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4 Silvia Neid The UEFA Women’s EURO in the

Netherlands was the keynote on
the European football calendar in
10 Adi Viveash 2017 and The Technician mirrored
this focus on Women’s football
with feature interviews with World, European
20 Fabio Capello and Olympic champion Silvia Neid and the
victorious Sarina Wiegman after her team’s Official publication of
tournament win. the Union of European
26 Jesús Velasco Football Associations
These successful female coaches share the pages Chief editor:
of this annual edition of The Technician with Emmanuel Deconche
32 Football‘s new frontier UEFA Champions League winner Fabio Capello, Deputy chief editor:
UEFA Cup winner Mircea Lucescu, UEFA Youth Dominique Maurer
League winner Adi Viveash and UEFA Futsal Cup
38 Taking the fast track to goal Editorial group:
winner Jesús Velasco who sat with us to share Ioan Lupescu,
their experiences, stories of success and failure Frank K. Ludolph,
42 Youth competitions show and advice for young coaches. David Gough

widening horizons for Contributors:

future stars This standalone edition also features summaries Mark Chaplin,
of club and youth competition technical reports Ben Gladwell,
and an investigation into the ever expanding area Simon Hart,
Julien Hernandez,
48 Sarina Wiegman of football analytics. We hope that this collection
Philip Röber,
of articles will provide you with entertainment Berend Scholten,
and food for thought and we encourage you to Graham Turner
54 Mircea Lucescu check out The Technician in UEFA Direct
throughout 2018. Production:

60 Take-home messages Ioan Lupescu Cover photo: 50

from the Netherlands Technical Director Getty Images

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At the start of the year, Silvia Neid was named FIFA Women’s Coach of the Year for the
third time, capping an unprecedented coaching career. She stepped down as national
team coach after winning gold at the Olympics in Brazil, and now heads up the DFB’s
women’s and girls’ scouting department. The Technician met up with the former world
and European champion to talk about her new role and the future of women’s football.

ilvia Neid, congratulations on “We want to keep matches on the one hand, and
being named FIFA Women’s an eye on other discussing what you see on the other?
Coach of the Year. How was countries. After 20 years in various coaching roles,
the awards ceremony? I’ve learned a thing or two. Anyone involved
It’s important
I was very happy just to be there as in women’s football will have noticed that the
one of the three shortlisted nominees. It’s
to be looking out Asian countries are making great strides. It’s not
always a wonderful evening; you meet some for new trends for nothing that they’re winning so many titles
really exceptional people. It was a great honour and developments at youth level. I’m thinking of North Korea and
to win the award for the third time. It felt like in women’s football. Japan in particular. And in my new role, I’m very
the icing on the cake. There’s no better way That’s my keen to know how they’re doing it. How has
to end my career with the women’s national responsibility.” Japan got so many well-trained players? And
team. Although I’m well aware that I couldn’t consistently over time, also at youth level, i.e.
have done it alone. You can’t win without your Under-17 and Under-19. That’s something that’s
team, and the team behind the team. I really really struck me. They must be doing something
can’t emphasise that enough. special in terms of player development, and that
interests me. There are also things happening in
You are now running the DFB’s Spain. These are all trends that we have to keep
women’s and girls’ scouting an eye on.
department. Can you tell us
what that involves and what your Can you share with us your
priorities are in this new role? initial insights? What makes
We want to keep an eye on other countries. the Japanese so good, for example?
It’s important to be looking out for new trends They place a lot of emphasis on the basics
and developments in women’s football. That’s and on technique. They work very hard and
my responsibility. Our aim is to be a few years coach intensively in these areas. Take looking
ahead of the game and the players need to be over your shoulder as an example: every player
trained accordingly. I share my findings with the looks over her shoulder three times before
new national team coach, Steffi Jones, and she receiving the ball. So she knows what’s going

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decides what to do with the information. on behind her. I find that pretty impressive,
and fascinating. I would love to go to Japan to
To what extent is your role as see for myself what exactly they’re doing there.
head of scouting about watching At the same time, I must say that in Germany

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we are also trendsetters, and will continue to Joachim Löw has done a lot for the men’s
be so in the future. We’re already doing a good game. He has shaped men’s football in
job, but you have to keep your eyes open and Germany and moved it forward. He has
want to learn from what you see going on also been FIFA Coach of the Year and is
elsewhere. world champion. I think we play really
excellent football. We play offensively and
The boom in women’s football had some great games at the EURO in France.
development over the last few years Obviously there’s also always an element of
has been plain for all to see. What are luck involved. You have to hit the back of
your thoughts on this and how do the net at the right time.
you see things now?
The progress has been incredible. When I think Let’s talk briefly about grassroots
back to my first international in 1982, it really football. Which particular areas need
is unbelievable what has happened since then. more attention, in your opinion?
Everything has improved, athletically, tactically, I think we can be very pleased, just looking
technically, and in terms of speed. It’s now at the numbers. Lots of women and girls play
more or less on a par with men’s football. football. In Germany, at least, it’s the number
Everything has progressed and improved. one sport. We have schools and academies
where football is offered. We’re very much on
What tactical improvements the right track. Obviously it’s good for the sport
have impressed you the most? when you get titles. We see that in tennis too:

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Lots of trends are taken from men’s football. Angelique Kerber is now world number one
Like screening midfielders, for example. and tennis has become more popular again
At the Olympics, Sweden showed that they among youngsters as a result. We need to keep
play deeper than usual. They tried to allow winning in women’s football and make sure
very little space in their own half. These are that girls get interested in the sport. Naturally,
also trends and tactical developments. The
“There are we must then also ensure that we have a strong
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players are simply better trained. In that excellent teams elite. It’s all about player development.
sense, we’re all on the right track. all over the
world that are Research in Europe shows that you
To what extent have tactical elements capable of can get lots of girls into football but
and even playing styles been taken winning the most of them drop out as teenagers.
over from the men’s game because What’s your take on this trend?
World Cup. Every
of all the footage available that you It’s perfectly normal. Perhaps girls that aren’t
can use with the team? country is so good or aren’t 100% into football decide
I have done that. I really like how Dortmund investing a lot they’d prefer to play tennis. Perhaps they’re
were playing a few years ago. I still really like more than they better at tennis. Often they only work these
their style of play. We watched a few bits were just a few things out as teenagers. But I honestly don’t
and pieces and took some footage to show years ago, to see this as a problem. We can be proud that
to our players. Then it was a question of we’re the number one sport overall.
prepare their
putting it into practice.
players for such What do you think can be done Europe-
Did you also have technical tournaments.” wide to promote ambitious coaches,
discussions with Joachim Löw, male or female, in women’s football?
the men’s national team coach? We’ve always tried to encourage female players
A few time a year at least. I used a few to train as coaches. And it’s paid off. We have
of the things they were doing in the men’s lots of women who used to play on the national
game. I already had a good relationship team now working in coaching. Germany has
with the scouting department and when been leading the way for years in that respect.
I found something interesting, I could get [Former national team coach] Tina Theune
whole sequences edited together. In that started it off and I kept it going. The important
respect, there was always a lot of very thing is to have players who really put their
close cooperation. hearts into it. They have to pass on their
experience to the next generation. To be
How would you describe what Joachim honest, I don’t really know what it’s like in
Löw has achieved with The city of Frankfurt welcomes other countries. I can only say that the tendency
the national team home from
the men’s national team, starting as Sweden in style on 29 July 2013,
seems to be to promote women. In Japan, for
assistant coach and over the course the day after they claimed their example, they have now appointed the first
of the DFB’s restructuring in the eighth European title. woman as head coach of the [women’s]
early 2000s? national team.

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are very technically accomplished. They play There are excellent teams all over the world
a very intelligent game, but somehow it’s that are capable of winning the World Cup.
never quite been enough. I’ve got my eye Take Canada, for example, who have taken
on Spain, and maybe also England. Both bronze in the last two Olympic Games.
teams have made outstanding progress And the US, who we know have been
over the last few years. preparing together very intensively for a long
time. Then there’s Japan, whose praises I’ve
The field has been expanded from already sung. And Brazil. Obviously Europe also
12 to 16. What effect will that have? has to keep advancing if we’re to have another
I’m very curious to see. There are definitely world champion. But it’s not that easy. I think
enough good teams in women’s football, that every country is investing a lot more than
in my opinion, to increase the field by four they were just a few years ago, to prepare their
without there being any drop in quality. players for such tournaments.
Take Scotland, for example, where we’ve
also seen steady progress. I think we have How do you view the evolution
a good format. It’s clear at the outset that of the UEFA Women’s Champions
the top two teams in each group go through League?
and the third and fourth-placed teams go It’s fundamentally a good competition and

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home. I don’t know what will happen but one I really like. There are four teams that
I think it’ll be good. are contenders for the title. The others are
still a bit too far behind the pack.
Berti Vogts once said it was ‘getting
crowded at the top’ – to what extent The quarter-finals are fast
Why do you think it’s important for
national associations to try to keep
“When I think
back to my first
does that also apply to women’s
football over the last few years?
approaching. Who do you
think has the best chances?
successful female players in football
after they hang up their boots?
international A lot of countries have made a great deal of
progress. There are more favourites now than
The four best teams have been drawn CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
against each other: Paris against Bayern
in 1982, it really
Because they obviously serve as role 12 years ago. Obviously I’m thinking of France, München, and Lyon against Wolfsburg.
models for young girls and they do what is unbelievable Sweden, Norway, Spain, England and Germany. All of them have the potential to go all Winner of four major
they do first and foremost because they what has But more and more countries have come along the way, but only two of them can get past honours as head coach of
are passionate about it. When you love happened since that are now out to win titles. the quarter-finals. My favourites are Bayern the Germany women’s senior
what you do, you can give it your all. then. Everything München and Wolfsburg.
team over an 11-year period
We’ve had very good experiences of this. has improved; No European team has won the
athletically, Women’s World Cup since 2007. There Clubs are signing lots of top players
As long-standing European wasn’t even a European team in the from Brazil, Japan and the US. To what
champions, the expectations on
tactically and last two finals. Do you think this is just extent is this a challenge for European Coached the side to victory
Germany at Women’s EURO 2017 will technically.” a question of luck or is Europe being clubs and local player development?
at the 2007 Women’s World
once again be extremely high. How overtaken by other countries? If you look at it in a positive light, the overall
do you deal with that pressure? standard is being driven up. Players coming Cup in China, securing Germany’s
Everyone expects you to win. But the teams in from other countries add a lot of quality to second successive title
that ultimately do know only too well how the mix. We just have to make sure that the
hard it is. You need absolute concentration. young players don’t get sidelined or perhaps
It’s hard work and you need a pinch of luck get loaned out. It’s important that they get
too, to come out on top. I have only ever to play. And it’s important that when they’re Masterminded the
taken it one match at a time. Germany at that stage of maximum potential, they’re country’s first-ever gold
certainly have the potential, but it’s never given the opportunity to develop it. That may medal in the women’s Olympic
a foregone conclusion. It has to all come mean they have to play for other teams and
football tournament at Rio 2016
together at the decisive moments. You need push their way through the ranks. But young
to score at the right time, and when you players at teams that sign the big names can
make tactical changes, they have to be the also learn a lot. There are pros and cons, at
right ones. the end of the day. Ultimately each team has Three-time winner of the
to decide for itself.
FIFA Women’s Coach
Which team could cause an
upset at the Women’s EURO? Where do you see women’s of the Year award
Spain, perhaps? The favourites are the football in five years’ time?
four usual suspects: Norway, Sweden, Reaching new heights. Perhaps even faster
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France and Germany. Unfortunately for France, and more athletic. I think there will be even
Capped 111 times for the national
they have still never won a title, despite being more players and bigger squads. In any case,
considered one of the favourites for years I see it advancing. Women’s football hasn’t team during her playing career,
now. They really have first-rate players who had its heyday yet. scoring 48 goals




As Chelsea FC’s development manager, Adi Viveash is the man responsible for
the group of Under-23 players one step away from Antonio Conte’s first team.
Here he reflects on the challenges his young players face and explains his role
in nurturing their talents. He begins, though, by remembering his Chelsea
youngsters’ triumphs in the 2015 and 2016 UEFA Youth League tournaments …

ow beneficial has the When you work with players of that level the second in that we had a lot of more
UEFA Youth League and you put a lot of your own knowledge individually talented players whereas
been for your players? into them, to see them perform at the the second group was probably more of
I think in terms of how highest level makes you extremely proud. a team. But both had tremendous abilities
much you can gain from a I think Andreas, within five months of and characters within the sides. Apart
tournament like that. If you’re looking at playing in the Youth League final against from players progressing into the first
Chelsea as a model then the players have Shakhtar and winning it, was marking team, there is nothing better than
to be adept at playing international teams, Sergio Agüero against Manchester City winning tournaments, especially on the
coming up against different styles, in the competition proper, and that’s the international stage, and we beat some
different cultures and different systems, biggest gauge. There are boys around outstanding teams along the way. A lot
and the feel of the matches, I think, was the first-team set-up now, in Ruben of the players who played over the two
a high level of learning experience for Loftus-Cheek and Dominic Solanke, years are made in Chelsea, especially last
our boys. The biggest testament is what who’ve played for Chelsea in the main year’s [squad] and probably six of the first
you do with the knowledge, and the fact competition as well. It gives you immense year’s group. So it means a lot – they’ve
that so many of those players have now pride and makes you feel in some small worked together for several years to get
kicked on into the senior game all around part that you’ve helped them along their to this stage, and winning is a tremendous
Europe, certainly from the first year we journey to success. form of development. If you’re going
won it, shows that they’ve learned that to play for a top club then you have to
skill set that they probably didn’t have How important was it to know what winning means and certainly
beforehand and added it to their armoury. see your players actually the UEFA Youth League is a major
You come up against players that you win the competition? tournament to win.
don’t come up against week in, week out It’s the equivalent of winning the
in your domestic league and it’s a different Champions League for young players, so How long have you been in
kind of challenge. That’s what you want it’s a major tournament to win. We know the Chelsea youth set-up now?
– you want them to experience different how much hard work went into both I’ve been here nine years and seen a
challenges at a young age. campaigns and we know how difficult it lot of development in the players and
was to achieve success in both. The players obviously myself. I worked with the Under-
How does it feel to see a player knew that as well. They really targeted 12s when I first came here and since then
like Andreas Christensen go on those tournaments, as we did as an I’ve had different roles, including coaching

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and play on a bigger stage as he academy, as [competitions] we wanted to the Under-16s and three years as Under-
has done in the UEFA Champions do well in. We felt we had a really strong 18s lead coach. This is my third season
League with VfL Borussia group of players in both tournaments – coaching the oldest academy age group,
Mönchengladbach? the first year was slightly different to renamed the development squad this

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Adi Viveash consoles

Anderlecht’s Nelson
Azevedo-Janelas after
Chelsea’s semi-final stages. Generally there’s not a lot of in the morning and afternoon; they do gym, be able to work at that level. That is what’s ‘‘Andreas, within five months of playing in the Youth
win last season.
movement with players up and down age and they do individual programmes. They happened with me. I’ve been able to League final against Shakhtar and winning it, was
groups at that age. It is a lot more about keep developing the areas of their game acquire those skill sets as well as being an marking Sergio Agüero against Manchester City in
working on positional movements, etc. where they need to work. They do football ex-player with a 20-year career that helps
the competition proper.’’
because they are still going through their education and programmes outside of here, you understand dressing rooms and
growth stages. and some of them do A-levels. situations that arise and dealing with
Moving further on, with the programme The main difference from the Under-18s certain players.
at Chelsea, from Under-13 now they come to the Under-23s is that the Under-18s
in one day [a week] on a day release from play regularly on a Saturday – so they Can you talk about sports
school so they train here and do their work Monday to Friday and play Saturday. science and how it helps
schooling here. You are getting more of With our age group we can play Friday, you in your planning?
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that into them at a younger age than Saturday, Sunday or Monday, so you have We work with a GPS system so every
when I started. The Under-16s have a to have different programmes and be a bit training session we do is monitored.
full-time programme with full-time school, more inventive with your day-to-day work. Players will wear the heart-rate belts
so they train every day. You’re running them And because you’re the nearest [group] to and it plays quite a big part in our
like a youth team. And with the Under-18s the first team you have to be as close as planning. We produce a daily report and
you’re working the players like you would you can to the real game. Those are the go through that every day before we do
season, and I also coached the Under-19 do in a first-team environment. They train challenges and you need to acquire those our planning for the next day. We can
team in both of the UEFA Youth League every day, they do double training sessions, skill sets as a coach through the years to look at certain areas with players – we
triumphs as part of the role. target them, either through fatigue where
we have to ease off and give them a rest,
Looking at your academy, “It’s very important that they’ve got freedom of or see where we need to step on the gas
are different coaches suited speech. Here we like a two-way, open relationship. with certain players. We also use it in all
to different age groups? How They are able to communicate with us strongly our matches so we can compare against
do you decide who coaches a and that’s built up over the years.” our first-team players, as well as previous
particular age group? years’ players at this age group and also
That’s a decision made by the head of our opposition.
youth development. There are two It’s a big part of our programme,
coaches per age group and it depends on it aids the players, and they’re interested
what skill sets you have got and how in it. They are all learning. We have two
successful you are in all facets of the job – conditioners here with this age group
not just the tournaments, but your who present to the players regularly
day-to-day work and planning. Obviously if and have discussions and look at them,

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you are deemed as being good enough and give them feedback on what they’re
and capable, then you move through the looking at when they look at the data. It’s
age groups. In my time it’s obviously important for them to understand their
been relatively successful and I take that bodies and what it is when it feels like
as being that you have the required skill they are pushing their bodies to the max.
sets that they want at the highest levels
in the academy. That’s the level I am At what age specifically players and if we’re aware of anything
at now, but you do it by doing a good do your youngsters start or see anything then we make sure we
job on a daily basis and showing the using the GPS devices? stay on top of that. With how hard we
requirements needed to work at a club At Under-13 and Under-14, they’d have work every day it’s pretty easy to see if
as big as this in bringing players through trialled it. They’d have used it sometimes somebody is having a difficult time or
into the first-team squad. when they train in the evenings and had they’re a bit run down. But generally
a look at it. With Under-15s, this year there’s the data and just general
How does training differ they’ve used it in certain games. With communication with the players. We
across the different age Under-16s, Under-18s and Under-23s have a very good, open relationship with
groups at Chelsea? you are looking at the data every day. the players here. It’s a two-way thing.
Up to Under-11 they are playing nine-a- Any time anybody spots anything, there
side or seven-a-side, so it is different. Looking at non-football factors are strategic plans in place to give the
In the Under-12s they step up to 11-a-side like schoolwork, diet and sleep, necessary individual the help they need
and generally the level of information you what steps do you take to ensure if they are suffering from anything –
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can give to the players and they can take the boys’ well-being? be it illness, injury, or something personal
on board is slightly different. You’re They get checked in terms of that. off the pitch. There’s a very good structure
working a lot on the core technique There will be checks in the morning here and a couple of staff members
required to be moving through those where the physios are speaking to who work in that department full-time.

