Nov 24th 2022
Written by The Coaching Manual
A repeat 1st game from the 2018 World Cup for holders France as they faced Australia. France started slowly, going 1-0 down after just 9 minutes with a scored by Craig Goodwin (#23). The goal came from a fantastic cross-field pass from Harry Souttar (#19) creating a 1v1 for Matthew Leckie (#7), who takes on the fullback and puts a great cross into Craig Goodwin (#23) at the back post.
After the goal from Australia, France settled into the game and started moving the ball quickly between the defensive and midfield units. The forward units consisted of the two wingers, the striker and the attacking midfielder behind. When the ball was played into them, they would play forward quickly with a high intensity.
France soon equalised after a corner was cleared, the ball was crossed back into the 18 yard box where Rabiot (#14) would head in.
After the equaliser, it did not take them long for France to go ahead from a well orchestrated press. The ball was in the goalkeeper's hands and he put it on the floor looking to play out short from the back. Giroud quickly recognised this, and pressed the goalkeeper, cutting off half the field and forcing him to play into one area of the field where 3-4 players were located.
The ball was played into one of Australia's centre midfielders and Griezmann (#7) would lock on to him forcing him into the wide area where two French players were located. Giroud and Mbappe would play an important role in restricting the pass back to either of the centre backs or the goalkeeper, which would stop Australia playing back and recycling possession to allow them to switch the play out of pressure.
Once the pass went wide which was where the trap was set, Rabiot locked onto the fullback and pinched the ball, heading into Mbappe (#10), who improvised excellently executing a backheel into the 18 yard box allowing Rabiot (#14) to dribble in on goal and engage the defender before passing to Giroud (#9) - who held a great position in the box to finish in the goal.
France finished the half strong, starting to execute combinations in the final third, and went into half time 2-1 up.
Learn how to teach your players to press like France, by looking at 3 guides and 1 session by Martin Hunter.
France started the half as they ended the first, moving the ball quickly between the front 4 players.
Griezmann and Mbappe interchanged, taking an extra striker position with Olivier Giroud (#9). This would pin the Australian centre backs and isolate the fullbacks 1v1 vs either of the wingers, or the left back who would overlap when Mbappe (#10) came inside.
This allowed 3 players in the box to receive crosses, which proved to essential in France scoring their next two goals, with crosses coming into the box for goals from Mbappe (#10), who made it 3-1, and Giroud (#9) who made it 4-1 - both from headers.
France would close the game out winning comfortably, creating multiple chances on goal. The highlight of the second half was the combination and link up play between forward players for the French team, along with Theo Hernandez (#22) overlapping consistently to give Mbappe (#10) a free role to come inside or create an overload out wide.
The French right back Benjamin Pavard (#2) would naturally cover with the two French centre backs, to offer a base with either Tchouameni (#8) or Rabiot (#14) offering cover in front of those defenders while the attackers were free to go forward.
France forwards would pick up positions and rotate based on what side the ball was on. However, there was a freedom in when and how they executed this, which made it difficult for Australia to track the movement and combinations between the French forward players.
The image above shows Dembele (#11) holding the width on the right hand side. Because he is a natural wide player, he stayed in the wide position to isolate himself and the fullabck 1v1. This would also trigger the movement of Griezmann who would either make runs beyond or hold his position to enable Dembele (#11) to take on the defender 1v1 and attack the space.
Mbappe (#10) would come inside to support Giroud (#9), enabling 3 players at least in the penalty area. Benjamin Pavard (#2) and Tchouameni (#8) would offer support underneath the ball to enable them to go back and switch the play out to the other side where Theo Hernandez (#22) would overlap and offer the width on the left hand side. Pavard and the centre backs would also cover behind the ball's location as a back 3 to stop the direct counter attack.
The image above shows the freedom allowed to the French forward players. It allowed Griezmann (#7) to either go in behind or combine, and it allowed the wide player to come inside with the ball by passing or dribbling. The image above also shows multiple opportunities to combine with different players. Giroud (#9) plays an important role, as he holds the positon inside the width of the 6 yard box, making himself a target player to link up and combine with. This allows the players around him to have the freedom to go in behind.
The image above shows one of the most common pictures with Theo Hernandez (#22) holding the wide left position and Dembele (#11) holding the wide right position. This would stretch the back 4 and isolate them to 2v1s and scenarios where the French players combined excellently using 1-2s and up, back, and through patterns. Mbappe (#10) had a free role to drift both inside towards Giroud (#9), or out wide to create opportunities to do this.
Coach your players how to combine and to create overloads in attacking areas by watching sessions by Mark Warburton and Michael Appleton.
Increase your understanding on attacking overloads by reading this guide by Lee Fletcher
The image above shows the amount of XG (Expected Goals) that was created for France on each side of the field. XG is a metric that assigns to every shot a probability (based on historical stats), to determine how likely it is to score from the position, the type of assist, preceding events, etc. It is a modern metric that allows us to study the results of matches with more stress on predictability of a moment's creation and less on pure luck.
France created a total of 3.10 XG which means they created just over 3 chances that should have finished in goals. The image above adds context to France’s strategy in Theo Hernandez (#22) holding the wide left position, which created opportunities for him to overlap or him to combine with Mbappe (#10).
The image above shows that out of the 3.10 XG created, 60% of it was created from the left hand side and 31% created from the right hand side - demonstrating the importance of the French keeping the width through Theo Hernandez (#22) and Dembele (#11). This enabled central players to have the freedom to drift, to create overloads out wide or to take positions up in the box which will isolate players 1v1.
Increase your understanding of XG and data in Soccer by watching this webinar with Aston Villa set piece coach Austin MacPhee: https://app.thecoachingmanual.com/Content/26768
France will look to add to their win when they play against Denmark in their second group match.
Australia look to bounce back against Tunisia in their second group match.
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