The season kicks off with the Superkubok, or the Supercup to everyone else, against Shakhtar Donetsk. I didn’t expect to win the game, so the plan was to keep it reasonable. We went in with our 4231 formation and they came at us with a 4312. Looking at their line-up, I knew it was going to be a struggle.
The way I’d set the team up was to draw them in and hit them on the break, but we really struggled to get out for long periods and when we were getting forward, we were losing the ball really easily. I thought if I stood off of them a bit longer at the back, we’d draw them in and pounce, I was very wrong, they just got in and around the box a lot easier and setup shop. Lots of space for the men outside of the box with no real pressure on the man with the ball.
It was early though, so I thought it’d pass. They didn’t take long to turn this domination into a goal though. 6minutes in fact. This next picture just shows that we didn’t have a clue and we were standing off a bit too much. There are 10 of my own players in this picture. Half of them doing nothing.
Azevedo is about to cross the ball into Luiz Adriano for the opening goal. The man on Adriano doesn’t do much wrong, he does have his back to the player, but he’s between him and the ball at least. The problem was that the full back stood off of Azevedo. He didn’t put pressure on him. He did do as he was told though, which wasn’t to put pressure on him. Oops! In the end, Adriano ran round the back of my defender and headed home.
Watching back these highlights, we were awful. It should’ve been 4-0 in ten minutes. We were giving them a lot of space to operate in. I had to give it a chance though, right?
I did see some encouraging signs, like this counter attack after 20mins of relentless attacking. There’s a 3v2 on here, which is what I want to see.
Unfortunately, Yarmolenko got too excited and ran into an offside position. It was exactly what I was looking for though. Perhaps there was something in this after all.
Shakhtar got their second in the 25th minute from a corner, which was something I hadn’t spent a lot of time looking at. The highlights reel of the game pretty much just saw wave after wave of attack by Shakhtar. When we did get forward, we were giving the ball away or being closed down as we didn’t know what to do in that area. Almost as if we had stage fright. We got a goal in the 81st minute but the damage was done. 2-1 it ended.
So, there was positives when we actually got the ball, but we struggled getting the ball down to instructions I gave the players thinking it would help.
I’m stubborn so I kept this up for a few games until I realised it wasn’t quite working. A further 3-1 defeat to Shakhtar and draws against Metalurg Zp and Kaparty made me rethink things. I took the instructions off but we were still woeful in attack. It had to do with the instructions, perhaps it was the direct passing?
After the second game against Shakhtar I moved the DM’s up to MC’s. We were 2-0 down at half time and we came back into it but drew 3-3. Nope, direct passing has to be the problem, I’ve never used it, we always give the ball away, I’m convinced it’s that. The wide players are also too far up the pitch, they need to be further back. It’s easy to talk yourself into a corner. I even decided that I’d try a possession based approach, but it was super boring to watch.
A tactical rethink is required. We’re not keeping the ball well, we’re running into walls and we’re leaking goals like nobody’s business.