The ‘Halbraum’: What do you need to know about a half-space in football ?

Several football methods and tactical shapes have been set as standards throughout the years, only to be surpassed by other strategies or tactics years later. However, in the previous decade, several tacticians, like Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp, have begun to emphasize the use of something known as half-spaces. On a football pitch, the half-space is the area between the center and the wing. As follows, we will talk about what are half-spaces, and why are they important.

What is a half-space?

Rene Maric was a football tactics blogger teaching a squad of amateurs in 2014 when he became intrigued by a geometry he’d heard about in coaching circles. Managers such as Jurgen Klopp and Ralf Rangnick did not simply split the field into vertical halves or thirds. They discussed five horizontal zones spanning the length of the field, similar to the ones Pep Guardiola wrote on his Bayern Munich training pitch to assist in directing players’ spacing and movement.

Half-spaces

The exterior zones were obvious; these were the wings. The center was, well, the middle. The two bands in between were known as halbraum, or “half-spaces” in German.

In other words, ‘half-space’ is the horizontal aspect of playing between the lines.

The Importance of ‘Half-Spaces’

Half spaces often resemble the gaps between fullbacks and center backs, and hence are comparable to what is sometimes referred to as channels. Just as there is room between the lines vertically, there is typically more space horizontally in the half-space due to the natural placement of defenders; not too near but also not too far apart.

The reason why great managers like Guardiola and Klopp are interested in the half-space is fairly clear. At the end of the day, football is about scoring more goals than your opponent. The center zone is closest to the goal and allows you to pass in any direction (left, right, forward, backward, and four diagonals). This zone, however, is often the most crowded. The wing is normally less packed, but it has the disadvantage of having a sideline that restricts players from passing to just half of the possible directions (forward, backward, left or right, and two diagonals).

Body position and orientation in half-spaces

When a player has the ball in the half-space, he may still pass in any direction. His body position is better in relation to both the goal and other passing options. It also has the advantage of facing the goal diagonally rather than vertically, which eliminates the need for the player to face away from the goal.

How to benefit from half-spaces?

When it comes to half-spaces, though, thoughts gravitate to what Pep Guardiola has done with his Manchester City club in recent years, particularly with Kevin De Bruyne.

Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne

Man City’s star displayed the worth of the half-space time and time again, arriving on time, occupying several defenders at once, and creating opportunity after chance from the inner channel, or half-space as we’ll call it today. What we do know is that Pep wants all five game channels in the attacking half of the field to be occupied as an offensive concept. Many of the top Positional Game Model coaches of all time, such as Marcelo Bielsa, Quique Setien, and Juanma Lillo, demand comparable concepts from their offensive models.

‘It’s not about the opponent, it is not about the ball, it is about the space the ball may be played into and the opponent that may come into it’

Louis Van Gaal

As conclusion, using the half-spaces gives teams a way of playing passes, at an angle, into areas they might not be able to from the center or the wings. Altogether, they create an element of uncertainty for defenders as a whole, and this is something teams should explore.

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