Saudi Arabia get loud awakening for ‘very poor’ team organisation

By Paul Mukatabala

As the opening game of the Russia 2018 World Cup demonstrated, team organisation is key, or else a team will be ‘found’ badly like Saudi Arabia was. The Saudis just cannot defend attack plays from the wide areas.
I was, however, impressed with the organisation of Russia whenever they lost possession.
Quickly putting men behind the ball and making it difficult for Saudi Arabia to penetrate through.

Okay, granted, Saudi Arabia did not offer much as an attacking force, but due credit must go to the Russians.
Team organisation, with and without possession is important.
When a team loses the ball, players must be able to track back into defensive positions and apply pressure to the opponents to try and win back possession. And when possession is regained, hold on to it, especially in the opposition half, if any meaningful attack is to be crafted out.

Difficult to penetrate
Today, teams are more organised and penetrating them through the middle is often difficult. That’s why when teams are in possession, often they will exchange passes in midfield, but look to go in the wide areas, for the wide attackers to take on the full backs and look to shoot direct at goal or deliver into the box, dangerous balls.
And this is where my disappointment was with the Saudi Arabian defence. They should’ve been able to sort themselves out over this, and not concede three of the five goals, from attack plays from wide areas.

At the Russia 2018 WC, I believe most coaches will favour the 4-3-3 formation, often turning into a 4-3-2-1 when a team loses possession. The 4-3-3 formation gives teams numbers in attack and the 4-3-2-1 when possession is lost allows teams to congest that midfield area denying the opposition time and space on the ball.
Situations where teams start with two out and out strikers will be rare.

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