Composite Styles

A composite style is a particular composite of two or more component styles.

Composite styles formed by compositing core styles and attacking styles include:

  • Pass and move football – a composite of attacking football and short plays.
  • Possession football – a composite of defensive football and short plays.

Composite styles formed by compositing core styles and defensive styles include:

  • Cautious attacking football – a composite of attacking football and cautious defending.
  • Aggressive defensive football – a composite of defensive football and aggressive defending.
  • Parking-the-bus football – a composite of defensive football and cautious defending.

Composite styles formed by compositing the above include:

  • Direct high pressure football – a composite of direct attacking football and high pressure football.
  • Cautious direct attacking football – a composite of direct attacking football and cautious attacking football.
  • High pressure pass and move football – a composite of pass and move football and high pressure football.
  • Cautious pass and move football – a composite of pass and move football and cautious attacking football.
  • Aggressive long ball football – a composite of long ball football and aggressive defensive football.
  • Parking-the-bus long ball football – a composite of long ball football and parking-the-bus football.
  • Aggressive possession football – a composite of possession football and aggressive defensive football.
  • Parking-the-bus possession football – a composite of possession football and parking-the-bus football.

Urgent football and anti-football are typically only used as match strategies (in particular matches or during particular match scenarios) due to their extreme overall tactical risk levels.

Each of the composite styles in the two former groups is summarised below, with details of the following (derived from the equivalent information for the composited component styles):

  • Typical primary style methodscomplementary playing methods of the key primary style methods that are typically considered to be fundamentally necessary for the key primary style methods to be effective and are therefore typically also used as primary style methods. Contrasting pairs of playing methods, which occur due to contrasts in the composited component styles, are also included and are typically used according to the extent to which each key primary style method is used.
  • Common secondary style methods – additional complementary playing methods of the key primary style methods that are typically considered to not be fundamentally necessary for the key primary style methods to be effective but are commonly added as secondary style methods. Contrasting pairs of playing methods are again included and may be used to complement a particular key primary style method to a greater extent, to increase the focus on a particular tactical objective or to balance tactical risk.
  • Tactical risk – details of the composite style’s overall level of tactical risk as determined by the key and typical primary style methods, along with details of how tactical risk can be balanced.
  • Typical number-ten – the type of number-ten central attacker that is typically used with the composite style, as explained in the Role Categories guide. The frequency with which such number-tens receive the ball relative to other central attackers is particularly important for helping the team to create goal-scoring chances effectively. Therefore, such number-tens may be implemented as focal players, while other central attackers are typically not implemented as focal players.

As stated above, these details are derived from the equivalent information given for the composited component styles. Player suitability can be derived similarly. Details for the composite styles in the latter group can also be derived similarly.

The extent to which it is appropriate for a team to implement each of the primary and secondary style methods detailed below depends on player suitability, the overall tactical risk level desired by the team’s manager and the preferences of the team’s manager.

Direct Attacking Football

Key Primary Style Methods

  • High risk mentality
  • Long passes

Typical Primary Style Methods

  • Pushing up from the front (attacking depth)
  • Pushing up (defensive depth)
  • Wide positioning
  • High tempo play
  • Pushing up from the back / sitting deep at the back (attacking depth)

Common Secondary Style Methods

  • Direct dribbles
  • Dribbles into channels
  • Hold-up play
  • Passes in behind
  • Crosses
  • Crosses from deep
  • Speculative shots
  • Sporting integrity
  • Stepping up
  • Tight marking
  • Tackling
  • Roaming movement, runs into channels / disciplined movement
  • Lateral dribbles / disciplined dribbles
  • Passes into space / passes to player
  • Playing out of danger (including dropping deep) / clearances
  • Creative freedom / tactical discipline

Tactical Risk

Typical overall attacking risk level: very high – focuses more on penetrating space.

Typical overall defensive risk level: high – focuses more on restricting space.

Tactical risk can be balanced to some extent with the use of disciplined movement, disciplined dribbles, passes to player, clearances or tactical discipline, or by compositing direct attacking football with the cautious defending style.

Typical Forward Movement Partnerships

Typical Passing Range System

  • More progressive – the directness of build-up play increases as it develops.

Typical Number-Ten

Tactical Organisation

Tactical reorganisation frequency typically required:

  • More frequent attacking reorganisation – due to a very high overall attacking risk level.
  • More frequent defensive reorganisation – due to a high overall defensive risk level.

Typical speed of tactical transition:

  • Moderate – due to the typical use of a mixture of direct and overlapping partnerships (slightly quicker/slower if players have good/poor mobility – players who have good mobility may be used to enable quicker tactical transition).

