Laurent Koscielny gave a long interview to l’Equipe prior to the 2016 Euros that the English media have only just picked up, here are some bits about defensive work and positioning.
He was asked to compare the Arsenal football style and the Atletico Madrid one and if it was harder to defend at Arsenal:
“Of course, when you defend deeper, the whole team defends not only the defenders. The whole defensive block is working hard. I was watching the Champions League quarter-final, Athletico v Barca, Grizou (Antoine Griezmann) was 25 metres from his goal-line.
“It is obviously a lot easier for the defenders. Everybody is positioned in the right place, there is the right distance between each player, everybody knows what they have to do.
“At Arsenal, because we play higher on the pitch, all the forwards are attacking and all our defenders must concentrate really hard to maintain the team’s balance.
“We are always in danger against teams that like to have space in front of them. But this is our playing style. We want to be as high as possible on the pitch, win the ball back as quickly as possible in order to have shortest distance to go to the opposition’s goal.”
Then he compared the France style with the Arsenal one and if it easier to play with France or Arsenal.
“We play a little bit deeper (with France), we build up from the back and we take a lot more time to go across the pitch.
“As soon as we lose the ball, we drop deep in order to manage the space behind us, while we could maybe stay higher on the pitch.
“When you play deeper, it is easier to intercept the ball. When you play higher on the pitch, you automatically take more risks. In the one v one situation in the middle of the pitch with Arsenal, I cannot make any mistake.“
Laurent says he has to a lot more one v one situations for Arsenal than with his country and he would have nearly none to do if he was playing with Atletico. This is due to the Spanish side’s deep defending tactic that protects their defence and then hit the opposition on the break with their forwards lightning pace.