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Soccer tactics The Evolution of Systems episode 1 - 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 vote
Soccer tactics

In this article, we will trace the development and evolution of the game of soccer through the growth of systems of play and soccer tactics. Today‘s modern game clearly can be traced back to the late 1800s.

The Dribbling Game

On Oct. 26, 1863, representatives from a group of clubs met at the Freemason‘s Tavern in England to draw up the first official rules. The rules were accepted on December 18, 1863.

Rule 6 stated”when a player has kicked the ball, any one of the same side who is nearer to the opponent‘s goal line is out of play” (offside!). The lifeblood of the early games was the skill of tactics drills The forward pass was banned.  Rule 6 was changed in 1866 to permit advanced players to receive a pass, providing there were at least three opponents between themselves and the goal line.

There still was little difference in the way the game was played. In the 1870s, soccer pundit C.W. Adcock wrote about”the grand and essential principle of backing   up. “This first recognized principle of play was understood to mean the following closely of a fellow player in case possession was lost. There was no mention of passing.




The first international match saw Scotland play England in Glasgow, where the English played a 1-2-7 and the Scots a 2-2-6. It was the Scots who realized the potential of the 1866 rule change and began to employ the short pass. Despite the large number of forwards in the game,soccer tactics books the result was a 0-0 tie.

Players now had to think about their positional play due to the new weapon, the pass. By the 1883 Football Association Cup final, the English had developed the long passing game. Blackburn won the finale easily, using the long pass to change the point of attack from wing to wing.

By this time, new skills had been introduced to the game –soccer tactics game the ability to hit a long ball and the skills necessary to receive, intercept or clear long passes. Heading, chest trapping, receiving on the run and volleying were skills now emphasized.

The Pyramid System

By 1890 the favored system of play in England had evolved to the 2-3-5 formation. A pyramid shape was described, as one would draw lines from the two wings on either side of the field back to the tactics software The key player was the center halfback, who was supposed to come forward on attack and also serve to organize the five-person defense (versus the five attackers of the opponents). Note that the system utilized only two defending backs.

The W-M Formation

The offside law was amended in 1925. From then on, attackers needed only two opponents between themselves and the goal line at the moment the ball was played. If justification for the rule change was needed, it emerged from the matches themselves.  The number of goals in the English First Division shot up 40 percent, from 1,192 in 1925 to 1,703 in 1926.

Defenses had to be strengthened, and Arsenal coach Herbert Chapman, who had taken over the London club in 1925, drew up a new tactical plan.

The center forward was doing the most attacking damage in the game, so Chapman dropped the center half to the position of fullback to mark him. This position became known as the”stopper“and represented the birth of the modern man-to-man marker style. Defensive responsibilities were now reassigned, with the original fullbacks moving wide to mark the wingers and the wing halves assigned to look after the inside forwards.

For the next 25 years, the new center back or “stopper” and the pivot of the other backs to provide cover and balance dominated the game. Basically, if the ball was with a winger, the outside back marked that player; the center back provided cover and the weak side back was concerned with balancing things.

Any system of play stands or falls with the men who put it into formations  Arsenal‘s W-M prevailed because of the genius of Chapman in finding the right players to fill the roles he had established. The key to the attacking success of Arsenal was in the playmaking abilities of one of the withdrawn inside forwards, Scotsman Alex James.

Chapman died in 1934, but between 1927 and 1938 the team that he built won the league championship five times and the FA Cup twice. By the late 1930‘s the W-M was the standard formation of every English club.

Outside of the English game, the attacking center half continued to flourish, particularly in Hungary,soccer strategy Austria and South America. In the first World Cup in 1930, both finalists, Argentina and Uruguay, utilized the 2-3-5 pyramid formation.

Artistry was the essence of the South American game, which often emphasized individual talent to decide games while collective tactics were minimized.  Asked  about  the  role  of coaching in  those  days,soccer drills  Uruguayan left  back  Ernesto Mascheroni replied, ”What are the coaches for? Only the player can solve the problems on the field.  What does a player do when he meets another who makes a fool of him? Ask the coach? “

The Uruguayans won the first Cup by the score of 4-2, and opinions were expressed that they were a better-organized team. With the score 3-2 and with Argentina doing all the attacking and soccer tactics,soccer positions Uruguay laid back and then used a quick counter to score on a breakaway.  This type of play now would become a tactic for some teams.


Learn More Here:

Tactical Soccer

Soccer Politics



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