Possession - Football (Soccer) Play-Styles | Hamza El Kadioui | Skillshare

Possession - Football (Soccer) Play-Styles

Hamza El Kadioui, Football Analyst

Possession - Football (Soccer) Play-Styles

Hamza El Kadioui, Football Analyst

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19 Lessons (47m)
    • 1. Course Introduction

    • 2. Instructor Introduction

    • 3. Defining Possession

    • 4. Possession as a Way vs Possession as a Goal

    • 5. Purposes of Possession

    • 6. Keys to Possession

    • 7. The Effective Possession

    • 8. The Wanted / Unwanted Possession

    • 9. Possession and Dominance

    • 10. Tiki Taka

    • 11. Triangles

    • 12. Possession and Positioning

    • 13. Vertical vs Horizontal Possession

    • 14. Patience with the Ball

    • 15. Possession's Roots

    • 16. Possession and Numbers (Stats)

    • 17. The Patient Buildup

    • 18. Conclusion

    • 19. Bonus Lecture

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About This Class

Welcome to your course "Football (Soccer) Play-Styles - Possession". Whether you are a coach, a player, or even a football lover, this course is for you!

Keeping possession doesn't mean anything if it isn't effective! That's where many coaches and teams get stuck. They keep possession just for the sake of it...

Possession isn't the purpose, it's only a way like many others. How do you use it is what really matters...

In this course, you'll discover Why and How to get the best out of your possession phase.

By the end of this course, you'll be able to coach/play an effective possession style to win more games.

This course is composed of 3 sections:

  • In the first section, you are going to be introduced to the course, to know me (the instructor), and the roadmap of the course.

  • In the second section, you are going to know how to play/coach an effective possession football.

  • In the third and last section, you are going to know what is really possession.

Shortly talking, this course will be teaching you what to do and what not to do when you have possession of the ball.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Hamza El Kadioui

Football Analyst


Before being a Football Analyst, Hamza is a Football Lover. He obtained his master degree in International Business, but this didn't stop him from following his passion for football (soccer). He helped many coaches, players and even football fans to understand the game deeply and improve their performance. He works as a Football Analyst Freelancer with different teams, clubs, and players. He is also a Football Content Creator (Videos, Articles...). His mission is: Popularize Football Analysis!

