Rúben Amorim has been revealed as the favorite to take over the managerial position at Chelsea. The London side who is struggling at the moment, remains one of the most enticing job prospects in the entire game. What are the tactics that Amorim might wish to implement in London?
Today I look at how Sporting Lisbon are set up, how Amorim likes to build his teams and the tactics he likes to employ.
Rúben Amorim was a highly versatile midfielder. He earned a good reputation in Portugal where he spent the vast majority of his career.
Amorim made his debut for Belenenses, where he enjoyed five strong seasons between 2003 and 2008. Next, as a free agent, he signed for Benfica, the most beloved team in Portugal. It was here that his reputation truly grew. This helped earn him 14 call-ups to the Portuguese national team.
After managing lower league sides, Amorim got the chance to coach Braga in the 2019/20 season. The campaign saw the team lost only two games the entire season.
Sporting CP came calling as a result. He opted to sign for the Lison side and has impressed over his four-season tenure with the club. The pinnacle of this tenure came in 2021 when Sporting won the first title in 19 years.
Rúben Amorim likes to adapt his tactics based on the opponents that Sporting is facing. However, some of his principles are consistent throughout.
Sporting players are instructed to occupy central areas of the pitch. The team’s relentless pressing is meant to draw opposition players out wide.
Amorim favors a 3-4-4 formation. This can quickly change to a five-at-the-back formation when the team is defending. The players engage in zonal marking most of the time. And the team plays with a high defensive line.
This helps when the team has the ball. On average, Sporting like to aim for a +60% possession rate against their opponents.
This dynamic and modern style of play has made Amorim highly admired by some of the world’s biggest clubs. Recently, it’s been revealed that Chelsea has been in contact to sign the young manager.
Rúben Amorim’s Sporting in defence
Rúben Amorim, head coach of Sporting, has already made a profound impact on Portuguese football since taking over the reins at the Lisbon-based club. With his tactical acumen and focus on possession-based play, Amorim has led Sporting, in recent years, to rival Roger Schmidt‘s Benfica and Sergio Conceicao‘s FC Porto once more. This season is an uncharacteristic exception.
Amorim’s preferred back-three structure is a key feature of his strategy, allowing his team to build up play from deep and break through the center of the pitch. His three center-backs, including converted left-back Matheus Reis, are tasked with playing forward passes to the double pivot, who then look to find attackers between the lines.
When the opposition has possession, Sporting drops into a 5-2-3 or 5-4-1 shape to counter-press and protect the central spaces. Amorim’s focus on occupying central areas is evident both in and out of possession, with his team’s front three narrowing to prioritize defending those spaces.
In possession, Amorim’s team attacks with a fluid front three that rotates to find space between the lines. The wing-backs hold the width, while the two wide forwards move inside to dominate the inside channels. Players like Marcus Edwards, Pedro Gonçalves, and Francisco Trincão have all provided consistent goal threats by working inside and beyond the single center-forward.
Sporting Lisbon in attack
While Amorim has used a more traditional center-forward in the past, he has gradually turned to a more fluid front line with players who can attack from wide positions as well as rotate into a central position. With Amorim at the helm, Sporting looks set to continue their dominance in Portuguese football.
A future at Sporting CP or Chelsea?
Amorim is a highly sought-after manager even though Sporting is generally underperforming this season in the Portuguese top tier.
However, the manager’s credentials already clearly mark him as one of the most exciting managers in Europe.
Taking on Chelsea at this stage, however, would be a mammoth task, one at which Graham Potter also failed.
Despite this, there’s a clear understanding that Amorim’s long-term future is unlikely to involve Sporting and that even greater things are on the horizon for the Portuguese tactician.