Trends in football tactics in Europe: When holding the ball is no longer a life

From a perspective, football is like … fashion. Movements often repeat, with a few improvements. Now is no exception, when European football is now the battle of perfectionist Pep Guardiola and the minimalist school of Diego Simeone.

A series of surprises happened in the last round of the Champions League group stage 2018/19. What are the common points of these matches? First of all, it is easy to see that the teams that are considered “lower doors” are not losing to big names. But in addition, there is one other notable thing: those who are considered “underdogs” surprise even though they hold much less balls than their opponents.

Of course, the stronger team usually holds more balls. But the series of results has partly shown that modern football is divided into two mainstream schools. The first is the flawless football team, considering holding the ball is probably living and imposing a game to win that representative representative is Barca and Man City of Pep Guardiola.

In the opposite is the minimalist school where Atletico and Dortmund are excellent executives. Those are the teams that do not place heavy control on the ball, but only focus on efficiency.

And since defense is always easier than attacking, it seems that the minimalists are gradually taking over. After the era of Pep Guardiola, Barca’s recent coaches Luis Enrique and Ernesto Valverde chose a more direct approach, instead of holding the ball to wait for the opponent to make mistakes and punish.

Season 2015/16, Leicester City suddenly won the Premier League with the ball control rate on average under 45%, just over West Brom and Sunderland, the two teams stand close … relegation zone. And despite owning the top attacking stars, the French team was crowned at the 2018 World Cup with the safety motto above all, even though they have the ability to implement a beautiful attacking kick.