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Analysing Opposition Strengths and Weaknesses

Do you play the same players and use your favoured formations and instructions game after game? By analysing each opponent before a match you might uncover important details that suggest a different approach might yield better results.

Take a look at our suggestions on how to analyse your opponents strengths and weaknesses:

  1. Scout reports – Firstly I’d always recommend assigning one of your best scouts to report on your ‘next opponent’. This report will give you inside information on likely formations, style of play, types of goals scored, conceded and where their assists are likely to come from. If possible assign this job to a scout who knows the domestic league well
  2. Be realistic – Who’s on form? Who has the better side? Are you likely to dominate the game or find yourself under relentless pressure? Consider these things when choosing your formation, instructions and mentality. If you’re not likely to see much of the ball it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to play with 3 strikers, you’d be better off packing the midfield and making yourself hard to break down. You can look at possession stats to help you make a decision
  3. Having said that when confidence is high play to your strengths. Leicester did this all the way through the 2015/16 season and it helped them win the Premier League. A side high in confidence is capable of anything
  4. Condition – Always check on your players condition and match fitness to see if they’re in good enough shape for the match. I generally tend to drop a player if his condition falls below 90%, but if it’s a key player they’ll likely take a seat on the bench in case we need them later on
  5. Take a look at the oppositions attacking options – Are they fast/slow? Are they tall/short? Compare these attributes to your defenders and see how they match up. If you’re playing against a tall and slow striker (an Andy Carroll type) you’d likely benefit from some height in your defence to match up, that way you can challenge him in the air and on set pieces. You might find a high defensive line stifles his ability to impact on the game too, since he’ll struggle to run onto through balls and long balls will drop a safe distance from your goal. On the flip side a striker with pace and acceleration needs to be handled completely differently. If your defence is short of pace I’d strongly consider a deep defensive line to reduce the through balls, alternatively you might want to deploy an offside trap
  6. The pace and movement of Torres caused all kinds of problems for Vidic

    The pace and movement of Torres caused all kinds of problems for Vidic

  7. Look at the opposition centre backs – Similarly to above, if they’re slow and cumbersome you might get more joy from a mobile and fast striker who frequently makes runs and moves into channels. Using a target man would likely play into their hands, unless you’re playing someone just off the striker who can run onto any knock downs
  8. Stifle creativity – Do they have a primary playmaker, a number 10 who dictates the play, a Wayne Rooney, David Silva, Ross Barkley type of player? Consider shutting off the supply line with the use of man marking. If you play an anchor man between the defence and midfield he’s ideally placed to pick him up. You can’t always stop these gifted players but reducing their impact on the game could improve your chances of garnering a positive result
  9. Attacking full back and wingers – Don’t leave yourself exposed. If the opponent is playing with attacking wingers high up the pitch and you favour the use of wing backs, you might find you’re giving away too much space and inviting pressure from wide areas. Full backs who are more responsible defensively might plug the gap better in this situation, a defensive winger could help too depending on your game plan
  10. Jack Wilshire has had his fair share of injury problems

    Jack Wilshire has had his fair share of injury problems

  11. Who’s available for selection – You might find that one or two key players are ruled out through injury or suspension. Take a look at the replacements, is there a weak spot you can exploit? Has a youth player been drafted in to cover an area where they’re squad is lacking in depth?
  12. Big games – If he doesn’t enjoy the big games maybe consider dropping him to the bench for a rest. You’ll want players who enjoy the big games in the derby matches. Local players are also a good option; we’ve seen the galvanising effect of players like Steven Gerrard and Gary Neville plenty of times over in important fixtures

These are just a few ideas on how you might analyse your opponents to find advantages that could improve results. If you have any suggestions of your own feel free to share these in the comments below, and if you found this useful a share on social media would be much appreciated.


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