Breaking down FC Goa’s positional play model using Guardiola’s philosophy
Saksham Kakkar holds an AFC A License as well as an MSc in Sports Coaching from Cardiff Metropolitan University. He has been with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs since 2016 and also has an FA Level 2 certification.
It’s been a great few weeks of watching Season 7 of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL). One that has uplifted our moods in these trying times the world finds itself in. As for me, not being on the grass nowadays has given me the opportunity to watch some games in full. I have taken this opportunity to look at FC Goa’s run of games in this season of the Hero ISL. The points table doesn’t really paint the best picture, but the Gaurs are one of the teams that have started with a lot of promise dominating all games so far. This does not include the 50-minute period that FC Goa had to play with 10 men against Mumbai City FC because FC Goa were numerically inferior in that period.
“We have been dominating all the games and we had control of the games, but we couldn't win: FC Goa striker Igor Angulo
Domination, however, can be very subjective. The Antonio Lopez Habas-led ATK Mohun Bagan are masters of dominating the space without the ball and very successful at it too. Juan Ferrando, who is coaching FC Goa this season, would be found on the other end of the spectrum where domination is only possible with the ball. The latter is the basis of positional play and it has many pillars that help construct this style which is finding its way into the DNA of the Hero Indian Super League. In this piece, I will talk about some concepts that help FC Goa play the way they do -- in control of the ball, space, opponents and the game!
Ferrando before the Kerala Blasters FC game: “For us, it's important to know how to control the space, the opponent and I hope in the next game, we are quicker in the last part of the pitch.”
Their usual starting formation this season has been a 1-4-2-3-1. The advantages of playing this system are huge because it gives you multiple lines (vertically + horizontally) and creates plenty of triangles and diamonds. These are all crucial if you want to implement positional play with your team. Having said this, rarely would you see FC Goa play in the above-mentioned formation when they are in possession of the ball because the game is dynamic and ever-changing.
I’ve understood positional play better by reading Marti Perarnau’s books on Pep Guardiola. He covered a wide range of topics within positional play and among which he also spoke about the main pillars of Guardiola’s playing philosophy. Guardiola has inspired many coaches worldwide and I am sure Ferrando is one of them. The first pillar of the philosophy is: ‘possession is a tool, nothing more’. Let’s discuss all of these important pillars here in detail.
- Importance of having the ball
- Possession as a means of defence
- Domination in the opposition half and an attacking mentality
- Utilizing the width of the pitch to create 1-v-1s
- Numerical superiority in the centre of the park
- Playing the ball out of the back in a compact shape
- Utilizing the spare man in build-ups and between opponent’s lines
- Interchange of positions and not coming deep for possession
- Technical excellence
- Playing with high intensity
It’s no surprise to see FC Goa have more possession than their opponents. It’s not by chance: they have worked tirelessly in the training ground. It’s not choice but necessity if you want to dominate and control the opponent. In their first 10 matches this season, FC Goa average 64.4% possession. This includes the game against Mumbai City FC where they played the entire second half with ten men. One can argue we’d be looking at a higher average possession percentage if it wasn’t for that sending-oﬀ. The statistics don’t tell you the entire picture because higher possession means nothing if you are unable to break the opponents down. Last season’s champions ATK FC are a prime example of this where they relied heavily on low blocks and fast breaks to catch opponents out. This explains why FC Goa had a higher possession percentage against Bengaluru FC and NorthEast United FC (teams that chose to play compact in deep blocks relying on counter-attacks) compared to Mumbai City FC and Kerala Blasters FC (teams that share a similar philosophy to Ferrando’s where they want to be the protagonists with the ball).
“This idea that because you have possession, you’ve played well. I’m flabbergasted when I hear it,” Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher once famously said.
Having said this, how are FC Goa able to keep possession against teams that opt to press higher or want to keep possession themselves? One way to do this is by keeping optimum distances between each other in all phases of attack (build, create and finish). This helps in making shorter passes as opposed to longer passes which automatically leads to higher pass retention since passes that have to cover larger distances have a higher chance of being intercepted or misplaced.
