TACTICAL INNOVATION AND CHANGES THAT CHANGE TEAM FORTUNE

When Jurgen Klopp was appointed as Liverpool manager replacing Brendan Rodgers in 2014, things were looking good for Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp was famed for introducing the “Gegenpressing” style t while he was with Borrusia Dortmund. Against the financial power of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund had successfully won the Bundesliga in the 2010-11 season, double of Bundesliga and the German Cup in the following 2011-2012 season, and make Borussia Dortmund the UEFA Champion League finalist in 2013 where they had lost to Bayern Munich in the first ever all German final. Unfortunately, with an impressive tactical innovation, he had missed the ultimate price the UCL but unlike Jurgen Klopp, some of the greatest football managers had successfully made the team a dominant force in world football and write their name in the history with some of the tactical innovation and changes and here is the list of them.

 

Number 9

La Grande Inter 1960-1968

 

Manager: Helenio Herrera

Style: Catenaccio

The catenaccio or “door bolt” was introduced by Karl Rappan an Austrian but was made famous by Helenio Herrera an Argentinian to an Italian team Internazionale or better known as Inter Milan. This Inter team had been so successful with this style that led to catenaccio forever associated with the Italian team although the Italian did not invent any part of it. With this style, InterMilan had won the Italian Serie A  3 three time in 1963, 1965 and 1966. But more importantly, this team had become the first Italian team to win 2 consecutive European Championship when they had beaten Real Madrid and Benfica in the 1964 and 1965 respectively. The style also had made them the Intercontinental Champion in 1964 and 1965 becoming the first European team to lift the title 2 consecutive times.  Due to this success, they had been named as La Grande Inter means The Great Inter, unfortunately, they style had been criticized as anti-football.

 

Number 8

Brazil Team 1994

Manager: Carlos Alberto

Style: Adding a defensive steel to Brazil.

Brazil 1982 was deemed as one of the best team that does not win the World Cup after Holland 1974 and Hungary 1954. One reason for their failure is defensive fragility that was exposed by the Italian in 1982 that had ended their World Cup campaign. After that 2-successive campaign in 1986 and 1990 where they are unable to reach the semi-final Brazil had decided to add some defensive steel in their arsenal and in 1994 World Cup, they did just that. For the first time, ever in the World Cup, Brazil was playing with 2 defensive minded midfielders in Dunga and Mauro Silva and a solid goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel with the attacking trio of Bebeto and Romario. Brazil had decided to abandon their cavalier samba style and playing with cautiously. The result they had won their 4th World Cup in 1994 and since then Brazilian had playing cautiously and does not play the cavalier football again hence making this team is least revered in Brazil even though they had won the World Cup.

 

 Number 7

Manchester United 2007-2009

Manager: Sir Alex Ferguson

Style: 4-6-0

Luciano Spaletti had introduced the 4-6-0 formation to the world while he is managing AS Roma due to the ability of the mercurial Francesco Totti. Sir Alex Ferguson and his assistant Carlos Queiroz had taken this style and upgraded further when he had made 3 interchanges forward whom can track back, change position, and very flexible to play on either side of the flank in Wayne Rooney, Christiano Ronaldo, and Carlos Tevez. With this style, they had totally dominated the domestic and European in 2008 season when they had won the Premier League and winning the UCL for the 3rd time in club history and become the first English team to win the FIFA Club World Cup in the same year. What is so impressive before this Manchester United had a poor record in UCL competition where since 2002 they had not reached the semi-final of this competition but in this year they had become the first team in UCL era to went 2 seasons unbeaten and holding the longest unbeaten record in UCL with 25 game but unfortunately they are unable to retain the title in 2009 when they had been beaten by Barcelona in the final putting the end to their unbeaten record but this team was deemed as one of SAF best team and at some time this formation enable to Christiano Ronaldo to showcase his supreme talent during this time.

 

Number 6

Arsenal 1998- 2004

Manager: Arsene Wenger

Style: Playing an attacking style emulating the Ajax team.

When Arsene Wenger was appointed as the manager of Arsenal in 1998 replacing George Graham the English media was so skeptical on him but little do they know that he will change Arsenal from a boring defense minded team to brilliant attacking team that was loved even by the neutral. With the defensive line up of Tony Adam, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon, and Steve Bould, goalkeeper David Seaman, a midfield duo of Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira and with the attacking trio of Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars they had swept aside Manchester United and win the double of Premier League and FA Cup in 1998. The rivalry with Manchester United was intense as Manchester United had met a real contender to challenge their domination. The highlight of Wenger style when they had won Premier League in 2003-2004 without a single defeat in season and led the team dubbed as The Invincible. They had extended their unbeaten run to 49 games beating the Nottingham Forest record of 42 games before it had ended in the hand of Manchester United in the 2004-2005 season.

 

Number 5

AC Milan 1988-1990

Manager: Arrigo Sacchi

Style: Playing attacking the football and innovate the pressing game.

