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Our attacking mids, too similar or complimentary?


KrazyTea

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After reading the wonderful post-match write up at Weaintgotnohistory.com I was drawn to what has become a familiar argument. Do our mids compliment each other, or as has been discussed often throughout, are they too similar. The one model which simulates where the players made the most touches shows that our players have a tendency to play in the same area. Oscar, Mata, and Hazard all have a tendency to play right down the middle. I think the brilliance in Moses beyond his ability to play both ends a la Oscar is that he is a natural fit for the wing, unlike the others who are all natural 10s. In my mind it makes more sense to play Moses as often as possible on the wing, to generate the width and provide the space for a rotation of the either Mata, Oscar, and Hazard to cut up defences through the middle.

player_influence_cfc_v_stoke.png

http://www.weaintgotnohistory.com/2012/9/23/3375860/chelsea-vs-stoke-match-analysis

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Mata and Hazard have displayed quite a bit of chemistry. Similar players or not, they should always be on the pitch together if we're putting out our best 11. I'm not sure that I particularly like Mata, Hazard and Oscar all being on the pitch together unless Oscar is playing deeper, though. 2 is fine but 3 is pushing it, particularly when we have a player like Moses who offers natural width and has the physique and athleticism to make an impact on defense as well.

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As much as I hate seeing Ramires being played on the right, an attacking three featuring Hazard, Mata and Oscar just doesn't make sense.

I was against the idea of signing Moses initially, but after seeing him so far I think he could be a very shrewd and wise purchase, in the same vain of Marin (presuming he looks as good as he did in pre-season when he gets fit)

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I am in the camp of those who think playing Hazard, Oscar and Mata just behind Torres is not a great idea. All of them naturally tend to go down the middle thus crowding each other out. Torres dropping in the same area to fetch the ball doesnt help matters either.

I agree with KT that we should play Moses as often as possible to provide width as he and Marin are the only genuine wingers in he squad. Having said that, I dont think either of Mata, Oscar or Hazard are droppable given each is so immensely talented it would be huge waste to not play any of them regularly. Which begs the question that how all these guys can be accommodated without compromising with common sense.

A solution could be to eventually drop either Mata or Oscar a bit deeper, alongside the DM, in the so called 'Pirlo role'. One more (crazy) solution could be to do away with Torres altogether and play a false 9 a la Spain.

Finally, its a nice problem to have for any football manager and one I hope RDM can find a solution to quickly.

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Complimentary, in my opinion because I don't think they're too similar. Yes they all have great technique but there are clear differences in each of their games.

Mata is a pure #10, his best work comes in the final third and he has the best final ball of the three.

Oscar is a well-rounded midfielder who is able to drop back and link midfield to attack. He also has good defensive qualities that seem to have gone unnoticed by most.

Hazard is the dribbler and is able to play with his back to goal which is a great quality. He can hold the ball up in tight spaces and brings others into play.

They can play together but it will take a lot of rehearsed practise on the training field. It's not as simple as having three good players and telling them to get on with it. My biggest concern is that we don't work hard enough in training developing patterns of play and team-shape.

The issue with width is a concern but only because, in my opinion, the fullbacks aren't making the right runs at the right time. The space is there to exploit so you hope the fullbacks become more adept at timing their runs and being an option at the right time as opposed to getting forward asap and congesting play even further.

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A good headache to have for RDM, but still a headache. So much expensive talent, and realistically, so little time to get it right.

I wonder if RDM would consider playing Hazard in a sort of left strikers role up front with Torres. Haz likes taking the defense on with his dribling, so let him push forward more. Kind of like Teves does at Man City. Would help take the lone pressure off Nando as well if there was another attacker the defense were concerned about. Something like-

.........Hazard..............Torres............

....Mata..............................Moses......

...............Oscar.........Mikel ................

Cole........Terry..........Luiz..........Ivan

........................Czech........................

Gives us more width and more defined roles for our best players. A lot of pressure goes onto Oscar and Mikels shoulders, but we have Lamps and Rambo backing up.

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A good headache to have for RDM, but still a headache. So much expensive talent, and realistically, so little time to get it right.

I wonder if RDM would consider playing Hazard in a sort of left strikers role up front with Torres. Haz likes taking the defense on with his dribling, so let him push forward more. Kind of like Teves does at Man City. Would help take the lone pressure off Nando as well if there was another attacker the defense were concerned about. Something like-

.........Hazard..............Torres............

....Mata..............................Moses......

...............Oscar.........Mikel ................

Cole........Terry..........Luiz..........Ivan

........................Czech........................

Gives us more width and more defined roles for our best players. A lot of pressure goes onto Oscar and Mikels shoulders, but we have Lamps and Rambo backing up.

It looks good on paper, but may not work against bigger teams that play a three man central midfield.

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I think if Hazard is told to play wide he is more than capable, as he proved at Lille. I just think at the moment they are all being given a 'free role' to a degree and they haven't quite worked it out between them yet (expected, after all it is only a few games).