12 13

You mentioned the players’ and the fall-out is big as well, so you have “The attention is massive
schooling before. Can you to make sure that you are doing as well and dealing with all that
elaborate on this? as you can to have a back-up plan. and knowing how to handle
Teachers come here from a school in a
that stage of your youth
town nearby, Epsom, and teach players We hear people say that young
on a group or individual basis from players have it easy compared to development is a big
Under-13 upwards. We also have a when you were coming through. problem for some young
relationship with the school next door, But how do the challenges they players and they need a lot
Parkside School in Cobham, whereby face today compare with 20 or of help in those areas.”
the Under-16 boys go in there for part 30 years ago?
of their academic day on certain days Social media means they haven’t just got
of the week. So there is a big academic one coach like we had, or one assistant have to be careful they’re getting the right
programme going on within the academy. manager analysing their performances information all of the time. That is a big
– they’ve got whatever followers they’ve challenge to them as young players.
Is it hard to keep them focused got on Twitter making comments on their
on their school work when they games. Here, every game is filmed and What particular qualities are you
have dreams of becoming most games are shown live so they have looking for in a young player at
professional footballers? a worldwide audience critiquing everything Chelsea? What does a 16-year-old
I see driven players, but the academic they do. There were obviously the pitfalls need to ensure he is kept on?
results for them are very important here. “Social media means they with finances in our day, though not to By the time you are 16 here now you’ve
The top ranks at the academy are certainly haven’t just got one coach the extent there are now. The outside been here eight years, so the people
looking at those exam results very like we had, or one influences away from the game are still making the decisions are forming a
stringently, and they make sure the boys assistant manager analysing a big pitfall and falling into the trap of picture. You’re looking for personality and

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get all the necessary support from the their performances – everything that is out there. But now they for different traits in different positions.
coaches and staff to make sure they get face a big mental challenge because of the There are the usual things – have they
the best results they can. There is a lot
they’ve got whatever exposure, and it means you are all around got a change of pace? Are they a powerful
more emphasis nowadays anyway in followers they’ve got on the world. There is nowhere they can hide. player? Are they a technical player? And
society in general on trying to achieve Twitter making comments You can’t hide, you don’t get a minute’s that is nothing to do with size. They don’t
because football is a precarious industry on their games.” piece as a young player now. Some bring have to be six foot four; they can be five
it on themselves but with others it’s foot four. But is there explosiveness?
Chelsea’s Under-19s in action
nothing to do with themselves. Are they able to take a tackle? Can they during their two victorious
The attention is massive and dealing make a tackle? Can they see a pass? Do UEFA Youth League finals:
with all that and knowing how to handle they show bravery under intense pressure? above against Shakthar
Donetsk (3-2) in 2015 and
that stage of your youth development is What are they like defensively? How are against Paris Saint-Germain
a big problem for some young players they off the pitch? Do they take on tactical (2-1) in 2016.
and they need a lot of help in those areas. information? It is many things. Are they
I think the biggest challenge for football good around the group? What’s their
in the next decade is the influences personality? What’s their home life like?
outside – the support teams that are built We do a lot on [this] so we know a lot
around these top talents now and how from a young age but it’s those
much they start to take over, and does it characteristics that we are looking for.
become something like in American sport Also, is there growth in them? Not in
where the American football quarter-back size, but as a player. Is there still more in
is a major, major person. Look at Tom them and what are the bits you’re going
Brady, the rigmarole around him is just to have to iron out? Obviously they’re
enormous, but they are able to handle young, and to enable them to play at
that. But as a young person they have the highest level, have they got that
a lot of people within their off-field camp, desire to go the extra step? Most of
not just agents but support staff and you the top players around the world are
mavericks, I’d say. There’s a little bit
of a difference with them – a different
“It’s important for them to kind of steely determination. It’s different
in each player but if you see that different
understand their bodies
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quality it’s worth working with every
and what it is when it feels day to try to help them with the other
like they are pushing their bits that don’t come so naturally as the
bodies to the max.” God-given talent.


At what age do they start tournaments. They travel abroad to play it means – three points. It sounds silly,
training with Chelsea? in tournaments from Under-9 onwards as easy as that, but it is [learning] what it
Now they have a training group at and now from Under-12 they play Premier takes to be in a winning dressing room or
Under-7s in our development centres League cups too against teams from other a losing one in competitive matches, and
around London, so kids will go in from academies in England. At Under-16 it is the difference in playing against physical
the age of six. Coaches will work with friendlies apart from when they play the men, 14 or 15 years older than you, and
the Under-7s and identify the players Premier League tournament. senior players. Also can you stamp your
who they think have the skill sets authority on a club that you go to? Can
required to move up. Then they come How important are loan it appear that you are not a loan player,
into Chelsea at Under-8s and then we spells elsewhere for your that you look like one of their players
whittle that down to a group that will young players at Chelsea? but better, if you like?
start in the programme at Under-9s, It’s vital for players to go and experience
and that’s three evenings a week the senior game. If they’re good enough Do you work closely with Antonio
training and then a game on a Sunday. they should be out as early as they can if Conte and his first-team coaching
that is the pathway and it looks now that staff in providing updates on
When do they begin playing playing in the Premier League regularly is players in the academy?
competitive football? getting a bit older. You’re looking at 21, Yeah, obviously the manager has been
You don’t play competitive leagues here 22 in some cases. You have to be playing at quite a few of our games, and we
until Under-18s but they play in a lot of in the senior game to understand what train with them on occasions where we
are playing 11 v 11 training matches with
some of their players. He keeps an eye on
the next group of players coming through
Getty Images and takes a keen interest in the players
Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham is on
loan to Bristol City to gain some out on loan like Andreas Christensen and
first-team experience and hone Tammy Abraham, Kasey Palmer, Charlie
his skills. Colkett. There are many out on loan and a
couple he has in his own squad. So he
takes a keen interest in what’s happening
with them as well as the younger ones in
my group. He wants to know about
them and has seen a few of them in Since Adi Viveash became Chelsea development squad manager at the beginning
his pre-season programme this year. of the 2014/15 season, the following academy players have made their debuts in the senior team:
He’ll be finding out all the key attributes
they’ve got and he has a general interest
in what we’re trying to do and asks very
interesting questions about the work and
we ask the same back about his.


Getty Images
and disappointments? Striker Defender Midfielder Winger Defender Defender Striker Defender
That is a key part of the job. For me (Chelsea (currently on (Chelsea (currently (currently on loan (currently on (currently on loan (Chelsea
you need experience to be able to first-team squad) loan at Borussia first-team squad) on loan at at Bristol Rovers) loan at Brighton at Bristol City) first-team squad)
Monchengladbach) Huddersfield Town) & Hove Albion)
do that properly. You have to have an
understanding yourself. If you’ve been
in the situations they’ve been in, then
you can understand what they are
going through. It is being able to know this level is one of the hardest things experiences you have, the more you are away and think, and other times they may
which players you can use, a different because they are some of the best young able to be very honest and open with directly say they have a different view on it
skill set that you have … being able to players in the world, and then at times players and that’s how I deal with it – I deal – and there’s nothing wrong with that. I tell
cross-challenge, if you like. Sometimes they find their progress blocked by with it by being the same with each one: them we’ve each got our opinion. It’s very
players just come in and have a chat world-class senior players, and that can be always put the players first and deal with important that they’ve got freedom of
with you because they just need an arm difficult to understand. But again, I feel each case individually and just be very speech and here we do allow them … we
around the shoulder and need to feel that is one of the areas I am particularly honest with them. I don’t tell them things like a two-way, open relationship. They are
the support; other times they probably strong in because of the years in the game they want to hear; I tell them things they able to communicate with us strongly and
need to be told things that they don’t that I’ve had and the situations I’ve been need to hear. Sometimes that is something that’s built up over the years of trust that
want to hear. Managing expectations at through personally. The more life that helps, other times it makes them go you have got with the players.

16 17


society as a whole mean that this tends

not to be the case nowadays. Participants
were asked whether this was leading to
a decline in the number of naturally
creative footballers, with fewer players
The coaches of all the clubs involved in this season’s UEFA Youth League were now capable of running at opponents
with the ball.
invited to the House of European Football in Nyon on 20 and 21 March for the
inaugural UEFA Youth League Coaches Forum. Innate talent and development
“It’s true that, with today’s academies
and systems of play, players improve,

total of 75 coaches and heads of tomorrow. As a result, academy and One of the ensuing discussions focused but they also lose the value of that innate
of academies participated in the youth team coaches are spending more on the role of academies, and there was talent,” Mista said. “Academies churn out
first-ever UEFA Youth League time readying their players for the step unanimous support for even greater mechanical players in many cases, and
Coaches Forum, which featured discussions up to first-team duty, thereby playing emphasis being placed on the you lose some of that talent. I think 50%
and debate on coaching trends, the Laws an increasingly important role in young development of young players. of each would be the ideal ratio, so that
of the Game and the role and importance players’ careers. “Academies play a fundamental role, a player can be part of the team dynamic,
of the Youth League, as well as a question and all of us here have the huge but once he takes to the pitch within a
and answer session with UEFA Champions ‘A better chance of succeeding’ responsibility of coaching those players structure, he can play his own football.
League-winning coach Fabio Capello. “In the past, players often had to go and helping them to become the future We sign players because they have innate
All attendees received a certificate into the world of professional football of football,” said Valencia CF coach Mista. talent, so we have to foster that, rather return to Nyon on 21 April with his side
recognising their participation in the and adapt very quickly on the hoof,” “Everything is much more professional than take it away from them.” in the final four of this season’s Youth
event as further education within the said Manuel Jesús Cano Martín, coach now. There is no doubt about that. These Sevilla FC coach Agustín López Páez League. “That forces them to compete at
meaning of Articles 24 and 29 of the of Club Atlético de Madrid’s youth team. days, a player at an academy is already had a contrasting view on the subject, a level exceeding their own ability – which,
UEFA Coaching Convention. “But now, a footballer from the youth semi-professional. That’s the trend within with the forum encouraging coaches to of course, helps their development. I think
The event began with a look at the academy can go in with their Youth football nowadays. Maybe youngsters air their opinions and discuss them with the future of European football looks
technical report on the 2015/16 Youth League experience, having played one will now start to have a lifestyle that’s their colleagues. He said: “I don’t feel like bright, as many young players are
League and a presentation on coaching or two seasons in a competition like this, exclusively dedicated to football at a street football has been ‘lost’. In reality, increasing in value and standing out in
trends by UEFA’s managing director of and they’ll know a lot more about that younger age.” we’re evolving at an incredible rate, and in this major competition.”
technical development, Ioan Lupescu. environment and that atmosphere. They However, what these players may lack practical terms, coaches and coaching staff As part of the two-day forum,
That presentation highlighted the will be much more used to playing at in comparison with previous generations are much better prepared and the players A presentation on the Tralhão and the coaches of the other
variety of playing styles being used that level, which will give them a better is raw talent shaped by the largely are much better prepared. There are still a Laws of the Game by three semi-finalists, Real Madrid CF,
by successful teams at EURO 2016 chance of succeeding.” disappearing phenomenon of street lot of talented players, and they’re getting FC Barcelona and FC Salzburg, all took
and in the Champions League. The presentation also looked at the
UEFA refereeing officer
football. While players of the past were even better. But if we’re going to focus on part in an entertaining friendly match
It is noticeable that the approaches need for coaches to strike a balance brought up playing – sometimes barefoot the essence of what we’ve talked about, Hugh Dallas ensured the at Colovray Stadium – the venue for
adopted by the top teams of today between the players they have at their – on cobbled streets and in alleyways, playing in the village square, we can’t go coaches were up to date the semi-finals and the final. Those four
tend to be reflected in the youth teams disposal and their favoured philosophy. improvements in facilities and across into that kind of teaching, because hardly on recent refereeing issues. footballing pedagogues were exemplary
anyone plays in village squares nowadays! in their respect for one another on the
We have to adapt to how life has changed. pitch, and that will continue when they
I also think it’s positive that, at all the return to Nyon later this month.
various youth academies, there is also A presentation on the Laws of the
work being done at an individual level, Game by UEFA refereeing officer Hugh
with technical development departments Dallas ensured the coaches were up to
helping players to refine their technical date on recent refereeing issues, before
skills. Players nowadays are much better Fabio Capello, who guided AC Milan to
prepared in every way, and we have to the 1993/94 UEFA Champions League title
try to avoid getting confused by this kind and has won domestic league titles in
of terminology.” both Italy and Spain, talked to participants
Participants also had the opportunity about coaching and youth development as
to exchange views on the Youth League part of a round-table discussion (see
and make proposals to UEFA that could interview on next page).
potentially benefit the competition and Capello brought with him an array of
its development. anecdotes and a wealth of advice, and
“This competition is the pinnacle of a the coaches, many of whom are right at
youth player’s development and education the beginning of their careers, certainly
75 coaches and heads process, since – as we all know – they are appreciated his input. They will now be
of academies attended playing against the best in Europe, the seeking to emulate the 70-year-old Italian,
the inaugural UEFA
Youth League Coaches best players of their generation, and armed with all the insight they gained

Forum in Nyon. sometimes older generations,” said SL from the inaugural UEFA Youth League
Benfica coach João Tralhão, who will Coaches Forum.

18 19


A fine art enthusiast, Fabio Capello can look proudly at the wealth of football silverware that
sits alongside the artworks he has acquired over the years. Successful as a midfielder with
AS Roma, Juventus and AC Milan, winning four Serie A titles and earning 32 caps for Italy,
he has gone on to become an outstanding coach, amassing a total of five Italian domestic
championships with AS Roma and AC Milan, and two La Liga titles at Real Madrid CF.

hen you consider that a coach who had made history in Italian career, I worked under Liedholm,
his CV also features football. He had vast experience, and he who made me realise that you can
1994 UEFA Champions had given a lot to the game. always improve technically. To improve
League and UEFA tactically is important, but technique is
Super Cup titles with You studied at the Italian equally important.
Milan, as well as stints coaching the federation’s technical center in
national teams of both England and Russia, Coverciano and gained experience In a discussion with UEFA
it is obvious that Fabio Capello draws from in other sports. That must have last year, Carlo Ancelotti also
a vast reservoir of experience and given you considerable insight mentioned Nils Liedholm as one
knowledge when he talks about football into all aspects of management. of his main mentors, saying he
and coaching – as he did as guest of I worked at Mediolanum Sport [Milan’s didn’t copy him, but still learned
honour at the recent UEFA Youth League multisport club], where I was in charge a lot from him.
Coaches Forum in Nyon. of basketball, ice hockey, rugby and Liedholm was a very calm person,
volleyball. That was actually very important but with great personality. I learned
How did you transition for me, as it helped me to understand the from him the importance of
from player to coach? psychology of different sports, of different understanding the moments that your
I stopped playing in 1980, and I started players, of different ways to approach a team goes through. He always exuded
coaching the 15-year-olds at Milan. match. Milan’s president, Silvio Berlusconi, extreme calm.
I moved on to the 17–18 age group, and sent me on management courses. It was
then the 20-year-olds. I coached youth all hugely valuable. Is it fair to say that a coach
teams for five years. In my opinion, it’s might take inspiration from
very important for coaches with ambition Is there anyone who has had a variety of important sources –
to understand how to manage youngsters. a particular influence on your but, in the end, you still have
coaching career? to be your own man?
When did you have your first I was lucky enough to play at Roma Our job – like the job of any artist –
taste of coaching a first team? under Helenio Herrera, who also is to go around ‘stealing’ and copying.
I became assistant to Milan’s first-team coached the great 1960s Inter Milan team. But after you’ve ‘stolen’ and copied,
coach, Nils Liedholm, in 1987. The He used to say something very simple: you must mould things according to your
president asked me to take charge “You play the way you train.” He said that own ideas. Think of the great artists ...
of the last five matches, and we qualified you can’t train at 60km/h and then think Picasso copied the African artists, and

for the UEFA Cup. Nils Liedholm stayed that you can play at 100km/h on a he became a genius. So, my philosophy
on with us, and I wanted that. He was matchday. Then, at the end of my playing is ‘steal, copy and develop’ ...

