Tactical Review: Orlando Pirates Football Club

Orlando Pirates line-up vs Bloemfontein Celtic: (4-3-3) Mpontshane; Matlaba; Jele; Gcaba; Phungwayo; Sarr; Mobara; Manyisa; Makola; Rakhale; Ndoro.

Orlando Pirates 2-1 Bloemfontein Celtic: It was an electric atmosphere at the Orlando Stadium in which Orlando Pirates won the game at extra-time.

Bloemfontein Celtic don’t have a good away record, and that probably has something to do with their game plan. They always look to press the opposition into submission, and often, it ends in them getting picked off. However, it was not always the case during this game against Pirates, as they troubled the home side.  Pirates had a bit of a trouble building up their play from the back and the central areas were they love to build from.

Pirates started the game slightly out of character. They usually press their opponents with great intensity in order to win it back quickly, but on this occasion, they chose not to press with the usual intensity. Of course, the press was there. Pirates used one man to press the player on the ball, and the others quickly went for passing options. They get the others closer to the man in possession in order to pile up pressure on him, but this tactic may lead to a few open spaces, which Celtic were well capable of exploiting.

However, on few occasions that Pirates did manage to gain control of the ball and avoid the waves of pressure, Celtic were quick to get back into their shape. The mode of defence changed completely once Pirates had found their rhythm, with the Celtic team happy to make two lines of 4, and jockey the Pirates player on the ball, rather than press him in an aggressive pursuit of the ball.

The other point to note was the direction of Celtic pressing. They were consciously looking to show the Pirates players inside to the crowded center. A ploy Pirates tried to use to sometimes avoid the onrushing Celtic players was to chip the ball over them and play passesPirates lacked width down the left. This wasn’t helped by the fact that Mpho Makola was nominally central, manned the wide areas. This meant that they started the game playing very narrow, and this played into Celtic hands, as they were attempting to make crowded areas while defending to aid their pressing. KjellJonevret

Pirates lacked width down the left. This wasn’t helped by the fact that Mpho Makola was nominally central, manned the wide areas. This meant that they started the game playing very narrow, and this played into Celtic hands, as they were attempting to make crowded areas while defending to aid their pressing. Kjell Jonevret though recognized this and changed it very quickly. The aim for Pirates soon became to bring the fullbacks forward as much as possible. This happened quite a bit on the right-hand side, with Thabo Rakhale and Thabo Matlaba spending a fair amount of time in this region of the pitch.The constant pressure Celtic exerted towards

The constant pressure Celtic exerted towards Pirates in the dying stages of Extra time meant that more and more Pirates players had to drop deeper in order to defend effectively. By doing so, the distance between the midfielders and the striker was far too great.

Celtic showed verve and were fearless enough to attack and press Pirates in their own den. They should have been rewarded with a victory for this approach, but will nonetheless take the positives and transfer them to the league fixtures.

By Boikhutso Mogale