Like Arsene Wenger when Arrigo Sacchi was appointed as the manager of AC Milan it was met with skepticism from the media as they had questioned him as he is not a professional player before which led Sacchi to make the famous quote “I never knew that you need to be a horse in order to become jockey”. With the back four of France Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Costacurta, Mauricio Tassoti, midfield of Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Donadoni and adding Frank Rijkaard later and attacking trio of Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit, AC Milan had become the dominant force in late 90’s when they had won the UCL twice in 1989 and 1990 and winning the Intercontinental Cup twice in 1989 and 1990 the last European team to win the title 2 consecutive team. All this by playing an attacking football breaking the Italian catenaccio, playing a brilliant high line and outrageous outside trap, shadow football training, and finally an exceptional pressing game which led the opponent having a difficulty in breaking their defensive line. Arrigo Sachi AC Milan was so exciting to watch as this team had been deemed as one of the best team ever in world football.

Number 4

Barcelona 2009-2012

Manager: Pep Guardiola

Style: Tiki Taka(ball retention)

When Pep Guardiola was appointed as the manager of Barcelona in 2009 replacing Frank Rijkaard not many will have predicted what this former player will achieve with this team. Replacing prima donna like Ronaldinho, Deco, and Rafael Marquez, bringing in Dani Alves and Gerrard Pique, promoting Sergio Busquets from the Barcelona academy La Masia, convinced Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto’s to stay and finally changing the training regimen for Lionel Messi and the result was devastating team that destroy all the team in their path. With Guardiola tiki taka that was based on ball retention to attack and defend at some time, quick pressing to recover to the ball, attacking continuously with outrageous high line and liking for a sweeper keeper, he had made a total domination in the first year that never been seen before from a club football. Winning the La Liga with the highlight of thrashing Real Madrid 6-2 in Bernabeu, the Spanish Cup and finally the UCL in 2009. The run continues when he had won the Spanish Supercup, UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup making them become the first Spanish team to win the treble and also become the first team to won 6 trophies in a season. The football style was loved even by the neutral during this time. Adding another UCL trophy in 2011 with destroying Manchester United in the final and winning the FIFA Club World Cup again by trashing Santos 4-0 in the final, Guardiola Barcelona was one of the best team in world football.

 

Number 3

Spain National Team 2008-2012

Manager: Vicente Del Bosque

Style: Tiki Taka

In 2008, Spain had become the European Champion under manager Luis Aragones. Luis Aragones successor Vicente Del Bosque was given a task to ensure that Spain wins in Euro is not a one hit wonder and at the some removing completely the perennial underachiever that had been tagged to Spanish football team. With very well-oiled team starting from goalkeeper Iker Casillas, backline of Carlos Puyol and Gerrard Pique, midfield trio of Andreas Iniesta and Xavi and striker David Villa, Spain had played a defensive style of tiki taka that were based on ball retention to attack and defend at the sometime unlike Barcelona tiki taka whom want to attack and score more. But this defensive style tiki taka had brought Spain the World Cup in 2010 and the Euro in 2012. From perennial underachiever, they had become the first national team to win 3 major trophies on the row, the first European team to win the World Cup in a different continent, and the first team to have successfully defended their European title. Simply Spain is the team to fear during this time.

 

Number 2

Hungary National Team Magical Magyar 1950, s

Manager: Gustav Sebez

Style: Precursor of Total Football

Hungary team during this time with a player like Ferenc Puskás, Sándor Kocsis, Nándor Hidegkuti, Zoltán Czibor, József Bozsik and Gyula Grosics is the only team that had earned the highest rating for the national team with 2166 point. The reason they had achieved this that during this time they had been the dominant national team in world football and no national team since Hungary had performed this majestically in the history of football. They had won the 1952 Olympic Game and were invited for a friendly game against England at Wembley in 1953. England had dismissed Hungary as one small team but the result had shocked the world football when England had been thrashed 6-3 in Wembley the first win by a foreign team against England in Wembley. The playing ability of Nándor Hidegkuti who dropping deep making the first false 9, the fire power of Ferenc Puskás, positional interchange of their player, and the first ever sweeper keeper Gyula Grosics had destroyed England style of play and further humiliating them in return match in Hungary where England had been thrashed 7-1. Until now this is the heaviest defeat conceded by England national team. Unfortunately, they Imperial run did not end on a high note when they had been defeated by the West German in the 1954 World Cup final. Even though they had defeated their impressive feat is still remembered in the world football.

 

Number 1

Ajax Amsterdam 1970-1973

Manager: Rinus Michel

Style: Total Football

Player interchanging position without affecting the fluidity of the team, defender moving as an attacker, attacker as a midfielder, midfielder as a defender and a focal point in the attack this is the style of total football. Although Hungary had been a precursor of total football it was Ajax Amsterdam that had successfully played this style to a great effect. They had played football with a fun, swagger and arrogance that never seen in the world football with their star player Johan Cyruff. Ajax is the dominant team in these time as they had become the first team since Real Madrid to lift 3 consecutive European Cup starting from 1971-1973 with the highlight beating InterMilan and Juventus in 1972 and 1973 final. Although Rinus Michel had left the team in 1971 the team still playing some style with a devastating effect. Scoring for fun and pressing the opponent  quickly with some of the outrageous offside trap seen, and letting the player expressing themselves in the field this team and the style had been so impressive that they had inspired player and manager like Pep Guardiola, Arrigo Sacchi, Jurgen Klopp, Arsene Wenger, Eric Cantona and many more to emulate their style of play.

 

This team and their manager not only had invented some tactical innovation and tactical change but also had made their team name in the football history book. They had achieved many of the football first with their style and had inspired many managers and more play to emulate their style.

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