20 21

you’re on the pitch. It’s essential to have Capello imparted his wisdom during
a group of players who feel part of the a question-and-answer session at the
UEFA Youth League Coaches Forum in Nyon.
‘I was lucky enough national team and want to win trophies. Below: The Italian won La Liga in 2007 during his
On the other hand, a club manager works second coaching spell at Real Madrid,
to play at Roma under
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on a daily basis and understands how he pipping FC Barcelona to the title.

Helenio Herrera [below], needs to work, what he needs to improve
who also coached the great and where the relevant strengths lie.
1960s Inter Milan team.’ He can work on the team psychologically
when they win and when they lose, so it’s

a daily job. With a national team, the job
is completely different.

Your teams are usually quite

intense and physically well So, you have to be I had two spells at Real Madrid, the second the key role that psychology plays in
prepared. Do you regard specific mentally flexible … of which was after they had gone a few the minds of experienced players …
fitness training as something You can have your own ideas about years without a trophy. That second spell or how it can block them. Our last match
important within general training? football and your own way of managing, gave me the greatest satisfaction, as we was against RCD Mallorca. We were level
You need to find the right balance. In my but you must also understand the won the title in 2007 despite having been on points with Barcelona, but having
opinion, the most important thing is the place that you’re working in – because some way behind FC Barcelona with only a drawn in Barcelona and won at home,
work that you do in pre-season. I have if you don’t, then you’re going to have few matches remaining. we were top of the table. We just needed
always stressed the importance of good huge difficulties. to win the match. However, in the first
pre-season preparation. But this depends Quite an achievement … half, international players – experienced
on the league that you’re coaching in. If you’re coaching abroad, Tell us more about that. players – were playing with fear. They
In England, they are always playing. communication must be I told the team that they were as good weren’t doing anything right. And we
They don’t train as much because they extremely important … as Barcelona, both in terms of strength were one goal down at half-time.
Presse Sports

have to recover. In Spain and Italy, you It can create certain problems, I must say. and in the way they played. I told them that
can do more. It also depends on what When I was with Russia, two players we had to play each match as if it were a So, what did you do at half-time?
competitions you’re in – if you’re taking spoke Spanish and two spoke English. final – and if Barcelona still ended up ahead I usually asked the players not to say a word
part in European competitions and playing My communication with the players was of us, so be it, we would applaud them. for the first four or five minutes. They could
a lot of matches. I keep saying that you always through an interpreter, so you change their kit, wash themselves and do
can plan, but the most important thing can’t always really express what you’re You must have created a fantastic whatever they needed to do. Because if
You’ve managed big clubs and Top left: Fabio Capello’s first senior coaching is the manager’s eye – his ability to feeling inside and wanting to get across – team spirit on that late run … you start talking as soon as you enter the
national teams. What is the major experience came at AC Milan as assistant to understand the team’s level of fitness whether in difficult times or when things There was a unique team spirit – a level dressing room, you risk saying stupid things
Nils Liedholm.
difference for a coach between Above: European Cup-winning coach Helenio and understand whether it’s a physical are going well. of commitment that was almost crazy. because you are nervous. It’s important
coaching a national team and Herrera (right, holding glass) who Capello played issue or a mental one. And nowadays, It’s very important to tell you about that a coach stays calm. I used those four or
coaching a club? under at AS Roma. Below: Capello during his you obviously have to work on things Which of your achievements have
playing days in 1976.
It’s a different job. Managing a national like technique and speed as well. given you the most satisfaction?
team has nothing to do with managing Well, one team that gave me many
a club. A national team manager is lucky How do managers adapt trophies and great feelings of satisfaction
if he has a consolidated block of players when they coach teams was Milan … but that was a team that
who come from one or two clubs, have a in different countries? had already been put together. I changed
winning mentality, have desire, can carry I can say from experience that in Italy, a few things, but the team had already
other colleagues along with them and, you have to adapt to the city where you been built. The biggest struggle for me
above all, can quickly apply your style work. There are significant differences was at Roma, because I had to bring a
of play on the pitch. You also have to between coaching Roma, Juventus and winning mentality to the team.
find leaders in the squad. If you don’t, Milan. If you change countries and go
it’s very difficult. to work in Spain, you have to understand
where you are going. The players are
You only have a short period to used to doing things in a certain way,
work with players for national the football is different, the culture is ‘That second spell at Real
team matches … different, the media are different … Madrid gave me the greatest
If you’re playing on a Thursday, the players There’s a big difference in Italy between satisfaction, as we won the
arrive on the Monday after playing a Rome and Milan, and there’s a bigger
title in 2007 despite having

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league match, so you do nothing that day. difference between Italy and Spain.
On the Tuesday, you have a ‘half’ training If you go and work in England, you been some way behind
session; on the Wednesday, you prepare need to understand where you are, FC Barcelona with only a
for the match; and on the Thursday, what their customs are, and so on. few matches remaining.’


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As coach of the all-conquering

AC Milan side of the 1990s,
Capello lifted the
UEFA Champions League up selling him at Real Madrid! He was so
trophy, masterminding a 4-0
technically skilful at speed – like no other
victory over FC Barcelona in the
1993/94 final. player that I’ve seen. Over 30 metres,
he did things at full speed, starting
and stopping, changing direction …

You’ve come to UEFA for the UEFA

Youth League Coaches Forum.
At the clubs where you’ve worked,
have you been able to dictate the
philosophy and decide how to
develop young players?
At every club where I’ve coached, when
I arrived, I always asked for four or five
youngsters from the academy to train
with the first team. Sometimes, we would
speak with the person responsible for the
youth system to assess who deserved to

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be training with the first team. In this way,
‘I have never accepted compromises. The team is my you would find out about young players’
responsibility. You need to have a strong personality. characters and how they would adapt.
You have to be fair, but you need to have the strength of
character to stand your ground when you’re in the right.’ What if they had difficulty
If, after training with us, they behaved Where is the limit for a coach in advanced in the area of statistics, and the best. A manager has to be able to
five minutes to think about how to change And on this particular occasion? arrogantly, we would react by not calling making such compromises with through things like heart rate monitors, understand the potential of his team.
things around, because a tactical switch You can’t always act the same way to them up for first-team training. They then owners and players? and especially with the use of video
is simple, but there are also times when change things around. There are times understood that if we did call them back, I have never accepted compromises. technology, which allows you to watch Finally, what would you say is
you have to work on the psychology of when you have to shout to wake the they would have to give more – that they The team is my responsibility. You need and prepare your team, and then helps the hardest thing for a manager?
the team. players up … but in a moment of fear, had to change. What happens, therefore, to have a strong personality. I think you you to sell your ideas to them. Choosing the starting 11, deciding who
what do you do? What do you say? is you find out that one player is ready have to be fair, but you need to have the will sit on the bench and who will be in
I used that time to think. Should I get for the first team, while another might strength of character to stand your ground What about playing systems? the stands – that’s the hardest thing. It’s
upset? Should I laugh? Should I talk perhaps need to be sent out on loan [to when you’re in the right. Because if you I don’t believe that you can play just a matter of courage and having a winning
quietly? Usually, I would stand up and another club] to gain experience. There give in – with the players, as well – you one system. It depends what players mentality. The coach has to have the
tell the players to do this or that. This are young players who have character show your weak points. We’re judged you have. I always say that you have to courage to choose. He must be brave and
time, since the players were showing fear, and go out on the pitch with no fear, on how we treat the star players, how make your wine using the grapes that understand why a player who is perhaps
I asked one of them to make space for me and there are others that don’t have we treat the young players, how we you have. You can’t produce champagne only at 85% might – or might not –
and I sat down. I was sat at the same level such self-confidence. behave after a loss or a win, what our or a Bordeaux with every kind of grape. perform better than another player.
as they were. I simply told them that we’d reactions are, and so on. You’re constantly So, you have to look at the grape that you And you have to understand players’
done something unbelievable and asked How different is managing players under scrutiny, so you need to be have, and you have to be smart enough worth. If you don’t understand the real
why we should gift Barcelona the title now in comparison with the past? extremely careful and prepared. I treat to understand it. You have to find the value of your players, you can’t help them
now. I said: “Go out on the pitch and The difference is huge. Many things need stars and youngsters the same way. formation that makes your players perform to improve.
play like you do in training.” That’s all. to be taken into consideration. In some No one has ever asked me: “Why aren’t
I didn’t say anything else. And we came respects, managing the group was easier you saying the same thing to that guy?”
back to win, meaning that we were then. There were no agents, so clubs or “Why can that guy do that?” In a team,
crowned champions. could manage all of the whims that today’s we’re all equal – all of us – if we want to
players have under the influence of their win. If you don’t want to win … then
Are there any players you agents. They were also more relaxed times: accept compromises.
have coached that stand out? there was a president who took decisions,
The greatest player I’ve ever coached is How do you see the game evolving

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and the manager was in charge of the
the Brazilian Ronaldo, although I ended team. Nowadays, you have agents, and in tactical and technical terms in
club owners come from countries with the future?
different cultures. The rules have changed, I believe that football will be more tactical
Getty Images

Left: Capello coached Brazilian great Ronaldo and that makes life difficult for a coach. in the future, so we need to be more
at Real Madrid during the 2006/07 season. tactically aware, better prepared and
Bottom right: His most recent coaching role was
as Russian national team manager between 2012 At some stage, a coach may technically faster. There will be a need for
and 2015. have to make some compromises. much more focus on the pitch. We’re very




Having been pipped at the post in the final last year, Jesús Velasco led Inter FS to victory
in the UEFA Futsal Cup this season, earning the Spanish club their fourth European title.
Velasco looks back on his team’s road to success and offers his take on the evolution of
the indoor game, drawing on a wealth of experience both in Italy and his native Spain.

nter FS last lifted the UEFA Since you joined Inter in 2012, the playing three matches in three days in
Futsal Cup in 2009. After falling club has won countless trophies the Spanish Cup. It’s a very useful way
at the final hurdle in 2016, in Spain without ever managing of helping us prepare for the challenge
how do you explain your to lift the UEFA Futsal Cup. Did of the finals.
success this season? your recent victory fill you with
One of the main reasons is that, this more relief than joy? The 2017 finals were played
season, virtually all our players arrived From a personal point of view, it made in Almaty, Kazakhstan, more
at the final tournament in good physical me very happy. It was a great moment. than 8,000km from Madrid,
shape, in contrast to last season. The But from a professional perspective it also with a four-hour time difference
final that we lost in 2016 also helped felt like a huge weight had been lifted. between the two cities. Did
us enormously to prepare for this year’s The club has UEFA Futsal Cup ambitions this make the journey and
comeback, when we were determined virtually every season and to have finally preparing for the competition
to take our revenge. won it is a huge relief, both for me and for more difficult?
the club as a whole. Inter FS is a club made Given the distance, we tried to find
Was the team better equipped to win titles, and the Futsal Cup is the the quickest way of flying between
to win this season? most prestigious there is, so it was about the two cities and looked into chartering
We were able to prepare better in time we won it after several years of a direct flight to Almaty. But we gave
numerous ways. We approached the missing out. up on that idea in the end because it
competition differently, with a clearer was too expensive. We took a regular
idea of what we had to do to win it. The UEFA Futsal Cup finals are flight in the end, with a stopover in
The fact that the players were injury-free a unique tournament, with two Frankfurt. We arrived in Kazakhstan
was also a major factor. matches – semi-finals and final – three days before the semi-finals, to
in the space of three days, against give us time to recover from the journey
the best clubs in Europe. How do and get used to the time difference.
“All coaches know they you prepare for such intense, Everything went as planned and the
have to win matches, but high-level competition? players were in perfect physical
Our training method is fairly intense, condition for both matches.
it’s even more the case at which means that our players can recover
Inter than elsewhere. Here, Do you think the standard at

very quickly. Playing two high-level

if you lose three matches matches in three days is not a problem the UEFA Futsal Cup finals is
in a row, it’s a disaster.” for our team because we are used to the highest in the world?


I don’t think you’ll find a better standard “I would like to see the coached him for a number Ricardinho and his team-mates took it to the
anywhere else today. It’s the moment of seasons now? wire against Kairat in the semi-finals in Almaty
game get faster in the but snatched a 3-2 win.
when the top clubs reach their peak, all future. However, I’m afraid It’s the type of goals he scores that
aiming to become European champions. makes Ricardinho so special. He has it all:
it’ll become slower unless
As winners, we will never forget the 2017 the physical qualities needed to make quick on this system a lot in training. Because we
edition, of course. On both technical and the rules change.” changes of pace, technical skills that enable win most of our matches, our opponents
tactical levels the standard was very high him to beat three opponents in one move, often play without a goalkeeper towards
and all four teams stood a genuine chance and tactical intelligence that helps him to the end, in an attempt to get back into
of winning. For all these reasons, I believe Do you think he’s on a different find space on the pitch. I’m used to seeing the match, and we’ve developed strong
this year’s edition was the best so far. level to the rest of your squad? him score goals like that now and pull off tactical discipline that helps us to take
He’s a player like any other, in the sense other incredible moves. advantage of our opponents’ mistakes
Portugal’s Ricardinho was that he’s part of the team, but at the same and score from a long way out, as we
man of the match in both your time you can say he’s on a different level He’s a very creative player. did in the final against Sporting.
games in this year’s finals. What because he does extraordinary things on As a coach, do you try to give
role did he play in your victory? the pitch. He’s extremely creative, which him as much freedom as possible? With four titles, Inter have won
Ricardinho played a vital role in our – combined with his intelligence, technical I give him very general instructions. the UEFA Futsal Cup more times
success. When he’s at his best, he can skill and physical strength – makes him a He assimilates our game plan perfectly, than anyone else. What is it like
make a huge difference, especially in very special player. He plays for the team, both defensively and in attack, but he to work at such a prestigious club?
attack. He’s also able to defend with fits in perfectly with our style of play and also has plenty of freedom to do what Firstly, I have an advantage over other
high intensity. He was determined to often finds ways of breaking the deadlock he wants. Sometimes, this can cost us coaches because our club has greater
shine and to finally lift the UEFA Futsal when matches are tight. goals, because he makes a mistake and resources than the others, which means
Cup with Inter. He showed that he loses the ball in a dangerous area, but we we can build a large squad of high-calibre
could be relied on when it mattered When he scores an outstanding have to let him take risks so that he can players. I have the privilege of being able
and was one of our keys to victory. goal like the 2-2 equaliser produce those game-changing moments. to choose from a squad of 15 players, all
against Kairat Almaty in the of whom are capable of being first-team

He has already been voted the semi-final, are you still taken regulars. But it’s also a huge responsibility,
In last season’s final, Jesús Velasco and his team
world’s best player four times aback or does nothing he does lost out to Russian debutants Ugra Yugorsk, because the team is expected to win titles
(in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016). surprise you any more, having who beat the hosts 4-3 in Guadalajara. every season. All coaches know they have
to win matches, but it’s even more the
case at Inter than elsewhere. Here, if you
In this season’s final, after a lose three matches in a row, it’s a disaster.
tight opening period, Inter
dominated against Sporting CP, The Spanish championship is very
coming out 7-0 winners. In the last competitive, with a large number
few minutes, you got three goals of teams competing for the title.
with long-distance shots from Is it an advantage at European
your own half, while your level to be playing high-level
opponents were without a matches on a regular basis?
goalkeeper. Is this a tactic you Playing in a tough league is an advantage
work on a lot in training? as long as it doesn’t mean your players
It’s something we’re working on more suffer injuries as a result, as has been
and more. In futsal, you can put an the case for us over the last two seasons.
outfield player in goal, which is something In a very competitive league, you have
that a lot of teams often do to give them tighter games, they’re more physical
a numerical advantage on the pitch and injuries can mount up. It’s tricky if
when they have possession of the ball. four or five of your players are injured
Personally, I’m not a big fan of it, but for important occasions such as the
we have to be adaptable and we work UEFA Futsal Cup finals.

“I think opportunities to bring the goalkeeper out

should be limited and it should only be done by teams


that want to score goals rather than those that just

want to keep hold of the ball, which is sometimes the
case at the moment.”