Use of breaks and consolidating possession:

  • Consolidating possession (and holding shape) can be particularly useful to balance attacking risk.
  • Counter attacks can be used more frequently due to the lesser focus on keeping possession by using long passes in particular.

Use of counter pressing and regrouping:

  • Regrouping can be particularly useful to balance defensive risk.
  • Counter pressing can help the team to win possession immediately after conceding possession and so it can be particularly useful for counter attacking more frequently.
  • Counter pressing can be particularly useful for initiating high pressure counter attacks.

Pass and Move Football

Key Primary Style Methods

  • High risk mentality
  • Short passes

Typical Primary Style Methods

  • Pushing up from the back (attacking depth)
  • Pushing up (defensive depth)
  • Wide positioning (defensive width)
  • Pushing up from the front / sitting deep at the front (attacking depth)
  • Wide positioning / narrow positioning (attacking width)
  • High tempo play / low tempo play

Common Secondary Style Methods

  • Roaming movement, runs into channels
  • Collecting the ball
  • Lateral dribbles
  • Carrying the ball
  • Passes into space
  • Passes between the lines
  • Playing out of danger (including dropping deep)
  • Creative freedom
  • Sporting integrity
  • Stepping up
  • Tight marking
  • Tackling
  • Direct dribbles / refraining from dribbles
  • Crosses / refraining from crosses
  • Crosses from deep / crosses from byline
  • Speculative shots / refraining from shots

Tactical Risk

Typical overall attacking risk level: moderate – balances penetrating space with keeping possession to some extent, but this depends on the use of higher/lower risk attacking methods.

Typical overall defensive risk level: high – focuses more on restricting space.

Tactical risk can be balanced to some extent with the use of sitting deep at the front (attacking depth), narrow positioning (attacking width), low tempo play, refraining from dribbles, refraining from crosses, crosses from byline or refraining from shots, or by compositing pass and move football with the cautious defending style.

Typical Forward Movement Partnerships

  • Overlapping partnerships

Typical Passing Range System

  • More progressive – the directness of build-up play increases as it develops.

Typical Number-Ten

  • Technical number-ten

Tactical Organisation

Tactical reorganisation frequency typically required:

  • Moderately frequent attacking reorganisation – due to a moderate overall attacking risk level, but this depends on the use of higher/lower risk attacking methods.
  • More frequent defensive reorganisation – due to a high overall defensive risk level.

Typical speed of tactical transition:

  • Slow – due to the typical use of more overlapping partnerships, particularly if players have poor mobility (however, players who have good mobility may be used to enable quicker tactical transition).

Holding shape and regrouping are more likely to be effective if the team has a slow tactical transition but counter attacking and counter pressing are more likely to be ineffective. However, these effects can be reversed if the speed of tactical transition is quicker.

Use of breaks and consolidating possession:

  • Counter attacks can be used less frequently due to the greater focus on keeping possession by using short passes in particular.
  • High pressure breaks can be used to a greater extent due to the use of higher risk playing methods.
  • High pressure counter attacks can be used to a greater extent due to the use of higher risk defensive methods.

Use of counter pressing and regrouping:

  • Regrouping can be particularly useful to balance defensive risk.
  • Counter pressing can help the team to win possession immediately after conceding possession and so it can be particularly useful for cycling possession, as it can enable the team to spend more time in possession.
  • Counter pressing can be particularly useful for initiating high pressure counter attacks.

Long Ball Football

Key Primary Style Methods

  • Low risk mentality
  • Long passes

Typical Primary Style Methods

  • Sitting deep at the back (attacking depth)
  • Sitting deep (defensive depth)
  • Narrow positioning (defensive width)
  • Pushing up from the front / sitting deep at the front (attacking depth)
  • Wide positioning / narrow positioning (attacking width)
  • High tempo play / low tempo play

Common Secondary Style Methods

  • Disciplined movement
  • Disciplined dribbles
  • Dribbles into channels
  • Hold-up play
  • Passes in behind
  • Passes to player
  • Clearances
  • Tactical discipline
  • Wasting time
  • Playing for set pieces
  • Stepping back
  • Loose marking
  • Holding off
  • Direct dribbles / refraining from dribbles
  • Crosses / refraining from crosses
  • Crosses from deep / crosses from byline
  • Speculative shots / refraining from shots

Tactical Risk

Typical overall attacking risk level: moderate – balances keeping possession, retaining solidity and retaining compactness with penetrating space to some extent, but this depends on the use of higher/lower risk attacking methods.

