How to beat a low block in football – Parking the bus style of play

How to beat a low block in football – Parking the bus style of play

April 25, 2021 Off By Ibiye Ambille

How to beat a low block in football has been the major focus by some of the big sides in football even as some teams prefer parking the bus rather coming out to play good football with opponents.


Parking the bus has been a tradition in the history of football which is as a result of the team’s inability to acquire quality players that would match the standard of the given competition.



Today’s modern day football is now looking to be centered around setting a low block as teams face each other when it matter to the teams.


Although this technique is not a regular practice in the top soccer leagues.


The tactics employed by some of the biggest football clubs in the world would easily bypass these techniques by clubs most especially the average sides.

How to beat the low block in football - Parking the Bus

Jeffrey F Lin – Unsplash Photos


Because of of beating these traps by some average clubs, advanced have developed a strategy that would work for them.



However, teams have managed to figure out the tactics set up by some of these big sides including Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid to block them out defensively and limit the creativity of their attackers even though the attackers are the highly rated players.



To counter this, some of the big sides a constantly looking for ways to blow open deep blocks set up by opposition sides which can be seen in smaller teams looking to protect their backline from conceding unnecessary goals at the back.




But how would one ascertain the readiness of a team with poor run of form throughout a calendar season.



Taking Juventus as a case study, the emergence of Inter Milan, Lazio and AC Milan created a new dimension in the Italian Serie A.



For Juventus, this is one of the periods in the history of the club, turbulent times will overshadow the whole team across all competitions including the UEFA Champions League where they got eliminated in the quarter finals by FC Porto.



What is the main problem for the club at this point in time, paving way for smaller clubs to either grab a point or collect the maximum points at the expense of the old lady.


Smaller teams have managed to understand the new tactics employed by the new coach.


And as such, parking the bus becomes the only option to deprive the old lady from scoring.


Why Juventus just could not beat it is the poor tactical approach by the manager even though quality players are present in the team.


In a football team, the major problem that would affect a team is a complete breakdown of the defense, which could lead to flurry of goals from the opposing side in the game.



One way to avoid these scenario is to improve the team’s general style of play or the condition that would at least bring normality to the entire setup.



However, failing fix these issues, low block would still continue to be an obstacle to the overall growth of club all season long.


Once again taking Juventus as a case study at this point.



How Parking the Bus by smaller teams have helped bigger team to success


In the Italian Serie A, Inter Milan have had the clear luxury of facing smaller oppositions outside the top half of the league table.


Utilizing the low block system in most of their games which has been behind the success of the Milan based club.



The way it appears to be in the Italian league, some of the average sides fighting to beat the drop whenever they come up against big sides are always feeling relaxed.


Thus, giving more opportunity for others to constantly hit them on counter attacks.


A technique AC Milan once used before the unnecessary injury on.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic, which left the team completely vulnerable and paving way for Inter Milan to quickly leapfrog them to the top of the league standings.

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If you watch closely this season, Inter Milan solely rely on the services of Romelu Lukaku, who plays through the centre of attack in most occasions, only to be accompanied by Lautaro Martinez.


In all, coach of Inter Milan Antonio Conte runs the team around Lukaku.


Over the years, Juventus have also used this method to dislodge smaller clubs during the reign of Massimiliano Allegri at the club.



In a situation whereby the middle is the main option for the club’s attacking mindset, the deep block thrives efficiently without having much problems on it.


The low block has been effective so far for most clubs in Europe.


However the advantages it presents to clubs also there.


For Manchester City, it denies them the opportunity to play the usual Pep Guardiola style of football where you make quality well timed passes to your teammates, dribbling and winning one on one situations with opposition playsers.



This was seen during the Premier League clash with Manchester United which ended 2-0 in favour of the red devils.


Manchester City were busy doing all the work just as Pep Guardiola had instructed them to do.


For Manchester United, what Ole Gunnar Solsjaer did was to allow the City playser play to their full capacity while his team do all the simple counter attacks.



Luke Shaw was able to make that quick drive through to net Manchester United goal by taking the Manchester City players on noticed.


In all, the low block is a problem for big sides like Manchester United, Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid, since there’s no longer an opportunity to play their normal game on the open field.



When clubs sit back to wait for your attackers to come at them, it slows down the pace of the game by removing creativity on the part of the opposing side which ends changing the dimension of the game.


How big football clubs in world overcomes the low block


Manchester City

Managed by one of the best manager in the whole world football Pep Guardiola.


Manchester City have their own way of beating the low block even though it ends up not working effectively in some games like the one against Manchester United which they lost in the end.



What Pep Guardiola did was to introduce the tactics he used during his time at Barcelona and Bayern Munich which aided in winning those trophies he had with them.



For City, they have some of the best players in the world right now including Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Zinchenko, Gabriel Jesus, Ederson Moraes, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, etc.

How Man city overcome this is simple.


The players play through the midfielders who play directly at the opposition side without going through the full backs.



As the ball is been passed onto the midfielders most especially Kevin De Bruyne who is the club’s best performer lately he finds a way to create chances through loose ends in the middle of the park and score goals.


Known for his versatility, the Belgian international is known for taking long range shots from outside the box unexpected after making his towards the opposition half.



Also the legend himself David Silva sits in between the teammates to dictate the pace of the game for them.


So what Silva basically do is to dictate the tempo game while keeping the ball flowing to other players on the pitch.



No with this two super midfielders, you see that the team is more balanced in the middle of the park to create problems for their opponents by playing a very high intensity game that would overwhelm their opponents.



