of a Tottenham forward not making the run to the back post. This happened two other times. I mentioned it before half-time:

Figure 2.1 - Pass into Richarlison and Kane on the back post.

Tottenham began making that run to the back post in the second half, they capitalized on this chance for the first goal. The ball was headed down by Harry Kane then fell to Pedro Porro; he smacked the ball into the top right hand corner to make it 2-1.

The forwards will always have the upper hand over the defenders when the ball is played to the back post because they can attack the post on their back foot and all they have to do is direct the ball towards the net forward into the goal. The defenders have to sidestep their way into the challenge and time their lunge to either block or direct the ball away from goal, which is a harder task.

Figure 3.1 - Harry Kane takes on both Malacia and Shaw, while Son is 1v1 Lindelof on the far-side.
Figure 3.2 - Kane gets past Malacia and Shaw.
Figure 3.3 - Lindelof dismarks from Son, leaving Son free on the far-side to attack the back post.

Son was unable to convert this chance but the cracks in Manchester United’s defense began to show more as the second half went on.

Figure 4.1 - Cross into Dier but he heads it just wide.
Figure 5.1 - Kane crosses on the ground to Son who is free to attack the back post.
Figure 5.2 - Son's shot for the second goal.

That small adjustment to favor runs to the back post was one big factor that changed the match, with the game ending in a 2-2 draw. Tottenham, especially Heung-Min Son, has had the issue where they favor near post run when the back post ball is favored, so hopefully that trend ends with this match.

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