Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid are among the clubs trying to play stealth to score right from the start

It’s the latest frenzy to sweep across the world of football, with Real Madrid repeatedly trying in the Champions League and using Kylian Mbappe to score the fastest goal in PSG history: a simple four-pass routine that takes a team off the hook. In the central circle to score a goal within seconds. And the unlikely source of inspiration for everyone from Europe’s elite clubs to semi-professionals is none other than Bournemouth.

– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS and more (US)

In their constant quest to find gains in hitherto unexplored ways, the teams brazenly attempt to hack the system by defying an ancient convention. Instead of using a kick-off at the start of a game or after receiving a goal to play the ball casually backwards and hold possession, players deploy a formula similar to an opening move in chess that turns the game on its head in the blink of an eye. eye.

The exercise involves the initial player tapping the ball to a teammate directly behind him and then receiving an instant return pass. Then the first player aligns the ball up to another teammate to strike a sweeping ball over or through the defense to a fourth player who was, throughout, running forward across the opponent’s flat feet. If done correctly, this player is by his side with the ball at their feet and only hits the goalkeeper.

It is Bournemouth that can claim to have promoted this concept. Now back in the Premier League after two years in the tournament, last season was the second season in the Premier League that the Cherries side used the tailor-made move against Fulham in December 2021.

With the lead game scoreless in the first half, Bournemouth appeared in the second half with a plan. They took the lead right from the start with a precise pass from Philip Billing who found Dominic Solanke who Hitting the ball at the back of the Fulham net after just six seconds To cover a well-rehearsed maneuver that left the huts extremely cold.

The match ended 1-1, but the match at Craven Cottage overtook that score. About eight months later, with the routine attaining legendary status, Bournemouth manager Scott Parker can reflect on his side’s legacy (something he will often do after being sent off on Tuesday after Bournemouth’s 9-0 loss to Liverpool in the weekend).

“I saw a couple, one a week…Yeah as usual, we go through every game to the smallest detail and the day one succeeds,” Parker said on Thursday. “We try these routines for almost all matches, depending on how we see things and where we can take advantage of the opponent. He doesn’t always try to score, he tries to get a chance one way or the other. So these are the details that we try to move forward with the players and try to implement that way. .

“This worked, we have other teams that almost worked and the players implemented it on the tee that day. I see a lot of teams using that now and it seems to be working.”

But when Parker saw his team’s maneuvering at Fulham, he could not have expected that after only a few months, the mighty Real Madrid would imitate his team’s tactics in the Champions League. At the start of the second leg straight from the last 16 against Paris Saint-Germain in March, Luka Modric returned the ball to Toni Kroos and then pretended to run before turning around to receive the ball again. Next, Modric sent Marco Asensio, whose defense pass to Vinicius Junior was too much.

Then Real Madrid fought another goal against Manchester City in the second leg of the semi-final. Modric did the same, but this time with Casemiro for the two and Kroos as the final pass. Vinicius, Karim Benzema, Federico Valverde and Dani Carvajal chased Kroos’ broken ball over the penalty area, and it was the latter who sent a low cross pass through the penalty area. To create an opportunity rejected by Vinicius falling at the far post.

Madrid is clearly keen to perfect the routine They tried again in a pre-season friendly against Juventus in Los Angeles. This time, Carvajal was once again the beneficiary of the fourth pass but was intercepted by Valverde who fired hard into the frame from an offside position.

Madrid may have assistant coach David Ancelotti to thank for customizing the kick-off routine, as the 33-year-old is tasked with spotting the innovative set-pieces. Head coach Carlo said of his son’s fondness for tactical innovation earlier this year: “He’s humble, serious and professional, and he has a lot of enthusiasm. Having a young coaching staff helps me. They bring things to the table that we look at and study and talk about.”

Real aren’t the only team in the Spanish capital to try this routine, as Rayo Vallecano tried it out during a summer friendly match against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Rayo started the game with his own variation As Pathé Cess, Oscar Trigo and Issey Balazone combined to send a clever angled pass to the left as Alvaro Garcia ran into the penalty area. Garcia got a long shot from an acute angle but United goalkeeper Tom Heaton comfortably turned it back for a corner kick. However, this brilliant move led to an unexpectedly lively start to the proceedings.



ESPN’s Kes Quakman analyzes how Dutch club Sparta Rotterdam scored just eight seconds and four assists after making his debut against AZ Alkmaar.

