A small soccer club from the Midlands of England has pulled off the most unexpected upset in the history of Football. A team which was thought to fight relegation till the end has changed the way football tactics work in 9 months.
So why is it that underdogs Leicester, out of nowhere, have clinched a league where no one except for Manchester United, Manchester City, and Chelsea is allowed to eye the title?
GETTING UP TO (WINNING) SPEED
Pace has been the key to Leicester’s phenomenal season. There is nothing harder in the game than defending against raw speed driving at the heart of your team. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have been untouchable, and it is perhaps this area which has left the likes of Vincent Kompany and Gary Cahill clueless.
Leicester are not the only Premier League team who play counter-attacking football. West Ham and Crystal Palace have had some success playing that way too. It is the Foxes who have been by far the most impressive, though, because they have been able to keep playing at a high tempo from the start to the finish of matches.
FOOTBALL IS SIMPLE
No doubt that Jamie Vardy’s goals, Riyad Mahrez’s tricks and Kante’s work rate have been instrumental to their success. But they have kept things simple. In a league that is famous for anyone being able to defeat anyone else, Leicester started off by winning almost every single winnable match, performing against teams that are the same level, or worse than them. Credit goes to Claudio Ranieiri , their manager, for keeping their feet on the ground throughout (He even said ‘Our first aim is reaching 40 points and confirming safety when they were on 38 points).
Some people think that the 4-4-2 formation Leicester use is a bit prehistoric but they are showing it is a great system when your players know how to play it perfect.
They are not bothered about possession. Leicester’s passing statistics are among the worst in the top flight. Instead, they defend well, do not over-play at the back and get the ball up-field quickly, using the pace and efficiency of their forward players to punish teams. They give the ball away a lot because they play a lot of quick, long passes forward into final third of the pitch.
For a 4-4-2 formation to work well, you need to develop little partnerships all over the pitch. The relationship between the right-back and right-midfielder has to be spot on. The best example I can think of that in the past 25 years is at Manchester United, when they had Gary Neville and David Beckham.
Those link-ups have worked for Leicester too. Riyad Mahrez does have some defensive responsibilities down the right, but he can also go wandering over to the left in the way he did to score against Manchester City because he knows that, behind him, Danny Simpson is going to keep his position – he is not expected to go past the halfway line much.
Leicester have made the big teams look clueless, old-fashioned, and dumb. They’ve essentially Moneyball-ed the entire league without even realizing it, but don’t think no one has noticed. Teams will almost certainly begin to build themselves like Leicester: burly defenders and 100-mph attackers. Enjoy it because Leicester have already changed sports forever.
Now the world knows where Leicester is…
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.