Over the past 150 years, football has evolved a fair amount. Not only has technology been introduced to the game as well as the concept of the modern professional athlete, but there have also been several tactical breakthroughs. Here, we will have a look at three of the biggest that have influenced the way the game is played today.
Passing and the Combination Game Are Born
Believe it or not, football actually used to be a lot more like rugby league than many fans think.
In essence, the game was based around an individual’s dribbling ability. One player would get the ball, and take it as far up the field as possible based on their individual skill, much like rugby league. Other players would be around, but primarily just to clean up the scraps if the ball came squirting out at any stage.
However, this all changed in the 1870s. A dominant Scottish side taught the world that through teamwork, and intentionally passing to players who were in better positions on the field, a bigger, more skilful team could be defeated.
Now, this is the tactic used by teams across the world and has become a staple of modern football to outclass other sides.
Positioning and Space Rise to Prominence
Speaking of underdog sides, Hungary also taught the world a lesson in the 1950s with some innovative tactics.
Prior to Hungary upsetting England with a 6-3 scoreline in 1953, teams typically positioned themselves so they could play directly up against their opponents. However, Hungary did things differently — they dropped their centre striker back into an almost midfield position, while also pulling one of their midfielders back into a second central defender role. Such positioning had never been seen before and gave Hungary acres of space to work with.
The result was an upset win, and the idea of positioning to give players space, rather than engaging in an out-and-out physical battle. Now, this is the standard approach taken by all sides.
The Emergence of Total Football
One of the more recent developments in football tactics is that of the total football approach.
This tactic has influenced several of the sides’ tactics at the current FIFA World Cup 2022, where the country of origin, Netherlands, are one of the outsiders for the title. Essentially the total football tactic consists of players being fluid between positions, rather than sticking to one rigid role. Using such a tactic can really turn the tables on the field and make result predictions even more difficult for both fans and betting providers alike. This means that betting sites such as the ones found at https://betting.com/ can feature tips and predictions that might seem outlandish – but end up coming true due to a sudden change in tactics.
Total football allows the defence to become attack, and attack to become defence. The approach is designed to unravel the benefits of man-marking, by consistently dragging opponents out of shape due to the lack of a fixed position for any player. Usually, this would look like vertical interchanges, where strikers would be expected to defend as well, and defenders take the ball up in attack.
This approach drew criticism as a fancy way of allowing players to do whatever they liked on the field, however it also brought great success for Ajax, Barcelona and the Netherlands under Rinus Michel. Today, it can be seen employed broadly across football.