Fortuna Aeternitas is currently competing in the Miller Beta game-world. The team is controlled by manager Guido Merry, who also doubles as a moderator in this game-world.
Friday, April 23, 2010
The Come-Back Of The Inside Forward
This season in real life could very well mark the end of the traditional centre forward as we know him from the past as a traditional goal-scorer, as this central forward is being replaced by a new role, that of the old inside forward.
The winger as an inside forward, drifting into the penalty area from the wing to provide assists or score goals. It is a role which is becoming more and more popular in modern football. Just look at some of the teams in the semi-finals of this year’s Champions League. Lionel Messi and Arjen Robben are prime examples, whereas Cristiano Ronaldo holds a similar role at Madrid and used to hold this role for Man Utd.
Sir Alex Ferguson was last season quoted saying: "When forwards attack from wide to inside, they are far more dangerous," Ferguson explained. "It's funny when I see centre-forwards starting off in the middle against their markers and then going away from goal. Strikers going inside are far more dangerous, I think. When Henry played as a striker, and sometimes when Wayne does, they try to escape and create space by drifting from the centre to wide positions, when that actually makes them less dangerous." (source: The Guardian)
We’re basically noticing a shift away from central forwards who are supposed to score the goals. The stereotypical strikers such as Gabriel Batistuta and Ronaldo are being replaced by a new breed of goal-scorer. When we look at the last two World Footballers of the Year, we notice these have been primarily wide players who cut inside and score many goals, exploiting the space made by the central forwards moving around and luring defenders away as well.
Intelligent movement upfront has become the key to unlocking an opponents defences. Intelligent movement implies position switching, which in turn means that players will often end up finishing an attacking move in a different position to which they started this attacking move, in an effort to exploit the gaps in defence created by other people's movement.
These movements cause problems for a defence because the responsibility for marking the runner shifts between players. When a winger drifts into the centre of the pitch, the wingback is forced to make a choice. If he leaves his position to follow his marker, he leaves a lot of space on the wing, which happened to Lyon against Bayern.
With Ribéry (initially anyway) and Robben drifting into the centre, their opponents were forced to follow, leaving the Bayern wingbacks Contento and Lahm with a lot of space in the backs of the Lyon midfielders Delgado and Ederson. Philipp Lahm especially excelled in this role, as Lyon chose to focus on Arjen Robben, leaving Lahm with a lot of space to run into, which he frequently did.
Should the wingback decide to remain in his position, he creates a new problem, as the centre-backs run the risk of being out-numbered. In sticking to the Bayern vs Lyon game, I am going to sketch a possible scenario now.
If Cissokho and Reveillere had decided to remain stationary instead of following their markers, the Lyon centre-backs Cris and Toulalan would have to face not only Olic and Müller, but potentially one or two of the wingers as well, creating a numerical advantage for the forwards.
Thus, if the defensive responsibilities for picking up on moving forwards are not managed properly, the inside forward will find himself in acres of space, which leaves him more opportunity to assist the strikers or score himself.
So basically, when an inside forward such as Robben or Messi drifts inside, he creates confusion as the responsibility for marking him shifts from the full back or the side midfielder to the centre back. Not only does this create space in the “hole”, it also creates space in the “channel” between wing back and centre-back. With much more communication needed in the opposition defence, a good inside forward on the wing can create so much space for his team mates as he drags players out of position from all over the field.
The inside forward often starts wide, meaning the opposing team's wingback assumes he is the player he should be picking up. But then, the winger starts drifting inside, which means the opposing teams wing-back usually tracks him into the centre, which in turn opens up space for a deep-lying forward (such as for example Thomas Müller or Zlatan Ibrahimovic) on the flank to exploit with either a cross or a through ball.
In other variations, we have seen the deep-lying forward (again, Ibrahimovic or Müller for example) dropping into the gap between defence and midfield, luring his defender along, which leaves a gap in the centre of defence. A well placed through ball means either space for the second striker or for the inside forward drifting inside to pounce upon, as Arsenal fans can probably remember when Vermaelen was lured out of position as few times.
It’s not just in the Champions League where these inside forwards are gaining in popularity and impact. In Italy for example, Antonio di Natale is topping the goal-scoring chart, whereas in Holland, Bryan Ruiz and Luis Suarez are fighting for the top goal-scorer crown. All these players are mostly forwards who start on the flank and drift inside.
It should be very interesting indeed to see if the World Cup this summer catches up with this trend from club football and if this trend continues into next season. That the inside forward is highly effective in FM and FM Live is something I have been well aware of for a while now.
1 - Zydrunas Karcemarskas 2 - Serge Wawa 3 - Sascha Dum 4 - Fernando Amorebieta 5 - Rolando 6 - Issey Nakajima-Farran 7 - Vitaliy Mandzyuk 8 - Jack Cleverley 9 - Robert Flores 10 - Ola Toivonen 11 - Dieumerci Mbokani 12 - Javier Flano 13 - Velimir Jovanovic 14 - Phil McKenna 15 - Paulo Henrique 16 - Christian Rapp 17 - Anderson 18 - Marko Damjanovic 19 - Angelo Antonucci 20 - Carlos Amaro 21 - Nicholas Petersen 22 - Clodoaldo
XEFA Qualifying Group 4 winner (season 1) XEFA U21 league winner (season 5) XEFA U19 league winner (season 4, season 5) XEFA U18 league winner (season 5) XEFA U17 league winner (season 5) XEFA Cup finalist (season 3)