Tactical Trends in Hero ISL - Part 2
Second in a two part series. Part one can be found here.
Credit where it’s due, Jamshedpur FC know their limits and play well within them. Of all the teams in the ISL, Jamshedpur have shown the least ambition – whether it comes to recruiting talent or in tactics. Jamshedpur only completed 54% of the number of passes that FC Goa did over the season. Steve Coppell’s men chose to play in a deep block, making it difficult for opponents to find space - only BFC conceded fewer goals than the miners. However, what the new boys lacked in ambition, they made up for with a clear and coherent strategy.
Jamshedpur have the fewest passes per shot and the fewest passes per defensive action, indicating a highly reactive team. They hold their shape and when the opposition makes a mistake they try to get the ball as high up the field as possible, as fast as possible.
Furthermore, Jamshedpur collected 10 points from the first half of the season and 16 from the second half. The only real change they made was to sign Wellington Priori. The Brazilian’s dribbling and unpredictability in the middle not only allowed them to get up the pitch with precision but he also provided a little finesse in the final third. The Brazilian has impressed so much in an attacking sense that he was used as Jamshedpur’s emergency striker for the second half of the Super Cup game against Minerva Punjab, with Kervens Belfort shunted to the wing.
One of the biggest disappointments of last season, from a tactical POV, was the dismissal of Rene Meulensteen. Rene isn’t a saint, but he’s got a decent football brain and his understanding of where Dimitar Berbatov fit into the line-up was top class. Berbatov is a touch player and all those asking for him to run around are wrong. Rene knew that and re-purposed Berba into a “No. 8”, the same role De Bruyne and David Silva are playing for Man City. We did not get to watch this enough but Berba’s ability on the ball was excellent. I’m just disappointed that innovative tactics like this aren’t given enough time to mature.
Mumbai City’s footballing philosophy can be summed up in one word – incoherent. Alexander Guimares’ men oscillated between 4 at the back and 3 at the back for most of the season, with no major changes to the way they played. The data says they’re more reactive than proactive as a team, ie, closer to Jamshedpur than Goa. The Indian players underwhelmed, Emana is gifted but not a playmaker, Leo Costa can be a playmaker, but he had injury problems and then couldn’t get a start. Thiago Santos seems to have dropped off the face of the earth and Everton did not show any consistency. There’s definitely potential there but coaching seems to be the real issue.
Northeast United FC
At one stage in the season, NorthEast were desperate. Brazilian centre-forward Danilo Cezario had only scored one goal – a gift from Albino Gomes – and aside from Marcinho the attack looked clueless. Len Doungel had just scored a hat-trick against Chennaiyin and Didika Ralte showed a willingness to run at defenders when brought on and I think it’s those two factors that convinced Avram Grant to try Danilo out on the right wing for a couple of games.
The plan didn’t work, NorthEast still struggled to score goals but Danilo was excellent. Starting deeper and with more space around him, the big Brazilian was able to build up some speed before taking on defenders. Also, moving Danilo away from the danger zone meant that usually defenders would also have to modify their positions to keep an eye on him. It didn’t work as a tactic but it did create some interesting moments.
FC Pune City
FC Pune City were good last year. Tactically, Pune play an orthodox 4-2-3-1. Pune don’t experiment too much instead relying on stability and chemistry between the players. Adil Khan filled in at right back for much of the season but I would question his mobility in such a role. No doubts about his heading ability, however, as he scored 4 goals from corners.
One issue I had with Pune is them using Marcelinho centrally. A fantastic footballer (as dirty as he is fantastic tbh) that does everything well, it should normally make sense to play him in a position where he is likely to see more of the ball. Problem is that Marcelinho has a tendency to drift away from “the hole” and into harmless positions near the half-line. Using him out wide, will force him to move up and down (at his own pace, obviously) which will in turn allow Pune to create 1v1s and isolate full backs.
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