Zonal Defence Analysis

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Zonal Defence Analysis


All things being equal, you can expect that the side who have had more attacks, and more significantly, had more favourable attacks, to win a game.

By more favourable attacks, it means that the team have attacked into more numerically advantageous defences. That is to say that there is a favourable defender to attacker ratio like attacking “Man on Man” as opposed to attacking into a “Zonal Defence” (more commonly referred to as a “blanket defence”), or four and four as opposed to nine on nine, for example.

If one side is consistently attacking into a “Zonal Defence” of eight on ten, for example, and their opponents are attacking into five on five “Man on Man” defences consistently, all other things being equal, you can expect the side attacking “Man on Man” to win easily.

Furthermore, if this is happening, it alludes to either a gross gulf in quality between the sides, or more likely, a tactical/structural problem for the team constantly attacking into the “Zonal Defence”.

How it Works

Every time either side crosses an imaginary line in possession between the “45” and “65” it is recorded as an attack.

football zonal defence analysis Yaro

*the full field represents Croke Park dimensions, while the dotted black lines represents a typical club pitch size*

Within three seconds of the attacking side facing the goal with possession, the best scenario is recorded as one of four types of attack ; “Overlap”, “Man on Man”, “Man on Man +1” (the opposition have one spare defender behind the ball), “Zonal Defence” (the opposition have more than one spare defender behind the ball.

That is to say that if the attacking side cross this imaginary line and face a “Zonal Defence”, but manoeuvre a “Man on Man” attack within three seconds of this possession, it is recorded as a “Man on Man” attack.

Also, if a corner forward receives a long ball, for example, and faces a “Man on Man” defence at the point where he grabs the ball, but the opposition have two or more men behind the ball by the time he turns to face the goal, this will be recorded as a “Zonal Defence”.


Explanation of Categories


Fairly self explanatory, this refers to the attacking team having an overlap of at least one player in the direct line of the goal.

Man on man

This means that the attacking side are attacking “man on man”, but there are exceptions which are explained in the “Zonal Defence” section.

Man on Man +1

This means that the attacking side are attacking into a defence which is man on man and has one extra free defender behind the ball.

Zonal Defence

At a basic level it means that the opposition have more than two spare defenders behind the ball. However, it is also counted as a “Zonal Defence” if the defence have eight outfield players behind the ball inside the “45”, as long as they are at least man on man or ten behind the imaginary line which marks the attack.