Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


The 2022 World Cup is a turning point in football, and we will see the return of crossing and hea...



The 2022 World Cup is a turning point in football, and we will see the return of crossing and headed goals according to former Republic of Ireland international, David Connolly.

Throughout this World Cup we have seen an abundance of headed goals, but it can be argued that this has been on the horizon for a while now as there have been sixty two headed goals in the Premier League this season.

A prime of example of this would be Jude Bellingham’s goal against Iran. The Borussia Dortmund player rose like a salmon to meet teammate Luke Shaw’s cross and guided it past Alireza Beiranvand.

Speaking on Football Saturday, Connolly explained how this change has come to pass.

‘As the tournament has progressed, I think Scaloni has adapted really well and shown that adaptability when you encounter different things despite being in good form, and yet you might have to change,’ said Connolly. ‘Imagine the scrutiny he is under. You have a stadium full of Argentina fans and a whole nation who would have seen that team sheet and saw that he had gone with a back three, and they would have said, why has he done this?’

‘They got away with it in the end, they got through, but I enjoyed that part of the game; why he has done what he has done, the players that maybe were not performing, and he has rotated them. Ultimately, they have reached the World Cup semi-final. Credit to him because he had a few flaws in their team, and he has ironed them out pretty quickly.’

‘They do look a bit small when balls are lumped into the box. They looked vulnerable when it came to headers, and there have been a lot of headers in this World Cup. I imagine when we come back to this World Cup, people will say it is the return of wide men. The return of crosses in the box. It is the return of headers.’

Connolly then went onto discuss how this change has come about within football.

‘Previously, you would have to cut through teams like Spain, a thousand passes, little one-twos around the box. Don’t get me wrong, we have seen that, but we have seen so many goals from crosses. I think it is great because, at times in England, the back three killed the winger. It ends up a game of wing-backs.’

‘I remember it was Cruyff who said if fullbacks were that great at crossing, they would be wingers or something along those lines. Ultimately a wing-back is not a winger. It has been nice in this tournament to see Holland getting back into the game with Berghuis, a natural winger creating goals from crosses.’

‘I am sure there will be loads of takeaways from this tournament, but a lot of it will be the return of 4-3-3 and a lot of goals coming from headers from deliveries into the box rather than your intricate play.’

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