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1. Course Introduction: Hi everybody and welcome to the new series of courses “Football (soccer) Play-Styles” where I’ll be talking about different play styles such as possession, counter-attacking, positional-play… This course is going to be about “Possession” which, by the way, is the first course of the series. My name is El Kadioui Hamza, and I’m going to be your instructor in this course. Without further ado, let me show you the roadmap of this course: First, and in this video, I’m going to be introducing the course. In the next one, and for people who don’t know me yet, I’ll introduce myself and a bit of my work. Then, later on, I’ll directly dive into defining possession, answering questions like “What do we need from possession? How do we get the best out of it? What kind of possession we do/don’t need? And many others... and many others..." I’ll talk about possession’s misconceptions; I’ll tie the play-style with other concepts such as positioning, dominance… and so on. The idea behind this course is to show coaches and players what to do and what not to do if they want to play with a possession style. To do so, I’ll be showing you many examples of what I’m explaining, so everything would be clear. By the way, this course is not only for coaches and players. Football fans also can benefit from it: firstly, to get rid of the main misconceptions about possession; and secondly, to see the difference between the teams playing with such play-style and how that helps or limits them. While creating this course, I also took into consideration people not knowing much about football. So, I tried the most I can to clarify things with easy language and clear and many examples. But if somehow, you got confused at any part or that you want more clarification, just contact me so I can help more. 2. Instructor Introduction: Hi guys. Presented myself. I'm Al Qaeda, was 27 years old and I'm a football analyst. During the past years, I have been helping hundreds of cultures, players, teams, and even football fans to understand football on a deeper level, to change their mind-sets, matching it with the suitable areas one, and to improve their performance. I have created an online course teaching how to analyze football, the basics, which has more than 100000300 students from all around the globe. From one side, discourse is for people who asks me to create more courses about suitable tactics. From the other side, discourse is one of the steps I'm taken on the road to my mission, which is to popularize football analysis. There's two steps, aren't the only ones I took till now on the road to popularize football analysis, creating tactical analysis videos of goals, players and games on YouTube. And my upsides. I'm working on now one-on-one with some players, coaches, and fans to improve their performance and understand the game way deeper. Also, IL-4 e-books and many other resources. And as I always say, if you are here to listen to some coach or football, Alice would diplomas and certifications while you are in the wrong place. But if you are here to listen to someone who deeply loves football, who learned football analysis by himself. And his mission is to popularize it. Well, you are welcome guys. 3. Defining Possession: Defining possession: Most probably, you are now wondering why I am trying to define such an obvious thing as “Possession”. You are probably going to define it as when the team has the ball, as easy as it is. It’s correct! But let me tell you that, sometimes, it can get confusing. I’ll give you an example. Or let’s say a question: When the team recovers the ball and quickly moves forward attacking the opponent trying to score a goal. In this situation, is the team playing a counter-attacking style or a possession style? If you are answering that the team is counter-attacking (which is, by the way, the right answer), I will tell you that, during this phase, the team is having possession of the ball. Right? Do you see where and how it gets confusing? That’s what I was talking about. Okay, enough of confusion, I’ll explain to you. In general, by possession, we mean the phase when a team has the ball. Whenever a team has the ball, we say that it has possession. That was in general… When we talk about possession as a play-style (like counter-attack, positional-play…), we mean that the attacking team plays the ball with a series of systematic and steady passes from the defensive third through the midfield into the attacking third with the objective of safeguarding the ball and calmly build an attack. 4. Possession as a Way vs Possession as a Goal: Possession as a way vs Possession as a goal: With the counter-attacking play-style being called old and classic, and the emergence and successes of coaches (like Pep Guardiola, Maurizio Sarri, and many others…) and also some big teams (Barcelona, Spain, Ajax…) having at least 70% of possession all the time, ... Almost every coach right now in all football levels wants to be possession-based. Everyone wants to keep the ball and build of the back. Everyone wants to play like Barcelona. They think it’s modern, it’s cool. They think that if you aren’t possession-based, you aren’t cool anymore! And you can’t totally blame them. In the end, we are in the Social Media era where appearances matter a lot. The problem here isn’t to play possession football. