Have you ever heard of modern football? This expression is constantly used to define the changes the sport has undergone in recent years, especially in its style of play and tactics. More compact teams, quick change of passes, and possession are some of its striking features.
Some moments have been marked by these changes, such as Germany’s 7-1 victory over Brazil in the 2014 World Cup and the Guardiola Era in Barcelona between 2008 and 2012. However, this concept goes beyond the four lines and also reaches the stadiums, which have evolved into arenas and are real entertainment spaces.
In this post, you will see a guide about modern football, with the information you must know to stay in touch with the sport. Keep reading!
Where Did Football Come From?
It is impossible to define precisely when football started. According to some studies, in China in the 25th century B.C., soldiers used their enemies’ skulls in a game with their feet. However, there is also reference to similar activities in Japan, Greece and the Middle Ages.
It was in the Middle Ages that the “gioco del calcio” (calcio game) arose, a violent sport that united the concept of current football (players needed to put the ball in the demarcated area at the bottom line) with fighting and running strokes. It is believed that this activity, later prohibited due to their accidents, is in the DNA of the sport developed by the English.
Who Created Football?
As we know it today, football emerged in 1863 with the creation of “The Football Association” in England. In its origins, the sport was related to rugby, which is played with the hand, but the English came together to create a universal rule, which distinguished it completely from other sports.
In the following years, the first official competitions were held. In 1872, England and Scotland competed in the first friendly between teams in history, which ended 0-0. In 1871, the FA Cup, the oldest club competition in the world, was born, and the national league began in the 1888/1889 season.
Charles Miller brought the sport to Brazil during a trip to the country. In 1894, the Englishman created the São Paulo Athletic Club soccer team, which the following year would play the first game of the sport on canary soil, against a team of gas suppliers from the São Paulo capital.
Sport Club Rio Grande is considered the first soccer club created in Brazil, in 1900. A few days later, the Ponte Preta (Black Bridge) was created in Campinas. Despite this, the country was one of the last to create a consolidated national league – the first edition of the Brazilian Championship was held in 1971.
How Did Modern Football Come About?
It is possible to consider that modern football has gone through some phases. The embryo of the sport in its present form emerged in 1863, with the creation of its rules in England. Since then, several changes have been made to adapt the game, such as the introduction of the corner, the offside and the definition of the dimensions of the pitch.
Subsequently, FIFA introduced new rules, such as the creation of the cards (the 1970 World Cup in Mexico was the first tournament to use them). Also included were substitutions and a ban on the goalkeeper’s foot retreat, which increased the dynamism of the games.
However, modern football has a greater relationship with changes in the vision of the game and the evolution of stadium and competition structures. The likes of Pep Guardiola and Joachim Low have been known to adopt new ways of playing, in which the technique consists not only of dribbling, but also of occupying spaces and building more efficient plays.
The concept of modern football is frowned upon by the most nostalgic fans, especially the structural changes the sport has undergone. In Brazil, the apex was the 2014 World Cup, where traditional stadiums such as the Maracanã and the Mineirão were renovated. The old stands gave way to chairs and comfort.
In addition, with the changes in the style of play, the more classic players, who were known for their outstanding ability, gave space to the multi-purpose players, who are able to perform various functions on the field. The stars still exist, however, in a more physical and disputed sport, they have more difficulties to stand out.
The Characteristics of Modern Football
Unlike the early decades, when teams played with several forwards and the scoreboards were elastic, modern football can be compared, in parts, to a game of chess. The coaches’ goal is to get a checkmate on their opponents, i.e. to set up a tactical formation and the ideal players to win the match.
Words and expressions such as transition, compression and offensive balance are common in coaches’ interviews. The stars continue to decide matches, but the tactical training and the game plans have gained importance. Modern football is not necessarily beautiful, but it is well played and efficient.
On the other hand, technology plays an important role in this context. At the last World Cup in Russia, referees had the help of the video referee (VAR) to check the controversial moves and make the decisions. This reduces the incidence of errors that can compromise the outcome of a match.
Off the field, matches have become events, as in American sports. The great danger is their elitization, since with the reform of the arenas, the price of tickets went up and some stadiums suffer from a lack of public. To get around that, the clubs bet on popular sectors and actions with the fans.
What are the Important Concepts of Modern Football?
In addition to changes in competitions and stadiums, modern football is revolutionary in its main aspect: within the four lines. New playing styles and tactical formations have been created and the way coaches view matches is no longer the same.
There are still some teams that play the traditional way. That is the case with Portugal’s Jose Mourinho, who has spells with Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Chelsea and Manchester United. His strong marking has already yielded major titles, such as the Champions League, but it’s impossible not to apply the characteristics of this new game in some aspect.
Get to know some of the remarkable concepts of modern football in the items below!
In modern football, all areas of the club are interconnected. The players’ performance during a match does not depend solely on the coach, who is responsible for the line-up, but on the entire coaching staff. Professionals such as physiologist, fitness coach, nutritionist and doctor are some of the components of this gear.
With the use of data generated by technological devices, the coaches have access to the video of the tactical scheme of the opponents and images of their training, which helps at the time of line-up. In addition, the athletes are monitored, which allows them to know the level of wear and tear and have a more detailed view of their performances.
With these videos, the coach sets up a strategy to beat the next opponent. One of the novelties of modern football is the rotation of players. In the past, it was possible to know the 11 starters of the team, who wore the corresponding shirts (the 9 is known as the goalkeeper, for example).
