Module 2 of 14
In Progress

Why Analyze the Opposition?

Before we investigate the different aspects of opposition analysis, we’re going to spend some time looking at why teams all over the world put so much time and effort into it.

The video below gives an insight into how and why Derby County and the England national team analyze the opposition. Some concepts like information feedback to players are mentioned in the videos. Don’t worry too much about this at the moment. They’ll be covered later in the course.

For now, we’re focusing on the level of effort and attention to detail that goes into opposition analysis at the top level of the game.

Almost every professional team in the world, and many semi-professional, amateur and college teams now allocate considerable resources into opposition analysis. As the influence of technology has grown in the modern coaching process, the availability of video and data on upcoming opponents has also increased significantly.

We now see video and data analysts working alongside traditional scouts to give the coaching staff the best possible picture of their upcoming opponents.

Sam Lawson and Oliver Gage have experienced working for professional clubs in England, American colleges, and Major League Soccer. Here’s their thoughts on opposition analysis:

Head Coaches have the most at stake when it comes to winning and losing games. During his time in charge of Houston Dynamo in MLS, here’s what Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera told us about opposition analysis as well as University of Virginia Head Coach George Gelnovatch.

These valuable insights show a commitment from teams at the top level of the game to do everything possible to prepare for the opposition. Most professional clubs now have at least one dedicated Opposition Analyst, and this number grows to as many as 3 or 4 for the world’s biggest clubs.

Sam Lawson also gave us a real life example of how some of his insights helped his team prepare for a crucial game:

For this module’s task please add your thoughts on opposition analysis to the comments section below.

Why do you believe it’s important to analyze the opposition and what do you think can be gained from this process?
Do you currently do this and do you plan to do this in the future?

Once you’ve completed this please move on to the next module.

Responses

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  1. Opposition analysis is a crucial component to team and player development. It is a way to maximize on and off field success by emphasizing the strong suits of your game model and adapting to the needs of the unique game situation.

  2. Football is unpredictable, but trying to limit this unpredictability makes your chances of winning a game higher. That’s what opposition analysis does! It’s better to go into a game aware of what your opponents can and cannot do. That way you can either tweak your own playstyle and tactics to take advantage of the opposition’s weaknesses or even limit their strengths. Individual players also benefit from this. A center back for example will be better prepared when he’s aware of the striker’s stronger foot, dribbling tendencies, whether he drops deep or not, is his first touch good or not.
    The more you know about your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, the better you are prepared, and so you make the game less unpredictable.
    I do this on my own when watching games. For example the last clash between Arsenal and Liverpool. I tried to see what weaknesses Arsenal had when out of possession and it turned out that their fullbacks struggle with long balls behind their backs. A weakness that other teams can capitalize on.
    Of course I plan on doing this in the future and hopefully I will be doing it for a club!

  3. I believe it’s important to analyze the opposition because it can provide helpful insights into how you as a team could lose or win games. I also believe analyzing the opposition benefits the individual players as it gives them a picture of what they are about to face, and how they can adapt to that information.

    I would like to do it for the men’s team I coach however there isn’t necessarily always enough time, video, or data. However my role is an opposition analyst for FIU Women’s soccer so I will definitely be doing this in the future.

  4. Analysing the opposition is important because it allows us to find strengths and weaknesses in repetitive behaviours of the opponent’s team playing style, that will help us to avoid negative consequences on our style of play, to gain competitive advantage over the opponent and to develop training tasks that should be worked on during the weekly micro-cycle, before the match.
    With the analysis of the opponents, we can predict different types of actions that our future opponents are willing to take against us during the season, regarding to the way they attack in the starting stage, their development and completion of attack, set pieces, their type of defence, player’s position, build up-actions, possible line-ups, substitutions, etc., which could give us the possibility to “link” the strengths and weaknesses of our opponents and of our own team, so we can put an effort to overcome, minimize, avoid, condition and assume the opponents strengths.
    Currently I do not work for a football club, but I made opposition analysis reports during the courses I have participated in, and I would like to do a professional opposition analysis in the near future.

  5. To make yourself aware of what the next opponent is doing and to make your players aware as well is one very important thing. This is actually first step towards next game. Identify strength and weaknesses of our opponent. What they are doing and how they are doing.? Once we know this then we can structure our training week based on this information. And now the crucial thing is, the better and the accurate information we have the better we can create week plan towards the game (better preparation).