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s only a way, a tool like any other. The way you use it is what really matters. Keeping possession for possession’s sake is one of the biggest blunders you can ever make while playing with this style. ... That’s what I call possession as a goal. From now on, you should stop bragging about having such a percentage of possession during the game. You must rather think about how effective this possession time was for your team. Possession is only a way among others. Your possession should be purposefully and used only as a way to ultimately score more goals than your opponent and win the game. 5. Purposes of Possession: Purposes of possession: As mentioned in the previous part, Possession should be purposeful. Teams seek out many purposes out of possession football. The most important ones are: 1- To create Space: Normally, playing against an opponent keeping possession, the defending team moves back to form a compact and low/mid bloc minimizing space vertically and horizontally. While sustaining possession, the attacking team should aim to create space inside or behind that defensive bloc from where they could penetrate. In this game between Chelsea and Tottenham, You can see that Chelsea players are sitting back, and only Diego Costa in Tottenham’s half pressing the defenders. So, Tottenham players weren’t rushing to go forward, and they are playing the ball backward, trying to drag Chelsea players to go forward. As you can see, Pedro, Kanté, and Matić are pushing forward pressing Tottenham’s players. When Chelsea’s midfielders were pushing forward, the defenders didn’t follow as a bloc, and then a big space was created between the midfield and defensive lines that Dele Alli exploited to penetrate and give the ball to Eriksen who scored beautifully. 2- To open passing lanes: A team can defend in many ways. One of them is to close passing lanes of the opposition, which means that the defending players position themselves in between the ball holder and his teammates in front of him, not letting the ball move forward. That makes the opposition’s possession ineffective and harmless. That’s why the attacking team passes the ball around to open passing lanes from where penetrating. In this example, Spain is keeping possession trying to move the ball forward to one of their playmakers in Portugal's half. As you can see, they can pass the ball between them ineffectively at the back far away from Portugal's goal. Portugal’s midfielders are closing the passing lanes to David Silva and Isco. Once the passing lane to David Silva was opened, Alba didn’t hesitate to pass the ball forward to him in Portugal's half. 3- To draw defenders out of position: It isn’t easy to beat a well-organized defense. When defenders are on their positions, it is difficult to get past them. Having the possession of the ball, the attacking team could try to draw one or more defenders out of their positions. Using off-ball movements, quick combinations, and other techniques, the attacking team can disorganize the defense and then penetrate to score. In this example, AC Milan is playing with four defenders. Mertens, the Central Forward, while dropping to receive the pass, he drew Milan’s Center-Back out of his position. Noticing the gap left in Milan's defense. Insigne was running through it to score. 4- To unbalance the opposition: By moving the ball, you are moving your opponent. Your opponent starts defending from a balanced situation, defending both sides equally. You can induce them to one side of the pitch, to keep possession there long enough to have more defenders on that side and then to suddenly shift play to the other side to penetrate from there. In this example, Atlanta starts defending well balanced. Impact Montréal is sustaining possession on the right side, and this is drawing more Atlanta players to that side. Once the opposition is unbalanced (in this case, being all of them on one side, leaving the other side empty), Impact Montréal passes the ball to their free, unmarked teammates on the left side to penetrate and score. 5- To minimize opposition scoring chances: keeping possession of the ball isn’t only for attacking matters. It’s defending too. It’s defending with the ball. ... As Johan Cruyff has said, “If you play on possession, you don’t have to defend because there is only one ball.” 6- To search the player: Sometimes, teams keep possession and move the ball around to search for a certain player. Normally, he is the playmaker who creates chances to his teammates or the Central Forward who scores goals. That player should be good enough to make the difference out of the possession phase. One of the best examples I can give you is Barcelona with Messi. It’s so clear that the whole team is moving the ball around till they find a way to pass the ball to Messi to make the difference up front, either by creating a chance to his teammates or by scoring goals. Mostly, other Barcelona players are in a good position to receive the ball than Messi, but still that the ball holder prioritizes Messi knowing that he will make something special out of it. 7- To search the zone: We have talked about how important for the attacking team to create space to exploit and from where to penetrate. But that purpose could be more precise and powerful when it is coupled with the zone. This means that creating space is great, but creating space in zone 14 for example, or the half-space… is more powerful and effective for a team retaining possession. In this example of Manchester City against Bournemouth, the citizens are trying to penetrate through the zone 14, but first, it isn’t occupied. That’s why Gabriel Jesus is running to the zone 14 between the Center-Backs to receive the ball in the penalty area and score. 