February 11, 2021In Uncategorized17 Minutes

“He was born offside”, this is what Ferguson said of Filippo Inzaghi a few years ago, a phrase which is then cyclically repeated to describe those attackers who always find the right time to mock the opposing defenses and sprint undisturbed, finding themselves then alone in front of the opposing goalkeeper.

Certainly the advent of VAR has reduced the possibility of error on the part of the assistants and now the strategy must be reproduced in an increasingly precise and accurate manner compared to the past.

Today’s analysis, however, does not stop at this, we will not only see the ability of an attacker to find the time to break free from the depths, we will instead start from before and appreciate the preparatory phase, the one in which the conditions are created and then get the better of the opposing defensive line.

In various conferences Juanma Lillo, football philosopher and currently assistant coach to Guardiola at Manchester City, said that in his teams he always preferred to field 2 very open players because the pitch available, taking into account the offside rule, was more wide and long.

This was therefore the best way for him to occupy the available space.

In this case, however, we will see how Luis Suarez, in this amazing year both personally and for Atletico Madrid, manages to exploit even what at first glance we would consider to be a wrong position. In some cases we could also confuse cunning with laziness.

This season, Suarez has already scored 16 goals in the 17 games played, which makes him, temporarily, the “Pichichi” of La Liga and which contributes to keeping Atletico Madrid at the top.

Besides technical skills, we will look at one of the most repeated behaviors of the Uruguayan striker which has earned him 3 goals and several other occasions.

Certainly “the gunslinger” is a very different striker from those who preceded him in Simeone’s team. Before him there were always strikers who were very devoted to the general cause both with and without the ball. This is why Atletico Madrid’s attitude this year has also changed slightly compared to previous seasons.

Suarez is an attacker who, even in the possession phase, sometimes distances himself from the game, hides and does not participate in the maneuver, still creating advantages for himself and his teammates.

His choice is to position himself a couple of meters offside, often in an intermediate space between the 2 central defenders.


Fig.1 Offside positioning

It is a behavior that in general we find more easily during lateral free kicks in which the defending players choose a common line from here and then run towards their own goal. By taking advantage of this programmed movement, the attacking players position themselves a couple of meters offside in order to take position and choose more profitable running trajectories.

We were talking about individual and collective advantages. Let’s start with the seconds. A position of this kind enormously influences the behavior of the opponents who will be in a certain way attracted to the player behind them. It’s a mental attraction that takes part of the defenders’ attention away from the rest of the game. It’s true that this always happens when we talk about attackers of a certain caliber who enjoy a strong “gravity”. The problem is that in this case the defenders do not have the game and the attacker in question in the same field of vision.

The result is that sometimes defenders prefer to lower the line a little, increasing the space for other opponents in front of them or they will simply be late on other interventions because they are “tormented” by the doubt of whether to abandon their position and move away from the player most prolific in the championship.

Individually, however, Suarez manages to hide from his markers and emerge only at the right moment.

he does it mainly in two ways:

  • he takes advantage of a bad alignment of the opposing defense and stays beyond a reference defender but kept in play by another defender;
  • he performs a semicircular run that makes him go back a few meters to get back into the game and then attack the depth again.

Let’s see the 3 goals analyzed


In the last championship match, Suarez applied his strategy very frequently.

From the photo you can see how his behavior was totally independent of both the moment of the race and the rresult. Start or end of the match, draw, defeat or victory, Suarez has always tried to make space for him behind the defensive line


Fig.2 Offside positioning against Celta


Let’s see the goal that gave Atletico the lead. In the first image (fig.3) we can see a moment of attack by the Colchoneros who are stably positioned in the offensive half of the field. Only 2 central defenders are still behind the midfield line in a high 2+2 construction with two teammates near the midfield circle. Suarez is already in his position.

At this time this is not a possible solution for game development. The opponents keep a high line which already creates a lot of problems for his teammates who are unable to find space between the lines, there is no point in crowding that central area further. Better to stay out of it (game).


Fig.3 Suarez distances himself from the action, remaining behind the defenders

As the ball develops, it manages to reach the midfielders who can still operate quite undisturbed. In fact, the line of 4 Celtic midfielders is more concerned with keeping the distances short with the defense and leaves ample space to decide the play.

Suarez continues to observe the action almost disinterestedly. His posture is not yet active. He’s still waiting for something more interesting to happen.

Fig. 4 Central defender attracted by man in front of him

What you wait for happens soon after. The lack of pressure from the midfielders and the high line are an almost lethal combination that the Atletico Madrid players decide to exploit by attacking the depth with a direct game.