Another way to keep possession is by choosing position at good angles and creating plenty of triangles and diamonds. The anatomy and biomechanics of the human body means it is much easier to receive a pass from your teammate situated diagonally from you as opposed to a teammate who is situated in a straight line from you. Passes received from a straight line are also easier to press which is why FC Goa try and create plenty of triangles and diamonds on the pitch.
The key thing about possession is that it is nothing but a tool to achieve the rest of your objectives. Possession allows your team to keep the ball which in turn helps you control and manipulate the behaviour of the opponents. Being in control of the ball and space allows your team to use diﬀerent positional play concepts that we will talk about throughout this piece.
High possession as part of the defensive strategy
Another of Guardiola’s pillars in his philosophy revolves around using possession as a defensive strategy allowing his team to counter-press intelligently on ball-loss and defend with the ball. The latter simply means to keep possession in order to tire the opponents mentally and physically, while at the same time keeping the sole objective of using ball possession to possess the ball as opposed to progress and score. As a result, they will defend by keeping the ball to run the clock down and deal a psychological blow to the opponents. Guardiola also believes possession is best used to cool down a charged atmosphere where the opponents have momentum or seem to be gaining confidence. Let’s look at this segment below where FC Goa are leading the Kerala outfit 2-0 in the 89th minute of the game. Kerala tweaked their system by introducing some new personnel and were causing the Gaurs some problems. FC Goa’s Alberto Noguera is in possession of the ball with his team-mates well-connected to him and in an active position to receive the ball which will help keep possession.
A few passes later we see Ivan Gonzalez with his head down (image below) and a high arm swing about to make a long pass into the opponents’ half to a waiting teammate. This is understandable because of the number of opponents in close vicinity around him. The fact that his teammates close to him haven’t provided good angles or been active enough to oﬀer an escape route can also be a reason for his decision to play a long pass. Everything is easier in hindsight but the best way to beat this press is not launch it long but instead switch play into the right side towards the right back or right winger. FC Goa can do that through the goalkeeper or a clipped ball from Gonzalez into the right back. This requires a high level of technical quality apart from vision, awareness and the belief in the philosophy to possess the ball under pressure which we can expect from the excellent pedigree the FC Goa players possess.
This ability to keep possession under pressure especially when the opponents are trying to find a way back with higher intensity and a surge in motivation is diﬃcult to produce. But the above example oﬀers a good explanation as to why it is a necessity when playing this style since Kerala Blasters scored a few seconds later after winning the long ball in their own half before releasing Nishu Kumar on the right wing who crossed for Vicente Gomez to leap above the rest scoring his first goal of the season. Therefore, giving FC Goa a few scary minutes to live through before Igor Angulo capitalised on Albino Gomes’ mistake to make it 3-1 in favour of the Goan outfit.
There is one more reason why Guardiola believes possession can be useful in the defensive strategy and that lies in the intelligent counter pressing after losing the ball. He had adopted a 6-second rule with his FC Barcelona team, and his current Manchester City team are also one of the best counter pressers in the league. Like Guardiola, Ferrando uses possession as a means to reach the opponent’s defensive third without losing the structure and connection. This connection and optimum distance between the teammates allows them to press quicker and swarm around the ball in numbers. This increases your chances of recovering the ball.
The image above shows the moment of ball-loss against Mumbai City FC. This came after a passage of possession that led to an inaccurate pass from Seriton Fernandes towards Edu Bedia (circled). What you can’t see in this image are the players behind Bedia who are in close connection to him similar to the players in front of him (Seiminlen Doungel wearing number 7 and Angulo who is closest to the penalty spot). On ball-loss, you can see in the image below how the distances allow the team without the ball to put immediate pressure on the ball carrier closing passing lanes and forcing the player on the ball to make decisions quicker which can lead to the ball carrier making mistakes. You can also see in the image below how FC Goa have boxed the ball carrier into their net making escape diﬃcult. This is possible because of the team being connected in possession which allows you to be numerically superior around the ball. FC Goa also rely heavily on progression through the middle of the pitch which has two advantages in the counter pressing phase: 1. It’s easier to thwart the opponents’ progression through the middle and 2. It forces them wide. Both make counter pressing easier.
