Smoke and Playing Out From Defence

 It’s difficult to acknowledge this round without mention of the bushfire crisis that currently grips the country. The W-League match in Canberra was postponed due to hazardous smoke, teams have struggled to train because of the conditions and everyone is on high alert to the knowledge of entire towns decimated. 

So anyone in direct impact of the fires, I hope you’re safe. I’m so sorry this has happened. Australia is with you. If you can donate, do that. Donate to funds you know will feed the money to the community or directly to the rural fire services.

Seeing so many members of our sporting community band together to donate money for which all sorts of achievements is special. My favourite is below. But legit, sport is more than watching it on the tele. It’s community and the Aussie sporting community have sent out a clear message of unity in raising money to help in this disaster. 

 

And now.. I feel like I’m at work using this phrase, but it’s too good an opportunity to use it.. onto the days other news, the types of balls to play out of defence. I’m going to break it down into long balls and simple, short passes. Yes they sound contradictory, but both are essential to breaking down two of the games from round 8. 

Thursday seems like a long time ago, and there’s a bit to break down from the clash between City and Brisbane. However I can’t completely remember the match to do it justice. So for now, put that on the shelf until we need to speak once again about how Brisbane need to make substitutions to reflect what’s happening in the match. Otherwise I’ve banged on about City long enough.

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Looking at the bottom of the table clash between Adelaide and Perth. The modern game loves, loves, loves playing the ball out from defence and through the lines before attacking. Barcelona’s influence of pass, pass, pass has infiltrated the game like milk mixes to change the look of a cuppa tea. 

Add in the high press the W-League has executed so deliciously this season and passing out of the back can look like trying to cook party pies and roast chicken in the same oven. It’s flaming difficult and something winds up burnt. This is where the long ball comes into play.

The long ball throws everything off balance when an opposition team has been pressing high and forcing the turn over deep in the defensive half. Both Adelaide and Perth were cautious to throw in the long ball to their utility belt, despite seeing great success from it. 

For instance, Adelaide were under pressure early, missing passes and generally looking like a bottom of the table team that they previously haven’t. The idea of the long ball was MIA. While some would say it’s a cop out to pump the ball up in this situation, it doesn’t have to be. With the pacey forwards of Mallory Weber and Mary Fowler, a long ball with one of those two to hold it up would have relieved pressure from the defence and by-passed a glut of Perth players. Add on Amber Brooks is a master of these types of passes, and it’s difficult to see why the Reds continued to emphasis remaining under pressure with short passes across the back for so long in the first half.

Ok, so that was in advocacy for the long ball. Here’s for the low down on the simple, short ball out of defence in the final match of the round between Melbourne and Newcastle.

Again, the first half is the half I paid most attention to, the second was a bit more chaotic and I was distracted. Here though, Melbourne struggled with the simple ball out of defence. Centre back duo Jenna McCormick and Emily Menges looked like fools with the amount of turnovers from passes from the back. Clare Wheeler worked tremendously, with the rest of the Jets midfield and front line, to shut down any viable option. Not with a high press, but simply positioning to deny clear, easy passes.

Equally, Melbourne’s midfield was as stagnant as frozen rocky road, creating very little space or lanes for passes to play into. The evidence of this became apparent when the Jets were playing out from the back. Wheeler was buzzing when her team was in possession in their defensive half. Constantly moving, finding space to receive the ball or dragging a player away from the action. Simple balls from defence is a good thing to look at first, especially when the oppositions press isn’t like gum to hair. However, it requires one or two midfielders to really work and want the ball in those areas to be successful.

Things shifted in the second half. The Jets tired, Melbourne placed more bodies in the middle as a solution to not having options to play. But really the smartest thing Victory did was eventually just bypassed the midfield altogether. Darian Jenkins worked tireless on the flank, crossing the ball to Natasha Dowie and Rosie Sutton. That looked better for them, while the Jets are just missing that front experience international in the final third to really send fear into their oppositions soul.

 

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