Typical overall defensive risk level: low – focuses more on protecting space and retaining compactness.

Tactical risk can be balanced to some extent with the use of pushing up from the front (attacking depth), wide positioning (attacking width), high tempo play, passes in behind, direct dribbles, crosses, crosses from deep or speculative shots, or by compositing long ball football with the aggressive defending style.

Typical Forward Movement Partnerships

  • Direct partnerships

Typical Passing Range System

  • More direct – the directness of build-up play decreases as it develops.

Typical Number-Ten

  • Target-man

Tactical Organisation

Tactical reorganisation frequency typically required:

  • Moderately frequent attacking reorganisation – due to a moderate overall attacking risk level, but this depends on the use of higher/lower risk attacking methods.
  • Less frequent defensive reorganisation – due to a low overall defensive risk level.

Typical speed of tactical transition:

  • Quick – due to the typical use of more direct partnerships, particularly if players have good mobility.

Counter attacking and counter pressing are more likely to be effective if the team has a quick tactical transition but holding shape and regrouping are more likely to be ineffective. However, these effects can be reversed if the speed of tactical transition is slower.

Use of breaks and consolidating possession:

  • Counter attacks can be used more frequently due to the lesser focus on keeping possession by using long passes in particular.

Use of counter pressing and regrouping:

  • Counter pressing can be particularly useful to balance defensive risk.
  • Counter pressing can help the team to win possession immediately after conceding possession and so it can be particularly useful for counter attacking more frequently.

Possession Football

Key Primary Style Methods

  • Low risk mentality
  • Short passes

Typical Primary Style Methods

  • Sitting deep at the front (attacking depth)
  • Sitting deep (defensive depth)
  • Narrow positioning
  • Low tempo play
  • Pushing up from the back / sitting deep at the back (attacking depth)

Common Secondary Style Methods

  • Collecting the ball
  • Refraining from dribbles
  • Carrying the ball
  • Passes between the lines
  • Refraining from crosses
  • Crosses from byline
  • Refraining from shots
  • Wasting time
  • Playing for set pieces
  • Stepping back
  • Loose marking
  • Holding off
  • Roaming movement, runs into channels / disciplined movement
  • Lateral dribbles / disciplined dribbles
  • Passes into space / passes to player
  • Playing out of danger (including dropping deep) / clearances
  • Creative freedom / tactical discipline

Tactical Risk

Typical overall attacking risk level: very low – focuses more on keeping possession, retaining solidity and retaining compactness.

Typical overall defensive risk level: low – focuses more on protecting space and retaining compactness.

Tactical risk can be balanced to some extent with the use of pushing up from the back (attacking depth), passes between the lines, roaming movement, runs into channels, lateral dribbles, passes into space, playing out of danger or creative freedom, or by compositing possession football with the aggressive defending style.

Typical Forward Movement Partnerships

  • A mixture of direct partnerships and overlapping partnerships

Typical Passing Range System

  • More direct – the directness of build-up play decreases as it develops.

Typical Number-Ten

  • Technical number-ten or target-man

Tactical Organisation

Tactical reorganisation frequency typically required:

  • Less frequent attacking reorganisation – due to a very low overall attacking risk level.
  • Less frequent defensive reorganisation – due to a low overall defensive risk level.

Typical speed of tactical transition:

  • Moderate – due to the typical use of a mixture of direct and overlapping partnerships (slightly quicker/slower if players have good/poor mobility – players who have good mobility may be used to enable quicker tactical transition).

Use of breaks and consolidating possession:

  • Initiating breaks (and counter attacking) can be particularly useful to balance attacking risk.
  • Counter attacks can be used less frequently due to the greater focus on keeping possession by using short passes in particular.
  • Breaks from deep can be used to a greater extent due to the use of lower risk playing methods.
  • Counter attacks from deep can be used to a greater extent due to the use of lower risk defensive methods.

Use of counter pressing and regrouping:

  • Counter pressing can be particularly useful to balance defensive risk.
  • Counter pressing can help the team to win possession immediately after conceding possession and so it can be particularly useful for cycling possession, as it can enable the team to spend more time in possession.

High Pressure Football

Key Primary Style Methods

  • High risk mentality
  • Closing down

Typical Primary Style Methods

  • Pushing up
  • Wide positioning
  • High tempo play

Common Secondary Style Methods

  • Roaming movement, runs into channels
  • Direct dribbles
  • Lateral dribbles
  • Passes into space
  • Crosses
  • Crosses from deep
  • Playing out of danger (including dropping deep)
  • Speculative shots
  • Creative freedom
  • Sporting integrity
  • Stepping up
  • Tight marking
  • Tackling

Tactical Risk

Typical overall attacking risk level: high – focuses more on penetrating space.