    Similar in medicine, the better the diagnosis then more accurate will be therapy and the patient will be ok.
    In case that diagnosis is wrong or inaccurate then we give wrong medicine the patient will die. Of course this is just metaphor football is not about life and death but I usually like to compare analysis with making the diagnosis in medicine.

  6. As the interviews have outlined, there are multiple benefits to preparation for upcoming games through opposition analysis. By knowing the system and style of play of the opposition, the coaching staff can adapt and adjust the details of our game plan leading into the match. The challenge comes in deciding what is relevant and what is not. With the increase in availability of video and data it becomes the role of the opposition analyst to filter the information to the needs of the coaching staff and players. As Sam mentions, some coaches / players will want more details than others so the ability of the analyst to build relationships to establish this is key. We currently provide opposition analysis at differing levels of detail depending on the age and stage of development of each team but this is minimal.

  7. Analyzing the opponent is important because it helps in preparation for how the team will approach the game. Important insights that can be gained are opponents tendencies, systems utilized, key players, approaches to different game situations and for providing individual players with information about their direct opponents. Additionally it also helps the mental preparation by knowing what to expect and reducing the uncertainty of the situations that may arise. I don’t currently do this but would like to be involved with this aspect of the game in the future.

  8. With how much information is out there in form of data and video, opposition scouting is crucial in the game to prepare the team for a match. It is important to collect and organise as much information you can on the opposition. Analyzing teams and players will give you a clear picture of strength and weaknesses of the opposition and how your team can exploit those weaknesses. It will also help your players focus on the right things when preparing for a game. I don’t currently do this but I hope this course will help me making the steps needed to analyze opposition properly.

  9. I think opposition analysis is very important tool that needs to be used in order to be fully prepared for your upcoming opponents. Analyzing your opponents allows you to figure out certain players tendencies, the opponents shape in and out of possession, and the strengths and weaknesses your opponent has. By gaining all of this information about your opponent it gives you the ability to formulate a game plan on how you are going to take advantage of their teams tendencies and potentially use their strengths against them. Every bit of analysis is key in giving your team the best possible chance to win.

    I plan on using opposition analysis not only in my playing career to maximize my success on the pitch, but also as a coach in the future to make sure that I am preparing my teams in the best way possible for every game.

  10. It’s important to analyze the opposition because simply to be successful at the highest levels your team needs to exploit weaknesses in the opponent and also to mitigate the opponent strengths. Doing these things will give your team a higher chance of scoring goals, preventing goals scored against you, and therefore winning the game. At the youth level I do some of this but it is a feature of what I will do for the College team I will be assisting with. I think this will be valuable for individual development too, to understand strengths and weaknesses in a direct opponent and therefore help them think about how they can adjust their game to maximize their chance of success.

  11. Opposition scouting is very important in preparing for a game. Knowing team and player tendencies in certain situations can give you an advantage when setting up in formation or a particular aspect of the game ie. pressing triggers. Particularly important to be aware of opposition set plays or opportunities to take advantage of with attacking set pieces.

  12. Opposition analysis for me is making sure you are on the right side of a bunch of marginal gains. At any level these can be difference makers so you set yourself up for the best chance of success. Analysing set pieces, pressing triggers, weaknesses in how key players receive the ball, any gaps they leave when attacking are all crucial bits of information to give to your players to ensure they are as well equipped as possible in and out of possession.

  13. Without analyzing the opposition, you are going in to the game blind and therefore decreasing your chances of winning. It’s vital to analyze your opponent as it allows you to build a game plan based around their strengths and weaknesses. It also allows your see what formation they play (in and out of possesion), how they press, how they build, who their key players are and what are the overall tendencies of the team. All of this can be used to create training sessions for the week building up to the game.
    We currently do an opposition video analysis a couple of days before the game. Everything is broken down in terms of attack and defense and it helps us greatly to be prepared for the game.

  14. Scouting the opposition maximizes control. The team is able to dictate the attack and defense specifically to the opponent. The most valuable aspect to gain from scouting the opposition is confidence. This is something our program currently partakes in.

  15. Scouting the opposition is very important in order to give you the best chance of winning the game. It allows you to see individuals strengths and weaknesses for the direct opponents on these players to have the best chance of success in winning individual battles. From a team perspective it allows you to see tendencies from the opposition which will help you form a game plan in order to give yourself the best chance of success in the fixture. We currently do scouting reports but we are looking to make it more professional to help paint better pictures for the players so they have a better understanding of what the opposition does and how we can go about winning the game.