28 29

“At the top level, futsal Championships are also being

and football are very introduced in 2018. Are you
different. But there are pleased to see UEFA doing
some areas in which we more with futsal?
These are very important decisions, and
can learn from each other: ones that have been well received in the
training methods, technical futsal world. UEFA wants to develop our
work, individual tactics, sport and, in the years to come, there
attacking play, and so on.” should be more and more teams not only
in the men’s competitions but also in the
women’s and youth events. It’s our job
to make futsal a spectacular sport that
You coached in Italy for a number attracts spectators. Futsal is already a
of seasons. Is there a real cultural fascinating sport to watch when it’s played
difference between Italian and at a fast pace. When it’s slower, it’s much
Spanish futsal? less interesting for everyone. Futsal needs
Italian futsal is more physical and the to be spectacular to keep everyone happy.
playing systems there are less flexible than
in Spain. The players are very disciplined Inter have links with Club

and have less room for manoeuvre, Atlético de Madrid. Do you have
whereas Spanish players have more any contact with Atlético coach
freedom and can be creative. Also, the Diego Simeone and his staff?
standard of goalkeeping in Spain is the The two clubs are linked at administrative
With nine domestic titles under his belt – six from Italy and three from Spain – Velasco had his sights
best in the world, which makes it more level and they’re working on a cooperation firmly set on European glory.
difficult to score goals. agreement, but I don’t know yet what
exactly it’s going to involve. I’ve never
What have been the biggest spoken to Diego Simeone, but he’s “In my 20-year career, I’ve the work of football coaches,
changes in futsal since you clearly someone I would like to talk to. never run the same training and vice versa?
began coaching in the 1990s? He’s a coach who can instil a lot in his session twice. You always At the top level, the two sports are
The rule changes have had a big impact. players, so it would be great to establish very different. But there are some
Before, the goalkeeper wasn’t allowed
have to keep the players areas in which we can learn from each
professional links with him.
to leave the area and there was a lot on their toes and guide other: training methods, technical
more room in the attacking third. Generally speaking, can futsal them towards achieving work, individual tactics, attacking play,
Now, goalkeepers can come out, there’s coaches draw inspiration from the club’s objectives.” and so on.
less space, and that’s made it easier
to defend. The opportunity to attack Do you watch other indoor
with five outfield players against four team sports, such as handball
also makes the closing stages of or basketball, for inspiration?
matches more exciting. The main reason I watch these sports
is because I enjoy sport in general.

In what areas have futsal I think you can learn things anywhere
players improved the most and it’s important to always be
in recent years? thinking about what you can learn
They have improved both strategically from watching a coaching session
and physically. These days, players are at youth level, or one in handball,
tactically very disciplined and much take advantage of dead-ball situations I think opportunities to bring the volleyball or some other sport. If you
stronger physically; they’re quicker, and have strong ‘5 v 4’ [flying goalkeeper] goalkeeper out should be limited think creatively, you can get ideas
more resilient and more powerful. tactics. Futsal is a great sport to watch and it should only be done by teams from almost any sport. As a coach,
when it’s fast-moving, when there that want to score goals rather than you should always be trying to improve
How do you see the game of are plenty of one-on-ones, when the those that just want to keep hold of and reinvent yourself. In my 20-year
futsal developing over the next ball moves quickly from one end to the ball, which is sometimes the case career, I’ve never run the same training
few years? the other … at the moment. session twice. You always have to
I would like to see the game get faster in keep the players on their toes and
the future. However, I’m afraid it’ll become What rules would you change In 2018/19, the UEFA Futsal Cup guide them towards achieving the
slower unless the rules change. At the to ensure that futsal develops will be renamed the UEFA Futsal club’s objectives. Coaching is a great

moment, coaches can do little more in the way you would like it to? Champions League. European way to spend your days. I love what
than make sure their teams defend well, That’s a difficult question. For example, Women’s and Under-19 Futsal I’m doing right now!

30 31

FOOTBALL’S NEW FRONTIER 29 pass completion
The flood of data and statistics into football has been one of the big changes the sport has
witnessed since the turn of the century. But how do coaches and clubs make sense of it all? sprints 7,225m

I 2.6
n football there’s an overflow of more at our internal model rating, which Palacios-Huerta, for advice on playing

8 goal attempts
useless data, like pass completion is a better indicator of how the team is games at Athletic’s new-but-not-quite-
rates and possession stats. Part of the developing than a snapshot of the table. finished San Mamés stadium in 2013/14.
problem is that people start with the We know there’s so much randomness Behind one goal, a new stand was not
data, not with the questions, and as
a consequence they end up answering
in football that you rarely get what you
deserve, and the head coach knows this.
ready and, contrary to the expectations of
Valverde and his players, they learned from goals
per game 4 Off target
questions no one has asked.” He understands that being number one Palacios-Huerta that statistics – some
These are the words of FC Midtjylland in the table while performing as number taken from Rayo Vallecano’s experience
chairman Rasmus Ankersen. Midtjylland five in our model rating is not acceptable. of an identical situation – suggested
are a club whose analytics-based approach “We look at what all football teams they would have more success attacking
not only won them a first Danish Super seek to do – to create as many high- the wall of the unfinished stand,
League title in 2015 – it has also placed probability scoring opportunities as than the spectator-filled end of the
them at the forefront of what some would possible and reduce the number of ground opposite.
call football’s quiet revolution. Some of it scoring opportunities conceded,” he adds. “Getting that answer was crucial to
may be “useless”, as Ankersen puts it, but “We know there’s a lot of randomness in us because the stand was going to take
amid the reams and reams of data now conversion rates and, as a consequence, most of the season to complete and the
out there, there is much that is useful – a team’s ability to consistently get into information would help us plan which
and fewer clubs across the continent work positions where the probability of scoring goal we chose to attack in the first half,”
harder than Midtjylland to apply is high and prevent the opponent from Valverde later recounted. “We talked it
it to their benefit. doing it against you is, over time, more over with the players and they said that
If analytics is football’s brave new predictive of how a team is doing and is if we were more likely to score in the goal
world, then Midtjylland are out there in likely to do in the future than its league against the wall then that’s the direction
the advance party, exploring uncharted position at that particular moment. they’d like to be going in the first half.
territory. “Being able to collect and Results can easily swing between 10 And it must have worked because by
interpret data is a key skill in recruitment, and 15 points over a season solely down the end of the season we had qualified
sports science, coaching and medical to randomness.” for the Champions League.”
departments,” says Ankersen as he The Midtjylland approach is undeniably
begins to underline the Midtjylland ethos. different, but all around Europe clubs are The first steps 
The club’s majority shareholder is Matthew increasingly influenced by analytics. Just The Numbers Game, a thought-provoking
Benham, owner of the English second-tier take this example from Ernesto Valverde, book by Chris Anderson and David Sally,
team Brentford FC, and a man who earned the new FC Barcelona coach. During his describes analytics as “football’s newest
his wealth as creator of Smartodds, time in charge of Athletic Club, Valverde frontier”. Mapping the early milestones,
a company which used mathematical consulted an econometrics professor at it notes the arrival of Opta Sports in
models to predict football results. the London School of Economics, Ignacio English football in the mid-90s, followed
This approach is quite at odds with by such early market leaders as Prozone,
traditional thinking, explains Ankersen, also in England, and Amisco in France.
and it involves far more than, for instance, Paul Boanas remembers those early days at
the employment of a specialist kicking Prozone when the company worked with
coach to work with players. “four or five teams” in the Premier League
“Fundamentally we believe that ‘the and he and his colleague would sit in front
league table lies’,” he elaborates. “When of TV monitors “tracking the movement
we’re evaluating progress, we’re looking of the players on the field and inputting
whether it was a shot, cross or pass.”
Today, Boanas is director of sales of

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Catapult Sports, a provider of scientifically

At each UEFA match, a venue data coordinator validated metrics for clubs around the
collects all the match statistics. world, via its GPS tracking devices.


He reflects on the boom his industry and helps assess an individual player’s
has witnessed: “There are so many data workload to reduce the risk of overdoing it.
analytics companies, tracking companies, It is not just the biggest clubs who
etc., looking at football and thinking, benefit. AFC Flyde, a club in the northwest
‘We’ll develop something now that will of England, newly promoted to the fifth
revolutionise the world. Frankly, it will not’.” rung of the English ladder, recently
For Boanas, revolution may not be the signed up for a GPS system. “Clubs in
right word – yet he believes the technology lower divisions can wear a device and
available today does make a telling impact get accurate monitoring of their players
and quotes Arsène Wenger, who once
“At every training session
in a game, whereas before they couldn’t
said, “There are 22 players on the field and afford a ProZone or Amisco tracking they wear the vest and
I have two eyes”. This naked-eye view has system that was based on a camera and every player has an
been enhanced, he says, following FIFA’s video system,” Boanas explains. Indeed electronic card, where all
2015 decision to permit the wearing of GPS one of the company’s systems, Playertek, their training session data

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devices in matches albeit with the proviso even caters for “sub-elite players” as is kept.”
that the resulting data could not be viewed Boanas puts it, sending ten metrics – such
during the action. “Managers can now as distance covered, sprint distance, players’ Oleg Yarovinsky
get data at half-time and full time about power output, etc. – to their mobile phone. Sporting director of CSKA Moskow
how a player has ‘performed’,” adds
Boanas, those inverted commas his own. Daily gains
“It does help bring some accountability. Xabier Ruiz de Ocenda works as an analyst Moskva and he explains: “We have to injury, for example, we can show him at CSKA they still believe in the human
Just because you’ve run better doesn’t at Real Sociedad de Fútbol in the Spanish keep the training intensity at least at 85% whether the intensity he’s training at is eye also, particularly when it comes
mean you’ve performed better but you top flight, and he offers an insight into the of the playing intensity and to understand enough. If there’s a problem we speak to recruitment. “I strongly believe live
can look at a heat map and say, ‘Are you day-to-day application of technology within that you have to use the data. During to the player; if there’s no problem we observation cannot be replaced by any
in the right position? Is your high intensity the club’s first-team squad. a training session where there’s a high don’t need to put something extra into TV observation,” says Yarovinsky. “It’s like
“As well as the GPS and
work in the right areas of the field?’” Match data is far more complex than intensity, your eyes cannot see how intense their heads.” with dating – a live conversation cannot be
Today Catapult Sports provides GPS heart-rate data … we try mere ball possession – “it’s also, for each player’s work is so we use the data In CSKA’s case, they receive their data replaced by anything, but social networks
systems for some of the world’s biggest to link the objective example, whether the play is more for that. from InStat, a popular provider for Russian somehow help young people to get more
football clubs – Real Madrid CF, FC Bayern performance output with a direct or possession-based or involving “At every training session they wear top-flight sides. “InStat provides us with information. In any case you want to meet
München, Paris Saint-Germain and player’s feeling so that we counterattacks,” he explains, and there the vest and every player has an electronic information about opponents,” he adds, the person and see them in real life.”
Celtic FC. At this elite level, a club’s GPS have the whole picture.” are also metrics to help with the players’ card, where all their training session data explaining that this goes to all core Back at Midtjylland, Rasmus Ankersen
equipment is tailored according to their conditioning. is kept. When a player is coming back from members of the coaching staff. And yet takes a different view. Data is vital, he
needs and can include such metrics as Xabier Ruiz de Ocenda “As well as the GPS and heart-rate data,
PlayerLoad, which measures explosiveness Analyst at Real Sociedad we also want to know, with RPE [Rating

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of Perceived Exertion], how a player feels
before, during and after training and A COACH’S VIEW time and how they’re doing their job without the ball,
competitive matches. We try to link and that’s also really important for me.
Statistics showed that Athletic Club would have
more success attacking the wall of the unfinished the objective performance output with  Lars Lagerbäck “Our team meeting is normally not more than 40
stand at their new-but-not-quite-finished San a player’s feeling so that we have the Norway national team coach minutes long. As well as looking at the opposition, when
Mamés stadium. it comes to our defending, I use some PowerPoint clips
whole picture.
“Before each training session we ask from the last game or two – this could be 10 or 25 minutes
the player about their psychological  “It was around 1998 or ’99 that we started working with depending on the opponent or how well we’ve been
and physical condition,” he continues. PowerPoint presentations with the Swedish national team and doing things.
“Whenever we detect an anomaly, a year or two later, our then analyst, Paul Balsom, introduced “Regarding data, I find all statistics are useful to me as
we talk to the player and medical computers to our work. a coach. I do look into it but there’s very little I use for the
department, to understand it better and “Today, working with the Norway national team, my analyst players – it’s more helpful to give me as clear a picture as
to adapt the workload of the session for takes all the defensive and offensive set-pieces of our opponent’s possible of our performance. I don’t go into it with the
that particular player. In short, we talk last seven matches, along with all the scoring chances, and from players unless it’s something really special – like the
with them regularly and show them the that we pick out the examples we want. one v one situations, as this is a decisive part of the game.
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data that’s put up on the dressing-room “Sometimes we pick out other things. When I was coaching “Perhaps the most important thing for me with data is
wall. And if it’s a more individual matter, Iceland and we played the Netherlands in EURO 2016 qualifying, I can give players feedback and they don’t just think it’s my
we’ll call them to discuss it.” we did something special on how to play against Arjen Robben. opinion. With statistics and video analysis you can easily
Oleg Yarovinsky concurs that the capacity With the Dutch style of playing, it’s so important that you don’t pick out different situations and show them to the players
to measure a player’s workload is one of sell yourself one v one so after the first game we took out a lot and say, ‘You did this right and that wrong’. Overall, my
the big pluses of this new technology. of clips of one v one situations and we emphasised this. experience is if you give players too much information it
Yarovinsky is the sporting director of “As for my own players, we film each match ourselves with can have the opposite effect and be too much so they
Russian Premier League side PFC CSKA a wide picture where we can see all the outfield players all the don’t take it on board.”

34 35


IN NUMBERS says, when assessing potential new signings.

For a start it helps to measure the merits of
teams from different countries and so allows
The players of Danish club
FC Midtjylland wear GPS
devices during matches.

for a better understanding of the level

that would-be signings are performing at.
“Primarily we use it to compare the strength

of teams in different leagues,” he explains. they could identify players who have midfield at Wolfsburg, had similar stats
“That’s very hard to do with the human similar attributes. You go through the but in Germany, where he was in a very
eye, and good models are often a lot more process, look at which attacking attacking team and where the average
The number of passes accurate. It’s important to know if we’re midfielders score 15 goals a season, goals per game at that time was
made by Real Madrid’s recruiting a player from a team at a higher make five to ten assists per season, can something like 2.9 per game. In the
TONI KROOS, level or a lower level than us, and run 11–12km per game and can average Premier League the average was about
the most of any
player during we believe that we’re very good at 70–80 passes per game. You can come 2.6 and Chelsea were not creating to the
measuring that.” up with a list of players that fit within same degree. So there’s nothing to say

FC Midtjylland
the campaign
Midtjylland also carry out detailed that sphere but you’re looking at different that Diego can do those things as well
checks on the character of prospective leagues and different teams. That is if you put him into a team that doesn’t
signings. “Personality is a huge thing difficult and there’s also the context have as many chances and doesn’t play
for us,” he adds. “We don’t want any of what happened around Lampard at as open. There are just so many variables
cultural misfits. The best way to find Chelsea so you need to look at the data but context is key and using techniques
601’ out the real character of someone is to around two defensive midfielders sitting like cluster analysis to look at units
The number of minutes speak to people who’ve played with him ‘We’re behind the US’ behind him that enabled Lampard to do within a team can be vital to project
played by Salzburg’s and experienced him when he’s at his best “Historically you don’t have people with what he did. player performance when recruiting.
CHRISTIAN SCHWEGLER and his worst. We don’t really believe too a mathematical background at football “So you have to look at what those “Everything with data and small
during the qualifying stages, much in interviewing the player himself clubs; certainly on the technical side that is around him did to allow him the freedom gains is about minimising your risk,”
the most of any player
because he’s likely to give us the answer very rare,” he adds. “There are weaknesses to do the attacking side of things. he continues. “It is giving you a slightly
he thinks we want to hear. In my opinion, within the data and a lack of expertise That was one aspect. Then you look at better chance of succeeding. It might be
the best way to do a job interview is on the technical side helping us to other countries and other players and, 1% or 2%but you’re not changing the
when the person doesn’t know he’s being interpret the data and make meaning for instance Diego, the Brazilian attacking whole system. There’s no magic formula.”
interviewed, and that’s why we do a lot out of it. It still feels like we’re five or ten
of work collecting confidential references years behind North American sports in
142,345m from people who know him very well.”
Midtjylland’s approach may appear
terms of how we are using data for
decision-making.” UEFA SUPPLYING THE STATS
The distance covered extraordinary but there is no doubting According to Esteva, the long-term
by KOKE for Atletico, the increasing belief in the importance “We’re up to around 2,300 games each Europa League finals and the Super Cup.
approach required for data – big samples
the most of any player
during the campaign of analytics across the football world. take several years to accumulate – means season,” says Andy Lockwood, UEFA’s Lockwood explains: “We work with
In England, Arsenal FC went so far as this can be overlooked by some coaches, data services manager, as he reflects a company which deploys an optical
to buy the Chicago-based sports analytics whose job insecurity leaves them thinking on the European governing body’s work tracking system at these matches.
company StatDNA and bring it in-house. in the short term only. Yet his own work in gathering data for each match played There’s an operator at the game and
Last November, Liverpool FC appointed includes helping more curious clubs find in its competitions. “UEFA has a when the teams come out on to

27 venue data coordinator (VDC) at the pitch they tag each player
The highest number of as their sporting director Michael Edwards, specific answers. He explains: “We will go
successful crosses made
who had arrived at the club originally as to a team and say, ‘What theories do you every match and the minimum and the cameras follow
by one player, Juventus’
DANI ALVES head of analytics. have that you want to support or blow data gathered is the the players. Every player

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And yet according to Rob Esteva, director out of the water?’ If we look at the high line-ups, yellow and red is followed in terms of
of The Stats Zone, we are still just at the press, for instance, we’ll ask, ‘Are your cards, substitutions and distance covered, speed,
beginning of the process of mining this players chasing the ball down efficiently goalscorers – the key events sprints, and passing. There’s
rich seam of information. Esteva, who from the time the opposition defender that the referee validates a heat map and a plan
once worked with Matthew Benham gets the ball? How many seconds does it after the game,” he showing where their passes
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at Brentford, says even the biggest clubs take the nearest man to close him down? adds,– “together with shots, went on the pitch. The clubs
are still finding their way. “Elite clubs are Is he positioning himself correctly so he corners, offsides and fouls. receive PDFs of this tracking data
beginning to recognise the fact that the can stop the defender from playing an Information such as the timings of for all their players, and we also send