Clearly the launch will not be made towards the center where the red and white number 9 is stationed but towards the outside where moreover there is more space compared to the central concentration of men.

It is at this moment that Suarez begins his action.

Fig.5 Suarez exploits his advantageous position

With the ball thrown over the line, defenders are forced to retreat. In this case Suarez will not have to do anything to get back into the game, it is the opponents themselves who rehabilitate his position.

The problem for them, however, is that the Atletico striker has already created his advantage and it will be difficult for them to recover it.

The right central defender was previously attracted by an opponent positioned between the lines and in doubt whether to exit or not to exit he ended up losing contact with the number 9 behind him

This difficulty also arises from the skill of the left winger who by first intention, therefore without giving the defenders time to recover, manages to put a ball in that middle ground between the defense and the goalkeeper. The ideal place to place the ball for the running attacker


Fig. 6 Suarez arrives first on the cross from the left


In fact, Suarez does not miss the opportunity and, with a great technical gesture, stretches out and anticipates everyone, putting the ball behind the opposing goalkeeper.



In this case the action starts from a lateral foul in Atletico Madrid’s half of the field. Particular situation because all the players of the 2 teams are positioned in a quarter of the pitch. All ready to intervene directly or perhaps on a second ball.

All but one.

Fig.7 Suarez moves into the space vacated by the defender

Hisrez is offside (which obviously wouldn’t be there on a throw-in but is too far away to receive directly). He is there to exploit the misstep of opposing defenders.

The error occurs immediately because one of the defenders is attracted by the player receiving the lateral foul. He attacks him and forces him to go back.

This attitude, however, immediately triggers Suarez who, with a half-moon movement, gets back into the game and positions himself to attack the immense space that can lead him to the goal.

It is true that the teammate who received the lateral foul cannot turn and serve it directly but finds support from a teammate who is in the perfect position to reach the attacker.

Fig.8 Suarez ready to attack the depth

The passage is actually not perfect. He reaches his destination but is too short and does not allow Suarez to exploit the space. The Uruguayan, however, is still in an advantageous position and takes advantage of Renan Lodi’s overlap to play a 2v1 and possibly send his teammate to the shot.


Fig. 9 Suarez awaits his partner for 2c1

In the final part of the action, Renan Lodi, instead of finishing individually, still prefers to exploit the inertia of the Betis defenders, who are constantly late, to catch them off-beat and return the ball to Suarez who doesn’t take any time and puts the ball into the net .

Fig.10 Suarez follows in tow after the pass

Fig.11 Goal of 2 to 0



Lastly we see the goal against Elche. Compared to the previous two, however, this is a slightly different thing. In this case we always appreciate the movement that we have analyzed so far, but in general we see Suarez’s ability to hide from his opponent.

From the first image of the action we always see how, even with modest space compared to previous actions, Suarez moves horizontally but always beyond the opponent’s defense line

Fig.12 Suarez prepares by starting offside

The moment Llorente receives the ball we recognize the circular movement that allows the number 9 to return to the game and gain an advantage over the first opponent.

Llorente, however, a little hindered in his passing trajectory, prefers not to force the play and chooses to move the game to the opposite side.

Fig.13 Suarez makes the movement to get back into the game

Meanwhile, the action continues to move to the left.

This is where we appreciate Suarez’s idea even better. Ultimately, the gap is always the same. Only the point of view has changed, the axis of the game has shifted. However, he maintains his position behind everyone and well away from the “antennas” of his defender who for a moment forgets about him.

Fig.14 Suarez hides from his opponent by staying behind him

At the moment of the cross the “damage” is already done.

There are 3 defenders near the goal area. The first 2 choose a semi-open posture. They look at the ball but at the same time try to observe what is happening in the penalty area.

The one furthest away has a totally closed posture. Suarez kept his distance until then, disappeared and disappearedthe defender lost attention towards him

Here too, by the time he finds her again it will be late.

Fig.15 Suarez emerges from behind the opponent at the moment of the cross

On the cross Suarez emerges at the far post behind everyone and still in splits he manages to get to the ball and score a goal.

Fig. 16 Goals of 2-0 against Elche


A numerical curiosity. Despite this continuous search to escape the marker by starting off-side, Suarez has only been stopped offside 10 times in 17 games in the league.

In Europe, however, things went differently. In the match against Bayern Munich alone he found himself offside 6 times. This mainly depends on two factors.

One is that Bayern is a team that this year is trying to keep the line very high, sometimes for no reason, the other is that great teams in general are less influenced by the presence of equally strong players and, convinced of their own recovery capabilities,  they still keep the teams short and high.


February 11, 2021In Uncategorized17 Minutes