You are here
Home > TACTICAL THEORY >

Guardiola 6 second rule

Pep Guardiola at Barcelona employed the 6-second rule to pressing especially in the final third. He believed that a short intensive burst of pressing in the immediate 6-seconds after losing the ball was most likely to force the opponent into making a mistake in possession, as they were unable to gain composure without time on the ball to relax. The players apply immediate pressing upon losing possession only under specific circumstances.

This was a tactical solution that needed an accurate and coordinated movement from all the players. The players near to the ball were instructed to quickly press the player in possession, while the rest of their teammates created a compact block around them and close all near passing lines. This most often meant that the player with the ball was forced to play backward (limiting the possibility of a counter-attack) or to risk to get into duels and dribbling situation to get out of danger.

In these 6 seconds, there are a series of "triggers" that enable the team to collaborate in perfect harmony, triggers that send out messages to the players about when and where to press collectively. When the ball is lost the whole team needs to fight to get it back. All the players must know exactly where they must move to contribute to the team's effort. Depending on positional play references (teammates, ball, opponent, and position in the filed) the players must react accordingly.

The three options that a player has when the ball is lost are to "press", "cover" and "offer balance". Players in youth teams, depending on their age and level, must be taught to apply the concept of counter-pressing as it is a vital part of modern football.

"You cannot go press on your own...You work on zonal pressure so that when it is in your zone, you can press. That ability to press immediately, within 5 or 6 seconds to get the ball, is important. But you also have to understand when you can't and what the triggers are then to go for it again because you can't run about like a madman".

Brendan Rodgers

When the ball is lost, players must identify if there are the necessary circumstances to apply the 6 seconds rule. A rush decision to apply pressure and push up the defensive line to limit the space of the defensive block may lead to dangerous situations such as long balls behind the defense.

When the ball is lost, players must identify if there are the necessary circumstances to apply the 6 seconds rule. A rush decision to apply pressure and push up the defensive line to limit the space of the defensive block may lead to dangerous situations such as long balls behind the defense.

To help the layers to take the correct decision if they will apply immediate pressure when the ball is lost or they will drop back in a defensive block, a set of pressure triggers must be set:

•             Distance between the players and the ball.

If Barcelona players had big gaps between them or distance from the ball that was lost was big, they preferred to create a high compact defensive block to avoid penetration between their lines. Rush decisions to apply pressure would like to a no coordinated hunt for the ball.

•             When the opponent wins the ball and is forced to turn back to face his won goal

In doing so, the opponent has narrowed down his vision of play and options to only pass back or out of play.

The pass backward is therefore predicted and as players smother the player on the ball, other players limit his options and prepare to pounce on the back pass to the goalkeeper when appropriate.

Thus either regaining possession in a 1 v 1 situation or forcing the goalkeeper to rush his clearance either out of play or into the heart of your defense. Therefore, the press results in you regaining possession or scoring a goal.

•             The second trigger is that of the opponent taking a bad first touch of the ball

This results in the opponents having to look down to relocate the ball and regain control of the ball. In these precious seconds, your team has the chance to reduced the opponent's space significantly.

•             Long ball to change play

A long ball to change side give time to a fast player to quickly reduce space and if the distance allows it to press the opponent who receives a long ball.

•             Other pressing triggers can be predefined pressure zone set as a tactical input

A predefined pressure zone can de set as a targeted area where we want to lead.

Aggressive Pressing has become one of the most important parts of the modern game. The most important attribute, under tactical guidance, is excellent endurance and the ability to continuous close the opposition down in small, intensive bites.

Additionally, while Barcelona forward or midfield players presses the other team, it’s about the players just behind the pressing players who need to read the play and win the ball or intercept it. The players who are pressing the ball and nearby area, are trying to force the opponent to make a bad pass or a mistake in dribbling or holding the ball, and the Barcelona players behind (an excellent example is Sergio Busquets, Pique, and Ivan Rakitic) are trying to read that play as the other team tries to send a long ball downfield to escape pressure.

See below a short video example of Barcelona's immediate pressing when losing the ball in opponent's half.

Leave a Reply

Top