98% 22 mainstream data available to them does easy pass?’” events and the reasons for bookings is the feeds to the clubs so they can
The highest not necessarily fully cater to their needs. Another example he proffers concerns used by the administration and the integrate them directly into their
The highest pass average number I fully expect that more will follow the the use of data in player recruitment: disciplinary unit.” systems. This is private. It is beyond what
completion rate of any of attempts on goal trend of building their own data collection “I worked on a project with Chelsea This is the bare minimum, and UEFA the broadcasters and other media are
player who made more per game during
than 100 pass attempts, the qualifying systems and working to their own sets of several years ago as they knew they had collects rather more extensive data from allowed to use and is reserved for the
achieved by Real Madrid’s stages, achieved by definitions that suit their style of play, to replace Frank Lampard at some point Champions League and EURO matches, clubs’ performance analysts to look at.”
MATEO KOVAČIĆ PORTO FC and players.” and wanted to use data to look at how


of the participants at EURO 2016, the transitions into attacking mode. There
report adds: “The flow of goals in the “It was were other examples and overall, just
2016/17 season contradicted the theory refreshing below 20% of the goals scored in open
that today’s exhaustive levels of scouting play in the Champions League could be
and match analysis might encourage
to see so many directly attributed to counterattacking.
coaches to focus on pre-empting the teams playing As for the Europa League, the fact that
opposition’s attacking play.” high-tempo only four of the ten teams who had most
football with great changes possession in matches reached the last
The direct route of play. We saw lots of 16 of the competition highlights this
As regards the specific brand of attacking goals, and I hope that this is same tendency. In the final itself, winners
football on display in 2016/17, Fabio Manchester United had only 33% of
a trend that will continue.”
Capello, speaking in Cardiff, described a the ball against Ajax.
move away from the Barcelona-inspired Thomas Schaaf Another of UEFA’s technical observers,
possession game. “We are certainly seeing UEFA technical observer the former Finland striker and coach
an evolution in that the teams who opt Mixu Paatelainen, says in the Europa
for the Barcelona possession-based style League report: “Teams have that fast
that set the trends a few years ago now transition when they win the ball and
seem to be running into difficulties,” said pass it forward, instead of taking their
the Italian, a Champions League-winning time, and I think the onus now in football,
coach with Milan in 1994. “This is normal. for success, is: ‘What happens when you
Any successful model – the elements win the ball? Can you win territory, can
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implemented by Arrigo Sacchi, Johan you beat men early and quickly?’ Possibly
Cruyff or Pep Guardiola, for example – there will be an increase of long balls in
is analysed in depth. I would say that, the future, because if you just pass it short
now, the trend is that if you win the ball, or sideways, teams will throw themselves
you immediately run at the opponents into their compact unit, and it’s very
while they are out of balance and can be difficult to break that.”
surprised. The key is to win the ball quickly As well as quick, long passes forward,
and then mount direct collective attacks, one trend detected in the Champions
entering the penalty area quickly.” A case League was the sight of attackers staying
in point were Juventus, one of Capello’s high up the pitch to disturb their
former clubs, who based their run to the opponents’ build-up and try to force

TAKING THE FAST TRACK TO GOAL final on proficient defending and quick the rival goalkeeper to play long,

UEFA’s technical reports on its 2016/17 elite club competitions highlight a trend for GOALS, GOALS, GOALS
quick, counterattacking football – and a record number of Champions League goals.

The unprecedented number of goals in the Champions League – As for the most productive time for scoring goals, in the Champions
ositive attacking football is firmly for thought, with the prevalence of swift summed up by experienced German 380 at a rate of 3.04 per game – meant that the competition’s global League it was the period from 46 to 60 minutes, while in the Europa
in fashion. This is the uplifting transitions just one significant trend noted coach Thomas Schaaf. audience was offered one goal per 31 minutes of play. According to League it was from 61 to 75 minutes. Yet when goals scored in
message to draw from UEFA’s by UEFA’s technical observers, who also “It was refreshing to see so many teams UEFA’s technical report: “[This] balance represented an increase of added time are included in the 76–90 minutes period, this becomes
technical reports on last season’s highlighted the importance of wing play playing high-tempo football with great 9.5% in comparison with the previous season but the goalscoring the most fruitful period – yielding 21% of goals in the Champions
men’s club competitions, which as a route to goal – albeit a route more changes of play,” Schaaf says in the pattern registered an unusual variation. The group stage produced League and 22% in the Europa League.
found ample evidence that the quick and commonly taken these days by full-backs technical report. “All of us who are two goals fewer than in 2015/16. And the season ended with If that stat suggests an emergence of similar patterns in
direct counterattacking football currently than old-fashioned wingers. They fascinated by football could see lots record-breaking figures because nets were ruffled on 102 occasions the two competitions, so too does the dead-ball goals tally: 24%
in vogue goes hand in hand with a fast identified an increase in the use of longer of duels, one-on-one situations, deep during the knockout rounds, compared with 67 in the previous was the total for both the Champions League and the knockout
flow of goals. balls too, and a changing relationship running, fast vertical attacking and an season – a massive increase of 52%.” stage of the Europa League.
To underline the point, for the first time between forwards in the same team. emphasis on creating chances. We saw
in the 25 years of the Champions League, UEFA’s technical reports are the product lots of goals, and I hope that this is a
the 2016/17 campaign ended with a goal of the work of a team of observers who trend that will continue.” Period of the
average of above three per game – a
record total of 380 scored at a rate of
attend every knockout match in the
Champions League and Europa League.
It was a trend writ large in the identity
of the winners in Cardiff, Zinédine game in which 21% 22%
of goals of goals
3.04 per match. The Europa League For those present at the Champions Zidane’s Madrid, who were – as the most goals scored in UEFA scored in UEFA
witnessed its own scoring spike last League technical observers’ meeting Champions League report says, “the ones are scored Champions Europa League
term, with 565 scored at a rate of 2.76 chaired by UEFA’s chief technical officer, that had scored the most goals in a season League
per game, the highest in five years.
The technical reports for both
Ioan Lupescu, the morning after the
Juventus v Real Madrid final in Cardiff,
when goalscoring records were
shattered.” In the wake of the more
76 – 90+ mins
competitions provide considerable food there was also much to savour – a point cautious approach witnessed by some

38 39

Full-backs like Real Madrid’s Carvajal their 1 v 1 skills. And one popular ploy Relationships between forwards During the three hours of the semi-final
and Marcelo are equally capable of
helping to create goals in the way
to give them the opportunity to break Another intriguing discussion point that against Juventus, they exchanged four
that wingers used to. forward, UEFA’s observers also suggested, emerged during the Champions League passes.” Instead, adds the report, while
is the diagonal pass. technical observers’ meeting concerned there were exceptions, such as semi-
As Sir Alex Ferguson said: “If you’ve got the way that relationships between front finalists Atlético de Madrid, a “more
two wide players, then penetration from players have evolved. general pattern was for a lone striker
midfield on a diagonal ball is very useful.” The report offers the example of Real to receive support from in-cutting wide
The other useful diagonal ball, he added, Madrid’s front two of Cristiano Ronaldo players (the relationships between Messi
thereby increasing their own team’s was to the centre forward. “If you’re and Karim Benzema in the final. “Few and Neymar with Suárez at Barcelona
chances of immediately regaining building from one side and you’ve got a teams operated with a genuine attacking providing a high-profile example) or
possession. Juventus used this ploy Diego Costa or Sergio Agüero, then you’ll partnership of twin strikers operating in for danger to emerge from a cluster
effectively in the first leg of their quarter- use it.” parallel,” it says. “The final provided of middle-to-front players (Marco Reus,
final against Barcelona, when Marc-André The statistics for the 2016/17 campaign an illustration of how even the 1-4-4-2 Ousmane Dembélé and Shinji Kagawa
ter Stegen was obliged to play long on 12 lend further weight to the importance of structure did not entail a ‘partnership’ as at Dortmund) grouped behind the
occasions, with only three of those long a good supply from the wide areas, given such, with Benzema and Ronaldo splitting advanced attacker”.
passes reaching a team-mate. Massimiliano the increase in goals from this source. wide and rarely striking sparks off each Meanwhile, if Monaco’s front two
Allegri’s team repeated the dose in the The Champions League report notes that: other. Among the 491 passes completed did not fit the convention of old, they
home leg of the semi-final against AS “crosses, cutbacks and diagonal passes by Zidane’s side during the final, there still helped to make the surprise semi-
Getty Images

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Monaco, when 60% of the passes made into the box accounted for 43% of the were three by Benzema to Ronaldo and finalists from France a joy to watch,
by Danijel Subašić were long. Only four open-play goals. This marks a significant none in the reverse direction. according to Giggs. “I enjoyed watching
found a friendly target. increase on the 36% registered in “Much the same could be applied to Monaco,” he said. “They had pace
2015/16.” The same applied with the the two-pronged attack of AS Monaco, and power throughout the team. Falcao
Wide boys Europa League where, in the knockout where [Radamel] Falcao and [Kylian] supplied the goalscoring instinct with
Another theme commented on by UEFA’s Jérémy Morel – named in the official team such players have to do, unlike genuine rounds, 34% of the open-play goals were Mbappé formed an effective partnership younger legs all around him.” There was
technical observers is a recurring one of the tournament the morning after the wingers of old, is make dynamic runs into from crosses – a figure that rose to 43% in terms of their movement but without much else to enjoy too, of course, as the
from recent campaigns: the onus on Ajax v United final in Stockholm. What the spaces where they can deliver or test with the addition of cutbacks. indulging in combination play as a duo. goals flew in across the continent.
full-backs to provide attacking width.
The Champions League technical report
includes the thoughts of ex-Man United UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
winger Ryan Giggs, a new addition to the GOALS
ranks of technical observers last season
and a man perfectly placed to talk about
wing play.
“Wingers are definitely going out of 39% 61% Percentage of goals scored by home teams*
the game,” he says in the report. Away Home 60%
“Full-backs are now the wingers. No teams teams 58,5%
matter what system you play, there are (147) (228) 56%
simply not the wingers that we saw 10 or
15 years ago, unfortunately. Of course, 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
there are still players like Gareth Bale
*Percentages exclude finals which are played on neutral territory
or Eden Hazard who can play the role
of wingers but, more or less, they play
inside now and tend to look for space
in the pockets.
“When I played on the wing, there was a
big reliance on the other players to give you A drop
2015/16 63 from
the ball. Now, the star players don’t wait
for that to happen. They go to look for the Goals scored
with headers 2016/17 54 18% to 14%

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ball and they tend to look for the ball in
those little pockets where they feel the ball
is going to come. This is obviously a shame
but, on the other hand, teams like Real
Madrid show us full-backs who are equally
capable of helping to create goals in the Group stage Knockout stage
way that wingers used to do it.”
It was not just at Madrid. Giggs’ Goals generated
96 29
former team-mate at Old Trafford, after solo runs games games
Antonio Valencia, was praised for his
17 11
efforts in the Europa League report as goals goals
one of two full-backs – along with Lyon’s scored scored

40 41

football pitch is – by and the eight nations regularly employed a
large – 68 metres wide, but strategy aimed at increasing productivity
if there is one thing the 2017 from the wingers and overlapping full-
U17 right-back Mateu Morey typified the trend
for fast-moving defenders pushing forward as final tournaments of UEFA’s backs. A total of 15 goals – more than one
he helped Spain to victory in Croatia. youth competitions in three – were scored from either crosses
highlighted, it is that coaches simply or cutbacks, with excellent movement and
cannot get enough width. combinations down the flanks creating
They try to exploit every centimetre at numerous opportunities, with a focused
their disposal. The ball may spend a team effort to create spaces.
greater amount of time in the more Wingers were doing this by moving
congested central areas of the field, which into the middle, with full-backs exploiting
is understandable given the nature and the gaps this movement ripped open. The
flow of the game, but the efficiency of Czech Republic, Germany and Portugal all
wing play – making the most of the time deployed similar tactics in this area, mixing
the ball does spend out on the flanks the approach with full-backs taking a more
– was one of the key elements central trajectory for their runs and wingers
encompassing all competitions, men’s and hugging the touchlines, before a quick turn
women’s, this summer. outside by the full-back, going around his
It was not purely about wingers either. winger, exploited even more space.
Overlapping full-backs were one of the This was well highlighted at the Under-
biggest trends observed across the board, 17s, where Spain came back from 1-0
starting – chronologically – at the down against France in the quarter-final,
Under-17s in Croatia in May. with right-back Mateu Morey producing
There, the prevalence of wingers a high-speed ‘underlapping’ run to gain
prepared to run into the interior channels space for a left-footed shot. Minutes later,
and open up spaces for full-backs to his Barcelona team-mate Juan Miranda
exploit was notable. Instances of full-backs embarked on an almost identical
making high-speed runs right through to underlapping run on the left to earn the
the byline and delivering crosses or penalty that put his side 2-1 ahead. Morey
cutbacks were also prevalent, with 10 of burst through the inside channel again
the 16 participating nations frequently to equalise with another left-footed finish
implementing such tactics, including during the final against England.
tournament winners Spain. The powerful “This is a tactical shift,” says Savvas
runs and combination moves by their Constantinou, UEFA technical observer at
full-backs proved to be an important the Under-19s in Georgia. “The wing play
weapon in such teams’ attacking armoury. was coming increasingly from the full-backs
France right-back Vincent Collet offered and not just the wingers.”
prime examples of aggressive running The technicians watching the Under-17s
along the touchline, allowing right-winger in Croatia also noted that wingers were not
Yacine Adli to transfer his dribbling skills to necessarily sticking to convention. Instead,
the inside channels – sometimes on the there was a marked trend towards the use
other flank, which was also noted as a of change-footed wingers, with England
trend in Croatia – or to probe the
opposition from a central playmaking
position. Much the same could be said of
England right-back Timothy Eyoma, whose

YOUTH COMPETITIONS marauding runs allowed Phil Foden to drift

inside and operate across a broad section


of the attacking front.
“This is a
Using width at the Under-17 tactical shift.
The wing play
and Under-19 finals
This was a trend carried through to the was coming
Under-19s in Georgia. France were increasingly from
conspicuous by their absence, but England the full-backs and not just
Photos: Sportsfile

were one of the nations who made capital

There was an emphasis on wise wing play, defensive organisation and the wingers.”
out of their flank play.
As in Croatia, the most common – and
more goalkeeper involvement in the 2017 youth tournaments, which successful – approach to attacking in
Savvas Constantinou
UEFA technical observer at
were also used to test out a new penalty shoot-out system. Georgia was down the wings, and half of the Under-19s in Georgia


providing a striking example of the

Gett Image
tendency with right-footed Jadon Sancho “The goalkeepers have been a nice surprise.
on the left and left-footed Foden on the England have got two really good goalkeepers,

