Five Once Football chalkboards and tactical observations from Round Four

The ONCE Football application is a superb tool for analysing data from the A-League, and here are five observations gleaned from chalkboardsy drawn from the app.

Kosmina’s diamond solution

Data is provided by ONCE football – green is forwards, blue is backwards

The decision to ban a media presence from his Thursday training session suggested John Kosmina was going to tinker with his side’s formation. In switching from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-1-2 shape for the match against the Wellington Phoenix, Kosmina was essentially sacrificing the flanks in order to control the centre. Therefore, it wasn’t unusual that Adelaide had 58% of the possession, but it was surprising to see that they didn’t have the usual problems with width associated with the diamond. The nature of the system tends to narrowness but the deployment of Iain Ramsey in the left-sided carrielo role meant the natural winger drifted out to the touchline and stretched the active playing zone, as the chalkboards above indicate.


Ian Crook’s use of Ali Abbas in a central midfield role was an unusual deployment of the player who made his name as a winger for the Newcastle Jets, but it made sense considering he’s a stronger passer than the much maligned Terry McFlynn and therefore more suited to Sydney’s new possession game. Paul Reid has also been promoted to a starting spot following strong showings against Western Sydney and Perth Glory, but Crook indicated that he wasn’t happy with the performance of the midfield on Sunday, suggesting Jason Culina or Terry Antonis may be handed a start in midfield. But Sydney will miss Abbas’ passing range – as the chalkboard below shows, he’s particularly good at switching the play, and fourteen of his passes against Glory were over a distance of thirty metres or more.

Data is provided by ONCE football – green is forwards, blue is backwards

Rogic fails to impress

The performances of Tom Rogic has been the subject of fierce scrutiny on this blog so far this season, but it’s hard to ignore what was another disappointing performance from the youngster. In fairness, it must be remembered that it is only his seventeenth appearance as a professional player, but he does need to be more intelligent in his movement. Rogic was isolated as Matt Thompson and Richard Garcia defended deep and prevented the playmaker moving between the lines, but their job is made easier when Rogic rarely drifts wide or deep and is therefore easier to mark. He completed just five forward passes against the Heart, and Arnold will surely be working on improving his link-up play with the wide attackers of what seems to be his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

Data is provided by ONCE football – green is forwards, blue is backwards

Subtle change for Perth

Data is provided by ONCE football – green is forwards, blue is backwards

The above is a collation of the crosses attempted by the Glory in their first three games of the season, and while in isolation it’s difficult to draw conclusions from the data, but in considering the context of their matches it indicates a change in the attacking play of the full-backs. Iain Ferguson swooped on the discarded Scott Jamieson during the off-season and instantly made the left back a key member of the system by instructing him to motor forward regularly and provide support to Dean Heffernan down the flank. Perhaps unfairly, Ferguson is cast as a conservative manager, but this is a marked change from last year’s system, where the fullbacks were largely instructed to remain in defensive positions.

Sydney strikers too similar?

Data is provided by ONCE football – green is forwards, blue is backwards

It seems everyone in the A-League benefitted from the arrival of Alessandro Del Piero, but one player has felt the marquee’s impact in a negative sense. Kruno Louvrek was signed on his ability, in Crook’s words, “he can finish but he can create as well so that fitted into the bracket that we wanted. We wanted someone who was capable of doing both.” Those characteristics are eerily similar to those of Del Piero, and the clash of styles has impacted upon Sydney’s ability to build attacks. In comparing the two chalkboards above from the Glory match, it’s clear to see how both like to operate in similar zones. That causes congestion in between the lines, and it’s telling that Sydney’s best attacking play so far this season has come when Mitch Mallia was deployed centrally in the Sydney derby, combining pace with Del Piero’s technique to make it much more difficult for the Wanderers to set their defensive line correctly.

All visual representations of ONCE Football used in this article are copyrighted under the license of ONCE Football

By Tim Palmer

Tim is a football coach, writer, analyst and sports scientist. He is currently Assistant Technical Director, Head of Player Development & Video and a coach at NWSF Spirit, as well as working with the Pararoos. Previously, he has worked as an analyst with the Socceroos, and in the A-League.


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