Perhaps the biggest conundrum in modern-day football is whether the counter-attacking style of play kills the beauty of crisp possession-based football. Pretty on the eyes or not, teams have successfully utilized the counter-attacking style of playing football to great success.
In the I-League 2020-21 season, many participating clubs have not shied away from adopting this method — 38% of the season’s goals so far have come through counter-attacks.
20% of Churchill Brother’s goals have come from counter-attacks, 26% for third-placed TRAU FC, 19% for Aizawl FC, 36% for NEROCA FC, 23% for RoundGlass Punjab FC and a mere 8% for Mohammedan Sporting Club.
The Goan outfit have used this tactic concentrating mostly on the right flank with 67% of their counter-attack being initiated from there.
Coach Fernando Varela was very forthcoming in his opinion on counter-attacking football. “Head, leg, arm, mouth, it does not matter as long it is a goal. It does not matter if we play counter-attack or passing football or long-balls — what matters is that we win. At the end of full-time none cares how you played football. The result is more important and you have to do anything to get the result.”
NEROCA FC’s Head Coach Gift Raikhan said, “Counterattack is a tool to use in a match, and it is important to have it in your arsenal. There are situations where you are just being out passed and the only chance of an attack is to counter. We need to assess when to use and how efficiently we can use it. The way it is used completely depends on the teams.”
Though counter-attack might still rule king in the early stages of the I-League, the season is far from over and with six teams vying for the title of Champions, varied styles of play would be on full showcase once the season gets into the latter stages.