8- To search for the teammate’s movement trigger: What could for sure kill a possession phase is for the teammates to stay still in their place. The more the ball holder’s teammates are moving, the more effective is the possession phase (space creation, lanes opening, defense disorganization…). In this example of Tottenham against Westham United, Eriksen here is dropping to be an available option to receive the pass and also to not be in an offside situation. The movement trigger here is that Walker lifted his head. So, Eriksen noticed that and then will penetrate to receive the ball in the space behind him. 9- To search for the opposition’s mistake: Football isn’t all about tactics. Tactics are only one piece of the big puzzle of football. It’s impacting, yes, and a lot. But there are other variables impacting football such as psychology and mental strength. A team can defend very well the whole game and then one moment of lack of focus, one instant of boredom, and then the attacking team can drastically change the rhythm to surprise their opponent and take the opportunity to score a goal. Here is a good example of this purpose. It’s a game between Real Bétis against Bournemouth. Bétis players were moving the ball between them from one side to another till Bournemouth players were lacking focus for one moment, then one through lob from Joaquin to find his teammate in a 1vs1 with the Goalkeeper to score a goal after 15 passes and 42 seconds of retaining possession. 10- To create a certain situation (x vs y): During the game, each team is trying to gain a numerical advantage in certain parts of the field. They are trying to have 2vs1, 3vs2, and so on. But not only a numerical advantage. Also, the team is looking for numerical equality like 1vs1, 2vs2, 3vs3, but with a positional or quality advantage. While a team is keeping possession, it is trying to create a certain situation (x vs y) that it thinks will be effective to create a chance. In this example of Chelsea vs Everton, Chelsea players are in a 3vs3 situation on the left side, but it isn’t a good situation to try moving forward. So they went back trying to create a new attack. Everton’s attack and midfield lines are pushing forward pressing on Chelsea players. That created a big space between them that Gilmour is comfortably exploiting to move the ball forward. As you can see, the 3vs3 situation of a few seconds before is now a 3vs1 situation for the advantage of Chelsea. Mount is receiving the ball in the penalty box and scoring from there. 6. Keys to Possession: Keys to Possession: While your team is keeping possession and having one or many purposes in mind, it needs some techniques and skills to make it happen. If the purposes are the “WHY” of your possession, then the keys are the “HOW” to your possession. I’ll share with you some keys to have a successful possession football: 1- Movement off the ball: If you did notice in the examples I gave till now, some of them wouldn’t be successful if the attacking players weren’t moving off the ball in a certain way. As Johan Cruyff has said, “When you play a match, it is statistically proven that players actually have the ball 3 minutes on average…. So, the most important thing is what you do during those 87 minutes when you do not have the ball. That is what determines whether you're a good player or not.” In this example, Sheffield United has possession of the ball. The purpose here is to create space. So, as you can see, Basham was moving diagonally to the penalty area dragging Davies with him and creating a huge space to Baldock to exploit. By the way, he was consciously moving off-ball and pointing to Baldock so McGoldrick passes the ball there. This ended up with Baldock being totally comfortable to cross and then score the equalizer. 2- One-touch passing: Passing from one touch is a way to move the ball very quickly and disorganize the opposition. ... Rather than controlling the ball, eventually move with it, and then pass it to your teammate, the one-touch pass is doing all of these with much effectiveness. While keeping possession, one of the important purposes is to unbalance your opposition, to disorganize them so you can penetrate. That’s what the one-touch passing helps with. That was a good example of many one-touch passes that other than disorganizing the opposition and moving them to the situation the possession team wanted, it frustrated them as well. 3- High pressure when possession is lost: Mostly, teams that play possession football try to win the ball back as soon as possible. One of the effective ways to do so isn’t to wait for their opponent to come to their half attacking, but it is to high-pressuring them on their half. These teams try to suffocate their opponent from starting an attack. 4- Using the entire field in width and depth: As said by the legend Johan Cruyff “When you have the ball make the field as big as possible, and when you don’t have the ball make the field as small as possible”. By making the field as big as possible when you have the ball, you are creating space vertically and horizontally. Vertically, you are creating space between the lines, and horizontally, you are creating space between the players forming the lines. This is as we saw one of the most important purposes of possession. But using the entire field in width and depth isn’t necessary. There are some exceptions. For example, Napoli with Maurizio Sarri! ... 5- Creating superiority near the ball: Many reasons motivate the idea to create superiority near the ball when you are maintaining possession. From an attacking perspective, the main idea is to have more passing options to pass the ball to and not easily loses the ball; ideally, options in many directions and lengths. From a defensive perspective, the main idea is to win the ball much easier and quickly right after losing it. ... Again in the same example as before, you can see many Barcelona players on one side moving the ball and when they lost it, right away they went on chasing it using the superiority to win the ball back quickly. 