Typical overall defensive risk level: very high – focuses more on restricting space.

High pressure football involves taking on a very high overall level of tactical risk by focusing more on restricting space in particular, as well as on penetrating space.

Tactical risk can be balanced to some extent by compositing high pressure football with the short plays style.

Typical Forward Movement Partnerships

  • Overlapping partnerships

Typical Passing Range System

  • More progressive – the directness of build-up play increases as it develops.

Typical Number-Ten

  • Technical number-ten

Tactical Organisation

Tactical reorganisation frequency typically required:

  • More frequent attacking reorganisation – due to a high overall attacking risk level.
  • More frequent defensive reorganisation – due to a very high overall defensive risk level.

Typical speed of tactical transition:

  • Slow – due to the typical use of more overlapping partnerships, but less so if players have good mobility (however, players who have good mobility may be used to enable quicker tactical transition).

Holding shape and regrouping are more likely to be effective if the team has a slow tactical transition but counter attacking and counter pressing are more likely to be ineffective. However, these effects can be reversed if the speed of tactical transition is quicker.

Use of breaks and consolidating possession:

  • Consolidating possession (and holding shape) can be particularly useful to balance attacking risk.
  • Counter attacks can be used more frequently due to the greater focus on winning possession quickly by using closing down in particular.
  • High pressure breaks can be used to a greater extent due to the use of higher risk playing methods.
  • High pressure counter attacks can be used to a greater extent due to the use of higher risk defensive methods.

Use of counter pressing and regrouping:

  • Regrouping can be particularly useful to balance defensive risk.
  • Counter pressing can help the team to win possession immediately after conceding possession and so it can be particularly useful for counter attacking more frequently.
  • Counter pressing can be particularly useful for initiating high pressure counter attacks.

Cautious Attacking Football

Key Primary Style Methods

  • High risk mentality
  • Sitting off

Typical Primary Style Methods

  • Pushing up (attacking depth)
  • Wide positioning (attacking width)
  • High tempo play
  • Pushing up / sitting back (defensive depth)
  • Wide positioning / narrow positioning (defensive width)

Common Secondary Style Methods

  • Roaming movement, runs into channels
  • Direct dribbles
  • Lateral dribbles
  • Passes into space
  • Crosses
  • Crosses from deep
  • Playing out of danger (including dropping deep)
  • Speculative shots
  • Creative freedom
  • Sporting integrity
  • Stepping up / stepping back
  • Tight marking / loose marking
  • Tackling / holding off

Tactical Risk

Typical overall attacking risk level: high – focuses more on penetrating space.

Typical overall defensive risk level: moderate – balances restricting space with protecting space and retaining compactness to some extent, but this depends on the use of higher/lower risk defensive methods.

Tactical risk can be balanced to some extent with the use of sitting deep (defensive depth), narrow positioning (defensive width), stepping back, loose marking or holding off, or by compositing cautious attacking football with the short plays style.

Typical Forward Movement Partnerships

  • Overlapping partnerships

Typical Passing Range System

  • More progressive – the directness of build-up play increases as it develops.

Typical Number-Ten

  • Technical number-ten

Tactical Organisation

Tactical reorganisation frequency typically required:

  • More frequent attacking reorganisation – due to a high overall attacking risk level.
  • Moderately frequent defensive reorganisation – due to a moderate overall defensive risk level, but this depends on the use of higher/lower risk defensive methods.

Typical speed of tactical transition:

  • Slow – due to the typical use of more overlapping partnerships, particularly if players have poor mobility (however, players who have good mobility may be used to enable quicker tactical transition).

Holding shape and regrouping are more likely to be effective if the team has a slow tactical transition but counter attacking and counter pressing are more likely to be ineffective. However, these effects can be reversed if the speed of tactical transition is quicker.

Use of breaks and consolidating possession:

  • Consolidating possession (and holding shape) can be particularly useful to balance attacking risk.
  • Counter attacks can be used less frequently due to the lesser focus on winning possession quickly by using sitting off in particular.
  • High pressure breaks in the attacking phase can be used to a greater extent due to the use of higher risk attacking methods.