right. Serbia and the Netherlands also while the Netherlands’ number one will be
regularly fielded ‘wrong-footed’ wingers, pushing for the senior team, and Scotland’s and
while Hungary and Ukraine were among
those who switched wingers during games
France’s were also very good – it’s encouraging
to mix the change-footed and orthodox for the future of goalkeeping.”
approaches. Turkey did likewise, with the Hope Powell
variation that both wingers were left- UEFA technical observer at the Women’s Under-19s in Northern Ireland
footed. Ambidexterity was a boon.
At the Women’s Under-17s in the Czech
Republic, 25% of goals were scored by In Croatia, where Spain defeated England all the head coaches acknowledged
wingers thanks to a greater emphasis in a penalty shoot-out – and there will be that set pieces were being worked on
being placed on swift counterattacking more on that later – the Iberians’ captain in training, but it appears the emphasis
and direct wing play, with players notably Abel Ruíz and Turkey’s three frontmen was more on defensive than attacking
showing a greater comprehension and (striker Malik Karaahmet and the two behaviour in dead-ball situations.
grasp of tactics. “There were some very, wingers) were unstinting in their efforts to “Most of the teams were using all ten
very mature performances all round,” said disturb the opponents’ build-up while outfield players to defend set pieces,”
UEFA’s technical observer in Plzeň, Anna team-mates completed their transitions to said UEFA technical observer Ghenadie
Signeul, who reflected on the high-quality the defensive block. Scurtul in Tbilisi. “There were different
tournament and its entertaining, highly The aforementioned offensive vocation approaches, with man-to-man or zonal
sophisticated matches. According to of full-backs offered counterattacking marking, but whereas before there would
Signeul, defensive organisation was often opportunities through the wide areas, be one player remaining up the field to
equally strong, ensuring tactical battles and the top teams were adept at pre- force their opponents to leave one player
in all transitions. Such a level of tactical empting penetration along the wings. back, maybe as a reaction to seeing a
awareness among players aged 14 to 17 is In the construction phase, the norm was lot of goals being scored after set pieces,
not to be taken for granted and illustrates for a controlling midfielder to drop into the teams are now keeping these players
how well prepared the teams were in the the area between the spread centre-backs in the penalty area.” Just eight goals
Czech Republic – and not only there. while the full-backs advanced. Centre- came from set pieces in Georgia, plus five
In fact, detailed defensive preparation backs rarely made deep runs. Instead, penalties, perhaps as a result of the extra
appeared to be another of the priorities the onus was on the midfielders and even attention afforded to not conceding from
at all of this summer’s youth tournaments. forwards to drop back for possession to such situations?
The old adage that attack is the best be regained, before launching themselves Scurtul also noted that defenders
form of defence appears to be mutating into surging counterattacks. were not afraid to choose the long ball,
somewhat into defence being the best This shift towards a safety-first approach bypassing the congested midfield areas
form of attack. was accentuated at the Under-19s, where if a build-up down the wings was not
possible, “because you have a risk in Netherlands keeper Daphne van Domselaar showed great promise in the Czech Republic.
midfield of losing the ball when you play
combinations there, so they prefer to praise, and all the more so for his active observer Dušan Fitzel, was not down to be said about the goalkeeping in the
leave this part of the game”. involvement in his team’s games. to poor goalkeeping. “What we saw in Czech Republic and Northern Ireland.
“He participates in the build-up and Croatia was confirmation that the job “The goalkeepers have been a nice
Goalkeepers playing a shows a very good feeling for the game,” description has changed, with a much surprise,” said Hope Powell, one of
greater part in the men’s Scurtul said. “He is able to regulate the greater emphasis on the keeper’s work UEFA’s technical observers at the Women’s
and women’s game rhythm of the game and to take the right with his feet,” he said. “In the past, the Under-19s in Northern Ireland. “England
Route one was not the predefined choice decisions.” He and his fellow goalkeepers Dutch excelled. But goalkeeper education have got two really good goalkeepers,
of the first line of the defence on the varied how the games were restarted, has changed. In Croatia we saw teams while the Netherlands’ number one will
other hand. The goalkeepers – no longer restricting themselves to a who didn’t hesitate to use the keeper to be pushing for the senior team, and
particularly at Under-19 level – long punt forward when playing out from pass the ball. And keepers are increasingly Scotland’s and France’s were also very
demonstrated to what extent they have the back was the preferred option. This is integrated into training sessions rather than good – it’s encouraging for the future
now also become the first line of attack. why their decision-making and discipline sent to one end to practise on their own.” of goalkeeping.”
To be an excellent goalkeeper, it is was so important and their performances The quality of goalkeeping has been a
no longer enough to simply save shots. demonstrated how much a part of the bone of contention in women’s football, Jury out on ‘ABBA’ penalty
This was underlined, in particular, by the overall tactical shape of the teams but both this year’s Under-17s and shout-out trial
Netherlands’ number one, Justin Bijlow, goalkeepers have become, instead of Under-19s suggested that standards are Goalkeepers still had to get the basics
England custodian Aaron Ramsdale and just focusing on defending their goal on the rise. While the Women’s EURO may right, though, and this in a summer when
the last line of the Portuguese defence – or penalty area. have been tinged by various goalkeeping trials were undertaken into a new penalty
or perhaps, one might argue, the first The same was evident at Under-17 errors, some of the highlights in the shoot-out system aimed at altering the
With Phil Foden on the right and Jadon Sancho on the left, England provided a masterclass in the use of line of their attack – Diogo Costa. level, despite the record number of goals Netherlands were spectacular saves and way the players feel the pressure, the aim
‘wrong-footed’ wingers in Croatia. Bijlow was picked out for particular scored – which, according to technical there were predominantly positive things being to even out what is perceived as an

44 45

advantage for the side that takes the first and fifth penalties of the shoot-out overall more pressure is on the team that takes
penalty. It has been estimated that around and after Olaug Tvedten scored to put the first penalty because if they miss it and
60% of teams who take the first penalty Norway two up, Vilde Birkeli wasted their then their opponents score two in a row,
in the habitual system go on to win the first match point with their fourth kick of suddenly you are two penalties down.”
shoot-out. Under the trialled approach the shoot-out. Germany went on to lift the title after
– labelled ABBA to reflect the order in The ball was back in Germany’s court another ABBA shoot-out which appeared
which the teams take their kicks – it is for consecutive kicks and, had Melissa to emphasise how being first up could, in
envisaged that parity could be obtained, Kössler missed their fourth, Norway truth, be a greater advantage – assuming
eradicating any perceived advantage from would have won without needing to go you open the scoring. “You could see how
winning the toss of a coin – a method that again. She scored, but the same pressure it became a big advantage for Germany
was previously used, let us not forget, to subsequently befell Sjoeke Nüsken, who after scoring the first one,” said Signeul.
determine the winner without even the had to convert hers to keep Germany’s “After Spain then missed two, Germany
need to traipse to the spot. hopes alive. She did just that, bringing had two penalties to lead by three.
The first experiment took place in Germany back level at 2-2, although The pressure was therefore greater on
the Czech Republic, where Norway and Norway were left with a fifth penalty the second Spain penalty-taker after
Germany fought it out for a place in the and their fourth opportunity to reach their first had just missed. She knew that
Women’s Under-17 final. Norway had the final. Silje Bjørneboe missed and the missing would effectively offer a 3-0 lead
four ‘match points’ in the semi-final psychological turnaround was complete. to Germany, who would then take the
shoot-out and lost them all, raising My Sørsdahl Haugland squandered next two.”
interesting questions as to how the Norway’s next attempt, providing Andrea Either way, there was certainly
pressure got to them. Brunner with Germany’s first opportunity consensus that more excitement had
Germany missed the opening spot-kick; to win, which she took. been provided for the fans, even if few
Norway then missed the first and scored “Penalties are always exciting, but were fully aware of how the situation
the second of their consecutive opening I’m not sure this made it any fairer,” said was evolving. Clear indications of who
efforts. The pressure was therefore Monika Staab, one of UEFA’s technical has already taken a penalty, whether
considerable on Germany’s second and observers in the Czech Republic. “When they scored or missed, and who is up Germany beat Spain in an ‘ABBA’ penalty shoot-out to claim victory in the women’s Under-17 final.
third penalty takers – arguably more Norway had four chances to win the game next would be necessary to ensure all
so than if the second had stepped up and they didn’t, is that fair? It’s not clear involved can follow and understand the had scored their title-winning penalty a record sixth title at that level, and the 2017 will be a year England hopes to build
immediately after Norway’s first miss. where the psychological advantage would stakes of each spot kick. Even Germany’s until she saw her team-mates racing second in a row for Anouschka Bernhard, on as qualifying for 2018 gets under way,
Germany missed what were the fourth be. It could actually be the opposite – that Kössler did not initially realise that she jubilantly towards her. who has now lifted the trophy on and they are not the only ones. After
The experimental shoot-out system four occasions. seeing the Faroe Islands reach their first
was also trialled at the men’s Under-17s, England were too hot to handle in youth finals – with their Under-17s taking
where Spain showed more composure Georgia, securing their first-ever Under-19 on France, a country of 65 million
Vincent Collet was to France what than their female contemporaries. title and condemning Portugal to a record compared to their 50,000 – Kosovo are
Mateu Morey was to Spain:
a full-back who made expert use They claimed a record third European third final defeat. The Three Lions’ victory among an even greater field of nations
of the flanks to supply the attack. Under-17 Championship title in dramatic rounded off an impressive summer for bidding to reach a UEFA youth final
circumstances thanks to a late goal in the them, which also included victories at tournament, which is widely considered
final against England – in their record 12th the U-20 World Cup in South Korea a crucial part of player development.
final tournament – earning them a second and the Toulon Tournament in France. Having previously led Portugal’s
chance, which they took, in the fifth final Under-17s to the European summit in
in the past six editions to be decided in a 2016, Hélio Sousa, now the coach of his
penalty shoot-out. country’s Under-19s, beaten for the third
As in the Czech Republic, where time in a final, confirms this philosophy:
Germany were all the wiser for their “They are at an important age to catch
semi-final shoot-out experience, in Croatia their dream. It is an important time in
Spain latched onto their own semi-final their life, between Under-15 and Under-20.
spot-kick success against Germany and “Whereas before At Under-17 you have three or four teams
held their nerve better in the showpiece, there would be who develop from this and in a few years
slotting away all five of their kicks while their players are stronger. Guys like Danilo
England missed the target with back-to-
one player Pereira, William Carvalho, Gelson Martins
back efforts. remaining up the and André Silva were in the UEFA
It was enough to earn Spain a record field to force their Under-19 finals in Hungary in 2014 and
third Under-17 title in an impressive opponents to leave one the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand in
summer for the Iberians. Their women’s player back, the teams are 2015 – I am more proud of that than
Under-19s gained revenge for the now keeping these players I am of winning the European Under-17
disappointment of losing out to France a Championship.”
in the penalty area.”
year ago by beating Les Bleuettes 3-2 in a Their names indeed live on and there
dramatic final in Belfast, while at Under-17 Ghenadie Scurtul
are likely to be many more like them to
level, María Antonia Is’s team lost out in UEFA technical observer at emerge from the UEFA youth tournaments
the final to a Germany side who secured the Under-19s in Georgia in 2017 and beyond.

46 47



After only half a year in charge of the Oranje women, Sarina Wiegman
led the Netherlands to a historic first-ever European title on home soil.

arina Wiegman, you have When looking back on the much focused on ball
been head coach of the tournament, what stands out possession and passing.
national team for six the most for you in terms of Was this also something
months now and have tactics or technique? from which you derived
already achieved so much What struck me is that during this your strength?
success. Did you ever imagine it tournament the pace of the matches Yes, we have been working on that a lot
would be like this? increased: the players are getting fitter in the past couple of years. When we
Well, that it would be this big and this and you also see that players from other first qualified for the Women’s EURO in
fantastic is the stuff of dreams. Of course, countries are increasingly better 2009, the players started training more
it’s fantastic it went like this and we put in coached. The conditions for young often and harder. The demands were
such an excellent performance. It all came women and girls to develop into top, higher and the players got fitter – that
together. Our performance, teamwork and professional players are getting better was the first step we did here in the
a bit of luck, which we went looking for. and better, and you can see that Netherlands to make sure we made it
So yes, it was a dream come true. during matches. to the EURO. But we also knew in 2009
The next step is to improve tactically that we weren’t ready yet to dominate
You say you went looking for it: and also technically. The Dutch team had ball possession. In the following years,
what did you personally a very good tactical set-up. We saw that we worked very hard on defending
contributeas coach? against England and Norway, for example: better and using that as a platform for
People have worked very hard over the last those teams are much stronger physically more ball possession. We have been
couple of years to help this team and the than we are, so we have to be stronger working on that; my coaching staff
players to grow, and I continued with that technically and tactically. We have to be and I have continued to work on that.
the very moment I was hired for the job. clever. This is essentially the Dutch way of What happens is that the players also
What I did in particular was to add some thinking about football. And that went start developing as our positional play
new people to the coaching staff. Then we very well at this tournament. improves. This is linked to the fact that
set up a plan leading up to 16 July and everyone knows how we want to play,
prepared ourselves as well as we could for According to UEFA’s technical but it’s also down to the quality of
anything that we’d come up against and observers, the trend was very the players.
might possibly happen during the EURO.
We addressed those matters in the months
prior to the tournament. But that process

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had already started before I was appointed
as head coach.
During the tournament, it showed that
we were very well prepared, both in the
way we played and what we expected on
the pitch, but also in what we expected off
it. Only it became much, much bigger than
we had hoped for and dreamed about.
One of our goals was to conquer the
hearts of the Dutch people and we really
did it together with them. Preparations
played a very important role, but also the

way in which we worked together. There

was a very open atmosphere with the staff
and the players and that appeared to be
the right approach.

Sarina Wiegman became coach of the and creating numerical superiority, The number of attempts on
Oranje women in early 2017, having herself forcing the defence into a decision. goal was also a noticeable
received 104 caps between 1987 and 2001.
It was a combination of Lieke, Danielle trend: an increase of 18.5%
van de Donk and Jackie Groenen, who compared with 2013. But in
did very well in midfield when they were the end, the average number
And yet, 9 out of 26 matches in possession of the ball, so it really of goals was an all-time low
were won by the team with was a team effort. We have many of 2.19 per match. Is that the
the least possession of the exceptional qualities in attack, but Pernille result of stronger defending?
ball. England are an extreme Harder and Line Hansen can also beat I think that the pace of the game is much
example: they beat Spain
with only 26% of the ball.
their opponents.
in numbers faster now, the defence is more organised
and so the demands in attack are higher.
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I only saw part of that match, however The technical observers That’s a development we’re going through
I do know that Spain had a lot of ball concluded that the focus was on and, as I said, I didn’t watch all the
possession, but mainly in their half of the defence in this tournament and matches, but when I look at how we
pitch; they didn’t go forward and attack a teams found it difficult to break did, we played some very open matches,
lot. And England, they dropped deep and through. Are crosses from the I think. If you go towards your opponent’s

let Spain have the ball in that area of the wings a good alternative then? goal too slowly, then they will already
pitch. I can easily imagine how Spain had Yes, and the crossing opportunity itself. have regrouped when you get there.
more possession of the ball, but in the The quality and the opportunity of the So, you must do it faster and that requires
end, it’s all about scoring goals. England filter that out and find out where the account the defensive qualities of the pass in combination with the player’s better offensive play. And then you have
opted for the long ball, so they had less numbers are coming from. Women’s other teams. I am curious to find out if position in front of goal. If it takes too The average number of goals to make choices: do you take a shot on
possession but they reached the football is developing more and more, there’s also information on that. How per match was the lowest goal straight away or do you decide on
long, the opponent is already back in
ever at a Women’s EURO
opposition’s goal much quicker. And that so the demands are increasing, especially did the other countries do? It was quite position, which is something you saw a lot. another pass? It’s all about quality and
way they are more threatening, perhaps. when attacking and trying to score goals. difficult, but I think that we did a great job And then it becomes difficult to break higher demands because of better
So those statistics are all nice, but they And for that, you need quality and if with our team as far as that is concerned. through and you have to come up with defensive play; this improves your game.
are mainly useful to see what happens in you can mix it up with long balls and other things. That’s something to work
football and what we’re seeing in games. possession, I think it’s a good development The technical report mentions on together and to improve. What also stood out was that
And then you can link the two. If you have for women’s football. Austria as an example of a team there were quite a few errors
a lot of ball possession and you’re deep in that did surprisingly well but You played on the wings too. made by goalkeepers when
the opponent’s half, then it’s much harder You did drop deep every now and also played very defensively, put According to the statistics, trying to reach high balls.
to keep the ball than when you are in your again, but your game was more on a lot of pressure and were you were not the most thorough That also has to do with the development
own half of the pitch. So, you have to focused on going forward. Was
that something you worked on?
Yes, we had starting principles in games,
able to counter very quickly.
And they were very fit and really defended
together as a team. I must say that I didn’t
with regard to assists, and yet
you scored four goals from the
flanks. Was that something you
18% of the game. The game is faster, the
quality of crosses, attackers and defenders
is higher and the goalkeepers need to do
Increase in the number of
covering the four areas of the pitch and see many of their games, but we played worked on? attempts on goal compared better. That says a lot about the way the
restarts. There were several things we against them in the run-up to the EURO, Yes, of course we did. It’s a quality we have with the last Women’s EURO goalkeepers train. For example, we now
thought were important and we when they were still working on some in our team. Perhaps our assists weren’t so have a young goalkeeper who was in the
continuously went back to them. We know things. On that occasion, they went 2-0 good, but when you look at the number Under-19s last year. She was part of our
that with the strikers we have and the down after 15 minutes. That match was a of assists and the percentages, I think we squad last month and she was great.
players behind them, if we win the ball, huge learning experience for them and didn’t do all that badly. We got behind the When she was playing with us everything
we have players capable of brilliant passes they built on it during the EURO. And they opponent’s lines so often that the chance moved faster. She played some matches in
but also strikers who can attack and score. were very successful there, so that was of things going the right way was quite the Eredivisie and she has to act faster in
So that is a big quality in this team. We very clever. But also against us in June, big, but so was the chance of things not front of her goal. She has to think faster,
had a plan about how we wanted to win they were a team that was physically very going the right way. If you have one player react faster and make decisions faster, and
that ball, where and at what moment, and
how we wanted to get close to the goal –
strong and very fit, which is a great
achievement when it’s your first EURO.
who manages to get behind the defence
twice and chooses the right ball once, or 35% then sometimes she is not in the right
position to claim the ball. So, she has to

we really worked hard on that. The players you get behind the defence ten times and of matches were won by get faster in those situations. She has to
have their jobs to do, and then you have to The technical report also states play the right ball five times, then it’s the the team with less possession experience it during training, so that she
make use of the quality of the players. that one of your star players, same 50% for both. But in that latter case, learns to make decisions faster.
We all know that Shanice van de Sanden Lieke Martens, was one of the you’re getting there ten times and not
“England and Norway, is really fast, so you shouldn’t play the ball few players who wasn’t afraid many players can do that. That was the
for example, are much to her feet. Sometimes you must, but in to try to beat her opponent case with us.
stronger physically than general, the starting principle is that she to create a misbalance in the
we are, so we have to be always gets a long ball. other team. Plus, the most important thing:
stronger technically and I have seen more players who can do that you scored four times from
That is one of the things but, of course, Lieke Martens has fantastic these areas.
tactically. We have to be “You need experience,
clever. This is essentially
the Dutch way of thinking
that has developed since 2013:
fast switches of play were
the key to success.
dribbling skills and can create numerical
superiority by beating her opponent.
Shanice van de Sanden can also get behind
Yes, also with set pieces. And those
assists were quite good, yes. Four times:
Shanice twice, Lieke once and Jackie once.
of matches were won by
experience at the top level
and that takes time – years,
about football” Yes, I think that you also have to take into the defence, getting behind her marker Really good. the team that scored first an age”

50 51

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“One of our goals was to conquer the hearts of the