The two pillars above go hand in hand with the next one as Guardiola speaks about dominating the game high up the pitch.
Dominating the game high up the pitch and having an attacking mentality
This pillar could not represent Ferrando’s team more as we’ve seen in the games so far.
Ferrando speaks about this mentality a lot when he cites the recovery against Bengaluru FC and the performance against Mumbai City FC. “For us, it's important to know how to control the space, the opponent and I hope in the next game, we are quicker in the last part of the pitch,” said Ferrando before the game against Kerala Blasters FC.
Why, though, is it important for Ferrando to dominate the game high up the pitch? One of the reasons is to be closer to the opponent goal, and as a result, keeping the opponent far from your own goal. By dominating high up the pitch, you are in control of the ball and the opponents. Also, being high up the pitch puts constant pressure on the opponents’ back-line and gives you a higher probability of scoring.
The image here gives a good example of the average positions FC Goa take during the game against Bengaluru FC showing the attacking mentality of the Gaurs.
Playing as wide and high as possible to confuse opponents and create 1 v 1 opportunities
This pillar is an important one in positional play and compliments the ones above it. Guardiola speaks about using width and depth to stretch the opponents, thereby allowing circulation and penetration. You can see a lot of these elements in Ferrando’s team.
You can see in the images above how FC Goa have successfully used width by having the central defender Ivan Gonzalez receive the ball close to the left side line, thereby stretching the opponents. Through circulation, third man movements and line breaking passes, FC Goa manage to reach the other side creating a 2 v 1 overload.
This image above paints a good picture of the structure FC Goa employ to enable progression into the final third. Igor Angulo offers depth by positioning himself between the two central defenders albeit being offside.
Angulo explained his positioning by saying ‘my style of play is to be behind the defensive line and this helps me confuse them and I take advantage of this.’ He went on to explain further that he might be oﬀside a lot because of this role but he will also score goals when he does time his run behind the defensive line perfectly. This stretches the opponent’s back-line closer to their own goal creating gaps between their midfield and attacking lines allowing FC Goa players to receive between the lines. If teams choose to play compact like most teams do when they play against FC Goa, the Gaurs have enough qualitative and positional superiority to overcome that. One option they frequently use is playing the diagonal pass from the centre of the pitch into the wide areas (the fullback or the winger). The images below show how Goa have created a rotation in the midfield (a few seconds after the image above) in an attempt to gain numerical superiority in the centre of the pitch allowing them to create a free man (Brandon Fernandes). The free man then plays the diagonal pass into the left winger (Jorge Ortiz Mendoza) to isolate him 1 v 1 with the opposition right back. What is crucial in this process is the positioning of the Goan left back (circled in the right image below) to occupy the half space in depth thus grabbing the attention of both the fullback and the centre-back.
Another example I want to highlight is the next attack after the one above failed to succeed. You can see below how Seriton Fernandes retrieved the ball near the right-side line just inside the opponent’s half before FC Goa decide to switch play into Gonzalez (circled at the bottom right of the screen).
Once they switch play into the left side, you can see (in the image below) the opposition lines shift towards that side. Odisha FC are playing a back line of four and a midfield line of five in the defensive phase. This midfield line is quite narrow which makes penetration through the midfield line diﬃcult since the pass must be very precise. If you look at the FC Goa structure, you can see the width being oﬀered by the right and left (out of the picture) wingers. A pass to the left winger (Ortiz) would be a good solution to break the opponents’ lines but the position of Odisha FC’s right winger makes the pass tricky because he has Ortiz in his cover shadow. Here is where the positional play concepts come into play and imbalance the opponents. The first one is by the player on the ball who dribbles the ball from his own half to beat the first line of pressure and fix the opposition right winger, thus dragging him out of position. The second important concept is the width and depth provided by the three strikers to stretch the opponents vertically and horizontally. This vertical stretch creates gaps between the opponent’s midfield and defensive lines which Alberto Noguera tries to exploit.
