Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Football's Laws of Attraction

Despite being bandied about all over, it is sometimes hard to grasp the notion of what exactly is the "decision-making" that everyone keeps talking about. One would be hard pressed to find a clearer example than Stefano Mauri's goal in the last Rome derby.

AS Roma vs Lazio (2-2) Full Highlights 11/01... by rubin7190

As one of the last few one-club men in his time, Daniele De Rossi is one of the most respected players in Italy and a symbol for his club. With his nation, De Rossi has won the World Cup and has a bronze medal from the 2004 Olympics and a silver medal from the 2012 Euros. Back in 2012, he was even close to a move to Manchester City following his stellar displays in midfield (and sometimes in a three-men defence).

Nevertheless, not even a player like De Rossi is free from the pull that a round piece of leather exerts over players ever since they (and we) were kids. One of the most curious sights in football is to watch a spontaneous match between young toddlers, where all one can see is a bunch of infants gathered around what must surely be a black hole, such is the gravitational pull.

In this case, De Rossi ended up doing exactly that, as it is possible to attest over the following pictures.

1. Roma give the ball away down their right wing and a 3x3 situation immediately arises.

2. Felipe Anderson progresses up the pitch while Roma try to contain the threat while waiting for back-up. Vasileios Torosidis can be seen sprinting back to try to improve his team's odds. De Rossi seems to be analysing the situation correctly as he glances over the space behind Davide Astori. Stefano Mauri, the eventual goalscorer, is still a few yards behind both Astori and De Rossi.

3. A simple, outside overlapping run leads De Rossi to make the inadvertent decision to approach the ball instead of providing coverage for his team-mate, effectively succumbing to football's laws of attraction and opening up a gaping hole in the heart of his very defence (shaded circle).

4. Even though De Rossi realises his mistake, it is already too late and Felipe Anderson is wise to pick his pass at the right moment as Mauri makes his run into the penalty box.

  • Conclusion

While watching the video, one is able to realise just how quickly this whole process takes place, which might help explaining just why improving the players' decision-making skills and ability to read and understand the game (and what is asked of them at any given moment) is one of today's top priorities for most coaches.

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