The Detail of Pressing
Pressing has definitely become a very publicised area of the game in recent years. Teams such as Dortmund, Atletico, Southampton and Barcelona have helped display the effects of pressing in leagues through the world, the much discussed pressing can provide teams with opportunities to regain possession and limit the oppositions areas of effectiveness.
Why/When Do We Press?
From a simplistic point of view there is only one reason to press, to win the ball back. However there are far more in depth tactical reasons to press, and more tactical strategies of pressing. Teams look to press the opposition in to specific areas of the pitch, these areas maybe areas where the opponents are ineffective, it also may be in to areas where the side out of possession feel more comfortable allowing them to have possession. Pressing may also be performed in the form of ‘counter pressing’ where the press is a reaction to losing possession and the press, prevents the opposition from playing forward and provides time for the side out of possession with opportunities to regain defensive balance.
Where Do We Press?
Pressing can be performed in any area of the field of play. However what system of pressing is used, and what the game situation is will play important roles. The higher the ball is on the field of the play, the less danger to the side out of possession. However the higher the ball, the greater the reward if possession📷 can be won.
How Do We Press?
There are many different systems of pressing. Different systems are more effective at different times, due to situational demands, player demands and positional demands. The systems of pressing discussed here will be The High Press, The Part Press and The Counter Press. Regardless of the system involved in pressing, pressing must be performed at a high intensity with desire to close space, it also must be performed with intelligence, being aware of the movement of players behind you, and also recognising the system of press that would be most effective for that situation
The high press is the most common system of pressing in football and is commonly performed against sides who play out from the back, attempting to force them to play long. The high press is a high pressure system that attempts to close the space around the opposition, attempting to regain possession. The high press is often initiated by the opposition having a goal kick, or a throw-inn in their defensive third, it can also be initiated through kick-off , additionally an 📷opportunity to pinch possession can initiate the high press. The high press can be set as a trap with the use of triggers as shown in the picture to the left the Centre forward ( RED CIRCLE) cuts out the opposition right centre back inviting the goalkeeper to play in the the left CB. The ball leaving the keepers foot is then the trigger for the side to press, the centre forward then looks to arch his run towards the player in possession cutting out the switch of play to the other centre back. This cuts the switch of play and is important in the high press as it locks down the opposition in to the wide areas. The body position of the attacker is very important, showing the opposition wide using the touchline as an additional defender. The number 10 then looks to play of the right hand shoulder of the 9 Blocking the passing line in to the opposition defensive midfield player. The number 8 (midfield player) then applies pressure to the man in possession Cutting the passing line to the oppositions midfield player ahead of the ball, arching his run towards the 📷touchline, decelerating his movements to engage the player in possession. The 11 (wide man) then invites the pass in to the left back, by inviting the ball in to the left back in the high press the team out of possession can overload the team in possession and lock them down in to a small area of the pitch with the wide man then going tight to the LB as the ball travels in. The side in possession have then locked the opposition down, using the touchline as an additional defender. The pressure should be applied to the space around the ball, making it difficult for the opposition to find team mates. There are 4 triggers for the high press to stop; Winning possession of the football, The oppositions heavy touch, and the opportunity to step in and win possession, a tactical decision such as the goalkeeper hitting the ball long, or the opposition successfully keeping the ball and breaking out of the press.
Part pressing has two completely different emphasis, the first is the initial press of the players closest to the ball, in this diagram the 3 players circled in red would press the space around the ball isolating the player, attempting 📷to either win the ball or force the player to play backwards. This would then be the trigger for the rest of the team to drop in to their out of possession shape. As you can see here the full backs are very high and could easily be exposed, by part pressing the front three can delay the counter attack and allow the two full backs to recover in to position. Part pressing is commonly performed to recover defensive balance but can also be effective in regaining possession high up the pitch. With part pressing as soon as the opposition play backwards, the press has performed its job, and consequently the pressing players should drop back in to the out of possession shape, forming a low blockto prevent the opposition breaking the side down. The part press has been used this season, notably by Chelsea this season away at PSG, this was a tactical decision by Jose Mourinho to delay the counter attacks of PSG.
Counter-pressing has been a buzz word in european football over the last 5 years, however how many coaches understand how it can be used, and why it can be used. Counter pressing is important to not only the movement of the team in relation to the ball, but also the previous positions of the players and positioning they are in. It is also true to an extent that counter pressing is significantly a mental skill. If a player is slow, or unable to react to the transitions, counter-pressing can in fact expose teams. Counter pressing is simply reacting to the loss of possession, and closing the space around the opposition to try and win possession back. As shown in the diagram 📷this may be a misplaced pass that is picked up by the opposition, as soon as the opposition gain possession the team who gave away possession must quickly react to close the space around the player, closing passing lines and attempting to win possession back. Some teams differ in the way they counter-press. Some sides chose to put minimal pressure on the ball but close the passing lines around the player so he is forced to give the ball away. Some sides will look to move towards the ball, taking up a body position that blocks the passing line and also closes the space around the player n possession. Counter pressing must be performed by every player in close proximity to the ball. Counter pressing is ineffective for teams who play with large distance between units and players, teams who play with isolated width are far more effective in closing the space quickly.