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Team Villa, Girona, and Leverkusen, European soccer sensation, prove that ‘football is a coach’

European soccer in the 2023-2024 season has many amazing teams. The main characters are Aston Villa, who ranked third in the English Premier League by dominating traditional powerhouses such as Manchester City (England), Girona, who is fiercely competing with Real Madrid to become the Spanish Primera Liga leader, and Leverkusen (Germany), which ended its first half with no loss in 16 matches (13 wins and three draws). What they have in common is that they have successfully changed their constitution since the new coach took office. European soccer is proving itself to be a coach after all. 안전놀이터

Villa manager Unai Emery is a collection of trophies with four UEFA Europa League titles. Having advanced to the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League in April last year, he successfully advanced to the European club competition (Conference League) for the first time in 12 years by placing his team in seventh place in the 2022-2023 season, his first season as a member of Villa. The season is full of gusts of wind.

Under Emery’s leadership, Villa have transformed into a team that displays flexible yet well-organized movements. While the basic formation is 4-4-2, manager Emery changes players’ positions from time to time by allowing midfielder to fall to the side and play, and use fullback to assist in attack. While seeking the back space by banking on fast forward Ollie Watkins, the team also maintains numerical advantage by banking on its strikers’ intense pressure in the front when defending. If the team finds possession of the ball again, one of its flank midfielder forms a triangle formation to break away from the 4-4-2 formation, while the central midfielder covers the gap between the striker and the fullback from the side. Defense, which had been shaky under the former coach Steven Gerrard, also regained stability and gained momentum.

Girona’s meteoric rise is attributable to his coach. Having taken the helm since 2021, Mitchell is well-known as a leader who communicates positively with players and tries to maintain good relations with all players. Even defender Daly Blint, who sought to transfer to Germany after leaving Ajax, said that he gained confidence in Girona after talking with Mitchell.

He is also armed with strong tactical skills. Mitchell has reorganized his team by maximizing his offensive power rather than defense. He focuses on creating space to attack from the sidelines by using 4-2-3-1 in which the winger and the full-back are widely spread out. For example, if the full-back is at the outer side, the winger goes inwards, sometimes even reaching the opposite full-back, inducing confusion in the opponent’s defense. Wingers aggressively engage in one-on-one fights with opposing defenders near the box, create chances to shoot or cross, or induce fouls. Rather than gathering at the back of the team, the center backs also focus on providing assistance to three-way passes between goalkeepers and full-backs, as well as facilitating offensive operations. As a result, Girona has become the league’s top scorer (42 goals) and is ranking second in goal tally with Real Madrid (45 points).

Manager is one of the reasons behind Leverkusen’s meteoric rise. Coach Xavi Alonso took the helm of Leverkusen during the last season to finish the season by ranking sixth, and led his team to the Europa League, where he was recognized for its leadership. As figures suggest, the team has produced a well-balanced performance in both offense and defense this season, with the minimum number of goals scored (12 goals) and the second highest number of goals scored (46 goals).

Alonso tries various changes based on 3-4-3 but mixed four-backs. The key is to attract the opponent through build-up soccer and secure space to penetrate the center and side. He raises the defensive line and increases the probability of scoring with a one-shot kill pass in the box. In particular, Alonso is creating a situation in which the opponent team knows well by making good moves so that fullbacks Alex Grimaldo, Jeremy Frimpong, and midfielder Granit Xhaka can form a triangle formation under any circumstances. If this trend continues in the second half of the year, he is expected to break Bayern Munich’s stronghold and win the title.

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