6- Changing the rhythm: One of the biggest blinders of playing possession football is to have the same rhythm throughout the whole possession phase. It is recommended to occasionally take out the speed and change the rhythm. Teams that play with the same rhythm are predictable and easy to adjust to them. The more you surprise your opponent with changing the pace, the more difficult you are making their job to keep up with you. Playing with one rhythm was one of the biggest issues of Barcelona under Valverde. ... 7- Direct Football: The fastest way to play the ball is to pass it directly because the ball is simultaneously being controlled and passed. Making two touches to this purpose does not simply require a double effort but also much more time. For this reason, direct passes at the right moment must become a regular component of offensive play if you want to improve your chances at successful offensive play in restricted spaces. 7. The Effective Possession: The Effective Possession: After seeing in the previous videos how purposeful possession phases, applied with the right keys are making the team’s possession very effective, I want to share with you the fact that the more your team is going after many purposes during its possession time, the more it gets effective. The same things with the possession’s keys: the more a team is using them during the possession time, the more it gets effective. In a single possession phase, a team would try creating space at a certain zone of the field, and also to draw a defender out of his possession. To do so, the attacking players would move off-ball while the whole team is using the entire field in width and depth, and also playing a very direct football… All of these purposes and keys are helping the team to make a chance out of its possession, and eventually to score a goal. I will use the example of the first goal of Sevilla vs Roma in the Europa League to illustrate what I'm talking about: While Sevilla is keeping possession of the ball, Banega here is trying to penetrate near the touchline, but he quickly notices that they are outnumbered there, in a 3vs4 situation. So, he goes back and switches the ball to the left side unbalancing the opposition. On the left side and using an oriented control skill, Reguilon pushes forward using the big space created to penetrate and score the goal. The purposes chased here were to unbalance the opposition and also to create space, which were really well done. To do all of that, Sevilla needed to use some keys to make that possession effective. First of all, take a look at how Sevilla players were using the entire field in width and depth to stretch Roma lines and create gaps. Another key used here was the off-ball movement of Ocampos to drag a defender with him and create a space for Reguilon to penetrate through. See! The more purposes and keys you are going for, while retaining possession, the more chances you have to make that possession effective and get some results out of it. 8. The Wanted / Unwanted Possession: The Wanted / Unwanted Possession: After seeing how purposeful possession could help the team gain an advantage over the opponent, you would think that every team would like to have a possession-based football. But it isn’t the case! Other than technical and tactical matters, other variables are impacting the choice of the play-style such as the club’s culture, the mental and psychological requirements, the club’s play-style history, the coach’s preferences… Moving from one play-style to another requires a sporting project with the right coaching staff, the right amount of times (Months till years), the right kind of players… Just take a look at Chelsea in Sarri’s system. He needed to hire other players (like Jorginho, Kovacic…), to change other players’ roles and tactical missions (like Kanté). He needed a lot of time. He needed to change the team’s mindset because it is not easy to play a possession-based football after being coached for many years by Conté and Mourinho. Possession can be wanted and looked for it, as it could be unwanted, just being stuck with having the ball. But you would tell me, “How a team wouldn’t want to have possession?” I will give you the example I mentioned before in my first online course: “How to Analyze Football (Soccer) - Basics” while talking about teams’ personalities and comfort zones. Here it is: I do remember the game between ATM and RMA in the champions league final of 2015/2016. As we all know, and what normally happens when these two teams face each other, RMA leads, remains possession, takes action, and ATM waits patiently, then reacts (They could have only 2 or 3 counter-attacks during the whole game, but they would score all of them). ... Zidane was clever. He didn’t lead. He gave the ball to ATM and managed to stay in defense, looking for counter-attacks. Simeone and his team weren’t used to keep possession and play mostly in the other half of the pitch. They were out of their comfort zone. They didn’t know how to effectively play that way, and then their possession was totally ineffective… Here as you can see, ATM with 52% of ball possession, 635 passes, Gabi & Koke with the most passes made, Sergio Ramos and Casemiro with the most clearances made: Totally unusual stats! So in this example, ATM had an UNWANTED possession. If you would ask Simeone, he would tell you that he would absolutely want less possession than what he had. 9. Possession and Dominance: Possession and Dominance: In the previous video, we talked about the wanted/unwanted possession. That would lead us to a popular misconception about that play-style. Recently, game