You can see in the image below how Noguera (in the half space) is attracting the attention of the Odisha FC right back thereby leaving Ortiz as the free man to exploit the 1 v 1.
Numerical superiority in rest defense and the centre of the pitch
The next pillar in Pep’s philosophy is the search for numerical and positional superiority throughout the pitch. Each match is diﬀerent and so are the areas of pitch control but two areas are constant when it comes to prioritising numerical superiority -- the centre of the pitch and in rest defense (players of the team in possession whose primary focus is on thwarting opposition counter-attacks). A numerical superiority in rest defense will basically mean a 2 v 1 / 3 v 2 / 4 v 3 advantage at the back during the attacking phase. These are common themes one would have observed in Guardiola’s teams especially during his FC Barcelona days when he used the Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta and Messi combination to be numerically and qualitatively superior in the centre of the pitch. This is something we have seen Ferrando’s teams use at large to reach the attacking third.
Like in the image above, Noguera has moved into the blind side of the Odisha FC striker creating a 3 v 1 overload and more importantly superiority behind line of pressure. This allows easy progression towards the next receiving line while beating the first line of pressure, pushing Odisha backwards into a lower block or attracting the press from the second line (allowing the chance to create superiority behind the press).
The image above shows a numerical superiority near the centre circle by the three Goan midfielders in combination with the centre back. You can see how they form a diamond to overcome the two opponents close to the ball carrier. Diamonds, triangles and other geometrical shapes go a long way when it comes to possession as they make passing and reception easier as opposed to a square since the lines are straighter (in a square) hence making reception diﬃcult.
By having numerical superiority in the centre of the pitch, you have a higher chance of controlling that area. This is prioritised by coaches because it makes progression behind the opponents’ lines easier (wide or half space), pushes the opposition into a deeper block and decreases the risk of ball loss in the centre.
Guardiola, like Ferrando, prioritised numerical superiority in rest defense since it is key in stopping counter attacks in the event of a ball loss. Let’s use the image above as an example to picture a backward pass played into Gonzalez. If the opponent striker presses Gonzalez, he can eﬀectively fix him by creating a 2 v 1 with his defensive partner. Gonzalez can also use depth by playing the pass into the goalkeeper encouraging Odisha to step out of their mid-block structure. In the worst-case scenario, if Gonzalez loses the ball, his defensive partner can help him delay the attack because of the numerical superiority.
Along with numerical superiority, positional superiority must go hand in hand to improve possession or progression (the latter, if possible, is better). In the image above, you can see how Brandon (left, circled) and Lenny Rodrigues (inside the centre circle, circled) have an open body allowing them to actively look at the ball, their teammates, the space and the opponents. Also, they have positioned themselves on the shoulder of their opponents allowing them to break lines easier.
Structured positioning of your players to bring the ball out and advance as a compact unit
The next pillar is one we’ve associated FC Goa with over the last few years. Build-up is a big part of positional play but few understand the method and reasons behind it. In short, the main goal of the build-up is so you can reach the opponents’ half with an advantage (free man). As easy as this sounds, how do FC Goa do it?
The above is an example from FC Goa’s game against Kerala Blasters where Edu Bedia is trying to bring the ball out from the back with the intention to beat the first line of press or push them back into their own half. The main idea of positional play revolves around creating a free man who can destabilise the opponent. In this case, the opponent is playing a defensive system of 1-4-4-2 which means the first line of pressure consists of two opponents. To overcome that, Goa’s defensive midfielder (Bedia) has moved into a deeper position in the half space to create a numerical superiority against the two opponents.
