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Collect scorer points like Kevin De Bruyne - that's how he plays!

Posted by Nic Keller on

Almost 100 goals in the Premiere League, constantly setting new goal records from Haaland & a 4-0 win against Real Madrid – at Manchester City the opposing goal net is fidgeting in a constant loop. If you take a look at City's offensive line-up, the many goals are hardly surprising - after all, these exceptional players were bought together for a lot of money.
In this post we will take a closer look at one of these Manchester City attacking players & learn from his game. When it comes to goals, a discussion with Haaland would be obvious. In fact, we will take a look at Kevin De Bruyne's game - even if the Belgian doesn't score quite as often as the "Norwegian force of nature". But De Bruyne can create a goal threat in more diverse ways than anyone else.

The following properties characterize it:

  • precise crosses & flexible positional play

  • Dangerous long-range shots & “top spin” free kicks

  • Creativity, overview & interface passes

Precise crosses & flexible positional play

On paper, De Bruyne plays in the right half-space at Manchester City. However, anyone who regularly watches City games will notice that KDB can often be seen on the right wing - especially when the center is very tight. De Bruyne uses the move to the outside lane when the opponent makes the middle of the field very compact. His excellent understanding of the game helps De Bruyne to recognize in which space he can have more and better influence on the game.
Kevin De Bruyne's tactics in positional play on a football field
By moving wide, De Bruyne can also use one of his most dangerous “weapons” – his pinpoint crosses. Since there is more space on the wing than in the middle of the field and the strong dribbling wingers Mahrez & Bernado Silva tie opponents, KDB has enough time to prepare his precise crosses.
Kevin De Bruyne's cross tactics on a board.

#1 Practical tips: Flexible positional play

Don't see your position as a rigid requirement, but simply as a point of reference. Always look for the rooms in which you can best be integrated into the game and use your strengths.

Dangerous long-range shots & “top-spin” free kicks

De Brunyne's enormous precision can be observed not only in his crosses, but also in his shots on goal. This accuracy helps KDB to regularly hit the goal from outside the box. There is certainly a lot of goal-scoring training behind his goal-scoring. But good shooting technique alone is not enough to score more often from a distance - because in the second step, KDB also has to get into finishing situations so that his shot can be used at all. His excellent understanding of the game helps him again - he recognizes very well when there might be opportunities to finish from a distance and then specifically occupies the backcourt.

#2 Practical tips: Occupy the backcourt

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/mnVSEcWIxTo (see video)
Move into the backcourt immediately before crosses or after passes to the back of the opposing defense. When crossing in, you will always get second balls after clearing actions or blocked shots on goal and thus have opportunities to finish. After deep passes, the opposing defenders move backwards. As a result, the defenders often lose sight of the space behind them and therefore lose sight of the back area - ideal conditions to position themselves for a shot on goal.
On a tactics board you can see Kevin De Bruyne moving into the backcourt.
De Bruyne's good shooting technique can also be proven with numbers - the Belgian scored an impressive 49 times from outside the penalty area over the course of his professional career. There were also a few direct free-kick goals, for which he usually used a “top spin” technique. When shooting, the ball drops very abruptly, which can surprise the goalkeeper with the trajectory.

#3 Practical tips: “Top spin” free kicks

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/Q0flMcG5QEE (See video)
  • Hit the ball slightly below center to create top spin
  • Hit the ball with your instep, approximately between the ankle and metatarsal
  • When touching the ball, “pull” your leg slightly upwards to create top spin
  • Experiment with the technique by using the ball a little more instep or inside

Creativity, overview & interface passes

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/P4Tw-5mO-3g (See video)
Did you notice anything about this brilliant interface pass from De Bruyne? Yes, he sees creative solutions even under high pressure. Yes, he keeps track even with the ball at his feet. And yes, the passes are almost perfectly timed - both inside and outside. But did you also notice a small but important detail about the interfaces? The passport recipient and passport never go through the same interface. This form of interface pass is also possible but is much easier to calculate.

#4 Practical tip: Interface passes

  • The basic requirement for successful interface passes is running routes in depth. So if you want to see more interface passes, ask your teammates to go deeper or regularly start at the back of the defense yourself. If you first run into the depths with a pass, an opposing defender is usually more likely to have the ball. If, on the other hand, you pick up the pace before passing, you gain a speed advantage - which is why “first run, then pass!”
  • “Start deep behind the defender”
  • “Go for diagonal passes” Diagonal passes are more difficult to calculate and are also easier to process.
  • If you can't find a playable interface, you can also play the ball high over the opposing defense. Chip balls are recommended against deep opponents so that the ball doesn't go out of bounds.
On a tactics board you can see how Kevin De Bruyne makes his interface passes.

    About the author:

    Luis Österlein (Twitter: LOsterlein ) is a game analyst for the U23 team at FC Bayern Munich and a freelance author. In close collaboration with 360Football, he writes specific blog posts that support players in their football development support.

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