Now, the numbers do not follow a pattern and each player opts for a different shirt. Even the coaches change the line-up frequently to adapt to the opponent and the playing conditions. Thus, having a complete squad, with options for all positions, has become a mantra of current football.
In this new football, it’s not enough to have skill – you have to have intelligence to play the right way and take opportunities. These strategies are common in other sports, such as basketball and American football, where players are exposed to dozens of pre-established moves. Now, in addition to being a physicist and a coach, soccer is also a strategic sport.
There is no concrete beginning to modern football, but it is safe to say that Johan Cruyff has revolutionised the way the game is treated within the four lines. A centre-forward for the Netherlands in 1974, he was not only responsible for scoring the goals, but he was also involved in the scoring, creating the plays and commanding his team-mates.
Under Rinus Michels, the Dutch’s “Total Soccer” stopped at the World Cup Final, but his concepts are still used today. After his retirement, Cruyff was coach of Ajax and Barcelona (in addition to Catalonia) and applied the strategy of occupying the spaces on the pitch.
In his scheme, the striker was the first defender. Something rare at that time, as at the beginning of football teams played in a model full of attacking players. On the other hand, the defenders started the plays and had offensive participation, that is, it was necessary that everyone participated in the 90 minutes of play.
One of the football tactics that became popular in recent years was 4-1-4-1. It works with a midfielder in front of the line of four defenders, two players in the middle, another two open at the tip and an attacker. It was with a similar scheme that 1982’s Brazil delighted the world and became one of the biggest teams in history.
Since 2016, coach Tite has used the 4-1-4-1 in charge of the Brazilian national team. In the 2018 World Cup, Casemiro was the midfielder, with Paulinho and Coutinho ahead of him and Neymar and Willian at the top. Pep Guardiola also applied this formation at Bayern Munich and Manchester City, where he currently works.
3. Game Model
It’s not just the tactical scheme of the teams that’s changed. The whole game model is constantly evolving and the teams prepare themselves during the week for various situations that can occur in 90 minutes. Thus, it is often difficult to define a formation for a team, but it follows an established pattern.
Tite’s Brazil in the Russian Cup, for example, changed their scheme from 4-1-4-1 to something like a 4-3-3 in attack. While positioning himself as a midfielder at the back, Neymar moved forward to occupy the left wing with the ball, where the Brazilians’ most incisive moves began.
One important concept is the transition. It applies to attack, when the team recovers the ball, and to defence, when possession is lost. The coaching staff defines a model that dictates the next steps for the players – whether they press the opponent to get the ball back, or whether the team quickly recomposes itself to avoid counter-attack, for example.
Thus, the game is more dynamic and the athletes have different characteristics. That’s why it’s hard to compare Pele and Garrincha’s style of play with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. If the former were more technical with the ball at their feet, today the defenders are more ruthless and the players have more functions on the field.
Even in modern football, there is still room for coaches with a more defensive vision, as Italy have been known in the past few decades. This is the case with former coach Muricy Ramalho, who won the Campeonato Brasileiro three times between 2006 and 2008 in São Paulo, with a three-man formation and many crosses in the area. In other words, there is no formula for success.
4. Basic Category
The club’s youth teams emerged around the 1960s with the aim of training athletes. Today, they receive important investments from the boards, mainly for the possibility of revealing new talent for the first team or to negotiate them with European giants in the future.
In this way, the structure of the professional team is replicated in the lower categories. One of the classic examples is Barcelona, who formed their future stars at the former La Masia training centre. With concepts and strategies similar to those of adults, youngsters like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi have become icons of football.
In many cases, the game plan used is the same and there is a great integration between the U-20 team and the professional team. Teams that play with taller defenders, for example, seek that feature among the youngsters, while others, with a higher cadence, prefer skill and precision in passing.
In the youth category, athletes have the first contact with physical preparation, technical training and playing tactics. This represents a change in the revelation of the youngsters in the past, when they made their debut in their teams with a more raw talent, without stoning.
So that old saying that Brazilian players “play beautiful” and “are born ready” is changing. In particular, after the failures of recent World Cups, it is clear that individual talent is not enough to beat the best teams in the world. A model is needed, which starts at the base.
What is the Relationship Between Modern Football and Fitness?
The role of the fitness coach has gained prominence in the modernization of football. At the beginning of his practice, the game was slower, with “magical” athletes and skillful with the ball at their feet. Health care was not so important – it was not uncommon for players who smoked during their career.
With the players’ increased demand, which is exemplified by quick touches to the ball and recomposition in defence, physical preparation gained importance in football. Big clubs have a specific area of physiology, where athletes are analysed individually to know their energy needs and the risk of injuries.
Besides the stamina to run the 90 minutes without high wear, the athletes are also submitted to a routine of weight training exercises. The gain of body mass allows them to participate in the dispute for the ball with more vigor, but without losing their agility and thrust at the time of a header, for example.
For this reason, the players participate in various fitness work during the pre-season. It’s natural that they present themselves with a lack of rhythm and weight different from the ideal after the holidays and the first days are destined for recovery and conditioning, which will be fundamental for the rest of the year.
Technology is an important ally in this area. During football training, athletes use equipment that maps their body movement and measures their wear and tear. This information is used to prescribe personalized training, which respects their characteristics and enhances their skills.
The concept of modern football is constantly evolving. New ways of playing the game are created and the professional who does not update himself runs the risk of losing space to his competitors. Areas such as physical preparation, physiology and sports nutrition gain importance and make the difference in clubs. Have you thought about how you can contribute?