This now allows Goa to circulate the ball in order to shift opponents creating gaps between their structure. In the image below, the ball carrier (Gonzalez) has attracted pressure from the opponent which allows Lenny to create superiority behind the opponent, thus eliminating the first line of pressure. It is important to note the body position of the receiver which allows him to make the best decision along with his position on the pitch (between two opposition lines) making him positionally superior than the opponent.
The image below is a good representation of the connections and structure that make build up play possible. On receiving the ball, Lenny has good support around him at the right distances and angles to allow ball possession. In the area close to the ball, there is a numerical equality situation of 4 v 4. What is crucial in keeping this a numerically equal situation is the width oﬀered by the FC Goa winger on the far side along with the depth oﬀered by the striker and left back. The aforementioned players have eﬀectively fixed Kerala’s backline allowing Goa the chance to possess through this phase and ultimately progress the ball into the opponents’ half by circulation.
You can see below how Goa, through the structured positioning and quick circulation of the ball, have created a free man in Brandon who can cause damage behind Kerala’s last line on receiving the ball.
Below are more examples of FC Goa constructing their build up to manoeuvre the opposition in an attempt to find the free man.
You can see below how the team in orange have created a line of 3 in the first phase to overcome the 2 strikers. Also, important to notice is how wide the FC Goa fullbacks are - this is done to stretch the opponent’s front 6 in an attempt to penetrate through the middle (Lenny and Noguera).
After circulating the ball to the other side, Goa have managed to shift the opponents into the ball near side. Noguera is trying to make a passing line on the blind side of the presser while Lenny has taken the position previously occupied by Noguera. This (occupying diﬀerent heights) is an important concept in positional play which helps tremendously in build-up because it staggers the opponents’ positioning making it diﬃcult for them to press and cover.
In the image above, FC Goa have circulated the ball to the other side via the goalkeeper. Edu Bedia moves into the half space to provide a diagonal passing option but also influences his direct opponent’s positioning. This opens a pass around the opponent’s structure into the Goan right-back who is now the free man because he has space and time to aﬀect the opponent.
On creating the free man, Goa are able to switch the point of attack isolating Redeem Tlang with his direct opponent creating a situation of qualitative and dynamic superiority allowing Goa to attack the last line of the opponent.
The segment above is a good example of the advantage of build-up play but it requires a good understanding of positional play elements along with a high degree of technical and mental qualities to execute.
Seeking the third man at each stage of build-up play plus using the free man between opponent’s lines
The next pillar is a continuation of the previous one since it touches on build-up play and the search for a free man. One big tool to possess or progress in the build-up phase is via the third man. The third man has various advantages such as -- multiple passing lines to help keep possession, diﬀerent heights destabilises the opponents’ press, numbers behind the ball on ball-loss, dynamic superiority etc. The biggest advantage, though, is the ability to break multiple lines with a third man pass. There are various ways to find the third man and one of the common variations is the up, back and through pattern.
You can see the pattern below where Bedia (circled, left) has received a pass from his goalkeeper
The image below is a direct consequence of finding the free man in the first stage of build up since you can now see Redeem Tlang (the left winger) use the space created between the opposition’s midfield and defensive lines to create a free man via a diagonal passing line.
Below is another example of the third man to secure possession in tight spaces to eventually progress the ball. Lenny plays the ball to his pivot partner in Bedia, which acts as a cue for Noguera (the attacking midfielder) to oﬀer an exit route. Noguera has no positional superiority here which means his best option is to possess by playing backwards or to the sides.
Eventually, Goa manage to create a free man in the opponent’s half via Seriton (image below). A good way to progress behind opponent’s lines would be via the striker (Angulo) dropping between the defensive and midfield lines to progress behind the opposition by playing a third man pass with the right winger.
Below is another example of using the third man to find the free man between the opposition lines. By playing around the opponent and breaking lines, it allows the third man to receive between lines and have dynamic superiority over the opponent to then penetrate behind opponent’s lines or move to the next phase of the structure.
