Recently, international teams such as Spain and clubs such as Arsenal and Manchester City haven’t been doing as well as they have been expected to do so.
Why is this? Well, looking at the last two winners of the Premier League – Chelsea and Leicester – we can see that possession football is no longer the way to win.
Towards the climax of the 2014/15 Premier League season, Chelsea were labelled as playing ‘boring’ football, boldly underlined after their dull 0-0 draw with Arsenal, more or less clinching a second title for Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.
However, as boring as it may have been, The Blues counter attacking style paid off as they lifted the title in May.
To play counter attacking football you simply need a fantastic goalkeeper, solid defence, good passers in the middle, pace going forward and a poacher. Chelsea had it all. Courtois kept 15 clean sheets and his defence was made of the same faces consistently. Skipper John Terry didn’t miss a game and Fabregas in the middle allowed balls to be sprayed accurately all over the pitch. Finally, with pace and flair going forward, Hazard and Willian provided assist upon assist for talisman, Diego Costa.
An unattractive formula had come up trumps for Jose, and Blues fans were loving life. Little did anyone know, relegation fighting Leicester would go into the 2015/16 season and finish it winners.
Foxes goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and his defenders didn’t originally appear to be a title winning defence. However, one home league defeat and 15 clean sheets later, Ranieri’s Leicester trotted home ten points clear of second place Arsenal.
Much like Chelsea, Leicester turned out to have some fantastically hard working midfielders, like Kante, and fantastic passers, like ex-Manchester United student Danny Drinkwater. These midfielders happened to link fantastically with the pace, flair and natural goal scoring prowess of Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy.
Leicester City had shown the world that money doesn’t necessarily win you league titles. What does win you league titles is desire, determination and more tactically, counter attacking football!
Only days ago did the world witness Ronaldo-less Portugal lift the European Championship trophy after a late Eder winner against hosts France.
Many criticised Portugal for the defensive style after drawing all three games in their group, but Portugal went on and only ended up winning one game in 90 minutes, a 2-0 win against dark horses Wales.
However, like Chelsea, Portugal’s defensive style had paid off. Also, like Leicester, their pace, flair and talent going forward – with the likes of Ronaldo, Nani, Quaresma and youngster Renato Sanches – had complimented the defensive style beautifully.
As dull as Portugal’s road to glory was, there was no denying it had worked and the plan was carried out to a tee.
In contrast to these glories, teams such as Spain, Manchester City and Arsenal have not been able to rise to the level of counter attacking football recently.
All wanting to keep the majority of the possession yet all of them not winning major titles in three years. So, is counter attacking football very much the way to win trophies nowadays? Are the days of tiki-taka behind us?
Perhaps slightly more unrealistically, if England played on the counter attack, may they reach the quarter-finals for once?
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