How to Lose an Argument, but Think you’ve Won

A few months ago, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine that began in lighthearted fashion. We exchanged pleasantries, as you do, asked about each other’s family, as you do, and then began the slow transition into a more esoteric conversation about our common interest – football. What transpired next was one of the more interesting conversations I have had in the last year. However, it wasn’t interesting for the reason’s you might think. We didn’t learn anything new, we didn’t make each other laugh, and for all intents and purposes – at a certain point we probably didn’t even know why we were still on the phone. The reason why it was the most interesting conversation I have had in 12 months was because my friend totally, utterly, and stubbornly disagreed with me on a topic and I totally, utterly, and stubbornly disagreed with him. The topic doesn’t really matter for the sake of this article, what matters is that the conversation quickly transitioned from one of pleasantries and “how do you do’s?” into one of curse-words and “Nope, you’re wrong’s”. As I reflected on the conversation, as I often do, I came across an idea, and a concept, that is much more interesting than the one we got up in arms about.

“Why is it so hard to have a difficult conversation? And, it’s not even the fact that it’s hard, it may just be impossible.”


Objectivity, Subjectivity, and the Philosophy of Defending

I think, I feel, I believe… A pronoun and a verb that can only mean one thing: the person speaking is about to give you their opinion. I wish I had better news for all of us, but a belief is just something we wish to be true. We hope that it is true. But, the truth is that it is based on our experiences and our opinions that are filled with brain biases and inaccuracies. Unfortunately, the football world is full of opinions, but scarce on facts. When someone issues a statement that is based on their judgment, their point of view, or their opinion, that is called being subjective. When someone says something that is based on facts; that is called being objective.

In my opinion…”

“From my perspective…”

“It has been my experience that…”

Subjective. Subjective. Subjective. Subjectivity means that someone is just giving you their outlook, or their expression of opinion. But, these statements are incredibly biased, based on assumptions, beliefs, and are completely non-verified. In football, people develop concepts based on subjectivity, assumptions, experiences, and opinions. Coaches that develop concepts, or ideas, based on subjectivity are creating nothing more than the flavor of the month.


A brief look at Dortmund’s 1st half pressing vs Bayern

The 1st half of this game showcased Dortmund’s ability to disrupt build-up. While Tuchel and Dortmund are often lauded for their build-up capabilities, this game was a showcase of their ability to disrupt mighty Bayern’s build up.

Of course, as the game went into the 2nd half, we saw Dortmund drop much deeper into their half and what they were doing could not be characterized as pressing. The fatigue of the system in the 1st half wore on players like Gotze and forced them into a very low 1-5-3-2 block. However, this article will talk about the pressing they exhibited in the 1st half.


Sampaoli’s Sevilla

Jorge Sampaoli has led a revolution in Sevilla. Their pressing, attacking intensity, and overall work-rate is admirable. No one expected anything less when the appointment was made.

Their recent game against Barcelona, although it ended in defeat was arguably a first class masterclass.


Sevilla’s pressing coordination in the first half frustrated Barcelona


Athletic Bilbao: Pressing in a 1-4-2-2-2



There has been a recent trend of teams pressing out of formations with multiple lines. These staggerings across multiple lines make it much more difficult for teams to play behind lines as there is constant access to pressure. If a team played a traditional 1-4-4-2 with flat lines and no staggerings, a through ball behind the midfield line would eliminate 6 players (the 2 strikers and all four midfielders). However, having multiple lines make it much more difficult to play vertical passes and bypass opponents. Below is Athletic Bilbao’s attempt at pressing out of a 1-4-2-2-2 to disrupt the build up of Barcelona.


Athletic Bilbao Presentation

How to Press like RB Leipzig


RB Leipzig has made a name for themselves in Germany, albeit not necessarily a good one. Owned by Red Bull owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, RB Leipzig has been ruffling feathers in Germany following their meteoric rise from the 5th division in 2009 to the Bundesliga in 2016. However, image aside and the fact that an energy drink is perhaps tarnishing what we know and love about the beautiful game; RB Leipzig is a very competitive team and their pressing structure is something to note and pay attention to for the remainder of the 2016 Bundesliga season. Below is a presentation I made regarding their pressing structure.


*Note: You may have to download the PDF to watch the videos!