Varying the players’ positions but players must NEVER drop out of position to come looking for the ball
This next pillar is a complicated one but critical to make your team’s positional play click. Put simply, this talks about how the players can interchange positions (for example right winger goes to the left or the attacking midfielder swaps with the defensive midfielder) but they must never sacrifice the tactical structure that has been decided for a particular game. Thierry Henry spoke about this in good detail where he explained the importance Guardiola lays on playing from your position.
The image above shows a good picture of FC Goa counter attacking through the left wing via Ortiz with Angulo oﬀering depth by positioning himself between the two centre-backs. It is interesting to observe FC Goa’s structure during this phase -- the right winger (Alexander Jesuraj) has drifted inwards into an attacking midfield position with Brandon (middle) and Lenny (right) completing the midfield trio making it a 5-player attacking move.
If you compare the previous image to the one below, you can see a similar structure during the counter-attack phase. This time the ball is on the right side with Jesuraj and Angulo’s position is the same -- playing on the shoulder of the opponent’s last line. FC Goa are attacking with 5 players again but each position in midfield is occupied by someone diﬀerent compared to the image above. Brandon is on the right this time with Ortiz in the middle and Edu Bedia has taken up the attacking midfield position close to the left half space.
What you are seeing in both the images is that FC Goa have a set structure during the counter attack phase when the ball is with one of the wingers. The striker must be the most advanced player occupying the last line and there must be three additional attackers in the second line. The three attackers in the second line must be occupying diﬀerent lanes to make progression easier but the players that occupy these lanes can change. For example, Jesuraj in the first image becomes the number 10 but Bedia replaces him in the second image. Ortiz is the ball carrier on the left wing in the first image but is found occupying the central lane in the second image. All the while the structure hasn’t changed but the roles within it have.
There are, however, exceptions to the norm since not everything can be controlled by the coach and at the end of the day the game belongs to the players since they are the ones who make the decisions on the pitch. Let’s look at the example below where Brandon will be our focus for breaking the structure and dropping out of position to come looking for the ball.
You can see Kerala use three players in the first line of pressure to avoid penetration through the middle and force Goa into the wider areas of the pitch. Goa usually play with a double pivot (Lenny and Bedia) along with an advanced, attacking midfielder (Brandon in this case). Goa has numerical superiority 7 v 3 (clearer in the image below) which is enough to build play and progress into the opponent’s half cleanly. What Goa is lacking is positional superiority because of Brandon’s movement towards the ball. This movement also doesn’t allow Brandon to fix his opponents.
The picture (above) becomes a lot clearer now where the numerical superiority is clearly visible in Goa’s favour. Another principle to advance through the pitch is to create superiority behind the line of pressure which can give us a hint of where Brandon should be positioning himself.
Although, Brandon’s current positioning is not ideal, I can think of some advantages this can give to the team in orange.
- It allows for a lot of short passes and gives more rhythm to the game
- Technical players love to have a feel of the ball in as many moments of the game as possible since it helps them feel connected and adds confidence.
- Creating this shape of 5 during the build-up phase allows players to progress through the wide areas much easier if some players occupy the half spaces
- This extra man can also invite pressure making it easier to bypass through them if Lenny has taken up a good position.
The image above shows how Goa have successfully bypassed the press by going around the pressure instead of through it. The two wide players (circled) were key in fixing two opponents (midfielders) from their second line of pressure and Lenny was occupying the third opposition midfielder. This left Brandon in a lot of space and it all started from his false position in front of the back 4.
As a coach, seeing players move out of position can be worrying sometimes but if you explain the concepts of positional play to them, they can surprise you with the good decisions they make. The game belongs to the players and when they move at that intensity amidst the chaos, it’s wise to let them be the protagonists since the coach can’t see what they can.
This is clear to see in Ferrando’s FC Goa where sources say that players have been asked to think for themselves. ‘You need to understand why things are happening on the field,’ said one FC Goa player.
