by Andrew Jordan
Even though soccer is one of the sports where teamwork matters the most, the playing styles and team strategies employed are not as often talked about as often as individual brilliance and feats of sheer skill by a single player. This may have to do with the fact that the use of set plays is not nearly as prevalent, or logical, in soccer as it is in basketball or football. Nonetheless, it’s necessary to appreciate the underlying tactics that make these isolated events possible.
In this series of pages I will seek to shed some light upon a few of the main national playing styles used by four of the top countries in modern soccer. I will provide background and history on each style as well as instances of its use through videos and animations. Most interestingly though, we will delve into a question that has been broached several times in our Soccer Politics readings: Does playing style correlate with and/or develop from national identity? We will also look at the evolution and success of different styles on both the club and international level.
Disclaimer: this collection is not meant to be exhaustive. While every country has its own unique approach to the game, England, Spain, Brazil, and Italy each take a unique approach that will be interesting to look at with the upcoming Olympics.