  16. I think it is extremely important to analyze the opposition because it gives you the ability to learn tendencies of the opposing team and players, and also you get to learn their strengths and weaknesses. These things are vital to learn because it is sometimes the difference between being able to win the game or not. Learning the opposing team also helps create a game plan for the weekend, but also it helps prepare the training sessions for the team throughout the week. All of these preparations will allow the team and players be confident for the weekend, which could make the difference for the desired outcome.

    As a team, we do currently watch analysis on the opposition. The coaching staff provided presentations for us that cover how the opposition attacks, defends, their transition phases, and their set pieces. On a personal level, I have used opposition analysis to study the tendencies of players that I may go up against on the weekend. Although we use opposition analysis as a team, I think there is a better way of going about the presentation of this information.

    Since I have seen the benefits of opposition analysis firsthand, I definitely will use this in the future. As the videos have shown, this analysis is vital for any team to be successful because it could provide an advantage to the team and players.

  17. Analyzing the opposition is important to be able to identify strengths and weaknesses in one’s opponent to make minor adjustments in one’s own gameday plan to gain an advantage. For example, through good opposition analysis we could identify defensive players who are weaker in possession and seek to set up or pressing structure in a way that funnels the ball into specific players whom we would like to press. On the other hand, good opposition analysis could also reveal specific strengths or tendencies that could be compensated for individually or collectively to better contain our opposition.

    Another benefit of opposition analysis is the way it helpfully interfaces with planning a training week. Opposition analysis done properly can help a coaching staff create a training week that best prepares our team for the opposition they will see at the weekend.

    The last area that I see great benefit in opposition analysis is set-piece analysis. Set pieces are incredibly significant in gaining an advantage in a game. High quality opposition analysis that makes our coaching staff and players aware of the trends that appear in our opposition’s attacking and defending of set pieces can create a significant advantage.

    The team I am working with does place reasonable emphasis on opposition analysis. There have been several significant instances where opposition analysis and the resulting adjustments have made a significant impact on the result of the game. When I was a player in this program, we had a specific game where opposition analysis showed one center back to be an exceptionally dangerous ball-player and the other to be significantly weaker. Our coaching staff altered our pressing structure to funnel the ball towards the weaker center back and gave him plenty of time to play. Time after time he comfortably returned possession of the ball to us in a way that was obvious and noticeable. This is just one major example of the way opposition analysis provided an in-game advantage, but subtle tweaks in the training week, set pieces, and individual awareness happen every week based on opposition analysis.

    One way I would like to improve our opposition analysis is the way it is presented. Often, players receive a sheet of paper with hundreds, if not thousands, of words. I think the transmission of our analysis (especially to players) could be improved tremendously.

  18. I absolute agree on doing Opposition Analysis….I’m currently in the military and we doing Opposition Analysis. I cannot stress how important this is in military warfare, this can potentially decide winning or losing. In the military we have the Intelligence Officer, doing these analysis and comes up with and ECA (Enemy Course of Action), basically it reports on the opposition’s strengths, weaknesses and how they would play.

    Analyzing the opposition in football is crucial for several reasons. By studying the strengths, weaknesses, and overall style of play of the opposing team, coaches and players can gain valuable insights and advantages. Here are some reasons why analyzing the opposition is important and what can be gained from this process:

    – Tactical Preparation
    – Defensive Organization
    – Exploiting Weaknesses
    – Player-Specific Preparation
    – In-Game Adaptation
    – Psychological Edge
    Overall, analyzing the opposition in football allows teams to make informed tactical decisions, exploit weaknesses, neutralize threats, adapt during the match, and gain a competitive advantage. It enhances the chances of success by ensuring thorough preparation and enabling teams to maximize their strengths while minimizing the impact of their opponents.

  19. I firmly believe that analyzing the opposition is of utmost importance. There are several key reasons why this process is crucial for a team’s success.

    Firstly, analyzing the opposition allows us to gain valuable insights into their playing style, tactics, and individual strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge enables us to develop effective game plans, tailor our strategies, and make informed decisions regarding our team selection, formations, and tactics. By understanding how the opposition operates, we can exploit their vulnerabilities and capitalize on their weaknesses.

    Furthermore, opposition analysis helps us identify patterns and trends in their play. We can uncover their preferred attacking strategies, defensive structures, set-piece routines, and transitional phases. Armed with this information, we can devise countermeasures and defensive strategies to neutralize their threats and minimize their scoring opportunities. It also allows us to anticipate their movements and make timely adjustments during the game.

