Tactical Report: Leicester City: Are They Able To Do It Again?

By Daniel Muñoz

11-November-2020 on Analysis

10 minute read

Daniel Muñoz, tactical analyst at Real Betis for several seasons, collaborates with Nacsport to analyse some of the best football teams in Europe. This week he delves into current Premier League leaders, Leicester City.

 

Note: This article was translated from Spanish and pics are captioned in Spanish. We have provided a translation for captions in italics beneath each picture.

Top of the league again, Leicester City have our full attention. 

 

Brendan Rodgers’ crew have made a dream start to the season, claiming 18 points in the 8 matches, a better start than the one they made 2015/16 season when they were last crowned champions of the Premier League.

 

 

 

This Leicester team has accumulated a winning streak of 6 consecutive matches, 3 in the league and 3 in Europe, and has one of the highest goal differences in the league with 18 goals for and only 9 against.

 

Additionally, they’ve made a great start in the Europa League where they remain unbeaten at the top of their group. 

 

Here are the results from their 6 win streak:

 

• Match 1. Europa League. Leicester City 3 - 0 Zorya


• Match 6. Premier. Arsenal 0 - 1 Leicester City


• Match 2. Europa League. AEK Athens 1 - 2 Leicester City


• Match 7. Premier. Leeds 1 - 4 Leicester City


• Match 3. Europa League. Leicester City 4 - 0 Braga


• Match 8. Premier. Leicester City 1 - 0 Wolves

 

 

So why are Leicester fast becoming the team to beat? Let’s take a look...

 

Game System

 

Leicester’s game system is compact and balanced, usually starting out in a 3-4-3 in attack and 5-4-1 in defense. Their pool of players is a great mix of experience and youth with veterans standing together with young emerging talent. 

 

 

 

They’ve become a difficult team to play against, thanks to their rigorous and dedicated commitment to the game which combines high mobility with the overall quality of their forwards.

 

Brendan Rodgers seems to know exactly what his team are capable of and is taking them to that limit and beyond.

 

Now, let’s break down how they play in different phases of the game...

 

A Lethal Offensive Phase

 

Leicester base their attacks on the verticality of their actions, where there are multiple solutions for getting into goal scoring positions both in positioning and the creation of space but always with the objective of getting the ball upfield.

 

The 3-4-3 formation they use in attack gives them width with two central wingers and depth with the 3 forwards. Central midfielders and centre forward are extremely prominent in the attacking phase.

 

 

Avenues to play wide or through the middle

 

From the goal kick they set themselves in a line of 4 and play out to the wing or up to central midfield, depending on the profile of the players in those positions.

 

 

The positioning of the defensive line from a goalkick

 

Leicester don’t like pressure at the back. When the ball is played out, they try to get the ball forward as far and as fast as possible, either to the wingers or the striker, without putting their defense under pressure.

 

 

Leicester prefer the long ball to pressure at the back

 

The backline of Fofana, Justin and Fuchs makes Leicester a dangerous prospect when building an attack as all three are capable of finding these routes forward.

 

 

Both wingers can drive through an opponents line

 

The players on the inside provide positioning and mobility, whilst the midfield in general provides balance and ball circulation, especially Tielemans, allowing them to get in behind the opposition lines. They generate a lot of danger when receiving the ball in those areas with quality players who are supremely confident.

 

 

Mobility and space for the 2nd line

 

 

Central midfielder attacks behind the opponents defense

 

The forward line create opportunities and space out front as well as having a presence in the opposition area. They can also count on Vardy, one of the top scorers in the Premier this year, who is capable of scoring from anywhere.

 

 

Leicester make their presence felt within the opponents penalty area

 

 

Vardy's mobility and capacity to generate scoring opportunities

 

How they transition into attack is one of Leicester’s biggest virtues and they have no hesitation in getting straight into an attacking formation as soon as they recover the ball. The forward line is key to this but the midfield and back lines are no slouches either.

 

 

Verticality and movement into space after recovering ball

 

 

Verticality after recovery

 

Compact and Organised in Defense

 

Starting from a defensive formation of 5-4-1, this is an area which has allowed them to climb to the top of the table.

 

This is a team that are confident when they are not in possession of the ball and they are a very difficult team to generate scoring opportunities against. At least 9 outfield players get behind the ball where they are organised and maintain a balanced and organised structure.

 

The central forward usually stays out of the defensive phase, ensuring that he is fresh and focussed on the counter attack when the opportunity arises.

 

 

An ordered and compact team

 

This is not a team which can be easily worn down with intense pressure. They position themselves so that they cover each other when marking the opposition. The wingbacks covering the opposition wingers and the inside players putting pressure on the opposition forwards whilst taking a man each.

 

 

Soaking up pressure with clear markers

 

 

Defenders break lines to put pressure on opposition

 

Their most common defensive formation is from a zonal reorganisation where they leave little space between the lines whilst putting pressure on the player with the ball, giving him no time to think.

 

 

Defensive transition to 5-4-1 formation

 

When transitioning from attack to defense, they activate quickly after losing the ball, where they first apply pressure, battling in midfield to regain possession before falling back into their typically organised formation.

 

 

Activation after losing the ball

 

Keys Factors in Leicester’s Success

 

• Offensive positioning, interior mobility from their central midfielders combined with Vardy’s run of form make them formidable in attack.


• Great defensive work where order, rigidity and continuity stand out.


• The work of the manager, positioning his players where they can make maximum impact and bringing out the best in the team.


• A team which has already experienced that winning feeling, so this is not an unknown position for them to be in.

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