dominance is more than ever mistakenly associated with either possession or attacking football or both of them. We all hear reporters, fans, and even some coaches and analysts saying that a team is dominating the game (Because they have 73% of possession or if they are attacking more often). It can be correct as it can be wrong. Playing with the possession play-style doesn’t mean at all that your team is dominating the game. What your team is dominating at this level is the ball (not necessarily the game). Ball dominance doesn’t mean game dominance. And in the other way around, game dominance doesn’t mean ball dominance. The winners of the Premier League in the 2015/2016 season, Leicester City, were playing in a way to make their opponents think: “We’ve got the ball, we’re the team in charge, we’re dominating.” Their opponents have possession of the ball and attack almost during the whole game. In his book “How to Watch Soccer” Ruud Gullit said about Leicester City of 2015/2016: “Having underestimated Leicester, opposing teams came in attacking, testing the team’s defense, its weakest link, or so they supposed. It was exactly what Leicester City’s defenders wanted. They weren’t hanging around their own penalty area without a reason. There they felt nice and safe, with little space behind them to defend. Which gave Vardy, Mahrez, Danny Drinkwater and, N’Golo Kanté all the space they needed to play their favorite counter-game, dodging between the opponent's lines. That was how even Manchester City, who played in an extremely dominant style at home, suffered a humiliating 3–1 defeat” Often a side will appear to dominate because it seems to have the ball most of the time. Yet appearances can be deceptive: possession isn’t the same as winning. Often a team will allow the other side to keep the ball because it’s harder for players to create options when they are forced into a confined space and easier for the team without the ball to react when they have all that extra space. Game dominance doesn’t say anything about whether you leave the ground as a winner or a loser. The most important thing is to create opportunities and to score. 10. Tiki Taka: Tiki-Taka: While talking about possession’s misconceptions, let’s take a look at another one, a popular one. It’s Tiki-Taka. First, let’s define what Tiki-Taka is: It is a Spanish style of play in football characterized by short passing and movement, working the ball through various channels, and maintaining possession. The style is primarily associated with La Liga club Barcelona, especially during the era of manager Pep Guardiola. Tiki-taka methods were eventually embraced by the Spain national team by the managers Luis Aragonés and Vicente Del Bosque. On itself, Tiki-Taka isn’t a misconception of possession. But saying and thinking that Tiki-Taka is the perfect version of playing a possession style, this is the misconception. Another misconception about Tiki-Taka is that it isn’t only about retaining possession. As Pep Guardiola said, “I loathe all that passing for the sake of it.” So, as we have mentioned previously, the mission of possession (and Tiki-Taka in this phase) is to create space and score more goals. In another course, later on, you will understand Tiki-Taka even better when I will be talking about Positional-play. 11. Triangles: Triangles: If you listen to coaches and analysts speeches about possession and how they like their teams to play, you would hear them talking about creating as many triangles as possible. What does that mean? But first, what are triangles in football? We mean by them these shapes created by 2 or 3 players (With the players being the vertices) making 3 different edges. Here in these examples, you can see 2 players passing the ball and then forming a triangle, as you can see another example but with 3 different players. If we take the example of 3 players positioned in a straight line we will end up with the possibility of “C” & “B” to pass the ball only to “A” and not between them too. But if these 3 players are positioned in a triangle shape, “C” & “B” can pass the ball to “A” and also between them. While talking about triangles, let’s attack some of the most asked questions when it comes to possession and formations: Are all formations good to play a possession football? ... If not, then what are the most effective formations to when it comes to retaining possession? Answering the first question, I would say No, not all formations are good for playing possession football. ... To retain possession as long as you can, your team must create as many triangles as possible. This gives the players, at each time, many options to pass the ball to. The classic 442 flat is one of the worst formations to pick up if you want to play possession football, because of the fewer triangles it can create. To answer the second question about the most effective formations to keep possession, I would go with the most triangular shape, which is 433 with its variants (4231, 4123, 4141…). No wonder why all teams which prefer to keep possession of the ball prefer to play with them. Teams such as Ajax, Barcelona, Spain, Manchester City…). Triangles could be used to neutralize opponent players (tough defenders, compacted defense, pressing players…). In this example of Napoli players moving forward, you can see how the triangle Insigne-Mertens-Insigne is beating 5 of Manchester City’s players to set Insigne on the penalty area to score a goal. ... Triangles could, also, be used also to retain possession as they give the ball holder so many options. This is a great example from Barça Pep in El Clasico. One of the best ever made triangles in the history of football were the ones between Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi as it is shown in this positions and passing network of Barcelona and Manchester United in the Champions League Final of 2011. 