These tips won't make you José Mourinho, but you'll be able to understand the sport better
  1. Know the three phases of play
    Defensive, transitional, and attacking. They're just how they sound- in the the defensive phase a team is behind the ball and defending, the transitional phase is when a team transitions from attack to defense, the attacking phase is when a team is in possession and attacking
    4-4-2, 5-3-2? It doesn't matter. All teams have two shapes: attacking and defensive. Some shapes are more complex than others, but all teams have their own unique formation that cannot be denoted by a few numbers.
  3. Look for overloads
    An overload is when one team has more players in a part of the pitch than the other. For example, if Team A has a winger and fullback against Team B's fullback, they have an overload.
  4. Look for hybrid players
    Transitions often win games in soccer. Hybrid players change positions in transitions (ie. Sergio Busquets stepping between center backs when out of possession and into the midfield when in possession). You should pay attention to hybrid players.
  5. The three types of attacking phases
    Counter attacking (Atlético Madrid) "The Way of the Weak" as Helenio Herrera called it. Counter attacking is when a team puts men behind the ball and attacks through quick positions when the opposition are high up the pitch Long Ball (what teams do at the end of matches when they need a goal) Deliberate: Remember the Mighty Ducks? They used the V formation to move their team up piece by piece passing to create overloads through possession rather than athleticism. That's deliberate build up.
  6. Defensive Pyramid
    This is how teams put men behind the ball and park the bus. Think of a flat back 4 with left back- center back- center back- right back. Add two wide players in a line with them to create a back 6. In front of the back 6 there are 3 midfielders and a striker in front of them. What shape is it? A pyramid! Every team reverts to a defensive pyramid at some point when out of possession.
  7. Defensive Diagonal
    Imagine a flat back 4. Now imagine the opposition left winger attacking the right back. Now the right back will press the ball. In one scenario the entire back four will move up in a line and attempt to play offside. This is one line covering. In another scenario scenario : 2 line covering CB CB RB LB The final scenario is: 3 line covering CB LB CB RB
  8. Marking
    There are 2 basic forms of marking: zonal and man. Zonal is the gold standard, basically saying the team defends in zones rather than individuals. Today all teams primarily use zonal marking. Man marking: when players stick to a specific opponent. If Manchester City decided to stick Fernando on Lionel Messi all game this would be man marking. Man marking is very rare. Set Pieces Teams use the same tactics on set pieces - zonal marking is far more common. Often teams mix the 2—"dirty zonal"