Either when they know each others play (can only come after practice in training and in games) it will get less congested, or

if for some reason it doesn't work as RDM would want, i would assume he'll give the players more definite roles to avoid the congestion.

RDM has been given the tools to produce a very exiting team.... Over to you Robbie.

Alan

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Complimentary, in my opinion because I don't think they're too similar. Yes they all have great technique but there are clear differences in each of their games.

Mata is a pure #10, his best work comes in the final third and he has the best final ball of the three.

Oscar is a well-rounded midfielder who is able to drop back and link midfield to attack. He also has good defensive qualities that seem to have gone unnoticed by most.

Hazard is the dribbler and is able to play with his back to goal which is a great quality. He can hold the ball up in tight spaces and brings others into play.

They can play together but it will take a lot of rehearsed practise on the training field. It's not as simple as having three good players and telling them to get on with it. My biggest concern is that we don't work hard enough in training developing patterns of play and team-shape.

The issue with width is a concern but only because, in my opinion, the fullbacks aren't making the right runs at the right time. The space is there to exploit so you hope the fullbacks become more adept at timing their runs and being an option at the right time as opposed to getting forward asap and congesting play even further.

Perfectly said Epic. We miss you.

On that last bit; we've discussed before how such a thing becomes a self perpetuating cycle. The fullbacks don't run which means the midfielders don't look for the pass, and the cycle repeats itself to the detriment of the attacking phase.

I wonder if RDM would consider playing Hazard in a sort of left strikers role up front with Torres. Haz likes taking the defense on with his dribling, so let him push forward more. Kind of like Teves does at Man City. Would help take the lone pressure off Nando as well if there was another attacker the defense were concerned about. Something like-

Something worth considering is that Mourinho often played Robben and Duff in a very similar role; when one stayed wide, the other operated as a second striker around the box. Robben even said that he would love to be moved into that role on a permanent basis.

I think the key to its success is trying to not make it a "designated" position; allow Hazard, Mata and Oscar to naturally take up roles and use their skills and strengths where they are best suited. If we start pushing them into fixed positions, such as Hazard into a second striker spot, we risk the element of unpredictability which is a strength in itself. Furthermore, we risk our own team treating the players according to their fixed role eg treating Hazard as a striker, making him chase down goal kicks and crosses, which will also be detrimental.

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Something worth considering is that Mourinho often played Robben and Duff in a very similar role; when one stayed wide, the other operated as a second striker around the box. Robben even said that he would love to be moved into that role on a permanent basis.

I think the key to its success is trying to not make it a "designated" position; allow Hazard, Mata and Oscar to naturally take up roles and use their skills and strengths where they are best suited. If we start pushing them into fixed positions, such as Hazard into a second striker spot, we risk the element of unpredictability which is a strength in itself. Furthermore, we risk our own team treating the players according to their fixed role eg treating Hazard as a striker, making him chase down goal kicks and crosses, which will also be detrimental.

My jury is still out with the whole letting these 3 gifted attacking guys roam and be unpredictable. It's causing Torres grief as it's confusing for a striker not knowing whats going on behind him all the time. I'd be more of a fan with fixed positioning for these guys and then letting them roam every now and then. Teams need structure when they 1st come together, then when they have all settled in together, the free reign can start. Barcelona, as well as the Spanish national team have the same sort of concept I guess as we are trying right now, but they are still very structured. Goals will more or less be scored from individual brilliance and trickery rather right now as we don't really have a go to strength right now.

We're going to need some sort of structure to this attack sooner rather than later to get things clicking better.

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A good headache to have for RDM, but still a headache. So much expensive talent, and realistically, so little time to get it right.

I wonder if RDM would consider playing Hazard in a sort of left strikers role up front with Torres. Haz likes taking the defense on with his dribling, so let him push forward more. Kind of like Teves does at Man City. Would help take the lone pressure off Nando as well if there was another attacker the defense were concerned about. Something like-

.........Hazard..............Torres............

....Mata..............................Moses......

...............Oscar.........Mikel ................

Cole........Terry..........Luiz..........Ivan

........................Czech........................

Gives us more width and more defined roles for our best players. A lot of pressure goes onto Oscar and Mikels shoulders, but we have Lamps and Rambo backing up.

perfer rambo over mikel due to his mobility and his willingness to trying to take the bull by the horn!
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Complimentary, in my opinion because I don't think they're too similar. Yes they all have great technique but there are clear differences in each of their games.

Mata is a pure #10, his best work comes in the final third and he has the best final ball of the three.

Oscar is a well-rounded midfielder who is able to drop back and link midfield to attack. He also has good defensive qualities that seem to have gone unnoticed by most.

Hazard is the dribbler and is able to play with his back to goal which is a great quality. He can hold the ball up in tight spaces and brings others into play.

