Lost In Transition - (tactics) an interesting read

Professor Nutmeg

ML Fanatic
3 July 2002
Master League
At what point is a game of football won and lost?

Late last year a conference of coaches in Brazil was debating this very topic.
Former Scotland coach Andy Roxburgh, now on Uefa's technical staff, was attending the event.
He had recently discussed the subject with Jose Mourinho and he passed on the views of the Chelsea boss.
While many believe that set-pieces are the decisive factor in a game, for Mourinho the key to winning lies in transitions - the moment when possession changes hands from one side to another.
If the side winning the ball can quickly organise a counter-attack and if the side losing the ball are slow to re-organise their defence, then there is a good chance that the move will end in a clear goalscoring opportunity.
It was an idea enthusiastically picked up on at the conference.
It was stressed that the physical development of the game, with players covering more ground during the course of the match, has made space on the field much harder to come by.
The moment of transition, with the side losing the ball caught off-guard, is the point when space is most easily found.
Roxburgh brought the house down by pointing out that it was all a bit like the appearance of the sun in Scotland - so rare that you have to take advantage of it.
The conference, the first of its kind in Brazil, was set up by national team coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.
With decades of profound knowledge of football theory, Parreira was already fully familiar with Mourinho's ideas.
He pointed out that when he was studying the game in the 1960s his physical education professor was arguing that the counter-attack was the future of football.
Even so, it could well be that the event late last year help turned a few keys in Parreira's mind. Since then he has changed the balance of the Brazil side.
And he has done so in a way that gives priority to cashing in on moments of transition.
Brazil were playing 4-3-1-2, until Parreira dropped a midfielder to include an extra striker.
The logic is plain; the object of the exercise is to outnumber the opposition in the most important zone of the field.
With Brazil seeking to get the ball down the field quicker there is less need for another midfielder, more need for another striker to provide an option to receive the early pass.
It also means that Brazil can use more of the devastating attacking resources at their disposal.
This change in the formation caused Brazil some problems while they tried to get the balance right and will probably continue to give the odd headache.
But on its day the new system has already shown its potency. Argentina coach Jose Pekerman would doubtless agree.
After Brazil beat his side 4-1 in the final of the Confederations Cup he lamented that "every time you lose the ball Brazil kill you.
"It's not like people think. They don't dominate you. They're a counter-attacking team."
"When our creative players try something and lose the ball three quarters of the way down the pitch, Brazil start a move which ends up in a goal because they switch from defence to attack with incredible speed."
In other words, the game was won and lost in the moments of transition.


28 June 2002
Henley, Oxfordshire
Hi mate,

very interesting, cheers. Would the reason 4-2-3-1 starting gaining popularity at the last Euro's be anything to do with this ? e.g the use of 2 defensive mids to win the ball back or is the article suggesting its the CBs who win the ball back e.g. "When our creative players try something and lose the ball three quarters of the way down the pitch" and then get it forward quicly ?


btw - think this is the same forum where Vanderlei Luxemburgo said...

'If you have two bathrooms at home and can't decide which one to use, you'll end up shitting your trousers.' Luxemburgo was explaining how to 'be focused, be cool' to an audience including Gérard Houllier, Andy Roxburgh and Carlos Alberto. 'If, for instance, I have a choice between me dying and my father dying, then I'd choose him because he's old. As a manager, I want to kill all my opponents. But I want to do that in an ethical way.' Ex-Brazil coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo, telling it like it is to international coaches at a Rio forum.


League 2
10 June 2003
The Norwegian NT coach also once said if you avoid the midfield altogether, you won't loose possession there ;)

Professor Nutmeg

ML Fanatic
3 July 2002
Master League
In the Confedrations cup, Brazil played 4-2-2-2 i think, ie with very little width. They do like to attack down the middle though.
Remember Beckham losing the ball in the WC 2002 game vs Brazil? Next thing you knew, it was a goal to Brazil.


2 August 2004
Very good read and I agree the game has changed to a degree where its how well and how quick you can put out a descent looking attack as soon as gaining posession while other team's defence/midfield is disorganized and all over the place that will be the difference between top clubs and just the level below who might play just as well but don't win anything.

And nice quote by Wanderlei there, DB ;) that's a good read as well hehehe..


Whoosh... Bullshit!
20 August 2003
Pissed up in Sam Platt's
Professor Nutmeg said:
Remember Beckham losing the ball in the WC 2002 game vs Brazil? Next thing you knew, it was a goal to Brazil.
If I remember correctly Beckham actually thought the ball had gone out of play and stopped playing ? Maybe Iam wrong
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