Aftermath of BSC Young Boys


With a couple of days having past since Spurs first foray into the Champions League and the knee jerking having calmed down on the various messageboads littering the internet the game against Young Boys in Switzerland has raised a few questions.

For a tactical overview of the game I suggest reading:

Zonal Marking

Ghost Goals

Both have good analysis of what happened in the game and how things were changed to come back into the game.

The points I wanted to address were the usage of 4-4-2 and Redknapps insistancy that ‘tactics dont win games’ although in Redknapps defense he meant formation 😉

When I talked about 4-5-1 I highlighted that the triangles created and the anchor player/s can overcome a central pair easily. While this is true it does rely on the 2 central players being flat. The breakdown of a midfield flat 4 is usually LW CM CM RW which is how Spurs started against Young Boys. Alot has been made that this is suicidal away in Europe but it is only suicidal when the two players in the centre of midfield have a massive distance between them and do not stagger slightly so that one presses and one covers. The suicidal element to the Spurs setup in the first 30 minutes to Young Boys was Modric and Palacios being far from each other with Palacios pressing everyone and everything that came near him leaving Modric to man the central area on his own and when they were together they had a large gap between them which was highlighted by the third goal which was one pass from the centre circle straight through two lines of players into the path of a striker coming in on the diagonal. With the introduction of Huddlestone Palacios stayed closer to him and Huddlestone played slightly deeper to cover and used his fantastic passing ability to spread the ball to the wings where we had the most (and only) influence in the game in the first half.

In the second half with Niko Kranjcar in for an injured Modric he was asked to come in from the left to a more central position and Pavlyuchenko was asked to come back furthur. The question that I posed to myself was “Is this still 4-4-2”. Starting position wise it was a 4-4-2; in an attacking phase of play, an oncoming Bale taking a full back out of the picture,  Kranjcar was sitting in the hole behind two centre forwards and the two centre midfield players playing deep. In effect the formation in the second half was this:

Is this not 4-4-2?

With the slight shape change Spurs got back into the game, had more possession and got the goals they needed to make the home leg a competitve affair.

An interesting point to note was Redknapps assessment of the pitch, a lot of the media are reporting that he made out the pitch was a problem as an excuse but the actual point Redknapp made was that the artificial pitch affected the players psychologically and that he had four players who ‘werent up for it’. Psychology is a massive part of playing these days while the slightest drop in confidence and belief can have massive effects on players hence we see relegations strugglers not getting points despite being a decent team ( 2 points in 8 games!!!). With players more worried about what type of boot to wear and Young Boys already seven games into their league and home advantage no wonder they came out of the traps and made the early part of the game count.

That last bit may seem a bit apologetic but I don’t mean it to be. 4-4-2 can still work but it has to accomodate the formation that it is playing against and the players picked in that formation are the factors that make a difference and in that statement alone I make Redknapp’s ‘tactics dont win games’ quote right…and for all those who think I’m a Redknapp fan I can assure you it’s taken a long time for me to come around to thinking he knows what he is doing but from the end of last season and his media soundbites in the last few months I’m confident we have a manager that sees the bigger picture and is perfectly capable of seeing Spurs through to the Champions League proper, more than likely with 4–4-2.

5 Responses to “Aftermath of BSC Young Boys”

  1. Came across this article through the trackbacks on the link.

    Really interesting argument in favour of 4-4-2. I definitely think there are ways to make it work as, undoubtedly, Redknapp has already shown. Asking one of the two strikers to drop in is a legitimate strategy if done well and was justified by the interaction between Pav & Keane late on.

    In regard to the midfield balance it definitely depends on the opposition. I saw Spurs look pretty impotent against defensive minded sides when they had Huddlestone and Palacios sitting in midfield because they were playing in straight lines and didn’t ask enough questions in the centre with midfield runners. It will probably prove ironic, given that Young Boys could take a more defensive approach next week, that the best formation to win the 2nd leg would be to line-up the same way they did at the start of the 1st?

    • 2 tottenhamthinktank

      Totally agree RE: the midfield, if you stifle Huddlestone in a Palacious Hudd partnership the creativity goes and its hard to link play, with Modric in there instead of Palacios you have 2 options and it makes a massive difference.

      It will be interesting to see how Sandro fits in when he arrives.

    • 3 Nyvaeh

      Thanks for inoctduring a little rationality into this debate.

  2. 4 MoleyMole

    This blog needs more Badgers

  3. 5 Pat

    Hi, I am in the process of creating a feed of all the Tottenham blogs I can find in the world, so the fans can check out the posts from every Spurs site in the one place. I intend to only have sites from real fans, so there will be no SkySports, Goal, Clubcall or all that “news” and rumours crap.

    I have just about finished setting it up and aim to have it totally live in the next few days. I have been working on it for a while now, but think I have finally got it totally ready. It is not a list of blogs but a feed of all the various posts on each blog. I am going to contact every Tottenham blog around that I can find to ask for permission to add them as well.

    All it has is a couple of lines of your post, and the headline will go straight to your website, so each post will link directly to you. You will also have a link to your home page on the contributors blogroll. So even if the site doesn’t take off you will gain loads of backlinks to your site.

    If you would like your site added to the site, please send me your feedburner or RSS feed url and I will get it added straight away.

    All I ask in return is a simple text link to “Just Tottenham Blogs” somewhere on your homepage. You can have a look at the site here:

    I am mostly happy with the design so far, and I am keen to get some feedback from people like you. What do you think?


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