    Another significant benefit of analyzing the opposition is player-specific analysis. By studying individual players, we can identify their key attributes, playing habits, and preferred positions on the field. This knowledge enables us to devise effective man-marking or marking strategies, ensuring that our defenders are well-prepared to nullify the impact of crucial opposition players. It also helps us exploit any weaknesses or vulnerabilities that specific players may possess.

    Ultimately, analyzing the opposition provides us with a competitive advantage. It allows us to make informed decisions, adapt our tactics, and stay one step ahead of the competition. It enhances our ability to anticipate and react to the opposition’s strategies, increasing our chances of securing favorable results.

    Currently, my focus is primarily on analyzing individual players as I work in US soccer scouting for national teams. This involves assessing players’ skills, attributes, and potential to identify talent for national team selection. However, when it comes to analyzing the opposition as a whole, it is an area I am looking to expand into and integrate into my coaching approach.

  20. I think nowadays in modern football is key to know how the opposition plays. For some coaches the game plan would be totally modified depending who are facing. Other coaches will always stick to same game principles but will add some small but important modifications depending on the opposition.

    Getting to know the opposition early on the week allows you to work during the week and be more prepared for the game. For example if you are a coach who wants to have control of the ball and you like to have numerical superiority in the first line to build out, if you know during the week that the opponent usually press with two strikers, you can create a three back line during the week for example adding a third centre-back or allowing one of the midfielders to drop. Without knowing the opposition your 2 centre-backs would probably be match up by their two strikers, so it would be difficult to control the ball and the game. You can always modify this during the game, but players will always feel more confortable if you have been working on it during the week or specified that on the game plan.

    For me the key is to bring to the players the right information, more focusing on what the team will do in the game that what the opponent will do. For example, if we know that the opposition likes to play with fullbacks in higher positions and wingers in the inner spaces, instead of telling the players that, would be more important to tell them the solution the team is going to use to defend that. Telling the players about the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition collectively, without explaining how we will counter that makes less sense in my opinion.

    If we talk about individual opposition analysis the story is different. It’s good to show the players short videos about their direct opponent in the game. For example, show our left fullbacks a video about their right winger, what kind of movements he does, his attitude towards defending, etc… 2-3 key aspects that can be important for him and could make the difference in the game.

    Right now I’m not coaching but in the future opposition analysis will be key for me on how to prepare the games.

  21. Opposition analysis is important because it is part of the overall process as a coach to provide the best possible preparation for each game. Each team and coach has a unique way of playing and seeing the game, and opponents can provide different problems and potential solutions based on the way your team plays and the qualities of your players. It is important to then tailor this analysis for your team during the week on the training field or in the “classroom”. All of the analysis and preparation is done to give players the best chance succeed in a game. At the end of the day, players are the ones most likely to determine the outcome of an action, game, or season. Like, Oliver and Sam mentioned these small differences that opposition analysis provides can be the difference between winning and losing at the highest levels.

    I currently use opposition analysis as player as it is presented to me from the coaching staff. I typically watch it with two perspectives. First, as an overall team approach, how does the other team setup, unique spacing issues, tendencies or patterns the team has. Then, I like to re-watch the video based on the individual tendencies, movements, patterns, or skillsets of players that I may face head to head during a game. I hope to become better at understanding and executing opposition analysis on a team level and narrowing down the analysis to recognizable patterns in different phases of the game for players to understand and take with them on the field.

  22. Analyzing the opposition gives the coach and the team a chance to better prepared for the next match, as mentioned in many of the videos. If you have an outlined observation of the opponent’s 4 moments of the game (in possession of the ball, out of possession, transition attack-defense, transition defense-attack), you can build a tactical plan that breaks down the opposition and favors your team during the 90 minutes. At the youth level, we currently don’t do this a lot. That is manly due to lack of time and resources. It becomes important, however, before tournament finals and playoffs to take a look at the opponent’s key players, their set piece strategy, and a general outlook on their style of play.

  23. As a young player, coaches often harp on the fact that the veterans have “experience”. Experience in my estimation is just the ability to recognize patterns and to solve such patterns. A player who has been in the league for 10 years will have seen more things from opposing teams and then be able to respond to the problems more swiftly. I think video analysis is a way to rapidly close the gap. I can start to think and solve the potential obstacles the opposition may try to put in front of me days before I get to the field. This could save me 20 minutes on the pitch identifying and fixing problems. Also the more I practice this skill the quicker it will come to me so i can see/change things on the fly.