Dutch people and we really did it together with them”

That was also the case at the EURO. The variation in tactics has experiences. That’s why it’s important that not all players were used to people. In the end, our supporters were an your opponent can score first, but you
The keepers were found wanting in that increased a lot. Is that also the Under-17 and Under-19 teams play at that. How do you prepare incentive and that remained so throughout have to stick to your plan. When Denmark
regard. They need to make the next step proof of the development of big tournaments – European your players mentally for the whole tournament, keeping the scored in the final, it was the first time it
and that requires a certain way of training. women’s football? Championships and World Cups. that experience? momentum going. That was an advantage did not go how we wanted, but everybody
Absolutely, it has been four years and a lot For the first time in history, our Under-19 In Canada, we played in front of 55,000 for us. knew that we had to stick to our plan and
You just mentioned the of Dutch players have moved to top teams team [Under-20 next year] will participate people against the Canadian team. It was Pressure depends on the individual. in five minutes we scored the equaliser.
Under-19s: the technical report and have become professional players. in a World Cup. This will speed up their great. We also played World Cup play-offs For one person, a situation can be We had discussed that before it happened.
also concludes that there’s a They play for top clubs now. You need development and build the experience the in sold-out stadiums here in the extremely stressful and for another person,
gap between them and the experience, experience at the top level and players need to play at the top level. Netherlands. Some players have also it can be really motivating. We tried to It was a beautiful tournament
senior players. that takes time – years, an age. It requires When you look at what has happened in experienced the Champions League at make it motivating and we succeeded. and the final was spectacular.
Yes, that’s also our conclusion here in the experience of playing at big tournaments, the last four years, when you look at the club level, so luckily they were prepared. Did the tournament and
Netherlands. The game has developed in being together for a long time, being away players individually from Sweden to the What we did with the players in the 88% of matches in which goals women’s football generally
a way that there’s a big gap. For the from home and achieving at a high level. Netherlands, they now have that experience build-up to the tournament was to talk were scored were won by the need a final like this?
group in between, there’s a need to It requires you to keep the focus and a lot and it’s reflected in their maturity, but also with them about what they could expect team that scored first. The final I don’t know whether the tournament
develop further. of players in our squad now have that in the quality of their game. and were expecting. was an exception, as there were needed it, but I know we did. We thought,
We think about it with the coaching experience. You need those experiences We were comprehensive. We asked many goals. Was it a special aim ‘We’re in our own country and the only
staff but also with other personnel. to keep on developing. The players can Apart from the tactical, there’s them what they were expecting from for you to score the first goal? thing we have to do is win this match.
We’ve now played at four big tournaments also pass on their experience to the next also the psychological aspect. their team-mates, agents and clubs. We were looking for goals. In the We’ve already achieved so much and now
– three European Championships and one generation, who also need those There were huge crowds and We managed expectations and made beginning, it was our aim to show who we can win even more!’ That is how we
World Cup – and we want to belong to everything clear about what they should we were: a team that wants to fight, work went into the match. Last weekend, I was
the top bracket. We achieved something expect. We talked about everything together and play good football. The in France to watch Montpellier v Lyon: the
great by winning the European because otherwise you don’t know how spectators joined us in that enthusiasm. players, directors and supporters told me
Championship in our own country. the players will react while under pressure. Then you have to look for goals and they really enjoyed our style of play, and
But we are still developing here and we We said, ‘This is what happens. How do defend well, have a tactical set-up: you that we played the best football. Besides
don’t want this to be a one-time-only you react? What can you do to achieve can’t just run around the pitch without a winning the tournament, this was the
achievement. We want more. So now and keep your focus?’ We discussed those plan. We were not thinking we have to biggest compliment we could get. We got
we have to decide what steps to take, things and put the players under pressure score the first goal. Fight, work together people excited – that is what women’s
so that we belong in the top bracket during training. and play good football, then the results football needs. We cannot all stand in
of football nations. It begins with playing good [warm-up] will follow automatically. We didn’t focus front of goal and just kick the ball away
matches, for example hard matches that on the result. We also said, ‘We want to for a counter. Nobody should do that
put you up against different styles of play. play like this when it’s going well and actually. We have a responsibility to aim
Lieke Martens was named player of the tournament
at Women’s EURO 2017 and UEFA Women’s We had a great warm-up campaign with when it’s going badly.’ You can’t have for good football. That is my opinion
Player of the Year for the 2016/17 season. full stadiums and a lot of enthusiastic the whole match entirely under control, and that is what the tournament needed.
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Accolades are nice. But sometimes they are not enough. It would be a shame to condense
more than four decades of coaching into a rosary of titles, coach of the year awards and
appearances on UEFA Champions League benches. On the other hand, it would perhaps be
churlish to ignore six Romanian league titles as a right-side attacker and 70 caps for Romania,
including three wearing the captain’s armband at the 1970 World Cup.

oaching achievements in beyond the country’s borders, or at an believe that a good coach should, first of
Romania, Italy, Turkey, Russia embassy. My aim was to find a way of all, be a very balanced person. I quickly
and Ukraine reached their leaving the country. As a youth player, realised that there were talented players
zenith with eight league titles, my first match outside the country everywhere and that what mattered most
six domestic cups and seven had been in Turkey and I saw that the was for them to be guided, educated and
Ukrainian super cups with Shakhtar reality of capitalism was not how it was organised by someone who is passionate
Donetsk, along with a historic victory described by Romanian newspapers or about the sport and who manages to pass
against Werder Bremen in the last-ever television. I wanted to travel, to learn some of that passion on to the players.
UEFA Cup final, played in Istanbul in 2009. about different cultures. I think this is one of the most important
However, when Mircea Lucescu took time After the earthquake, I moved to qualities I had, and one that has helped
out from his current duties as Turkey’s Hunedoara, in Transylvania, to play for a me tremendously everywhere I have gone
national team coach to visit UEFA’s team belonging to a steel plant. The team throughout my career.
headquarters in Nyon, it was not to bask in had financial strength and good salaries. At Corvinul, in Hunedoara, I was a player
such achievements but to share his wealth I had spare time to repair the house in and coach. Slowly, older players who were
of experience with UEFA’s managing Bucharest that had been destroyed by the only there to get a salary were replaced
director of technical development, Ioan earthquake. I was 30 years old, I played by talented and passionate players that I
Lupescu, and a cosmopolitan audience of for the national team and I had some discovered. People started realising that I
would-be coaches at one of UEFA’s Pro experience. So I also started working was able to make a difference for the
licence student exchange courses. with children. In Hunedoara, children team, and I did. The communist party
had nothing else to do but play football. made me return to Bucharest and within a
Mircea, the first thing I would I loved sharing my experience with them, year I was a player, a club coach, the
like to ask you is how your telling them stories about the matches I national team coach and head of the
coaching career started. played and so on. I showed a lot of passion school of coaches, among other things.
It started with a misfortune that became and I managed to get some of them so And it was all because of the passion and
an opportunity. I didn’t intend to become interested and passionate about football love I had for football.
a coach. But there was a huge earthquake themselves that five years later, when I
that killed thousands of people in became the national team coach, seven But passion is not
Bucharest. I was playing at Dinamo at of my players were from this group of kids. enough, surely?
the time and that earthquake destroyed You need to love football tremendously
“In football, being able to my home. We were not professionals. Is that what persuaded you that because that will enable you to get
listen is as important as We were paid as amateurs by different you had the qualities to succeed through the toughest moments of your
patience, as important as institutions. That is how the communist as a coach? career. Because we all have many hard
confidence, as important as system worked back then. At the same We do the most difficult job. I don’t think moments. If you don’t love football, if you
respect. The players should time, I was studying hard for a career there’s a harder job out there. And I’m are doing it just to make money, this is not
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in economics, specialising in external mostly referring to the impact it has on the job for you. Your love of football will
learn this responsibility,
commerce, hoping to become one of your mind, the passion that is required and make you the first to bounce back after a
this professionalism, the very few students selected to work the fact that you constantly go through loss and it will make you able to motivate
from their coaches.” for a company that dealt with commerce a huge variety of feelings. That is why I your team and give your players hope.

54 55

The second most important thing is

‘‘We do the
essential. I had good relationships with
knowing the game and being able to most difficult Luigi Corioni at Brescia, Massimo Moratti
speak about it with players, with job. I don’t at Inter, Rinat Akhmetov at Shakhtar – part
journalists, with everybody, including think there’s a of the reason I spent 12 years there – Faruk
the [club’s] president. There are a lot of harder job out Süren at Galatasaray, and Serdar Bilgili at
coaches who hide. They don’t speak to the there. That is Beşiktaş. You need the ability to establish “Even though I didn’t
press, they try to stay under the radar. No.
why I believe these relationships. Unfortunately, when work with him for
You should be able to talk about the game I joined Zenit I had no direct contact with very long, I also
and give an interview with a smile even that a good the president in order to make my
coach should, learned a lot from
under the most difficult circumstances. thoughts heard the way they should have
Ștefan Kovács. He

Presse Sports
A coach should also be very organised first of all, be a been. This was the hardest thing for me.
– able to organise the team efficiently and very balanced If you don’t share the same philosophy, taught me what it
plan training sessions and matches. And person.” conflicts can quickly arise. meant to be a citizen
able to analyse matches and find ways of of the world.”
extracting positive aspects even from the You mention the word
worst games. A coach should also learn ‘philosophy’. How important is
to treat players equally, whether they are it for a coach to have one? for example, will force the coaches of Other than that, my philosophy remained
superstars or debutants. If he doesn’t When I was a player-coach at 30 years the future to act differently. the same. Coaches are different. There
manage to do this, he will face difficulties. old in Hunedoara, I basically had the same That is why it was important for me to are coaches who build teams, pragmatic
Players can be leaders in popularity, but philosophy as I have now. It just became change countries and clubs. Not too much, coaches, opportunist coaches ... Each
the true leader is the coach. clearer and better because of because I am very conservative. I get has his own style. Philosophy is personal.
performances and experiences over the attached to people, places; I get attached
When you were getting started, years. The most important thing in the to history and many other things. But the How do you communicate your
did you have any role models in world is the way we evolve as people. changes helped me because I had to adapt philosophy to your players?
the coaching profession? And I think that’s about curiosity. It is each time to new places, a new culture. Education is key. My first concern is to
Don’t forget that in eastern Europe there curiosity that makes us different from Because you are the one who needs to explain my philosophy and to educate
was not a culture of individual values. It people who lived 5,000 years ago. change and adapt. I always had to learn my players, to show them a certain kind
was difficult to stand out from the crowd. Football is no exception, it transforms new things and to bring new things to the of behaviour. Even as a young coach
I became so popular that I was punished every day. Technological innovations, lives of the people who surrounded me. travelling with the team abroad, I made
by the communist party – sacked as

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national team coach after we had beaten
Austria 4-0. But I would mention Angelo
Niculescu, who was our coach when we
went to the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
He was very calm and paid great attention Lucescu’s career
to everything that was going on around Mircea Lucescu in timeline
him. Even though I didn’t work with him my wife and she didn’t want to leave Italy. same way in industry, in commerce and Seville with Shakhtar
for the second leg of
for very long, I also learned a lot from So we let fate decide for us. We made in football. These are people who can their Europa League 1979-1982 Corvinul Hunedoara (ROU)
Ștefan Kovács. He taught me what it some notes with a bunch of Italian clubs help you evaluate players’ potential. They semi-final in 2016.
meant to be a citizen of the world. on them, with the idea of pulling one out can help you with an idea; they can give 1981-1986 Romania

But I think I learned more from reading of a hat to see where we could go next. input when it comes to organising your 1985-1990 Dinamo Bucuresti (ROU)
biographies of great leaders and, in But one of the notes went missing: the formation. But they should never interfere
1990-1991 Pisa (ITA)
my younger days, exchanging football one that said ‘Brescia’. I couldn’t find it to the extent of telling you what to do.
magazines with people in different anywhere. The next day I found it on the If they interfere once, it’s all over. 1991-1996 Brescia (ITA)
countries and reading publications like El sole of my shoe and figured it was an Serie B was the division of the coaches. 1996-1997 Reggiana (ITA)
Gráfico from Argentina, A Bola, France omen. I spent five years at Brescia, That was where tactics mattered; that
1997-1998 Rapid Bucuresti (ROU)
Football, L’Équipe and World Soccer. clinching promotion to Serie A twice. was where the great games were. It was
I also learned something important. so intense. That experience helped me a 1998-1999 Internazionale (ITA)
Did this help when you Serie A was actually a championship lot. I worked hard at Brescia, and worked 1999-2000 Rapid Bucuresti (ROU)
left Romania in 1990? involving some very good [club] presidents a lot with young players. Italian football
2001-2002 Galatasaray (TUR)
I went to Pisa because the president [of who led a lot of people and companies. played a huge role in my career. That is
the club] wanted me. It was an amazing The best specialists in the Italian where I first learned what it really meant 2002-2004 Beşiktaş (TUR)
experience, coming from communist championship were not the coaches. to be a coach. 2004-2016 Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
Romania to a team where everything was They were presidents like Andrea Agnelli,
2016-2017 Zenit (RUS)
very evolved, very well organised. At that Silvio Berlusconi, Vittorio Cecchi Gori … How important is the
time, I still couldn’t understand how it guys who understood relationships relationship between 2017- Turkey
was possible for people to actually make a between people, who led people. These the coach and the club’s
living playing football. When I had to leave were guys with whom you were able to president or owner?
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Pisa I didn’t know what to do. I talked to discuss psychological and mental issues. Players may come and go, but the rapport
Porto and Standard Liège. I also talked to Because organising groups works the you establish with the club’s president is

56 57

“On Sunday, your How do you reconcile your decided by a momentary decision. You encourage or to criticise. A great coach in a balanced manner. This comes with
interventions can be philosophy and the long-term need thorough preparation. He also said is a coach who has doubts without letting experience. Knowledge has less to do
intuitive, but everything education of players with the something else which, applied to football, anyone else know about them. A great with it than experience.
need to produce results? translates to the fact that the team that is coach is not one who is certain about
you do during the week,
Of course, without results, any philosophy better prepared will win. The team that things; he’s the one who is not sure, How have you maintained the
the way you prepare, is dead. As a coach, you need to develop wants to win. The team prepared to make but never lets it show. He needs to inspire stamina to coach for so many
plays a decisive role in a playing system that depends on the bigger sacrifices. The team with the best confidence, and he needs to have a years without a break?
how the game plays out.” qualities of the players you have, along substitutes. That is the team that will win. positive attitude and great optimism. Coaches’ lives are not relaxed. We live at
with a series of other factors. My concept But all this depends on the coach. The Of course, it all depends on what the 100% intensity. Over almost 50 years at
is based on the way the team is distributed coach should influence all these things. coach builds up in training, during match the highest level, without a sabbatical,
over the playing area, the techniques of 2,500 years ago, people had the same way analysis and so on. This is what gives without a break, I have learned to
progression throughout the game, the of thinking. We don’t change. Only the players confidence. A recipe for what you compensate for the stress of the profession
At Shakhtar, we had players from manner of disarming the opposition and, level of civilisation changed; we are more should do during a crisis doesn’t exist. You by loving things outside the game. I have
places in Brazil where school was only as a fourth aspect, the game system. civilised now. should have already built a certain always tried to strike a balance, because
almost non-existent. They knew the If all this is well organised and well relationship with the players and otherwise you lose your mind. At the end
bare minimum. They signed contracts controlled, the result should be positive. Earlier on, you mentioned that management even before such a crisis of a season, the players’ physical fatigue
and started getting paid. They bought There is no way it will not succeed in a coach has to be a balanced occurs, which would allow you to get past passes after three or four days. They go on
diamonds, watches, cars. I slowly started the long run. But coaches need time. person. Is that an easy thing their emotions. Football is a game of holiday to the seaside, in the mountains.
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to educate them, discussing things with It is precious. But it is difficult to obtain. to achieve? emotions, with a great emotional impact Coaches need a lot more time to rest than
honesty. This is linked to discipline. I never One of the other essential qualities of When everyone is celebrating, the coach on everyone involved. Everybody has an anyone else. Because every day, every
force discipline on the players. I prefer it a successful coach is the ability to read the should be the first to think about the next opinion; everybody thinks they know week, at every moment you have to bring
to come naturally. I always explain to game and make decisions that will lead step. When everyone is sad and with their football and understand it. The coach something fresh, something that catches
each player that his freedom stops where the team to victory. In many cases this guard down, the coach is the one who needs to keep an open mind and a clear attention and doesn’t become routine.
somebody else’s freedom begins and that is intuition. But the philosopher Henri should motivate the players to start head. The coach must never make the Something that helps the people around
the players visit museums. I had Brazilian what he does has an influence on others. Bergson said that intuition is the instinct working again. Your experience is your mistake of overestimating a win or you produce great performances. That
players who would try to run out With proper education, these people will of intelligence. So if you are intuitive, it’s best help with this – the need to find underestimating a loss. They are two sides is why I recommend you don’t let your
immediately through another door. be grateful to you for their entire lives. because you have accumulated knowledge the right moment to say something, to of the same coin. Both should be treated profession take over your life.
I always found ways of bringing them Young players arrive with a certain that allows you to make a decision. I have
back in. I had this power to convince them. temperament and we have the job of won many games with an intuitive tactical
In Hunedoara, I used to take the players moulding them into great people with move. But I have also had moments when
Mircea Lucescu shares his wealth of
to evening courses and waited for them good characters. Once they grow, you I have sent on a player and lost the game. experience with would-be coaches at
outside to make sure they didn’t escape. need to transform them into personalities, On Sunday, your interventions can be a UEFA Pro licence student exchange
Why? Because I realised how important into role models. From these personalities, intuitive, but everything you do during course on 2 November.

