2022-23EL/GS 2nd round:What is United’s position-changing tactics seen in the FC Sheriff match?

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Hi I’m Masa United.

United faced FC Sherif Tiraspol in the 22-23 Europa League GS 2nd Round away at the Gimbre Stadium in Moldova. United dominated the game from the start, opening the scoring in the 17th minute thanks to Sancho’s goal. In the 39th minute, Dalot was brought down in the box and scored a penalty. Ronaldo scored the penalty and pushed it away. Sheriff is not afraid to go forward aggressively, but United have not allowed a goal with their ironclad defence. The match was won 2-0 by United.

*Click here for match highlights

This time, we will talk about United’s positional change tactics seen in this match. In the match against Sheriff we saw a level improvement in the possession of the ball. We have summarized the position change that became a point!

The following items are included.

👿 Lineup

22-23EL/GS-2 Sheriffe vs United Lineup

(1) Holding the ball at a level-up level

United came into the squad for the opening Europa League match against Real Sociedad, but the rotation didn’t work and they lost at home before Sociedad’s high quality. The second leg of the EL will be against Moldova’s Sheriff Tiraspor. It is one of Moldova’s leading football clubs, with a fresh memory of having shocked the world by beating Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League. Coach Ten Hague started this match in place of Rashford, who withdrew due to injury, and entered the match with what can almost be said to be the best lineup at the moment. Even though we dropped the first match, it was a top priority to get the three points.

*Click here for the article on the Sociedad match

Against Sheriff United was by no means a “full engine” performance, but in the ball-holding situation, a lot has evolved. showing. United dominated 68% of the ball throughout the match. Compared to the Premier League, the fact that the ball was held for a longer period and the difficulty level was not high, which is a major factor, but we have seen improvements in the systematic movement of how to move and smoothly connect passes when the whole team has the ball. I think you can see this trend in the Premier League matches, but it’s also a testament to the steady penetration of Ten Hag’s style.

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The key to holding the ball against Sheriff was the “position change”. Ten Hag has used a 4-2-3-1 as a basic system in most of his matches since joining United. Usually taking into account risk aversion when losing the ball, most players do not stray too far from their basic positions. This is because someone needs to fill the open space of the player who changed positions, and if there is no coordination, that space will be targeted in the negatra phase. Many of the so-called No. 10 type players are good at positioning relatively freely, but I have the impression that there are not many teams such as Pep City that tactically change positions as an organization. United’s game against Sheriff showed an element of “positional play” in that sense.

(2) Freeman Dalot

The biggest change in position against Sheriff was made by right-back Dalot. Dalot has been trusted as Ten Hag coach and is growing rapidly, but he also has a strong sense of positioning and has experience playing as a fake full-back in last season’s CL game against Villarreal. Against Sheriff he often took the position of DMF when holding the ball, and in the opening goal in the 17th minute, he received the ball in the middle and sent a pass to Antony on the right touchline. He also worked with Antony and repeatedly showed overlaps and underlaps. It was Dalot who showed his penetration into the box that led to the second penalty kick. Near the end of the first half, he penetrated from the bottom of the top to the top alongside Ronaldo, demonstrating the “forward attitude” that the coach appreciated.

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The reason why Dalot is able to change positions so freely is of course partly due to the fact that the opponent is Sheriff. If this were against a Premier League team, we wouldn’t have been in such a high position. However, Dalot’s “fake side-back” should have been dropped on a tactical level. This can be seen from the fact that the backline slides to form three backs with Varane, Martinez and Malasia. There are several possible purposes for which Dalot enters the position of DMF.

✅ Stretch Antony out wide
✅ Eliminate central passing routes when on the counter
✅ Increase the number of central pass-through locations in the build-up
✅ Bruno will no longer have to go down to midfield.

... However, I think the biggest purpose is to support Eriksen’s participation in the attack. With Dalot in and McTominay moving to the left, Eriksen will be more likely to take up a high position as a left midfielder. I think Eriksen’s presence has a lot to do with Dalot’s position change.

(3) Eriksen and Malasia

Eriksen and Malasia are both new members, but their collaboration is truly “Aun’s Breath.” Malacia entering the inner lane and Eriksen exiting wide. Malasia moving forward and Eriksen entering the cover. These two players may have a high sense of positioning that they have innately, but the fact that they communicate well during the match is also a factor in smooth position exchange. Eriksen often receives the ball in the left midfielder’s position and looks around the pitch, playing an important role as a switch in the team’s attack. Also, when building up in your own team, there are many situations where you enter the left-back or left-centre-back position and participate in assembly. It’s no wonder that Eriksen, who holds the key to the team in the ball-holding phase, is now an irreplaceable player.

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Eriksen also had a scene in the Sheriff match where he got into the cover of Dalot on the opposite side. Dalot’s cover of the high position is usually handled by centre-back Varane, but in the build-up in the 43rd minute of the first half, Eriksen moved into the right-back position and handled the ball. Of course, it is highly transient, and it is not a patterned form, but seeing the “wide-ranging” positioning of the ally, the high level of awareness to change one’s position will stand out from the crowd among United. Also, as I wrote in the previous section, Dalot enters DMF, allowing Eriksen to slide out to the left flank. If this only leaves one McTominay in Boranti, it could be inferior in dealing with counters. I think this is also a point that has taken shape as a team tactic.