  24. Analyzing the opponent can get the team mentally prepared for what they are facing, while giving the coaches an opportunity to tweak their own game plan in order to exploit the opposition. Perhaps coaches may have a rough idea of how their opponents play, but by going back and watching multiple games, these ideas can be refined into a more specific understanding of what the team will face.

    Opposition analysis is a large part of my role at the moment, and I am eager to improve and refine my skills in order to help the coaches and players even more. It is a crucial aspect to the game, so it is very important that I can fulfill the needs of the staff and players.

  25. Opposition analysis is important because it allows a coach to make a specific plan for every opponent while also allowing each individual player to understand their opponent and role within a specific plan. Once you understand the opponent at a high level, it makes it much easier to explain to your team what you are trying to accomplish but also how you are going to accomplish it. We are currently doing this with my team, maybe not as in depth as some bigger clubs but it definitely is something that we take seriously.

  26. At this time, I do not have any sort of active opposition analysis program in place but am looking to add it moving forward. Primarily, at this time, I deal with recreational youth-level soccer and am looking for ways to help players develop and grow as more specific information, whether it be match plans or training plans design, is provided. Opposition analysis can be a great tool to help identify areas of strength, areas that might be exploited, and personnel matchup options for upcoming opponents, of course, and honing the skills necessary to pull this useful information from live matches and match recordings is something that can benefit individuals at all levels of soccer, I feel.

  27. Opposition analysis is something I am looking to add for the soccer association that I am a part of at this time. We are primarily a recreational youth-based program, and analysis can be one more item that can be added to the toolbox of items helping to grow and educate proper players.
    Opposition analysis can be extremely important in preparation for facing upcoming opponents, of course, and can be used as a guideline for what our own team needs to be working on and where our focus should be. Discovering potential matchup issues, finding areas that might be exploited, and noting particular personnel strengths and weaknesses for another team can make the difference between having an effective match plan or an extremely ineffective one.

  28. The central value of opposition analysis is, of course, to find potential things to exploit offensively in the opponent’s gameplay, as well as the strategic defensive precautions needed to prevent defeat. Speaking from the context of Switzerland, the smaller clubs of this country’s top tier would gain potential edges over the other teams fighting for staying up by having reliable opposition analysis and reports.

  29. Opposition analysis is so important because it gives you a better chance to win. By having a better idea of your opponent’s tendencies you can better prepare your team to exploit their weaknesses as well as being aware of their strengths. Knowing these kinds of key details can help you plan a better week of training so your players can have an idea of what they will see on the weekend.

    We currently do this both with the entire team as well as in smaller groups. I do an opposition analysis for our GKs every weak to highlight what we will be facing as GKs against the upcoming opponent. This helps me to better structure my training sessions so that we are constantly working on our principles while also training against the opponents tendencies.

  30. Analyzing the opposition allows us to understand and expect what the style of play they will play throughout the game. Analyzing our opponents helps us in breaking down the phases of play from build up to attacking transitions and how we can counter the opponents style of play. I plan to provide a full analysis report to my team in the future as slowly learn to provide an opposition report to my team.

  31. While having a proactive approach in playing style is something that I feel strong about, analyzing opponents can provide teams with key details and tendencies about where your team can exploit the opponent and find possible areas of threat in all phases of play. If we can better understand the opponent than we can better understand ways that we can attempt to minimize their threats and maximize our strengths. Opponent analysis can provide teams with details and insights that can guide the tactical approach that is taken to be as best prepared as possible for the next match.

    While I am currently not doing match analysis reports, I do like to learn, share and discuss with teammates and technical staff at my club about tendencies about our next opponent. It will definitely be beneficial to have a more efficient approach to creating and utilizing opposition analysis reports when I do transition to a technical staff in the future.

  32. Opposition analysis is very important to a team because it allows the team to have knowledge of there opposition, the way they play and any areas to exploit. Which helps set up the team in the best way possible and the players will know what to expect. I plan on doing this in my future career because it is a very important part of analysis and preparation before a fixture.

  33. It is an important process to understand the opponent. You need to understand what you can do to expose their weaknesses and exploit them, while also tweaking your style to create a game-plan that will benefit your style of play/tactics. I currently analyze all our opponents. From the analysis I gather, I develop session plans to counter- act the opposing teams style of play, look for opposing key players that we can limit their impact in the game, and how we can create more scoring opportunities for ourselves. This process in scouting your opponent has been very useful and it will gradually become a more sophisticated operation that will benefit us through the season.

