What is Gegenpressing?

As the ‘Godfather’ of modern German Football has recently joined one of the biggest clubs in the World we are going to delve a little deeper into his style of play - Gegenpressing.

Dec 16th 2021

Written by The Coaching Manual

Ralf Rangnick’s arrival at Manchester United has brought the term ‘gegenpressing’ back into the spotlight especially within the English media, so we are asking the question - What is Gegenpressing?

Gegenpressing = Counter-pressing 

As shown above, it is German for counter-pressing. In essence, it is to win the ball back immediately after losing it in areas high up the pitch and in the opposition half.

Rangnick is credited with being one of the brains behind forming this ideology as he started to implement it with numerous German clubs such as Stuttgart, Hannover 96, Schalke and RB Leipzig.

The philosophy later gained more popularity and recognition through one of Rangnick’s ‘disciples’ Jurgen Klopp and his highly successful Liverpool side.

What are the benefits?

The best playmaker

The main benefit of this system if done successfully is that teams will win the ball high up the pitch and in dangerous positions. Therefore, it will likely lead to chances to score on the opposition goal.

“Gegenpressing lets you win back the ball nearer to the goal. It's only one pass away from a really good opportunity. No playmaker in the world can be as good as a good gegenpressing situation, and that's why it's so important.” - Jurgen Klopp.

Forces teams into mistakes

A lot of emphasis is put on forcing the opposition into making mistakes therefore the attacking players have to cohesively as a unit to almost ‘hunt in packs’ and win the ball back quickly.

These attacking players should recognise certain cues of when to press the ball quickly such as a poor touch, a bad pass etc. Check out this infographic for more pressing cues.

Teams have to be quick and fit

To be successful with this style of play the players in the attacking areas have to have a good level of fitness as it requires a high level of pressing throughout the game. These levels of fitness and speed can then benefit the team in different phases of the game, for instance when the opposition is attacking and the ball is won back it helps teams to then counter attack with speed and efficiency.

Having said this the attacking players need to know when to conserve their energy and fall back into shape to prevent any injuries and exhaustion.

Relevant sessions

The Coaching Manual have plenty of sessions based around pressing and counter-pressing. Listed below are some of the practices that relate most to the ideology of ‘Gegenpressing’ so that you can start to implement it with your team.

Pressing From the Front - Coach your players how to press, screen, slide and block passing lines to win the ball back in the final third with this 3-part session.

Pressing In The Final Third - This tactical session will help players to press in the final third in a 4-3-3 formation.

Pressing Masterclass - This 3-part session from the current West Ham manager David Moyes explores the reason for pressing and the technical, tactical components of pressing individually and as a team.

Pressing in the Opposition Half - This session promotes the concepts of pressing in the opposition half to regain the ball high up the pitch and near their goal.

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