Malacia is also a full-back with the characteristic of frequently changing lanes. I don’t know if it was during his time at Feyenoord or if he came to United under Ten Hag’s tutelage, but he moved into the inner lane early in the pre-season and I was under the impression that he was a player with characteristics that were not in the show. Against Sheriff Malasia also showed changes in positioning, such as the build-up of becoming a left CB and the movement to enter the left MF and push Eriksen to the side. From the 70th minute of the second half, Malacia converted to right-back, but the background to this is Malacia’s good positioning sense and high football IQ. At the moment, this conversion is an “experiment” by Ten Hag and is only an option, but it is likely to be tried in the future because it was not a bad move.

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(4) Sancho’s change in consciousness

Sancho scored a fantastic opener against Sheriff. Like the goal against Liverpool, it was a stunning goal from a kick feint in front of goal with a reverse foot. Sancho played mainly on the right flank in pre-season, leading the attacking line in partnership with Dalot and McTominay, but after being pinned down the left flank from the matchday 4 game against the Saints, he has had little presence outside of the goal scene, contributing poorly in the build-up and movement in the attacking third and with little touch on the ball. continued. I’m happy that they scored goals, but as a Sancho pusher, my honest impression was that Sancho wanted to be the center of the attack (lol) and that he didn’t reach the expectations in any play other than the goal.

However, against Sheriff, he changed positions frequently and was actively involved in the ball in build-ups and breakdowns. Eriksen’s side down into open spaces and hitting the ball, one-twos with Malasia and Bruno are more frequent than usual, and he’s eager to break into the box. I was aiming for it. After the game, Ten Hague also mentioned that the triangles of Sancho, Eriksen and Malacia were a threat to the opposition, and Sancho also gave a good example of being in the centre-forward position when Bruno’s goal against Southampton was played. There is no doubt that Sancho’s penetration into the box and positioning were the key points of this goal.

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Until now, Sancho has often been stretched on the touchline, but I think we saw a change in consciousness against Sheriff match. Sancho, who has the ball on the side and uses his technique to dribble, is also the best, but Sancho, who has excellent positioning according to the situation and calmness in the box, would be more threatening to the opponent if he played closer to the goal. Sancho, who made his first full appearance of the season, may become even more prominent by changing his mindset in positioning.

(5) Ronaldo getting off

The last is the controversial change in Ronaldo’s position. What Ronaldo showed against Sheriff was a movement that came down frequently. In the possession of the ball, there were certainly many movements to go down to the midfield to get the ball, touch the ball once and then go up to the front. The movement itself is not uncommon for a top player, but what was questioned here was its “effect”. Ronaldo was unable to handle the ball effectively and there were occasional miscontrols. As for the so-called accuracy of post play, my opinion is that it was “not effective” in this regard.

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However, as with Rashford, there is a possibility that this post play is directed by coach Ten Hag. Sebastian Haller, who also played as a centre-forward during his time at Ajax, not only scored goals, but also had post play and pressing up front as important tasks. I think it’s very likely that United have imposed a similar role on top players. Even with Ronaldo’s movements, after coming down and making a move, he makes a move to aim for the back of the defender firmly up front. My impression is that we weren’t in a situation where “even if we raised a cross, there were no people in front of the goal.”

Also, where Ronaldo was coming down, there were a lot of middle third in the lane where McTominay was. Sheriff’s system is sometimes described as 4-2-3-1, but DMF No. 18 Kyabou becomes one anchor, and DMF No. 8 Diop changes to a relatively high 4-1-4-1. The cab on No. 18 man-marked Bruno, and he was often caught by Bruno, who tended to lean to the left, and opened the right side. Ronaldo had come down to that empty space, but if Ronaldo had found this space at his discretion, it would have been a fluke, and I think it would have been the right space to use. However, what was disappointing was that due to the condition and the fact that Ronaldo was also man-marked by the number 6 Radeljic, it was not an effective post play (although I am not good at post play in the first place…).

👿 Conclusion

I don’t think it was easy to play in the unknown land of Moldova, but it is worthy of praise that we got the winning star with a clean sheet. United have only eight shots on target, but they have all of them in the box and can be said to have been able to attack efficiently. Defensively, Varane and McTominay also showed a high ground-and-air duel winning percentage, while Varane contributed to the defence with a record of 13 ball recoverys. It was a sheriff match with the impression that each player did their job well both offensively and defensively.

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We have been able to continue to be united as a team, and as we discussed this time, we have seen tactical advances such as improving the level of ball retention by changing positions and creating space. In addition, it will be necessary to devise ways to link such superiority of ball possession to scoring more efficiently. The striker problem may not be easily solved, but I think we can still improve the breaking down. Also, if Martial returns, we can expect a change in the quality of the attacking third. The two Premier League matches have been postponed and we will enter the national team match week, but I would like the players who are not called up to the squad to train hard during that time and do their best to improve their individual level.

As a result of this match, United are in third place in Group E.

*Stats are here

22-23EL/GS-2 Match Results

Their next match is the Premier League Matchday 9 match against Manchester City at Etihad Stadium. Kick-off 2 October at 22:00. Came on! United!!

Thank you for reading until the end!