  34. Opposition analysis is important for understanding the opposition and expecting what’s going to come from each match. Even in the moments where there might not be something noticed that you can exploit, most players appreciate knowing what is coming, whether that’s simple like the footedness of players or more complex like the runs that they’ll make. I currently do some of this work for all of our opponents at Temple, but we tend to split it up amongst the staff.

  35. Analyzing the opponent is important to give the team the necessary information about how the opponent operates in the different phases of the game, his strengths and weaknesses and to prepare the team. In my team we analyze every opponent .In my team we analyze each opponent as an attacking play in the different thirds, the defensive play / high press, low block/, the actions of the opponent during transitions from attack to defense and from defense to attack, set-pieces

  36. I think it’s important to identify the attacking and defensive organization of the opponent, what they do during the attacking and defensive transitions, set pieces, key players, patterns of play. Recognizing their strengths and finding a way to counter or minimize them, recognize their weaknesses and exploit them.
    I currently analyze games of my U17 B team. I usually focus on my team and our performance but I do analyze the opponent also to prepare myself and my players when we play them again. I am looking forward to this course so I can enhance my analysis and improve the quality of the info I am giving to my players.

  37. It gives you the most preparation for a match and could be important for game plan setting, since it would reveal possible strong points and weak points of the opponents set up or potential threats so we could set up to close those weak points and potentially exploit the opposition to help our chances of winning.

  38. Being able to try and understand what your opposition is trying to do is crucial.

    Trying to find any edge you can to be able to win games (which is what’s important at the highest level, winning games)

    We want to be able to know what our opposition plans on doing on both sides of the ball. How do they attack – as well as how do they defend.

    In possession do they want to play out from the back, do they try and go long to win second balls and bypass the press.

    In defensive structures, are they defending in a low block, do they press, do they man mark.

    These are all questions that can be answered by analyzing opposition and seeing their tendencies.

  39. In order to have an understanding of your opponent, we must know their strengths and weakness, so we will be able to face them and compete.
    It is important to know the attacking and defense structure, as well as identify the opponent’s trends and characteristic traits.
    I’m currently doing this and learning new techniques.
    If we can generate data of the games, we will support the coaching staff tor create the game plan preparation.

  40. Analyzing the opposition is important because it gives you a good idea of what to expect when your team plays them. Going into a game blind is dangerous because nearly every team has certain strengths, like individuals players, patterns, shapes, etc, that are likely to be difficult for your team to play against. Similarly, every team will have some type of weakness(s) you can exploit or target to gain an advantage in the game. This allows you design and implement a game plan to nullify the opponents strengths, target their weaknesses, and continue to develop your own team’s game model.

    Currently for the youth teams I coach, there’s no access to video or data for other teams we’re going to play, so I don’t analyze the opposition. Occasionally we play the same team twice in a season, so I have the previous game to analyze and consider when playing them again. When I worked in USL 2, we had access to most games online, so I prepared opposition scouting reports for our opponents. I think a big area of growth for that team is using the opposition scouting reports to aid decision making. There wasn’t a great process for how the scouting reports were actually used to best prepare for games.
    In the future, when there is access to video or data of our opponents, I’ll definitely analyze our opponents. An area I want to grow in is how to better use that knowledge about the opposition to prepare for the game through training and team selection.

  41. Why do you believe it’s important to analyze the opposition and what do you think can be gained from this process?
    – I think analyzing the opposition is huge because it initiates the game plan process. Analyzing the opponent’s strengths, weaknesses, players’ tendencies, and general style of play allows you to build your own tactics to exploit these weaknesses or shut down the opponent’s strengths. As we saw in the videos, depending on the level and the amount of technical staff you can break down a lot of information. Therefore, the preparation for a game can vary from presentations to even designing your own practice sessions, drills, and patterns. I think any sort of opponent scouting can increase your chance of winning, even if it’s just a few percentages but at the top level that might decide whether you win or lose.

    Currently, I’m not doing any work for my team from a coaching perspective by I watch my opposition’s games and I rewatch my own games, and sometimes practice sessions. I do have access to wyscout which is great because I can watch specific actions of a game and don’t have to watch full games. I’m very happy to be able to spend time with our club’s data analyst and to gain some insights into his work and the tools he has access to.

  42. It’s important to analyze the opposition as it allows both coaches and players to prepare for the upcoming game. It helps a team know the opposition better and identify strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, across every phase of play (in possession, out of possession, attacking and defensive transitions, and set-pieces).

