Football is experiencing a very interesting moment in the clash of ideas and tactical trends that seek to take control of the ball and space indiscriminately. It is not uncommon for there to be more time and space for many teams in the opponent’s half than in their own, which highlights a different game, built from the goalkeeper. With different keys and ways of progressing, elaborating the game, and moving into the attack.
The latest coach to take even more risks uses the center-backs in the following way:
Usually, the center-backs are the players who make the most passes per game, with exceptions, in which the central midfielder surpasses them. However, the most characteristic aspect of Thiago Motta’s Bologna is their heat map. The center-backs start very low, close to the goalkeeper, and have constant mobility until reaching the opponent’s area. Ricardo Calafiori and Sam Bekeuma represent one of the most surprising changes of the season in European leagues. Although this has been happening in other teams, such as Daley Blind in Girona, no team releases their center-backs to scoring positions.
Their ball distribution breaks many established norms. There are no defined roles, and any player can leave their position, even if it means leaving critical or theoretically vital areas, such as the center-backs or the central midfielder. This way of building the game is providing them with a very productive defensive continuity, as they don’t have the quality to win many games clearly. In fact, they have kept eight clean sheets. It is a team that always stays alive in matches and does not concede many goals.
Of the 21 goals, 12 have come through assists, and in that fluidity to progress and create spaces, the growth and sensitivity in Joshua Kirkzee’s game are crucial. His heat map gives us clues about the relevance and influence he has within the game, descending on the field and connecting with the midfielders.
The style radar provides a lot of information about a team. In this comparison with the previous season, we see how all passing and elaboration indicators have grown, defining Bologna as a team that passes more in short distances, more times per possession, with fewer long balls, more possession time, and less verticality. A team marked by its ability to pass the ball and find spaces, attracting pressure from the opponent.
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