How The Evolution Of Football Tactics Is Changing Betting

Withdrawn strikers, inverted full-backs, the combination game, ‘total football’, tika-taka, the counter-attack, the high-press, overlapping centre backs and the incredibly detailed world of micro tactics. It may read like an obscure list of underground punk bands, however, these are all examples of tactical evolutions that have transformed the game of football forever.



If we go back in our minds eye to the 19th century, football was a game based around receiving the ball and moving directly towards the opponents goal. Dribbling served as the main mode of transport, with teammates supporting the player in possession in case the ball ran loose. This was a time where the concept of simply passing the ball to a teammate because they were in a better position was seen as an oddity.


Clearly, the beautiful game has come a long way since this was the case and tactics have been at the core of what has transformed the game time and time again. This article has been put together to give a brief overview of the evolution of football tactics and how they have in turn, changed how people are approaching and thinking about sports betting.



The First Cut Is The Deepest

In 1953, Hungary beat England 6-3 at the old Wembley stadium in what is considered by many as the most famous game in the history of football. The game, often referred to as the Match of the Century, is not famous because it was a final or included a particularly brilliant goal, but because those watching witnessed a system of play that had never been seen before. Nándor Hidegkuti looked all but set to start as a centre forward for the Hungarians but instead, he became the first player in history to operate in a deep-lying centre-forward position. The English defenders were unable to adapt and/or counteract this approach and inevitably, suffered the consequences.


The Modern Game

If we turn our focus to the English Premier League, which began in 1992, we can see how footballing tactics have completely changed in this brief time. The days of 4-4-2, which saw Manchester United dominate the early years of the Premier League under Alex Ferguson, have more than come and gone. Arsene Wenger’s arrival at Arsenal in 1996 saw the introduction of a more fluid style that saw Denis Bergkamp operate as a withdrawn striker who would dictate the play with astounding grace. 


On a global scale, the 2010s saw the next big transformation, with football fans around the globe sitting back in admiration as Spain conquered the world in 2010 with their tika-taka style. This particular style consisted of one touch passing and constant movement, as players would regularly interchange positions. There has been somewhat of a backlash to this approach since and just like we see old trends re-emerging in fashion, the counter attack is now firmly back in style. While this can be looked upon as an old approach, it has returned with a modern twist, in the form of the high press, a tactic used to retrieve the ball back as quickly as possible once possession is lost.


The Knock-On Effect

Just as the evolution of tactics has changed the game, it has also changed how people watch and bet on the sport. The modern football manager is now hyper aware of the varying approaches and tactics opposition teams can employ, which has resulted in each meeting resembling that of a game of chess. The simple deployment of a withdrawn striker will no longer alter the entirety of game.


Teams are now more than capable of playing in multiple styles as well as adapting to different ones, with the aim being to nullify the opposition’s strengths while, at the same time, targeting their weaknesses. Thanks to modern football coverage, the average football fan is also aware of these minuscule details and can therefore weigh up how a game will develop.



Ultimately, the framework for analysing a game of football is now so particular to each encounter that having an understanding of how modern tactics function will directly affect how and what sports fans choose to bet on. Welcome to the 21st century of sports betting!