They can play together but it will take a lot of rehearsed practise on the training field. It's not as simple as having three good players and telling them to get on with it. My biggest concern is that we don't work hard enough in training developing patterns of play and team-shape.

The issue with width is a concern but only because, in my opinion, the fullbacks aren't making the right runs at the right time. The space is there to exploit so you hope the fullbacks become more adept at timing their runs and being an option at the right time as opposed to getting forward asap and congesting play even further.

Excellent post, I find myself agreeing with almost all of it. I agree that the fullbacks need to make better runs, and that with such great technical players, we should be working on rehearsed patterns of play. Juventus’ second goal against us was a rehearsed move from training - one striker dragged a centreback deep, whilst the other ran in behind. Bielsa’s Bilbao last season had a load of rehearsed moves designed to break down opposition, and caused their opponents a lot of problems (http://www.zonalmarking.net/2012/04/26/athletic-bilbaos-movement-v-sporting/ ). If we worked on things like this, with our great attacking players, I think we could be devastating.

I feel that it’s easier to tell the difference between Hazard and the other two than between Oscar and Mata, as I see them as very similar.

As you’ve said, Oscar is the best at dropping deep and being a midfield link (something we missed last season and have missed at the start of this one), but from seeing him play a handful of times, he looks absolutely fantastic at playing in the final third, too. Mata is probably better with his final ball, but Oscar is, imo, the best with the clever little flicks which create space in the final third. He’s the most gifted of the three, imo.

The problem with them all coming into the middle isn’t the fact that they get in each others’ way, it’s that we lack width. There are a few different ways of solving this:

1. Only play two of them, and have a natural width holder (Moses, maybe Marin) - this way, we’re wasting one of our very talented players. We’re fortunate enough to have 3 of the world’s most promising attacking midfielders (remember, Mata’s only 24) and we should use this to our advantage rather than just benching one.

2. Play one of them deeper, so the band of 3 still contains a width-holder. Natural choice for this is Oscar, but there are obviously doubts over whether he’d be able to play a deeper role, and whether it would be stifling him considering how deadly he has looked in the attacking 1/3. The advantage is that we’re playing all of our hugely talented players.

3. Play all 3 of them and improve the overlapping ability of our fullbacks; Ivan just isn’t good enough on the overlap, and instead of doing it effectively against Stoke was running into the box. Luckily we have Azpilicueta and Cole/Bertrand who are all good attacking fullbacks and, with a little bit of training on when to make their overlapping runs etc, can do it effectively.

4. Play all 3 of them and get at least one to stay wide more often. You just don’t see any of them staying wide with the ball and getting low balls in. Mata and Hazard are both more than capable of beating a man and getting a ball in, so maybe telling them to do so would contribute to more varied play.

I’m not sure which one I’d opt for. I think it depends on our midfield; we’ve only seen Mikel-Ramires for one game, and I’d like to see how they bring the ball out of defence against tougher opposition who press them. I suspect RDM still wants to play Oscar deep for his distribution. If they aren’t comfortable doing so, then I’d opt for Oscar there.

If we settled with Ramires-Mikel in midfield, I’d go for something in between 3 and 4; getting one or two of them to stay wide more often, but also giving them licence to occasionally come inside and do their thing, whilst getting the fullbacks to overlap all the time.

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oscar and mata are fairly similar. hazard is a little different. he's not as good a passer but is a more direct player.

it's easier to have two of them at most and a more natural wide player like moses or marin in the 3.

it will take time to have all three on the pitch functioning properly, but look at their quality- it's absolutely worthwhile to take the time to make it work.

edit: don't like oscar in a two man midfield. he can get forward from there, he can run games and he'll still score goals, but I think his best attribute is how well he roams around the pitch. you take that away by putting him in the two because he would then need to show a lot more positional discipline.

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I did have the thought watching the Stoke game that we had 3 creative (Mata,Oscar,Hazard) players to create chances and no finishers. Not hating on Torres but it was all black heels and one-two's pass back and forth and no one wanted to shoot on goal. Need more balance IMO between passers and shooters.

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I don't really think they are too similar, they all like to play the number 10 role but they all have their own thing. Hazard can take on a defender better than Mata and Oscar, Mata has fantastic control and passing, Oscar has alot of what Mata has but i think he is a better finisher. I feel they can all play together in the same team. Bring in Moses every so often and that will confuse any team. Stoke are a hard team to break down when they play the way they did on Saturday and 8 times out of 10 they manage to get a draw out of it, against other teams i think we would have got 2 or 3 goals.

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I would go for;

--------Cech

Ivan---Luis-----Cahill/terry

Moses-- Ramirez- Oscar-hazard-Marin/Bertrand

Torres--Mata

A 3-5-2 with Moses and Bertrand as wingbacks and Mata up front alongside Torres? That's a peculiar formation to say the least.

If you wanted to use a formation like that, surely Ramires would be the one you'd want at right wingback. The lack of Cole is puzzling as well.

That sort of experimentation is best left to FIFA's manager mode.

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