Aggressive Defensive Football

Key Primary Style Methods

  • Low risk mentality
  • Closing down

Typical Primary Style Methods

  • Sitting back (attacking depth)
  • Narrow positioning (attacking width)
  • Low tempo play
  • Pushing up / sitting back (defensive depth)
  • Wide positioning / narrow positioning (defensive width)

Common Secondary Style Methods

  • Disciplined movement
  • Refraining from dribbles
  • Disciplined dribbles
  • Passes to player
  • Refraining from crosses
  • Crosses from byline
  • Clearances
  • Refraining from shots
  • Tactical discipline
  • Wasting time
  • Playing for set pieces
  • Stepping up / stepping back
  • Tight marking / loose marking
  • Tackling / holding off

Tactical Risk

Typical overall attacking risk level: low – focuses more on keeping possession, retaining solidity and retaining compactness.

Typical overall defensive risk level: moderate – balances protecting space and retaining compactness with restricting space to some extent, but this depends on the use of higher/lower risk defensive methods.

Tactical risk can be balanced to some extent with the use of pushing up (defensive depth), wide positioning (defensive width), stepping up, tight marking or tackling, or by compositing aggressive defensive football with the direct plays style.

Typical Forward Movement Partnerships

  • Direct partnerships

Typical Passing Range System

  • More direct – the directness of build-up play decreases as it develops.

Typical Number-Ten

  • Target-man

Tactical Organisation

Tactical reorganisation frequency typically required:

  • Less frequent attacking reorganisation – due to a low overall attacking risk level.
  • Moderately frequent defensive reorganisation – due to a moderate overall defensive risk level, but this depends on the use of higher/lower risk defensive methods.

Typical speed of tactical transition:

  • Quick – due to the typical use of more direct partnerships, particularly if players have good mobility.

Counter attacking and counter pressing are more likely to be effective if the team has a quick tactical transition but holding shape and regrouping are more likely to be ineffective. However, these effects can be reversed if the speed of tactical transition is slower.

Use of breaks and consolidating possession:

  • Initiating breaks (and counter attacking) can be particularly useful to balance attacking risk.
  • Counter attacks can be used more frequently due to the greater focus on winning possession quickly by using closing down in particular.
  • Breaks from deep in the attacking phase can be used to a greater extent due to the use of lower risk attacking methods.
  • A low defensive block (sitting back (defensive depth)), as an aspect of defensive football, can be combined with aspects of aggressive defending to try to enable more frequent counter attacks from deep.

Use of counter pressing and regrouping:

  • Counter pressing can help the team to win possession immediately after conceding possession and so it can be particularly useful for counter attacking more frequently.

Parking-The-Bus Football

Key Primary Style Methods

  • Low risk mentality
  • Sitting off

Typical Primary Style Methods

  • Sitting deep
  • Narrow positioning
  • Low tempo play

Common Secondary Style Methods

  • Disciplined movement
  • Refraining from dribbles
  • Disciplined dribbles
  • Passes to player
  • Refraining from crosses
  • Crosses from byline
  • Clearances
  • Refraining from shots
  • Tactical discipline
  • Wasting time
  • Playing for set pieces
  • Stepping back
  • Loose marking
  • Holding off

Tactical Risk

Typical overall attacking risk level: low – focuses more on keeping possession, retaining solidity and retaining compactness.

Typical overall defensive risk level: very low – focuses more on protecting space and retaining compactness.

Tactical risk can be balanced to some extent by compositing parking-the-bus football with the direct plays style.

Typical Forward Movement Partnerships

  • Direct partnerships

Typical Passing Range System

  • More direct – the directness of build-up play decreases as it develops.

Typical Number-Ten

  • Target-man

Tactical Organisation

Tactical reorganisation frequency typically required:

  • Less frequent attacking reorganisation – due to a low overall attacking risk level.
  • Less frequent defensive reorganisation – due to a very low overall defensive risk level.

Typical speed of tactical transition:

  • Quick – due to the typical use of more direct partnerships (slightly quicker/slower if players have good/poor mobility – players who have good mobility may be used to enable quicker tactical transition).

Counter attacking and counter pressing are more likely to be effective if the team has a quick tactical transition but holding shape and regrouping are more likely to be ineffective. However, these effects can be reversed if the speed of tactical transition is slower.

Use of breaks and consolidating possession:

  • Initiating breaks (and counter attacking) can be particularly useful to balance attacking risk.
  • Counter attacks can be used less frequently due to the lesser focus on winning possession quickly by using sitting off in particular.
  • Breaks from deep can be used to a greater extent due to the use of lower risk playing methods.
  • Counter attacks from deep can be used to a greater extent due to the use of lower risk defensive methods.

Use of counter pressing and regrouping:

  • Counter pressing can be particularly useful to balance defensive risk.