There have been two major games played over the weekend including Manchester United vs Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal. Both games included man of the match performances by their attacking midfielders, Martin Odegaard and Bruno Fernandes. Both stars were pivotal in their teams attacking prowess and also offered vital defensive work by pressing from the front. Within this blog we will be focusing on Martin Odegaard on what you can take from his rise in form.
Martin Odegaard has excelled this season with the league leaders, we are now going to look at how he executes his role to cause fear into defenders. There are key components in a successful attacking midfielder which include.
• Finding space
• Tactical awareness (when to press or when not to press)
• Decision making
• Ball control and Passing range (long, short, threaded)
Odegaard is one of the best in Europe in finding little pockets of space in front of the defenders. Finding these pockets give the defenders a decision to make, they could push forward to try and intercept the ball however this can create space in behind to which a player like Odegaard could exploit by threading a ball into the space for a forward to latch on too.
The video above shows the little pockets of space he picks up and then how he threads key passes into the forwards. Obviously this is easier said than done however, if you can study on how to find spaces you can create endless problems for the opposing teams.
With time and space you can pick out the perfect pass or if your feeling lucky you can have a long distance shot. This is were your decision making will come into practise, you can do numerous skills such as pass, shoot or dribble past an opponent. Decision making comes with practise, you will make a lot of the incorrect decisions at first however, learning from each mistake will only increase your knowledge into what decision you should make when you receive the ball.
Ball control and Passing Range
In the previous video you can see the different ranges of passing an elite player like Odergaard uses. Short range passing might be the simplest skill of passes but by no means is the worst. It can be very affective, short pass and move creates space for your fellow team mates. By using short range passes it decreases the chance of loosing possession, its less risk which doesn’t always mean high reward. Threaded through balls is a difficult skill but by no means impossible. The key of threading a ball through to an attacker is to pass the ball into space were an attacker can latch onto the ball. This may mean a lob over the defenders or attempt to find a gap between the defenders to pass the ball through.
This all depends on how your team is setup tactically. A lot of people think that as an attacker you don’t need to do as much defensive work, this is not the case. As an attacking midfielder you defend from the front, you will begin the press by closing down opposing midfielders so they don’t have time on the ball to pick out a pass. If your team does not press as much, your job may be to keep your position in blocking out passes by man marking the opposing team. This may not get all the glory like scoring or assisting although it is very important for your teams mates.
You will find your self in certain situations that you have an opportunity to strike an effort on target. Long range shooting is very common in the role as you could have time and space. This is a not always the correct option although if you get it right its very high reward because who doesn’t love to score a goal outside the box? As an attacking midfielder you can master the art of arriving into the box at the right time. Martin Odegaard is getting better at this as he finds him self on the end of many passes to slot home against the opposing goalkeeper.