    This allows the team to prepare, in terms of the week’s training, developing a game plan and forming team shape / unit structures etc. By analyzing the opposition, across a number of previous games, team’s can identify recurring patterns and themes and come up with solutions, whether team, unit and/or player based. Opposition analysis can be used both on a large and minimal scale (and everywhere in between), even minute detail may be useful and can help provide a marginal gain. For example, the 2019/20 Championship Play-Off final between Brentford vs Fulham, Fulham scored a freekick as a result of knowing that the Brentford goalkeeper positioned himself, on occasions, far from his goal line. The knowledge of this allowed the coaching staff to inform Joe Bryan the freekick taker of the fact and then he could choose when to execute on the times he saw the opportunity. This point was likely one of a whole host of other points garnered in the opposition analysis and shows that even the most minor of details can come in useful.

    Video / live scouting can also be supported / used alongside data analysis. To give an example, if the opposition rank high for any particular data metrics, like PPDA, you can analyze how the opposition set up on their high block / pressing scheme. Plus, what triggers they use to initiate. This can help determine how you want your team to either deal with this and/or exploit it.

    I only currently do opposition analysis for my own individual development. But, using the expertise gained from this course, I aim to 1) professionalize and improve the quality of my reports, before submitting them to clubs in order to try and gain experience of doing some paid or unpaid opposition analysis on a freelance basis, before hopefully building enough experience / reputation for it to become a professional career opportunity. And 2) improve the quality of my analysis from a written media perspective, so I can also simultaneously progress this as a potential career option too.

  43. I love what Sam said about how he perceived his role within the team: “my job is to find that extra 5-10% that can help us create even just one more chance to help us possibly win the game”. Knowing what you’re up against, especially in football, gives you so many angles through which you can approach preparation. When you know how a team defends, builds, attacks, transitions, etc, it gives you the opportunity to think of ways to stop or slow down their strengths and exploit their weaknesses through discussions, training, and more. Every opportunity to talk with a player about the opposition, create unique training sessions that revolve around the opposition, or even simple video sessions allow teams that 5-10% to create that ONE extra chance, or stop that one extra chance, to help them come away with the victory.

    We did some of this with MPLS last year on the data side. I kept track of a number of data points, one of them being successful pressures in each half. We wanted to win the ball high and didn’t want to lose the ball deep (revolutionary, right?). Keeping track of these for the squad as well as other squads allows us to even explore simple things like specific pressing traps for a fullback who tends to lose the ball in high-pressing situations or mitigating disaster by providing structure around a midfield that had been wasteful down the middle, in their own half for a few games. Taking the time to explore the game from different perspectives allows you to come up with unique solutions to problems to give teams an edge when it matters most.

  44. Opposition analysis is crucial. It gives collective tactical, technical, psychological, and physical insights to our players on how to combat the oppositions strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. Similarly, it allows us to relay more granular information to players in our team on an intersectorial, small group, and individual level, so they are better prepared come match day. Yes, I currently do this but with limited capacity restricted by various factors.

  45. The smallest details often make the largest impact in high level games, and can be the difference between winning and losing. Therefore, going into a match with as much information as possible about the opposition is crucial to neutralize their strengths, and exploiting their weaknesses. Furthermore, the better we prepare our players to understand the opponent, the more confident they will be in performing. I currently analyze opponent’s on a basic/fundamental level, but I am eager to further my observation and analysis skills in order to examine a match on a deeper level–and provide my team’s an edge to help us win.

  46. I believe there are several reasons to analyze the opposition specifically when it comes down to marginal gains. Some of the reasons I try to use it are as follows; Creating training sessions, identifying substitution opportunities and matching abilities of players (important in youth game!), having a starting point to how a team could be organized in both atk and def, how teams defend (high pressing, middle block, low block), how teams attack (direct, short, mixed, etc).. I believe the list could go on but most importantly it all comes back to allowing you to plan a more efficient training week and using the limited time you have to get the most out of players.

  47. It’s important to analyze the opposition because it can allow both the coaching staff as well as the players to learn more about the team they’ll be facing in the upcoming days. Something we can take away from the videos in the module is that a lot of professional teams (as well as national teams) use this method of analysis today to focus on their strengths, their weaknesses, the way the play, the way they distribute out of the back, how they build up, and how they attack other teams. Having this analysis is vital today and as many of the analysts in the video showed, it can make a difference in winning games. When I do join a club or university team in the future, I do plan on doing this as it will give teams an edge.

