If You’re Not Using These Tactics, Are You Even Trying?
We’re at a point in football where there’s no reinventing the wheel. Everything’s been done before, and the introduction of and emphasis on things like video analysis, data tracking and sabermetrics translates into a more uniform approach than ever before.
There used to be a distinct clash of styles when different nations or clubs from different leagues would meet, but everything is becoming gentrified. If every manager was suddenly turned into Jose Mourinho, the sport would probably just off itself after a marathon of matches featuring two sides that completely nullified one another, much to the delight of both Mourinhos.
Thankfully, there are still a brave few that believe the game is about taking chances and opening yourself up to risks. There’s a small brigade of managers that don’t attempt to map out every single step their players must make, that don’t say things like “Luke Shaw was using his body with my brain” and feel smug about it.
Here are some pretty iffy tactics that everyone should employ, just for the shits-and-giggles.
First up is the Zdenek Zeman kick off strategy, which turns an extremely tedious process into the highlight of the match.
Why not always do this? Just keep a few defenders back and send everyone else on a bum-rush forward. The other side will have no idea how to handle it, and what’s the worst that could possibly happen? It’s an immediate way to establish possession in a higher block, and everyone will enjoy themselves. So again I ask, why not always do this?
Sometimes it even yields goals.
The next tactic is a staple in youth soccer around the world — the old pretending to argue over a free kick routine. This is a brilliant tactic in a number of ways: 1.) It allows you to playact, which is always a good time. Who doesn’t like a bit of dishonest theater? 2.) It’s usually just done for a laugh — you’re still going to need to strike a great free kick to beat the goalkeeper, so it’s basically a redundant, but hilarious, strategy.
Our third piece of advice? High press. With everyone. All the time. Will you tire out and capitulate like Liverpool did in last year’s Europa League final? Sure, but it will lead to momentary glory and yield scenes like this.
Next, here’s another great set piece routine that should really be the only one in your team’s corner arsenal. It’s the conga line of dummies.
Even when it’s your fifth corner of the game and the opposition knows this routine is coming, do it. You can throw on a different number of dummies each time to throw them off, but never stop doing this. It’s like football meets ballet and ballet meets scoring wonder goals.
This one’s a bit more risqué, but moon the goalie. I don’t have to say much more than that — pull your pants down and let your backside just breathe. Unsporting? Unquestionably. Bookable? Undoubtedly. Funny? Unimaginably.
Now let’s discuss formations and attacking philosophies. Forget your 4-3-3s and your 4-2-3-1s, this is essentially football’s version of the Flying V. In theory, it should yield a goal every time. In practice, it sucks. Still, give it a try next Sunday.
And here’s one for if your opponent turns the tables on you and turns out to be tactical geniuses as well. Just steal their tactics.
Let’s be honest, 80% of the players on your team would rather not defend set pieces. We all pretend like we’re glued to our mark - that we’ve got them on soccer’s version of Revis Island - but really, we’re just praying that the corner goes directly out of bounds for a goal kick.
One way to eliminate the need to defend from set pieces is to not defend from set pieces. Just play a suicidal offside trap and leave it up to the linesman to decide.
This next video is the result of an indirect free kick given in the box, but if you’re not willing to play an offside trap, I think this is your next best bet when defending set pieces. Put everyone on the line and immediately improve team spirit with some heroic defending.
The next tactic is for when you come up against that one team in your league that consistently smokes you. Rather than attempt to beat them at their own game, man-mark every single one of them for 90 minutes.
Finally, here’s the formation you should play against teams that you’re equal to or better than: it’s Pep Guardiola’s 2-3-5 from when Bayern Munich played anyone in the Bundesliga.
If you can somehow manage to implement all of these tactics into your next Sunday league game, well, I have absolutely no clue what'll happen. My guess would be you'd lose but have a great time.