12. Possession and Positioning: Possession and Positioning: We have seen in the previous video that positioning plays a big role in making effective or not the possession style. In this video though, I’m going to explain it more. Talking about possession, Van Gaal mentioned that to make possession more effective, your team should have as many width lines as possible. Let’s take the example of the 433 formation. First, this is how a normal 433 formation team is positioned. Now, this is how a 433 formation team with many width lines is positioned. You can see how many lines and how it helps the players to exploit their opponent’s gaps behind and between the lines ... One of the best positionings a player can have is between the opponent’s lines, because this way when he receives the ball, it means that at least one of the opponent’s lines got broken and there are fewer lines to break in order to move forward and score. When you have possession of the ball, you don’t think only at what you are going to do with it. Also, you should think about the phase when you lose it. That’s why you should have players who are constantly thinking “What if…” These players bring more security and comfort for the team when it has possession of the ball. Good defenders think ahead: they are continually asking themselves: “What if...?” They focus on the possibility of losing the ball: what if we lose the ball there? Where should I be in that case? Some teams prevent getting counter-attacked by moving as a block. When Pep Guardiola was coaching Bayern Munich, he said that while his team is moving forward, they must leave no chance to counter-attacks from the opponent. So even if they can send a long ball from defense to the attack, they would prefer not to, and then move as a block. So if the opponent gets the ball back, they shouldn’t find much space between the lines to counter-attacks. ... So, the team’s positioning in the moment its opposition wins the ball back is crucial. The less space and more players around the ball, the better it is to prevent getting counter-attacked. 13. Vertical vs Horizontal Possession: Vertical vs Horizontal possession: When it comes to possession, the angle and the distance to the ball holder teammates are really important. Vertical and Horizontal passes aren’t really frequent in football, they are more like extremities. Most of the passes are diagonal but more to one extreme than to the other (More horizontal than vertical diagonal passes, let’s call that: Horizontal Possession. Or, More vertical than horizontal diagonal passes, and let’s call that Vertical Possession). Anyway, I’m mentioning these differences to talk about how some teams are playing horizontal possession in a certain zone of the field while they are playing vertical possession in another zone of the field. The first team I’m going to mention is Real Madrid in the 2019/2020 season with Zidane. On the left side of the field, they have good players to retain possession. Players such as Marcelo, Kroos, Isco, and Benzema dropping there in the half-space, they are playing horizontal possession. On the right side of the field, they have players who are good at playing more direct football. Carvajal, Valverde, and Bale are playing vertical possession. The idea is to retain possession on the left side while moving forward to draw as many opponent’s players as possible to suddenly switch sides and send the ball to the right side where they have a numerical, positional, or quality advantage to exploit. That tactic worked like wonder many times! The second team I’m going to mention is for sure Sarri’s Napoli. They have played with the same logic with Koulibaly, Ghoulam, Hamsik, Insigne, and Mertens sometimes on the left side playing horizontal possession, while Alan and especially Callejon in the right side playing vertical possession. More than what Real Madrid did, Napoli at the time mastered that strategy and even though the other teams knew that this is how mainly Napoli was attacking, most of the time they couldn’t well stop it. The decisions on where to play which kind of possession is mostly related to the characteristics of the available players. 14. Patience with the Ball: Patience with the ball: As I said before, play-styles don’t require only tactics and techniques. There are other requirements that some of them are mental and psychological. In order to play possession football ... The players should be patient when they have the ball. They shouldn’t rush. They should take all their time retaining the ball till they find or create a way to penetrate and score… But this doesn’t mean that the players should play predictably and with a low tempo. Many players and coaches get confused with this particularity of possession style. 15. Possession's Roots: Possession's Roots: Trying to discover how possession football started to be played, we have to go to southern America’s countries like Uruguay and Argentina. But first, we have to know how football was played before even reaching these countries for the first time ever. Football was mainly played in England and some countries around such as Scotland… Football there was played in the big fields of universities. Long balls with lots of running and dribbling, that’s how exclusively the games were played. When football was exported to South American countries mainly because of colonization and commerce, people were playing in the streets making them small fields. So, the long balls and lots of running and dribbling weren’t possible. Players adapted football to the small fields where they play and started a new way of playing football, especially by retaining possession with short and quick passing and dribbling. Another reason for how possession football started to be played is the weather. In these Latin countries, the weather is mostly hot and draining, that’s why possession is suited there, not like in England where the climate doesn’t limit the players to make a lot of running. Right now, possession has more reasons to be played, but at the time, small fields and the climate were the main reasons to adjust football to a possession-oriented football. ... 