For Leeds, this is never really an issue. There is a famous saying – the perfect game of football would end 0-0. Maybe a better way of expressing this concept would be to say that, coming up against a man-marking system means that you are almost forced to play a man-marking system in defensive transition because that is the structure your opponent is using at the moment of turnover. That was so effective that the attacking teams themselves had to mark the no. “The Principles of Leeds United’s Defensive System under Marcelo Bielsa: A Primer”, Sid Gillman’s Offensive Philosophies Were Decades Ahead of the Times, Opinion: Sports Networks Should Pay Their Workers Despite COVID-19, Justin Olsen’s Long, Tragic Road to Pyeongchang, MLB Loves LGBTQ Fans (They Just Love Money More), Chipper ‘Larry’ Jones and a Short History of Feuds Between Baseball Players and Rival Fans, A Lesson Worth More Than All The Money In The World, NBA Bubble League Pass Rankings, Part II — The Teams at the Top, The Incredible Black Football Teams Under Thursday Night Lights. Yes, it may be the case that the basic system is arbitrary — not intrinsically better than another system in terms of its effectiveness — but there is an internal coherence. You can’t keep your front three advanced because if the opposition full backs are advanced, then your wingers need to drop deeper. While this is a good practice to keep the defensive shape completely intact, it is not very effective for winning the ball. There is a truth to this — there are few managers who are so logical that you can pre-empt them with the sort of success that you can with Bielsa. This allowed De Jong and Pedri to have a massive influence on the game. Also, in man-marking, since the defending team is chasing the game, they were not able to set up their attacks according to their plans. If so, what is that benefit? I began this article with a question about the interplay between aggressive pressing structures, a man-marking system and positional play. But the beauty of a man-oriented system is that it is entirely commensurable week on week. As a result, I want to present a series of queries — thought experiments — to offer some suggestions as to why Bielsa might prefer man-marking as a defensive system. Countering the Man Marking Midfield. This is probably the strongest line of attack in attempting to come to an answer to the question at hand for this reason: an aggressive press works against a transition towards a zonal structure but doesn’t necessarily have to work against a man marking system. This is where the spare man comes in. IPL opening ceremony cancelled – Is this a welcoming decision from the board? The advantage is that the player will stay relatively close to the opposition player but the disadvantage is that you may find them wandering out of position to find someone to mark. Simply put, both zonal and man marking have their pros and cons and both are still used whenever needed. If the ball comes into a zone, then it is that player’s responsibility to deal with it. In man-marking, he stayed with the opposition no. No doubt in a zone-oriented defensive system, the players keep the zone that they are responsible for in their head but there is a difference here: the individual is responsible for keeping track of their opposition player. You have to think on your feet and make decisions as a “partial libero” but that will be the same in every game you play. If any of these are plausible at all, then they might offer at least the starting point for some sort of proper investigation at a later date. Football is a game of infinite possibilities and that is what makes it so beautiful. As a result, there are a lot of quotes from players and managers who have played against a Bielsa team and who have been overwhelmed by the uniqueness of it all. For players who have spent their entire careers playing in zonal systems, it shouldn’t be too surprising that a week of preparation isn’t enough to ready them for the experience. Except for Gian Piero Gasperini at Atalanta, there are very few coaches who use a man-orientated system out of possession. So, it’s a mixture of man and zonal marking, or more aptly put, man-marking in a zone. DONE DEAL : Arsenal and Chelsea target will join Manchester United... Statistician’s Journal : How long did Wenger rehearse to unleash Counter-attacking Arsenal? The structure is decided by the opponent and the only real tweaks will occur in the forward areas where the -1 inferiority can lead to some issues. The topic is an important one and deserves further scrutiny. Each player has a space to cover and marks the opposition player who gets into his space. On top of this, you have the added negative that your players have to drop in the defensive phase. I consider the aggressive press as straddling both of these aspects. You’ll be marking your player. With zonal marking, each player is responsible for a certain zone in the penalty area, and you can work on this on the training ground by using colored cones to mark out a zone. If you have any interest in contributing to this blog, get in touch with us @AllStatsArentWe. In putting this question to my good friend Nico Morales, he suggested there could be a simplicity factor at play here. This should come as no surprise. It’s a compromise between the idea to nullify an opponent and to retain a compact space-coverage. The buzzword that is often thrown around here is “superiorities”. They are both option oriented and covering space. What is Zonal/Man Marking? This is a very important aspect of counter-pressing where the defending team aggressively presses the opponent players to force errors or close down passing options and reclaim the ball. So far, we’ve focused the discussion on the defensive transition element of the interplay between positional play and man marking: the movement from on-ball to off-ball. And in the modern game, both go hand in hand instead of opposed to one another. Reminder that my book Zonal Marking is out now! Meanwhile, the sixes take the opposing sixes in … Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:'a_mLfvI-RkNlSEL_eA04iA',sig:'WHP129ZTsidhDlUDtGfLe1i7LDuJJZCleEr2fVnHU5g=',w:'594px',h:'355px',items:'948818152',caption: false ,tld:'com',is360: false })}); For football though, this marking was a loss