Gegenpressing: What to know about Jurgen Klopp’s playmaker

Tactics in football are evolving as more head coaches are stepping in with new ideas to experiment on the pitch. Gegenpressing is a German term meaning counter-pressing. Its a popular style of play linked to German coach Jurgen Klopp in his time at Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool. This way is a key for coaches like Pep Guardiola, Marcelo Bielsa, and Ralf Rangnick’s style of play. As follows, we will discuss what is Gegenpressing, its history, and how it is applied.

What is Gegenpressing ?

All teams in the football game press their opponents to win the ball and stop them from attacking. Gegenpressing aims to win the ball fast by pressing high in the opponents’ territory when possession is lost. This pressure is led by the forward line acting as the first line of defence.

With a lot of running and closing down targeting the opposition defenders, the least adept on the ball, this pressure forces errors from the opposition player when playing the ball from the back.

The player being pressed is vulnerable because he is controlling the ball and has no time to follow with his teammates, hence leading to countering the counter-attack. This style requires speed from the team to panic the man on the ball and regain possession as quickly and as high up the pitch as possible. Organization is important also to position well to support the press from the front and close the targets and fall back when needed.

No playmaker in the world can be as good as a good counter pressing situation

Jurgen Klopp at Skysports interview

Gegenpressing’s history

Gegenpressing is often linked to Jurgen Klopp who is one of the latest coaches evolving this philosophy. Pressing developed in the 1960s in the USSR and Netherlands, with players closing down the man with the ball. it also dominated English football in the 1980s as Klopp said once.

Arrigo Sacchi the legendary AC Milan and Italy coach was one of the implementors of the pressing game. This inspired Wolfgang Frank, Klopp’s mentor, who was a keen advocate of the pressing game.

Other coaches use the pressing style in their game not least Marcelo Bielsa who instructs players to run all the time, another example is Pep Guardiola starring at Barcelona.

How do coaches apply this philosophy?

Every coach implements these tactics with the way he plays, this led to many variations in applying this philosophy. For example, Jupp Heynckes sends one man to the ball while others close down potential recipients.

Klopp tends to surround the man with the ball. With the pressing of Sadie Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah and with the help of full-backs Trent Arnold and Andrew Robertson Liverpool formed a system, which saw them win the Champions League in 2019 and emerge as an antidote to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

what is Gegenpressing

Pep Guardiola prefers blocking the passing lanes between the man in possession and potential recipients. All these variations demand highly fit players with strong physical and mental attributes.

“If we let our opponents play in a way they were accustomed to, they would grow in confidence, but if we stopped them it would hurt their confidence”

Arrigo Sacchi

Conclusion

The football game is continuously evolving as more coaches and tactics are being created. Gegenpressing has become a popular style of play in modern football and is a key tactic for many coaches’ styles of play. This style as well as others is the key component of thrilling and exciting games being played.

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