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K League Coach and Tactical Trends: The Danger Zone

K League Coach Tactical Trends: The Danger Zone
The opening round of the 2019 K League season has already offered a great example of tactical trends in the modern game, highlighted in Gyeongnam FC's opening day 2-1 home victory over Seongam FC. What was interesting about the game was how all three goals come from what many coaches now refer to as "the Danger Zone". The K League Coach gives his tactical insight into the Reds' 2-1 win over the Magpies.

As more data is collected on the location of assists, certain areas of the field have begun to stand out and be prioritised. Though popularised by Pep Guardiola due to the huge amount of outside analysis that goes into how his teams play, the "Danger Zone" has been an area top level coaches have looked to both exploit and protect more and more. The Danger Zone is the wide areas of the penalty box in the channel between the full back and centre back. Once entered it often sees players play first time low balls across the face of goal.

Red boxes show danger zones and yellow dots assist location
The value of getting the ball into these areas can be seen in how many times Manchester City score first time tap-in finishes from close range, with Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling being huge benefices of assists from these regions. All three goals between Gyeongnam and Seongnam came thanks to getting the ball into these areas, with two direct assist and the third goal, though there was another touch before the goal, coming due to penetration into the Danger Zone.

Why so Dangerous?


Many teams now focus their build up play on trying to penetrate into this part of the penalty box to create better goal scoring opportunities. Short passes from this range not only have a much higher probability of reaching attackers than crosses from the touchline, or long balls high over the top, they leave the attacker with a much easier finish. With the assisting player now laying on an easier chance for the striker the goal return is much higher. Also, as the pass itself is easier the ball can be played in sooner and with more pace, leaving defenders less time to prepare. The defenders are also concerned about the danger of giving penalties away or conceding an own goal, meaning they may hesitate, increasing opportunities for attackers.

Another benefit of penetrating the box into the Danger Zone is how it effects the positioning of the goalkeeper. Being closer to the goal means the keeper must now protect their front post, unlike with a cross from out wide. With the goalkeeper now dragged across to one side of their goal, once the ball is cut back it often leaves the striker with an easier first time finish.

Getting into the Danger Zone

The opening goal saw some great interplay by Gyeongnam on their left hand side. Their movement and slick passing dragged the Seongnam right back out wide, and with the centre back occupied by the striker, a huge channel was left for veteran left back Choi Jae-soo to drive into.



Gyeongnam's second started as a turnover in the middle of the field. As soon as Gyeongnam gained possession, Kim Seung-jun exploited the moment of transition and got in behind the defence, curving his run perfectly to slide a first time ball into the acres of space that the on rushing attackers were streaming into after the centre back had been forced to follow the initial run out into the Danger Zone.



Seongnam's consolation goal came after a quick one-two played by right back Choi Oh-baek which saw him burst through the defensive line and cut the ball back. Though there was a small lay off touch that will go down as the assist, it was the full back's combination play and movement into the Danger Zone that created the goal.



Video sources: SPOTV.

Videos used under Article 28 of the Copyright Act which provides legitimate use to quote part of a copyrighted work already made public for news reporting, criticism, education, and research.

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