in one sense. That simply means situations where a team has an overload — where their players outnumber their opponent’s in an area. What are the benefits of Man vs Zonal … That means that a player is able to leave their marking responsibility when they judge a more dangerous situation to have arisen elsewhere. But does an aggressive press complement a man-marking rather than a zone-oriented defensive approach? He is supposed to cover any opponent who is left over after any defensive reshuffles. It is very similar to the previous concept of position-oriented zonal marking. He’s on record laying out the formations he uses to counter other formations. An explanation of the tactical concept of zonal marking and the principles behind it. 10 system out of their game. Obviously, defensive transition isn’t simply about getting back into defensive structure as quickly as possible. His thinking is this: it’s known that Marcelo Bielsa focuses on repetition and pre-rehearsed movements in possession which famously require a huge amount of time and effort to bring into fruition. When it comes to Marcelo Bielsa, there is a received wisdom which pits him as an incurable idealist, ignoring any evidence to the contrary and stubbornly persisting with his approach even when it seems fruitless. Here, a player is still guarding his space only but his exact position in that wide area is concerning the opponent’s attacker in that place. As a case in point, SC Freiburg has their center forwards close down the passing lanes. positional oriented zonal marking The goal of position oriented marking sees teams aim to keep horizontal and vertical compactness as they sit in 3 clearly defined banks of midfield defense and attack moving as a collective unit, from one side of the pitch to the other in an attempt to close down space, especially on the wings. Could it be the case that because man-marking systems aren’t aiming for an ideal structure — a 4–4–2 or 4–5–1 setup, for instance — that they actually become more efficient in transition? Pace down the wings, a good striker partnership, and a squad well-versed in zonal marking. Currently I play a flat back four and all of them are on Man Marking with Tight Marking ticked. Their spatial relation to their opponent is constantly changing and so is constantly at the forefront of their mind. It’s almost as if there is nothing to suggest the certainty of the idea beyond his holding of it. Pace down the wings, a good striker partnership, and a squad well-versed in zonal marking. Man Oriented Zonal Marking This zonal marking is oriented to the opponent and the pressing players seek to cover their respective zones while moving closer to a player which may be within the zone. Because of the slightly different starting points in the midfield from each of the formations when the systems play against each other they match up. Let’s begin by clarifying the two aspects: For something that sounds so ominous, positional play is fairly straightforward as a concept (although it gets complicated in practice). As this graphic from SkillCorner shows, Leeds United are comfortably the most dynamic team in the Premier League at the moment (not to mention Europe): Although Manchester City come a close second behind them when it comes to team sprint distances, it seems unlikely that Leeds man-marking system reduces the ground they have to cover in order to get back into a defensive shape. Whether it’s defending from set-pieces or open play, the defenders chase down the opposing players they are marking, not allowing them even an inch of space. But despite reading, listening or watching everything I could get my hands on about Marcelo Bielsa’s approach to football, I had never come across anything which explains “the why,” as Kees calls it. The most frequent strategy is to form a line, and defend using zonal-marking principles. Just a footnote for readers regarding leeway-oriented counter pressing. Whilst looking the team’s defensive strategies for corners, there is a much smaller difference in defending free-kicks. This is a more space-oriented man marking, It means that an opponent will be man-marked when he will stay in a specific zone. From this position, the question is whether anything is gained by dropping back onto opponents rather than dropping into space? But it seems as though there could be a potential benefit to marking an individual rather than a space in terms of the practical utility of such an approach. In this context, Bielsa senior is picking up on two aspects of his son’s football style in particular — the pressing and the man marking — as aspects that he doesn’t like. Here, we will talk about the most practised two in short. But in the case of Marcelo Bielsa, despite his outspokenness on football being primarily entertainment, he is just as pragmatic as that arch-pragmatist himself: Jose Mourinho. Stindl joined Plea in the first line of press and protected the passing lanes to Kroos and Casemiro. But the final few lines are interesting: ‘“Keep track of your own player and you’ll be in a good way.” I keep that thought in my head.’. The contrast to man-marking is obvious. For Leeds, the most basic attacking shape they look to get into is this: Given the flexibility of the positional system, the positions given aren’t hard and fast: the winger can underlap, for example, or the central midfielder. It simply indicates any on-ball system that looks to use player movement to generate an attacking edge. For them, zonal marking is the second one – Man-oriented zonal marking. There are times when he has spoken about his tactical system with a shrug and the suggestion that “well, you have to pick one system and this is the one I went for”. For them, zonal marking is the second one – Man-oriented zonal marking. It could be the case that he likes the fact that playing against Leeds is relatively unusual within elite football. Mikel Arteta addresses one position of his squad which he wants to strengthen, A tribute To late Paolo Rossi – The Eternal Azzurri International. I’ll leave that to smarter tactical minds than my own to explain. