2022 was a year overflowing with football and with managers looking to gain an advantage over their opponents through the use of tactics.
Some have come back into fashion, few have been total innovations, and most have been used out of necessity.
Let’s look at the most important tactical trends of the year 2022. How have they affected your fantasy football planning? And are they here to stay for the years ahead?
More games, less gegenpressing
Counter-pressing has been a crucial tactical requirement in modern football. Many coaches would instruct their teams to counter-press immediately after losing possession. The goal was to win the ball back quickly and attack against disorganized defenses that were preparing for a counterattack.
However, as the number of games has increased, stamina has decreased proportionally. This means that teams are less prepared to press continuously for 90 minutes.
It meant that oftentimes managers had instructed their players to step back and embrace a more static approach. This has, however, often been a more efficient method.
Possession is no longer vital for some teams
The 2022 Qatar World Cup, in particular, has proven that large rates of possession can not predict the winner of a match with any accuracy.
Although the teams with the best squads can be trusted to have the highest possession rates in any given competition, figures have only gone up in recent years. Before the 1970s, it was rare to encounter teams with possession higher than 56%.
Teams like Manchester City or Spain often enjoyed +70% use of the ball this year. Germany has also bossed possession against its opponents. The early defeat of the two national teams mentioned here proves that opponents have found clever ways to deal with this pressure.
Wingers are back in fashion
While possession rates for some teams have increased, they are making fewer of these through the middle and in the final third. At the World Cup, this was true of Argentina, Spain, and England.
Not only are defenders often asked to make more direct passes. Teams are again looking to gain width through the use of classic wingers.
Angel Di Maria or Bukayo Saka’s important role in the teams proves this theory.
Continued investment in set-piece routines
Technically, set pieces are becoming more important than ever. These can be the thing that decides the result of a game, of course.
It is also one area that managers and their staff can control. This means that more and more teams are going to great lengths to improve the coaching of set pieces.
For example, coaches tasked exclusively with coordinating throw-ins are no longer an oddity.
Corner kicks, penalties, or dead balls from the final third can make a great difference. Teams have been putting more emphasis on set-piece mechanics and opposition analysis.
Still, this hasn’t always led to more goals. Only one nation, France, scored more than one goal from a set piece at the World Cup.
Five at the back is back in fashion
Using a five-man defensive line has sometimes been seen as a sign of weakness at worst. At best, it is viewed as a tactical tweak that only a select few managers can master.
In 2022, numerous teams managed to punch above their weight while using this setup. Lens, Brentford, Udinese, and Eintracht Frankfurt are just some of them.
Arranged in a more traditional style, the five-at-the-back formation allows a team to block more technically proficient opponents.
When used with fast-paced wing-backs, it also gives these teams the power to cut their opponent down on the counterattack.
Football tactics sway slightly from one year to the next. In 2023, with another busy schedule on hand, we’re bound to see more innovations.
Keep tabs on them to ensure that your fantasy football tactics remain just as sharp as those of the managers you admire most.