Analysis in practice – Northern Ireland v Slovakia

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Analysis in practice - Northern Ireland v Slovakia

In this article, we are going to analyse the first 20 minutes of Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Slovakia. We wanted to give you some practical examples of the types of information you might look for and potential ways you can report it.

The scenario is as follows: We are the analyst for the Romanian FA and need to prepare for our upcoming match against Northern Ireland on the 18th November 2020. We have completed most of our work & are just using their most recent matches to ensure they are playing in the same way we analysed previously.

Where to start?

When analysing any match, the first thing we will look for is the formation of both teams. Although we are focussing on Northern Ireland in this piece, it’s important to note both formations. If we are a team that plays 3.5.2, we need to know if Slovakia plays in a similar way to us. Naturally, certain shapes provide certain problems against certain formations. If the opponent is playing a different formation to us then we can still get lots of good information from the match, it might just mean they attack or defend in a certain way due to their shape (lack width in a diamond for example). Lots of websites publish formations but I’d always suggest producing your own as they can lack accuracy…..

The website below has Northern Ireland as a 4.4.2 & Slovakia as a 4.1.4.1

Analysis in practice - Northern Ireland v Slovakia

If we go to another site, it has Northen Ireland as a 4.5.1 & Slovakia as a 4.1.4.1

Analysis in practice - Northern Ireland v Slovakia

After analysing the match, we can see that Nortern Ireland are actually 4.1.4.1

PFSA Analysis in practice - Northern Ireland v Slovakia

Slovakia are also 4.1.4.1

PFSA Analysis in practice - Northern Ireland v Slovakia

Once we have identified and noted the formation, we can begin our analysis.

Breaking down your work

When reporting, it’s good to break the game down into ‘logical’ parts. Naturally, it’s makes sense to split the game into moments with and without the ball but we can also go further to add even more clarity. If we start with Northern Ireland with the ball, we begin with what they do from their goalkeeper and work up the pitch to how they try to score their goals. Then when flipping onto Northern Ireland without the ball, we can start when the opposition goalkeeper has the ball and work our way back down the pitch to how they defend their own goal.

Northern Ireland with the ball – Summary

  • Long balls from the goalkeeper to 21.Magennis
  • Middle 1/3 – Direct play (switch to 21.Magennis / play to channels)
  • Final 1/3 – Didn’t really come out in the 1st 20 minutes (mainly gambling for flick / 2nd ball)
  • Counter attack – Fast and direct to goal

Key threat – Fast counter attack

Long balls from the goalkeeper to 21.Magennis

Middle 1/3 – Direct play – Switch to 21.Magennis

PFSA Analysis in practice - Northern Ireland v Slovakia

Middle 1/3 – Direct play – Target channel

Counter attack – Fast and direct to goal (KEY THREAT)

PFSA Analysis in practice - Northern Ireland v Slovakia

Northern Ireland without the ball – Summary

  • No high pressing
  • Middle 1/3 – 4.1.4.1 shape
  • Middle 1/3 – Space between their lines
  • Defend the goal – 4.1.4.1 – Number #9 drops deep to help defence

Key weakness – Space between lines & defending switch of play (behind opposite winger)

No high pressing

Middle 1/3 – Space between their lines (KEY WEAKNESS)

PFSA Analysis in practice - Northern Ireland v Slovakia
Middle 1/3 – Defending switch of play behind opposite winger (KEY WEAKNESS)
Defend the goal – 4.1.4.1 – Number #9 drops deep to help defence
PFSA Analysis in practice - Northern Ireland v Slovakia

Following a logical structure has allowed us to produce a concise but clear report on Northern Ireland by watching only 20 minutes of footage. This is only an example of the type of information you might produce. Normally, we’d want to analyse at least 3-4 matches on every opposition to get a well-rounded and in depth understanding of their play.

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