16. Possession and Numbers (Stats): Possession and Numbers (Stats): When it comes to football, statistics are playing a big role either from the coaches’ or the supporters’ perspectives. In this video, let’s focus on possession’s statistics: The most used statistic about possession is the “possession percentage”. While watching a game on TV, you would absolutely see, and even several times, something like the team (A) has 45 of possession while the team (B) has 55 of possession. But how are these percentages actually calculated? One of the popular definitions of possession is: the amount of time a team controls the ball during a match. ... So, the logical way to calculate the possession percentage is to calculate how long each team had control of the ball and then divide it by the total amount of time both teams had control of it. Nowadays, with technological advances, the possession percentage is pretty much accurate. But it doesn’t mean that earlier nobody had analyzed games. People back then had their own ways to measure different statistics, possession percentage included. In the early times, the first method to calculate ball possession was to manually control the clock. A person responsible for it had to start measuring time when a player began to possess the ball and to stop the clock when the team lost the ball. But this method had its own downsides, mostly because of the human factor, such as forgetting to switch the clock or to switch it at the wrong time. Years were passing, technology kept advancing, many companies getting more interested in the football business, another calculation method was developed. It consists of summing up the numbers of passes of one team during the match and dividing it by the number of total passes made by both teams. The good thing is that it did limit human error. But the biggest downside of this method is that it didn’t include the time when players were on the ball. ... This method is the most used one till this time. Today sports-related companies are using the newest technology and counting stats in more complex ways. For STATSCORE Company, ball possession is calculated in a very specific way. When their live scout is covering a football match, there is a special, additional time counter running in the background. It can be compared to the chess clock. Each team has its own clock ticking. When the first team is on the ball – the time is counting by its side. When the second team makes an interception and takes the control of the ball, the first team’s clock stops, while the second team’s clock starts to measure its time. This time-measuring method has to take into account various incidents happening on the pitch. For example, when a team is preparing to take a corner kick, or when a player is injured and there is a break during the game, the clock is stopped for both teams. Finally, the amount of calculated time is converted into a percentage. The method applied by STATSCORE ensures that it will be counted out to make sure that the ball possession percentage includes only the time when a team was actually on the ball during the actual action. Possession percentage isn’t the only statistics related to possession style! There are many others and more specific such as the possession percentage of the team in each half, the possession percentage of a certain player… Again, Possession percentage is still a useful piece of information to understand which team had more of the ball. But it is not a statistic to argue over superiority. 17. The Patient Buildup: The Patient Buildup: Argentina’s second goal in its 6 – 0 thrashing of Serbia at the 2006 World Cup was a master class on patient build-up play. It had almost everything: one-touch passing, a neat one-two, superb movement, and support. The move began with Javier Mascherano tackling an opponent deep in his own half. It ended, 24 passes later, with Esteban Cambiasso slamming the ball high into the Serbian net. 18. Conclusion: To conclude, I want to remind you that Possession football is just a play-style like any other. Keeping possession doesn’t mean anything if it isn’t effective. Playing with such style depends on many things such as the available players, the opponent’s team characteristics, the weather, the club’s preferences, the sporting project, and so on… Playing possession football is not cool, is not modern, is not necessary. It is just a way that could benefit or harm your team. 19. Bonus Lecture: Hi guys! Congratulations on finishing the course! I hope it satisfied your needs. Well, you are welcome to keep in touch with me on my Personal Facebook account Hamza El Kadioui. This is my website withouttheball.com is where I put my analysis of games, teams, and players. You will find there: e-books, my other courses, the link to my Facebook group where I keep contact with my students and followers, and any other important information about my work. You can contact me via the email address [email protected] or on my Facebook page Without the Ball. ... If this is your first course with me, check below to see discounted links to my other courses. Waiting to connect with you! Cheers.