Manchester United’s ability to utilize the low block perfectly is has been behind the success whenever the two teams meet. Although it turns out different in most cases.

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Further down the line for Manchester City, natural wingers in the team including Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva could easily dislodge defenders and create goal scoring opportunities.



These players once they break from the midfield are capable of scoring goals whenever they are well positioned in the opponents half.



Raheem Sterling have used his ability to dribble past defenders in scoring lots of goals for the club.


Inter Milan


Inter has a well organized squad having the likes of Hakimi, Eriksen, Martinez, Lukaku, Brozovic, Skriniar, etc.


Conte usually plays a two men frontline with Lukaku and Martinez and the two upfront.


Basically it comes in different ways. The attack could play through Ivan Perisic at the flanks or through the well position Hakimi.


Also, it could come through the middle with Eriksen, Barella and Brozovic handling the ball nicely in the middle of the park.


The way and manner in which Inter Milan have hand low block has been the only tool behind the team’s successful since the start of the new season.



Paris Saint German

PSG have some of the the best players including Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Julian Draxler, Colin Dagba, Marquinhos, etc. They frontline headed by Neymar makes few dribbles to force defenders out of their position.




How teams can beat the low block and improve the overall team performance


Let’s put Juventus in the picture, if you look at the entire team, you will find out that there are a lot areas that need better improvement as things stand currently.


The overall team play needs improvement.


Defenders, midfielder must learn how to effectively connect with the midfielders who in turn has to create goal scoring opportunities for the attackers.


A quick glance through the Juventus squad list, you will see that player quality is not the problem because Juventus have some of the best players in the world right now.


But the intensity, tempo of the old Juventus has to return quickly before it turns out different.


For teams in general, I you want to effectively beat the low block, you need to have creative midfielders that can easily connect with the attackers who can also dislodge defenders to score goals.


Technically speaking, your team needs to have pacey wingers because this is the focal point in the operation.

How to beat a low block in football - Parking the balls style of play

Ryan Clark – Unsplash


Your wingers must learn how to stretch wide opposition defenders to allow your attackers to easily move into positions.



The beauty of stretching the defense of your opponents wide open is, it allows your team gain more control by opening up more spaces for your players to easily operate without which you cannot penetrate.


Your players should avoid long balls in this case because it will not work for them. Instead, short passes should be played throughout the game.


There’s a need to have quality players like Eden Hazard, Lionel Messi, Neymar or Hakim Ziyech who can dribble there way through a simple opening after you have opened the defense of the opposing team.


Other aspects of successfully break Parking the Bus


Your defenders also play a key role in this operation.


Your fullbacks need to understand proper positioning. They should be able to run in between loose spaces to make important crosses.


This is one unique ability Canadian soccer player and Bayern Munich defender Alphonso Davies posses.


Your defenders should be able to run in behind deep and run into the opponent box which they have to timed themselves to achieve it.


Also in a situation like this, your team should not also sit and wait just as the opposing team already utilizes.


Rather, they need to move further into the opponents half by making advances.


The duty of the frontline is to ensure the defenders are out there trying to get the ball of their foot.

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By so doing, empty spaces will be created for them to easily exploit.


Take the game to them by taking the defenders out of their current position by making quick passes just like you want to begin your normal style of play.


Remember, low block will not allow your play your normal style with ease because it has several drawbacks attached to it.


The best formation to use


4-2-3-1 formation is the best formation to beat parking the bus style of play. With this formation, your attackers will play a narrow attack instead the usual wide attack.



4-3-3 formation is also another recommend style to overcome it. This technique, the attackers will push through from the inside and not through the wings anymore.


Why teams play low block, prefer to Park the Bus


Teams love to play low block when they probably have an advantage, probably leading the game in a bid to prevent the opposition from coming back to score a goal that would return the game against them.


Time wasting is another reason to do so. Players from the opposing side would rather sit back and pass the balls around in their own half.


They wait for you to attack, probably obtain a loose ball and hit you with quick counter attacks which also turns out disastrous in some cases.


Thirdly, teams do it when they are at a disadvantage.


Maybe a player was taken off as a result of injury or probably was sent of for decent. This is another reason clubs prefer to park the balls rather than coming all out to play.


Another one is the tradition of a certain coach.


Today, some coaches enjoy theses technique because they feel it gives problems to your attackers, causing them to work harder



As your team carries out all the work on the field of play, they will hit you on a counter attack and probably sore you unexpected goals.



This has been the tactics of some of the top coaches idea to football.



Parking the balls kills the entertainment of football since one team will be running around to score and other side sits back and wait.



Teams on the winning side that have low quality players will always consider to play the low block because it is the best available option out there.


It basically guarantee points for them. Average teams are usually seen as the ones interested in this type of operation that will kill off the game.


However if you want to win it, you must try to dislodge the defenders from their current position and try to force your way through loose ends.


The technique can be achieved by having players capable of driving defenders out of there comfort zones, without which the plan cannot yield better results.


The main reason Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and PSG have survived the low block is simply taking the game to their opponents by letting them out of their own half, create spaces and quickly launch attacks.


Attacks that are well timed will also go a long way in making sure that the entire operation comes out smoothly.


Basically, your team needs to have the best legs to achieve this without having worry about the effects that could arise.


Football is an entertainment sport that should offer thrills and moves fans would like to see. Parking the balls only slows the entire flow of the game since it has become a one sided affair.



Park the bus, some notable world class coaches have frequently used it to overcome high pressing teams in big matches.



How to beat the low block is to make thc defenders leave their position, and then you hit them with a well timed unexpected attack.

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