Technical excellence: good body position in receiving the ball and short, accurate passes which improve the receiver’s position
The penultimate pillar in this series focuses on the individual’s technique and body position. I cannot emphasise enough how important this pillar is to the success of your team’s positional play. I think we’ve all heard about teaching technique before tactics and it makes a lot of sense because if you can’t pass or receive the ball over a small distance, then teaching concepts like superiority and breaking lines are futile. Put simply, you can’t progress the ball in the way you would like to. Guardiola is meticulous when it comes to practicing technical excellence because his style of playing in small spaces under tremendous pressure demands it.
This insight from Jan Kirchhoﬀ talking about the details Guardiola went into is brilliant: “There were many little things that made a huge diﬀerence once you added them all up. For example, he put great emphasis on being positioned correctly before the reception of a ball, and on playing passes to the correct foot of players, to create a rhythm of passing. There was always an explanation. I remember him telling me to control the passes coming in from the left side of the pitch with my right and to play it forward with my right, if I had enough time. That might sound trite but I had learned that controlling it with the right foot and passing it with the left was the quickest way to play it. But he explained that playing it with the right was a better pass, because it sent a more ‘positive’ message: the ball was spinning away from the opponent and forward, into the path of your team-mate, rather than across the pitch, forcing your team-mate to stop and control it first. Playing it with the right made the game fast and encouraged more attacking play, playing it with the left slowed things down. The diﬀerence was small and would have been imperceptible to most, but we saw that he was right and it was one of many lightbulb moments for me.”
This goes to show the importance Guardiola placed on the little details to improve technical excellence in order to implement his style. Ferrando is no diﬀerent and you can hear him speak constantly about improving his players after a good performance. Below is a good example of Ferrando talking about his young striker.
”We can talk a lot about Ishan (Pandita). He is a young player and has to improve a lot. Today, we decided to use Ishan the same way against NorthEast (United FC). He had a good opportunity and he scored. But most important thing is to be in control.”
If you watch the video below, you will see the type of training exercises FC Goa do. This video in particular incorporates a variety of passing, receiving and shooting techniques practiced majorly in isolation but also with opposition. Each coach has their own preference for improving the players’ techniques but the video shows how small details from training can play a big role in the game (making your game model the most important).
Playing with ‘intensity’ (total concentration) for the duration of each game
The last and final pillar is one that Ferrando has talked about in a lot of his interviews. He has mostly spoken about improving the team’s intensity in diﬀerent phases of the game like build-up and pressing.
“For me, we are so far from the ideal (higher intensity) performance. Believe me, it's possible for this team to play higher intensity football,” Ferrando said before the game against Odisha FC.
This intensity is a big factor in positional play teams since it is a very demanding style mentally. You are constantly asked to make decisions that will help you overcome the opponent in a small space. Add the physical factor of pressing and dismarking from your opponents and you get a chaotic mix that requires you to be at peak performance levels to solve.
Maybe Klopp is the best manager in the world at creating teams who attack the back four with so many players, from almost anywhere on the pitch. They have an intensity with the ball and without the ball, and it is not easy to do that: Guardiola
It has been interesting to observe FC Goa this season under a new coach like Ferrando especially since they play an exciting, attacking style. The team has undergone a change of personnel this year but the core players and style have remained.
“The supporters of Goa want to build, protect the ball, use space and play positional in attack. For this is necessary to take time and to work in all the trainings,” said Ferrando in a recent podcast with ‘The drag flick’ implying the eﬀort and patience required to develop the style in order to see the best results.
A huge credit goes to the entire team behind the scenes at FC Goa for having a good blueprint of their style and recruiting the right people within it.
One thing that has been evident is that teams who play positive football with intent to overcome their opposition with the ball have been more successful by and large compared to teams that do the opposite. I look forward to the remaining games in this season to see which teams will qualify into the semi-finals. The football has been of a good standard and I can’t wait to see the fruits this season will bear in the overall development of football in India.
Credit - Sportskeeda, Times of India, The Athletic, InStat and The Drag Flick