intelligence is: how important it is for leaders are born. Leaders are not the week, the way you prepare, plays a
players to be able to listen and understand. necessarily people with great attributes; decisive role in how the game plays out.
In football, being able to listen is as they are people with great achievements. I remember reading The Art of War by Sun
important as patience, as important as They are people who can pull others Tzu, the Chinese general from 2,500 years
confidence, as important as respect. behind them and push them towards ago. He said, if you know yourself and
The players should learn this responsibility, success. They need to be passionate, your opponent, there’s an 80 to 90%
this professionalism, from their coaches. they need to push others to go further. chance you’ll win. If you know yourself,
but you don’t know your opponent, you’re
halfway there. You can either win or lose.
“When everyone is celebrating, the coach should But if you don’t know your opponent’s
be the first to think about the next step.” potential, you will lose. So games are not
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THE TECHNICIAN - UEFA Direct - January/February 2018 THE TECHNICIAN

With the dust beginning to settle on UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 and the Netherlands’
ending of the 22-year German monopoly that was nestling safely in the record books,
national team coaches and women’s football specialists from all of UEFA’s member
associations were invited to a conference in Amsterdam in November, where the brief was
to pinpoint the take-home messages transmitted by the final tournament in the Netherlands
and translate them into useful pointers for the coaches working at all levels of the
fast-growing women’s game.

n Amsterdam, the views expressed of goals was down to effective defending Jarmo Matikainen pointed out, displaying
by UEFA’s technical observers or ineffective attacking. Or both. In “greater ability to recover quickly
Hesterine de Reus, Patricia González, presenting the ‘case for the defence’, after losing possession” and to execute
Jarmo Matikainen and Anne Noë Jarmo Matikainen expressed the view “immediate pressing to regain possession
(also recorded in the tournament that for teams [at Women’s EURO 2017] whenever possible”. Defensive efficacy
review published in print and online) “all attributes related to defending had was further underlined by the fact that
provided a valuable glance in the rear-view continued to improve” and that “once in 23 of the 26 games which produced
mirror during the steady onward drive that defensive shape, teams were very difficult victories were won by the team scoring
is sweeping through the women’s game. to break down”. Austria evidently provided first. Even though the opening goal hit
“To be successful in the future, we a reference point, Dominik Thalhammer’s the net during the opening half-hour
need greater variety and flexibility in team implementing rapid transitions to in half of those matches – giving the
our attacking options” (Martin Sjögren). defensive mode with one of the screening opposition time to find a response –
“The teams in possession didn’t seem midfielders – Sara Puntigam – quickly teams were equipped to successfully
to find solutions against deep defensive slotting into the space between centre- preserve (or extend) their advantage.
blocks. Options in the final third were back and left-back to complete a back Hence the doubts expressed by
not good enough” (Freyr Alexandersson). line of five. coaches and observers alike about whether
“All teams can defend well in the box, so attacking finesse had been able to
we need to find solutions. Different kinds Building from the back keep pace with advances in the art
of crosses, running pathways into the box, Defensive density was further illustrated of defending. As Spain coach Jorge
overloads with more overlapping players” by the fact that, even though the number Vilda commented: “When you have an
(Pia Sundhage). These comments by the of goal attempts increased by 18.5% in opponent who shuts it down at the back
coaches of Norway, Iceland and Sweden relation to EURO 2013, the conversion and is able to sustain pace and power over
encapsulate one of the major talking rate dropped and 24% of attempts the 90 minutes, you have to cope with lack
points to emerge from a final tournament were blocked by defenders. The arts of space in the final third. It’s difficult, but
which, on the road to the final, posted a of defending also interlocked, with I’m convinced we can find solutions.”
miserly all-time low of 2.07 goals per noticeable improvements in athletic This was one of the themes picked up by
match. Even though the thrilling six-goal preparation. As Jarmo Matikainen Patricia González when she took the stage
grand finale in Enschede lifted the overall commented: “All teams had invested in to discuss attacking play. Spain, along with
average to 2.19, the prevalence of defence physical preparation and were able to Germany and France, were alone among
over attack was a salient feature of the produce high-quality defensive work the 16 contestants to have more than 50%
first 16-team event, where Austria – one of during the game and throughout an of possession in each game. All three were
five debutants – laid the foundations for a intensive tournament.” A glut of late eliminated in the quarter-finals. Overall,
historic run to the semi-finals by conceding goals is traditionally linked to fatigue eight of the tournament’s 26 victories
one goal in 510 minutes of football. The factors – and this trend was notable by were for the team with the lesser share of
goal tally at EURO 2017 was 28% lower its absence in the Netherlands. possession. The same three teams topped
than the average registered at the 2015 Tournament data reveal that 55% of the the table in terms of the number of passes
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Women’s World Cup. goals were scored before the half-time per game and per phase of possession
Although statistics do not lie, they are interval. (Spain 3.6, Germany 3.5, France 2.7)
Vivianne Miedema fends off
often quite good at concealing the truth. Investment in fitness levels also made an compared with, for example, England’s 1.7 Stine Larsen in the final between
So debate focused on whether the scarcity impact on game strategies, with teams, as or Austria’s 1.2. “I felt that the the Netherlands and Denmark (4-2).

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THE TECHNICIAN - UEFA Direct - January/February 2018 THE TECHNICIAN

As in the match between Austria and

Switzerland (1-0), strikers often came up viable solution was to go round them. barely under way. The question for A spotlight on goalkeeping
against tight defences. However, statistics related to supply from coaches is whether, with a success rate of Maybe the hottest potato was handed to
the wide areas generated more questionss 1:76 (1:29 at Women’s EURO 2013), it is former Belgium keeper – and national
than answers. In numerical terms, the worth investing training ground time in team coach – Anne Noé, asked to analyse
moments when we opted to clear the ball possession teams – Spain, Germany and rehearsing set plays. Nils Nielsen was goalkeeping performances. In Amsterdam,
out instead of passing to our transition France – delivered the most crosses, with among those who acknowledged the she followed up comments in the
player.” Spain registering the highest success rate need to work on the defensive side. “If tournament review that: “In an honest
On stage in Amsterdam, Hesterine de (59%) based on whether the delivery you were to lose a game because of poor review of Women’s EURO 2017,
Reus’s review of player development issues found a team-mate or not. On the other defending at a corner, you would feel goalkeeping is a nettle that has to be
broached the subject of players ready, hand, the Netherlands, very much a really bad.” Martina Voss-Tecklenburg grasped. But for goalkeepers’ errors, the
willing and able to engage in one-on-ones mid-table team in terms of quantity and also conceded: “You have very little room goal tally would have fallen even further
in the final third: “Could it be that coaches success rate, owed four of their nine for creativity at corners in attack. The below its record low. A compilation of

are underestimating the value of one-on- open-play goals to supply from the wide options are limited and working on set important – many of them match-
one abilities, not basing game plans on areas, largely because they were able to plays in training is not a lot of fun. changing – errors might give goalkeeper
them, not encouraging players to use them penetrate into the areas behind full-backs Free-kicks offer you more scope and, coaches sleepless nights. Crosses
– or even discouraging players from using (notably by playing into space on the right in general, set plays can be useful if you misjudged or mishandled, shots palmed
them?” “What I missed,” added Patricia to exploit the pace of Shanice van de have a specialist in delivering them.” into the net, questionable positioning of
possession teams didn’t have enough Playing direct pays dividends González, “was greater bravery in going Sanden) and deliver crosses that Scotland coach Anna Signeul (now with keeper and wall at set plays, passes directly
changes of pace in their attacking game,” The viability of the direct approach was one-on-one in the final third. Players like goalkeepers and back-tracking defenders Finland) agreed: “The quality of delivery to the opposition striker. On the other
commented Denmark coach Nils Nielsen, underlined by the fact that 24% of the Nadia Nadim, Lieke Martens and Pernille found awkward to deal with. is everything. That’s why we enlisted the hand, the tournament was painted in
“whereas teams like England were able to tournament’s open-play goals could be Harder stood out because they were By and large, they found set plays easier help of a specialist to work on kicking chiaroscuro – the errors were mixed with
do a lot of damage with direct fast- attributed to fast counterattacks executed willing to create disbalance by taking on to deal with. Although dead-ball situations techniques.” Dominik Thalhammer, on a large number of outstanding saves.”
forward attacking.” The three ‘possession before the opponent’s defensive block opponents.” Jarmo Matikainen added: accounted for almost one-third of the the other hand, felt that: “Set plays are an Anne Noé reviewed the contrasting
teams’ scored 10 goals in the 12 matches had time to assemble. The Netherlands “We saw excellent one-on-one defending tournament’s goals, 37% were penalties. important part of the game and, during facets of a tournament which illustrated,
they played – 7 of which were from capitalised on coaching-manual counters – but not so much at the other end. There The major talking point, however, was the the run-up to EURO, we focused on them as she put it, the route from hero to zero
dead-ball situations. In other words, their to score crucial goals, while Austria was a tendency to be very disciplined in total of four goals from 303 corner kicks quite a lot. Not just corners, I have to – and vice versa. The 31 matches produced
1,100 minutes of football yielded only implemented a clear counterattacking applying game plans, and maybe not – two of them on the opening matchday – emphasise. We also scored a goal from 23 clean sheets, athletic qualities had
three open-play goals. Efficient finishing strategy. As the tournament review enough room for improvisation.” while the scouting of opponents was a long throw …” undoubtedly improved, long-range shots
was evidently a factor in the equation. indicates: “The preference was to play The coaches on stage were quick to
Whereas England needed only 5.18 as directly as possible into the final endorse the importance of audacity in
attempts to score a goal and the third, exploiting Nina Burger’s intelligent the final third. “I support this absolutely,” WOMEN’S EURO 2017 IN NUMBERS
Netherlands 5.77, Germany required 17.6, off-the-ball running and composure on Nils Nielsen commented. “You don’t win
France 21.67 and Spain 36.5. the ball. Second-ball support was provided by being careful, so the key is to go 100%.
at sprint speed, with Laura Feiersinger This was our approach in the final. It was
breaking out fast on the right to play certainly more interesting than if we
a key transition role in an effective had parked the bus in front of our goal.
defence-to-attack strategy.” In We would probably have lost anyway …”
Amsterdam, Nils Nielsen, during the Switzerland coach Martina Voss- Average of
24% 23
coaches’ forum session, took the
microphone to express the opinion that
Tecklenburg added: “I always ask my
players to try their one-on-one skills. It’s
of open-play goals
attributed to
clean sheets
in a total of
Feiersinger was his prototype of the player important that they feel brave enough. per match counterattacks 31 matches
of the future: “unpredictable,” he said, So it’s something that, as coaches, we
“but everything she did made a should encourage even more.”
contribution to the team’s collective Although it was fair to argue that
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play”. His opinion provokes reflections defensive qualities had the edge at
on potential dividends from the Women’s EURO 2017, goals were scored
development of ‘transition players’. – and, as Patricia González pointed out,
As Iceland’s Freyr Alexandersson wing play generated almost one third of
admitted: “We did not use our the tournament’s open-play goals. Teams
transition moments as well as were aware that, with defensive blocks
we could have. There were difficult to penetrate centrally, the most

“Players like Nadia Nadim [left], Lieke

Martens and Pernille Harder stood out
because they were willing to create disbalance

Getty Images
by taking on opponents.”
Patricia González
UEFA technical observer

THE TECHNICIAN - UEFA Direct - January/February 2018 THE TECHNICIAN

(historically a fertile source of goals in Martina Voss-Tecklenburg spoke for a great your head is not in the game, it is very Focus on the future
The conference in Amsterdam on 6 November
women’s football) were so competently many of her coaching colleagues when she difficult to be successful.” Anna Signeul All of this prompted Richard Barnwell,
brought together UEFA technical observers
dealt with that only two reached the net, and national team coaches. said: “The biggest challenge during that explained how mental preparation coach of the Estonia women’s Under-19
and mental preparation allowed keepers transitional phase is making the jump in had been fundamental in allowing her team, to enquire about the fundamentals
to rebound strongly after errors. But, as terms of athletic ability, reaction time and players to bounce back after defeats at youth development levels. “To make
she pointed out, keepers often opted to levels of match intensity.” by England and Portugal. Dominik players feel comfortable on the ball, to
parry or punch instead of catching the On the athletic front, a majority of Thalhammer underlined the important stress the importance of enjoying the
ball even when unchallenged – and this the coaches who travelled to Women’s role played by the mental coach who game, to be prepared not to win every
frequently prolonged the opposition’s EURO 2017 acknowledged that they had has been working with the Austria match, and to set reasonable targets,”
attack by keeping the ball in play and worked hard on bringing fitness levels team since 2011 and who has been said Nils Nielsen. “If you don’t have a
creating scenes of chaos in the box. up to international standards from the fully integrated into the coaching large pool of players,” added Martina
Handling and decision-making apart, more modest parameters of domestic team. And as Spain coach Jorge Vilda Voss-Tecklenburg, “the coach has to
her review of the take-away messages competitions. At the same time, they remarked: “The growth in the popularity design a playing strategy according to
for goalkeeper development also included admitted that indices of serious injury of women’s football is bringing it closer the strengths of the individual players.”
the fact that 34% of the tournament’s at youth development levels were to the men’s game. But the men are “To have a vision and a dream at the
goals had been scored from the zone triggering alarms. As Germany coach well ahead of us in dealing with the national association and to go for them,”
between the penalty spot and the edge Steffi Jones commented: “As coaches, pressures. We need to educate our said Dominik Thalhammer, “and, when
of the goal area, and 29% from inside we need to achieve the right balance – players to cope with the media work, you lose, not to look at the result but at
the latter. The inference is that goalkeeper we need to consider the welfare of the the sponsor work … all the trappings the process and ask whether you have
coaches should not be over-reluctant to players and not just have our own that go with top-level sport.” achieved the targets you had set.” “To
pepper keepers from close range on the results uppermost in our minds.” Links with the men’s game provided devise a long-term development plan,”

training ground. another talking point in Amsterdam, Anna Signeul chipped in, “including all
The overall impression, however, was Being in the right state of mind where Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, competition structures. And share your
that, whereas goalkeeping standards had The coaches unanimously underlined the for example, underlined the value of vision with the clubs.”
been one of the outstanding features in value of preparing players mentally for a holistic approach to football in general, In Amsterdam, it was easy to open
2013, Women’s EURO 2017 had left a life at the top. Nils Nielsen, for example, rather than treating women’s football the floor to questions. In print, that
more enigmatic legacy. “Have goalkeepers “The growth in the popularity of women’s football is explained how his players had been as a separate entity. “In Switzerland,” facility ceases to exist. If readers could
not made the same progress as outfield bringing it closer to the men’s game. But the men are nervous prior to Denmark’s opening game she told her colleagues, “we focus on ask questions, the first might easily be
players?” Noé asked. “Or was it just a bad well ahead of us in dealing with the pressures. We need against Belgium and felt more at ease cooperation and input from everybody how it is possible to write so much without
month at the office?” The second option when wearing the underdog label: “We – including club coaches.” Dominik mentioning Sarina Wiegman. She earned
to educate our players to cope with all the trappings
was supported, as it happened, by events knew the tournament was going to be Thalhammer spoke of regular meetings a standing ovation from her colleagues
at the European Women’s Under-19
that go with top-level sport.” tough and it was important to make it with the coaches of the men’s team and with a frank, open-book exposé of all the
Championship final tournament which Jorge Vilda clear that, if something went wrong, we the useful tips they had given him during meticulous planning and attention to detail
kicked off less than 48 hours after the Spain’s women’s national team coach were not going to lie down and cry. If the run-up to the final tournament. which had underpinned the Netherlands’
Dutch had lifted the trophy in Enschede. run to the title – after which UEFA’s
Performances in Northern Ireland managing director of technical
prompted the UEFA technical observers to development, Ioan Lupescu, and Anne
include three keepers in the tournament’s Rei, chairwomen of the UEFA Women’s
all-star squad. England coach ‘Mo’ Football Committee, stepped on stage
Marley said she had “two outstanding to present a commemorative plaque to
goalkeepers” in her squad and, even the champion coach. Wiegman gave an
though results went against their teams, extensive interview in issue No 172, but it
the goalkeepers of Scotland and Northern is only fair to give her the last word here:
Ireland were applauded for impressive “The starting point was a dream. Then
performances. Anja Palusevic, one of the hard work on tasks and responsibilities
observers, commented: “We are seeing among the players and the team
results from good-quality coaching and behind the team. Then we focused
it augurs well for the future.” on commitment and togetherness.
The adjacency of the two tournaments We examined every possible scenario
provided a link with two issues of concern on and off the pitch to prevent unknown
to the coaches in Amsterdam: how best situations. And we pursued our goal of
to bridge the gap between Under-19 getting into the hearts of Dutch society.”
and senior levels, and how best to The Netherlands also set benchmarks for
prepare players mentally for the jump the other national associations aspiring to
into pressure-laden atmospheres at major develop champions of the future.
tournaments played to huge audiences.
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The responses by national associations

to the challenge of steering players from
The Austrians were the surprise of Women’s EURO
youth development levels on to the senior 2017, making it through to the semi-finals in their
stage are too diverse to be listed. But first-ever final tournament.

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