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Football today

The modern game


Football is undergoing constant transformation.
The game is continuing to spread and conquer the world:
smaller countries are starting to become organised; borders are opening up for players; teams are travelling; and the level of training and development of young players has reached new heights in many countries.
In short, the game is in a healthy state. On the playing side as well, football is developing at a rapid pace: the game on the pitch is developing; the issues surrounding the game and the competitions are also developing; and, more recently, we have seen advances with the human-related factors and structures that lead to top-quality performance.
To enable us to understand this development better and also the issues facing the game of football in the third millennium, we should perhaps take a brief glance at the current state of the game.

How the game has developed

“Faster, stronger, higher, more technical”. This succinct formula perfectly sums up the development of football
over the last few years.
• Speed is greater. This means not only running speed, but also and, in particular, the speed of execution of
basic actions such as taking possession of the ball, passing or shooting.
• Duel situations are more hard-fought, forcing the player to develop far more athletic qualities than were
called for in the past.
• Without doubt, the feature in the game that has undergone the most striking development is technical skill.
This, of course, is a real must for the development of the game as a whole. All the observers who were present at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ and at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship and the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship will have appreciated the high technical level now being shown
by the top nations.

Tactical development

Tactics have, of course, also had their part to play in the global upsurge in football. New playing systems have come into being: 4-4-2, 3-5-2, 4-5-1, 3-4-3. These systems and the way they are applied are even frequently changed while a match is in progress (3-5-2 in an attacking phase changes to 4-4-2 in a defensive phase), depending on the score and situations in a given match. But the most noteworthy change has been the advent of “total football”, involving an increased playing tempo.
The notion of total football, which was born a quarter of a century ago and successfully promoted by, among
others, the Romanian Stefan Kovacs, former coach of the French national team and of AFC Ajax, involves
constant pressing.
Greater importance is also now given to changing the tempo of play. Winning teams are able to control the tempo of the game by speeding up play or playing more slowly or more securely, thereby allowing them to take their opponents by surprise. This alternation in tempo often provides the opening that makes the difference and can create a priceless breach of a defence that has been extremely tight thus far.
The tactical elements of the modern game have increased the importance and the technical quality of attacking players.
As a result, they have enriched their technical and athletic skills and their contribution to the game considerably. To be effi cient, these players have to be explosive and skilful in front of goal, as well
as being fast and able to head the ball extremely well. The great attackers in today’s game that fall into this category are the Brazilian Ronaldo, the Englishman Owen, the Frenchman Henry and the Spaniard Raúl.
It goes without saying, though, that the high number of creative players has not been affected by this new order
in international football. The Platinis, Gascoignes, Laudrups, Rivaldos and those who model themselves on these greats will always have a decisive infl uence.

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