  48. Opposition analysis gives you a bette understanding of who you are coming up against. What they do/how they will react in certain situations. Their tendencies on and off the ball & how you can implement these into a game plan to come out on top.

  49. I believe it is important to analyze the opposition because it helps the team understand how they can adapt to win the game. Every team has their own style and way that they want to play but analyzing the opposition helps them become more adaptable and ready for the upcoming game. By analyzing, the team gains an advantage going into every game. It will certainly be a process that I will do in the future before games.

  50. I think it’s vital to analyse the opposition because without doing so it’s extremely difficult to plan how you want to take advantage of their weaknesses and trying and minimise the strengths in their game. Not knowing what sort of shape, tactics, set pieces and players your team is going to face can only be detrimental and I completely agree with Gary Neville that it’s important to overload our own players with too much information but also like Oliver Gage says, knowing as much about the players you’re about to face is vital. Even aspects as simple as the height of the opponents and their preferred foot makes a massive difference in the way your players are going to face individuals.

    In my previous role at a Step 3 non-league side in England it was near impossible to get full match footage of upcoming opponents, as the sharing of match footage is not mandated at that level, so we had to rely on other teams for videos of whoever we were about to play, or rely on teams uploading highlights to YouTube and make very basic reports based off of what we could see there. With teams higher in the football pyramid it is of course possible to use resources such as Wyscout and InStat, which is what would be preferred, but should me next role not have that available then using less effective resources such as YouTube etc is still better than nothing, and I will absolutely be conducting opposition analysis going forward.

  51. Analyzing the opposition can be used for many different things. One it gives the coaching staff and players insight on how the opposition will come out whether that’s tactically or personnel. In today’s age, there are many tools that can be used to better prepare your teams such as Instat or Wyscout. Secondly, it is important for the staff to know how the opposition operates and also gives you the ability to attack their deficiencies.

    From this whole process, you can give your own players valuable insight of where to attack, how to defend, and better feel prepared. However, some players may not like a ton of information so it is important to know what they need to see.

    Our staff puts a big emphasis on the opposition. Myself, the other assistant, and the head coach all put a part into what we do. Myself and the other assistant rotate every game and we look at 8 different phases: Attacking Organized, Attacking Transition, Attacking Final 3rd, Defending Organized, Defending Transition, and Defending Final 3rd. Within this we also look at the most impactful players on their team and watch what their tendencies are so that if our players need to know what way the false 9 tends to spin we immediately have that information on hand. Our head coach looks at all the set pieces and makes sure our players know what targets and movements each player makes. We plan on doing this and are always looking for ways to evolve our opposition analysis!

  52. I believe that thoroughly analyzing the opposition is a crucial aspect of match preparation. By doing so, coaches and players can gain valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents, which allows them to be better prepared for what to expect during the match.

    Through analysis, the coaching staff can devise strategies and tactics that take advantage of the opposition’s weaknesses and protect the team from their strengths. This not only helps to inform the coaching and training process, but it also enables coaches to set up their team tactically and helps players understand how to best deal with the opposing team’s strengths and weaknesses.

  53. The benefits of analysing the opposition are to help both coaches and players understand what they are likely to face when they come up against another team. From a coaches perspective, they can then design training sessions that bring to life what the team is likely to experience and shift players attention to areas which they can exploit. This can also then inform coaches of their starting players as one player might have a key individual strength that can be used to exploit a weaker opposition player. Or if you need to shut down particular players within the build-up phases, then a player who may have a larger physical capacity, not necessarily as technical, may start and be tasked with marking a player.

    From a players perspective, they can also see individual clips of who they come up against, what their key tendencies are, who their key passing networks are and how much pressure they might come up against. From a defenders point of view, opposition analysis can also inform what areas of the box the opposition are most likely to threaten and where the oppositions shots are more likely to come from. From a strikers point of view, opposition analysis can inform them of the success rate of the back 3 or 4 in key duels (both aerial and 1v1), which side of the defensive line to exploit, which way to force the opposition playing out and what things we want to encourage their back line to do (maybe we want them playing short so how can we encourage that?).

    I currently undertake opposition analysis and a key point is not only to show what the opposition does, but also explain why they do what they do. Maybe one opposition fullback pushes forward more often because they are a good crosser or 1v1 threat. If that is the case then how do they maintain structural balance (opposite fullback stays, midfielder might drop to protect that space etc.).