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TALKING TACTICS: AL-AIN, EPISODE 2


Control, ‘Tiki Taka’ and Asamoah Gyan

Quique Flores, 2013-14

PART 1: https://ahdaaf.me/?p=4437


MANAGER PROFILE:

Quique Flores – Spanish

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Tenure: 27 Sept 2013 –> 8 March, 2014


AL-AIN CAREER SUMMARY:

P 28 W 12 D 9 L 7

Win Percentage: 42.8

Trophies Won: N/A


The attacking verve remained at Al-Ain once Quique arrived with emphasis on allowing lots of players to overload the box and support Gyan. Gyan was not selfish, as he dropped deep and allowed players to move into attacking positions once space was compressed by the opposition.

Al-Ain were based on short passing and attacking football in a largely used 4-2-3-1 formation, resembling the orthodox Spanish style of football that we visualize today. They were brilliant at moving the ball from side to side with the excellence of Omar Abdulrahman extremely significant to the team along with the circulation and key passes from deep provided by Mirel Radoi. Michel Bastos – for half a season – and Asamoah Gyan were the pieces that added the thrust, thrust that was able to instill fear into the opposition. There were instances where the long ball was used (to success) to Gyan, but just like everything on this planet; this team had a glaring weakness.

The ability to play from their hearts was lacking at times with no clear understanding and sharing of duties across the defence. Their incompetence at defending set pieces and crosses were also another problem that resembled the orthodox style of ‘Tiki-Taka’ that is applied in Spain.

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As we can see in the photo above, Al-Ain were scored on by minnows Al-Dhafra after a decent cross from Makhete Diop (player occupying two defenders in green circle) was finished by current Esperance De Tunis player, Emmanuel Clottey. Al-Ain have a 6-on-4 overload in their box but they fail to coordinate themselves as we can see two players marking one man. Another man is covering the edge of the box – fair play to that strategy, that is an area that could be easily exploited should the attack mess up for Al-Dhafra – but the central defenders completely mistime their jumps while the goalkeeper is seen running out of his line to contend with the header. Fun fact: Emmanuel Clottey is 1.78m tall (5 ft8) To think that he overcame the height of Ismail Ahmed (1.91m) and Mohanad Salem (1.84m) made it look like a much tougher job for Clottey. This conveyed the lack of understanding between the defenders and their goalkeeper and was definitely one of the downfalls for Al-Ain. They ended up losing the match 4-3, after coming back from 3-1 down (courtesy of none other than Asamoah Gyan), after a deflected ball allowed Clottey to complete his hat-trick.

In their 2-1 loss to Al-Jazira that season, Al-Ain showcased their great tendencies in attack and their deficiencies in defence – link of the highlights will be below this paragraph. First of all, Amoory’s ability to pick out a pass was ludicrously finished by the amazing Asamoah Gyan. Then it all came crashing down, with Al-Ain leaving the A) both posts unmarked and B) the diminutive Omar Abdulrahman to zonally mark the 6-yard box and allow Al-Jazira to score the equaliser through Juma Abdulla. That further exemplifies my point on their weakness in the air, but another problem for The Boss was their tendency to get caught up the pitch once looking for a goal. And oh boy they did, with a comical scene just before Al-Jazira scored (in the way that the defence and goalkeeper reacted to the key pass).

A final look at this Al-Ain side under Quique saw Amoory deployed on the right of attacking midfield in a 4-2-3-1. This enabled him to drift inside and drag a number of defenders in before freeing up space for the overlapping full back, or play a wall pass back into central midfield where Al-Ain can either circulate it again or release someone into the channel. The only disadvantage was if Amoory received the ball while he was hugging the touchline as he was pressed very easily into mistakes or on the receiving end of a foul.

The last goal conceded in the Quique reign was in a 1-0 loss to Al-Nasr in the Arabian Gulf League… and yes, it was from a corner kick. Within 2 weeks, Quique was sacked and came the dawn of a new and refreshed Al-Ain…

 

About Hamoudi

The man behind the idea of Ahdaaf.me. Based in Dubai, Hamoudi will bring you an unprecedented level of coverage of the Alfa Lebanese League in English as well as the best of the UAE’s Arabian Gulf League. With dreams of working in the coaching industry in the near future, don’t be surprised by the amount of tactical analysis that he works on to bring in a modern day feel to the very scarce analysis on Middle Eastern Football. (PS: Beware of his rants about the ignominious status of football in his native country Lebanon…).

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