Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Is possession football still the way forward?

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola has been criticised after his side lost 1-0 at Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola has been criticised after his side lost 1-0 at Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg

Real Madrid defeated European champions Bayern Munich 1-0 at the Bernabeu last night in the Champions League semi-final first leg.

In the majority of games that Los Blancos play they dominate the opposition, but not this one.

Possession

In fact, Bayern had 72 per cent of possession at the Bernabeu and looked in control for much of the contest.

The European champions tend to dominate against all their opponents, even a team regarded as one of the most highly-rated teams in European football.

Chances

Despite Bayern controlling possession it was Real Madrid that had the better chances and in the first half could have been three goals up, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria both missing golden opportunities in front of goal.

Real have the perfect players to hit teams on the counter-attack and that is just what the Spanish giants did to the Bavarians to good effect, on the rare occasions that the Spaniards had the ball.

Incisive

There is little point in having possession if you do nothing with it. It is like having a super car in your garage and never driving it, it may look pretty, but it is not going anywhere. Bayern were just that super car last night.

Bayern boss Pep Guardiola had major success with Barcelona through playing a now famous brand of possession football. The Catalan boss has already won the Bundesliga in record time with Bayern using this system, but some believe he has taken Bayern backwards.

However, last night it was just a case of the German champions not creating enough chances. Sunday’s game between Everton and Manchester United was another example of a team having lots of possession, but their opponents being more incisive and winning the game.

Criticised

Despite Bayern claiming the German Bundesliga in record time, some fans and even the Bayern hierarchy have been critical of the team’s style of play this season. Even Bayern’s honorary president Franz Beckenbauer has publicly criticised the team’s style of play, which must be quite annoying for former-Barca Guardiola.

Guardiola’s possession based philosophy has been adopted and used as a template by many up-and-coming bosses. His philosophy and style of play is used by many as a template. One game does not make the philosophy a failure.

Successful

There are a number of young bosses in the Premier League who are advocates of possession football. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is one of those bosses. The Reds look set to claim the league title for the first time in 24 years.

The Northern Irishman has had the same philosophy at every club. He brought success to Swansea and now his philosophy is bringing success to Anfield on an even bigger scale. Rodgers team play quick incisive football, but can also play on the counter-attack.

Across Stanley Park at Everton, Toffees boss Roberto Martinez has also instilled his style of possession football into his team. The result has been Everton challenging for a Champions League spot and gaining their record ever Premier League points total.

What Rodgers and Martinez have in common is that they are willing to adapt their philosophy to win games. Guardiola is a fantastic boss, but if there is one criticism that could be aimed at the Catalan, it is that he does not have a Plan B.

Meanwhile Rodgers and Martinez are proving that possession football can work in the Premier League, even if sometimes a team has to adapt their style to be successful.

Beatable

Possession football, just like any other style of football, can be combated and there is no perfect football philosophy. Possession football may not be perfect, but it has brought a lot of team’s success in recent seasons in both domestic and European competitions.

Real Madrid still have to visit the Allianz Arena for the second leg and I can see Bayern progressing to the final if they can keep the Spaniards out. Bayern have still been successful this season and for much of the season have been incisive in front of goal.

Die Bayern have turned on the style when it has mattered this season and I would be very surprised if the Bavarians did not do it again in the second leg.

Happy

I am sure if you asked Liverpool fans if possession-based football is the way forward they would give you a resounding yes, so maybe the demise of possession football has been greatly exaggerated. Bayern could still end up as European champions this season, with Bayern now odds of 9/4 to claim Europe’s elite competition. Will Bayern fans still be questioning their style of play then?

 Is possession football still the way forward?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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11 Comments on "Is possession football still the way forward?"

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cloud
Guest
cloud
let me answer your question with your own statement, you clearly said :::::: it was Real Madrid that had the better chances and in the first half could have been three goals up, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria both missing golden opportunities in front of goal. how could Bayern progress when fact of the matter is they lost even having 70 percent of possession ?? if they play the same style of football in germany, well, the outcome would still be the same, Real winning and going to the finals. but let’s face it, Bayern had been and… Read more »
Brad
Guest
Brad

The best way to go would be to mix possession football with the long ball game. Theoretically at least, this would make a team more unpredictable and harder to defend against. Part of the reason why a few years ago Arsenal and Swansea struggled was because going direct was not an option they liked to go for.

van der Schitz
Guest

I don’t think so cause atletico,real,bayern,Chelsea and some other clubs have beaten barca cause of too much possession

cloud
Guest
cloud
this maybe funny to you all, but i played with FIFA 14 ( im quite good at it, lol ) and i placed it on the highest level and i played using Madrid vs the computer’s Liverpool. i tried the possession style. stats were, madrid 78% possession with 4 shots on goal no goal. with liverpool. 22% possession with 8 shots on goal and two goals. they hit me with their counter attack. coz it will only take a good tackle to take the ball, the perfect pass and a very quick-and-fast-and-sturdy forward or winger to get the ball inside… Read more »
Brad
Guest
Brad

Ha ha, funny cloud, that’s just about the only way I get scored on when going against the AI. though it does help them that I suck at defense to begin with.

In real life, the counter attack was what helped me and my high school’s team do as good as we did against our rivals who are superior in most respects.

cloud
Guest
cloud

but let’s talk about stats and record for a bit, whoever wins, the coach of the winning team will put another mark in the history of football.

Carlo and Pep – if either of them wins, one of them will be the third coach to win a UCL in two different countries.

Jose – he will be the first coach to win 3 ucl in three different countries.

Diego – his first UCL crown.

quite an interesting UCL this year. yeah !!!

cloud
Guest
cloud

ok, possession football is dead.

once again bayern had more than 60% of possession but were heavily defeated 4-0. 5-0 on aggregate.

Brad
Guest
Brad

Yeah, heard that on ESPN FC. They even said that counter-attacking is the way to go nowadays.

swaminfo
Guest
swaminfo

No need of possession game. Just run, anticipates, short and show confidence with critical skills

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