New coach, same players, different approach – this is the best way to describe FC Porto start to the 2017/18 season. The pre-season indicators were confirmed in the first official game, a resounding 4-0 home win over Estoril.
Without new players so far (except some key returns from loan and the goalkeeper Vaná), the new coach, Sérgio Conceição, has set up a totally new way of playing in just a few weeks, starting with the basics: the tactical system. Conceição abandoned the 1-4-3-3 formation and adopted the 1-4-4-2, allowing the team to be more agressive without losing it´s balance. However, the real difference is the team dynamics.
Conceição keeps Brahimi and Corona on the wings, the most creative players (risky move for a 1-4-4-2). However, as they often play in central areas, it affects Porto´s offensive process.
The presence of Brahimi and Corona close to Óliver – these three players often occupy the same line – attracts the attention of the opposing midfield, leaving space behind that can be occupied by one of the forwards. The penetration makes Estoril move towards the central lane, opening up space in the wings, where Porto’s fullbacks can really do some damage.
Even when they can’t open space in between the lines, Porto can still show some good movement in the wings thanks to the wingers’ positioning. By occupying the half-space, they attract the opposing fullback and open space for a deep run by the full back.
This dynamics might turn out to be a weak point that opponents can take advantage of. With players known for too much dribbling, like Brahimi and Corona, there is a risk of losing the ball without any kind of coverage from the fullback, as can be seen in the picture above. Fortunately for Porto, Brahimi was able to dribble himself out of that situation. But that will not happen all the time.