Sparta Rotterdam could claim to be the next club after Bournemouth to actually score using red tape in a competitive match when they hosted AZ Alkmaar in their first home game of the Eredivisie season on August 14. It only took eight seconds for striker Vito Van Kroij to open registration At Het Kasteel after he controlled the ball-sized Younes Namli, he rotated the goalkeeper and made a low shot into the near post.

Van Kreuz scored again, but was unable to prevent his team from falling into a 3-2 defeat. Regardless, the effect of the cherries was beyond doubt, and Sparta assistant coach Noureddin Bukhari confirmed that they inspired him to try the routine.

“At that time there was Covid and I had plenty of time to watch a lot of matches,” the former Morocco and Ajax midfielder told ESPN. “I saved the kick-off and took more time to go deeper into the set pieces. After Bournemouth I saw Real Madrid try that a lot during the Champions League matches.

“The first time I showed the video to the players, they responded very enthusiastically. We only tried it once in training and hit the crossbar. Then I told the players we were going to score in the game. It was our first home game of the season and we know that if we attack right away, The home fans will be right behind our team. That will mean the first goal of the season.”

“Another reason is that we changed our field from artificial turf to natural turf during the summer holidays. On the synthetic court, the ball bounced a lot, so on our natural grass court we would be able to give a perfect pass.

“It’s not realistic to try again. Other teams are doing their homework too. If a secret is revealed out in the open, it’s not a secret anymore.”

The secret was certainly clear: Sparta’s successful conversion of their goal in four passes or less opened the doors for other teams to try their luck, and the following weekend two more achieved the feat.

Cliftonville made their Northern Irish League debut in the first game on August 20 against Carrick Rangers, taking an early lead when Ronan Hill. He scored the opening goal with a slightly inappropriate overhead kick With only seven seconds on the clock at Solitude Stadium.

The semi-pro team’s data analyst, Damian McCauley, was in charge of the team attempting team play that put them on the road to a 3-2 win, but was more than happy to be given credit in the right place.

“The inspiration came from Bournemouth,” he told ESPN. “I first saw him a while ago, but he appeared again [on social media] Recently and I thought it was something we could use, and we did – fortunately!

“The decision to prosecute him against Carrick was pre-planned and thoughtful. I totally thought it would work. My question would be whether or not we can get rid of him again…”

A little over 24 hours later, the group can be said to have reached its climax at the Parc des Princes.

It is not clear if Lionel Messi has taken Real Madrid, Sparta, Rotterdam or Cliftonville as his inspiration. The great Argentine star revealed his impression of the madness of the beginning When he faced Paris Saint-Germain last Sunday night.

Messi used an exchange of passes with Neymar and Vitina to send a perfectly saddled pass to Mbappe, who used the referee’s whistle as a pistol to start the run on the field. He met Messi’s precise pass and hoisted the ball over goalkeeper Leo Jardim to score after just eight seconds and unleash a hostile defeat 7-1 at Stade Pierre-Morroy.

A source told ESPN that PSG players practiced this movement a lot in training and identified Lille as the right opponent to try the routine against because they put their defense high from the start. The result of all this work was that Mbappe made history by scoring the club’s fastest goal ever.

“It’s something we’ve seen other teams do and we thought it was worth trying,” PSG coach Christophe Galtier told ESPN. “I don’t think we’ll ever see a similar goal again. But my staff deserves a lot of credit for working on this step during training. Then it was special to see the team reproduce it like that.”

Sparta coach Bukhari saw this goal happen live, and could only take it as a compliment to his team’s version. He said: “I was watching the match with my friends, and they turned towards me and said: What?! Messi, Neymar and Mbappe imitate the kick-off.” I told them they learn from the best!

“When I saw that I thought ‘It’s beautiful. Now we know PSG are also watching Sparta. It gave me a sense of pride.'”

The next night, Manchester United shocked his arm when playing for Liverpool at Old Trafford. Although they scored a massive 2-1 win over their rivals that started the stuttering season, they were unable to maintain the streak of routine with a sloppy attempt. It appears coarser when put together with the clinical implementation of PSG.

Bournemouth is more than happy To claim that kick-off routine is their routinebut, as with all great works of art, now that the world has seen and embraced it, it no longer belongs to them.

Now that they’ve given their gift to the world of football, it’s up to another team to take charge and find a new way to hack the system with a simple trick of their own.

“It doesn’t matter if an amateur club or a club at the highest level does something like this,” Bukhari said. “If they can win matches because of this, that’s nice.”

ESPN’s Leon Ember, Danny Coonen, and Julian Lorenz contributed to this report


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like