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“Liverpool”: main features of attacking play (19/20)
“Liverpool”: main features of attacking play
In the book “Theory and practice of the football team training” P.P. Cherepanov (more than 10
years he led the scientific and methodological department at FC "Rubin") describes the formula
that allows estimating the speed of attacking team actions:
V = 𝛴 𝑎𝑐𝑐𝑢𝑟𝑎𝑡𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑔𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑠
/ 2 ∗ 𝛴 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑔𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑝𝑎𝑠𝑠𝑒𝑠, where
progressive pass - is the pass on the opponent’s half, after which a player, who receives the
ball, continues to move with the ball towards the opponent's goal (the first pass in the set-pieces
is not counted).
According to the formula, the speed of attack is dependent on the number of this kind of
“Liverpool” plays fast. If you calculate the speed of the team's attacking actions using the
mentioned formula, you will get high figures (the speed of the high-level team usually is 10-11).
For example, the speed of the attacking play in the following games:
vs. Leister on 26/12/19 - 13,1
vs. Tottenham on 11/01/20 - 15
vs. ManUtd on 19/01/20 - 12.
Indeed, the football of “Liverpool” is built on fast, dynamic attacks. The team perfectly creates
and delivers the ball to the zones in which they can attack using progressive passes and runs.
The main features of the team’s play are creating and using free zones on the far flank and
playing passes in behind the opponent's defensive line (18-20 passes aimed in behind the
defense per game). According to Ian Graham (the team's director of research) “...these passes
(behind the defense) are very risky, but have the highest value...".
Pic. Maneuvers of the players in the first stage of the positional play
One of the CM and DM supports the CDs and provides the advantage for the ball possession. One of
them (often Henderson) can drop in the line of the defenders. Also, it gives protection from the opponent's
counterattacks in case of losing the ball.
Wingers move from the flank inside to the position between CD and FB of the opponent. It tightens the
defensive line of the opponent and free space on the flanks. They are ready to make runs in behind the
defender or take part in dynamic attacks down the flank.
Both FB take high positions on the flank and provide the width in the attacks.
Firmino operates between the lines, manipulates the positions of DM of the opponent and distracts the
attention of CDs. Another CM looks for the space between the lines as well and swaps with the winger if
the last one drops in the midfield.
In the first stages of the positional attacks “Liverpool” controls the ball (with passes forward
to the flank and back to CDs). The team pulls the opponent to one flank and then delivers the
ball to the free-option on the opponent’s far flank. Then the team can perform the dynamic
attack as they have relatively free space and the opponent is disorganized during shifting.
The second option of the ball circulation is pulling the opponent forward. It opens up the area
behind the back of the defense line. CDs are ready to start the attack with the long ball.
If the opponent uses high pressing, they aim at sending the ball to the winger down the flank
behind the FB of the opponent (using third man combination).
Also, the ball circulation and maneuvers in the initial stages of the attack can stretch the
opponent's midfield. It gives an option for developing an attack through CM or Firmino. They
use again the 3rd man combination - the back pass and following pass to the third man, who
runs into behind the back of the opponent.
In the positional play on the opponent’s half, the team overloads one side with 3-4 players
and creates the free-option of the far flank.
In the coalition on the flank, they combine to pass the ball from the half-spaces in behind the
defensive line. They use different approaches: overlapping of FB or CM, 1-2 combination with
the return pass behind the back of the defense, lofted passes after back pass.
Or the team makes fast and constant changes the side of the attack - delivers the ball to the
free-option. CDs take high positions in the midfield and support in changing the side. Also when
they have the throw-in on the opponent's half they try to get the ball to the far flank (instead of
usual play down the flank).
In the transition from defense to attack “Liverpool” aims at the fast delivery of the ball behind
the opponent’s defense as well. When the team wins the possession on the opponent's half,
wingers start runs into behind the defense at once. The player who possesses the ball speed up
the attack and finds the good timing for playing the through ball with the 1st pass. When the
team wins possession on their half - 2nd or 3rd pass (again use third man combination) goes in
behind the defense.
In fast attacks, they are good at creating width in the attack also. The fullback (or CM) fills free
space on the far flank and gives opportunities for changing the side of the attack to the free-
The video gives examples of “Liverpool”'s game in attack through the prism of these main
Link to the video https://vimeo.com/389064081