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The opposition players cannot hurt you if you pay close attention and everyone was under surveillance ideally. Bielsa wants to win playing this kind of football and so any decision that stems from an original arbitrary decision to play “this football not that football” must be made in such a way as to improve the chances of winning. In attacking transition, Leeds always seem to be able to find space despite starting off close to their men in the defensive phase. The man-marking system, Nico proposes, is probably the more simple system to coach compared to a more zonal approach and will therefore leave more time to focus on the possession phase of the game. On the face of it, if there were a benefit from using a man-marking defensive system alongside a positional approach, it would seem likely to come from some sort of structural “fit” that would allow easier transition between attacking and defensive setup. That said, there is a level of almost arbitrariness to Bielsa’s idealism too. However, I hope this article helps to move the conversation along that Kees van Hemmen prompted. While this is a wholesome statement for both attack and defence, it has added significance for zonal marking because it brings the space in the loop. I suspect there won’t be until some form of functional tracking data becomes widely available. In this match, they went with a position-oriented zonal marking system, the only difference this and the ball-oriented zonal marking seen at times in the match is due to the independent pressing system of the front two. 10. The point is that the reality of playing against the man-marking system is much more difficult than the theory behind it. Plans were made to stop the opposition and as expected, it started with the most basic one with each player from the defending side identifying one particular opposition attacker and paying close attention to him throughout the game. A few things need to be clarified: Firstly, it seems unlikely that a man-marking system reduces the amount of running that a team have to do. For many, counter-pressing has revolutionized the game and zonal-marking has had a lot to do with it. @rafamufc July 7, 2014 um 9:05 pm. But there is the possibility that rather than the interplay between positional play and man-marking it is the interplay between pressing and man-marking that draws Marcelo Bielsa to it. The basic approach is this: try to get the ball possessed in a wide area where you can fashion an overload on the ball-near side and get your players attacking the five spaces between the players in a back four (or six spaces in a back three/five). In man-oriented zonal marking, you play with a basic formation in which the reference point is the “opponent.” From their respective base positions, the players orient themselves flexibly in the space they cover in order to maintain a certain distance to the opponent closest to them. Get access to Zonal Marking and all the quality, in-depth coverage on The Athletic with a free 7-day trial. As it says in the video, Juventus’ zonal man-marking means when Hysaj ends up in the midfield zone Hernanes goes to mark him instead of the previous midfielder and the same happens when Hysaj makes a run into Chiellini’s zone. Every movement had to happen concerning these reference points. Giving the striker the responsibility for pressing two strikers means that he can have a “spare man” — what he calls a “libero” — in defence to help out wherever there is trouble. Space oriented man-marking is a mixture of zonal marking and man-marking. So, it’s a mixture of man and zonal marking, or more aptly put, man-marking in a zone. A zonal defense can be implemented with any attacking formation. The formation used by a team may dictate whether or not to use zonal marking. If there is a correlation between the in- and out-of-possession phases of the game, then we might be able to suggest one or the other changes their defensive system to benefit their positional approach. On the face of it, this might appear unconvincing: the man-marking system seems fairly complex when it comes down to it. On the one hand, the aggressive press is necessary for a team playing high possession football with players in advanced positions because it buys time for the team to fall into a defensive structure. With all the basics in place, we can finally turn to address the issue at hand. Thanks should go to Tiago Estêvão and Nathan Clark who helped me to clarify a lot of these ideas in my mind as I was writing this piece. In this instance, though, as is so often the case, the received wisdom is more “received” rather than “wisdom”. As a result, by pressing aggressively in a man-marking approach, you should be aiding the defensive structure rather than detracting from it. Let’s not forget at this point that Pep Guardiola adopts a positional system in possession but a zonal structure out of possession. That is how man-marking came. Pace down the wings, a good striker partnership, and a squad well-versed in zonal marking. Could moving from a man-marking system actually benefit positional play? There is actually a curious pragmatism to Bielsa’s idealism. Perhaps it is the case, then, that the man-marking system does lend itself to attacking transition insofar as being close to your man at the beginning of a transition ensures that you can attack the space immediately behind your opponent. I do think, though, that there is a germ of an idea there to be explored. © Sports-nova | Live Scores, Current Sports News, Articles and Quiz, Sports-nova | Live Scores, Current Sports News, Articles and Quiz, Zonal Marking : The Renaissance into the Art of Defending, Mikel Arteta addresses one position of his squad which he wants…, Solskjaer talks Man United’s January transfer plans and confirms youngster’s departure, Arsenal star on the ‘long-term’ target list of Serie A heavyweights, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lays eyes on Lille midfielder, Boubakary Soumare, How to know when a player is reaching stardom – Haaland’s…, Monty Panesar Exclusive: ‘Getting Sachin Tendulkar as my first test wicket…, Cheepauk Super Gillies player gives his verdict on KKR spinner Siddharth…, The Near Transfers: Players who almost signed for a different club,…, Central Defensive Midfielders: The Heroes who don’t wear Capes, Sadio Mane hits back at the ‘mindgames’ of Pep Guardiola ahead of the mammoth clash. 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