Beautiful Football: The Rise of Robert De Zerbi’s Brighton Hove Albion


Since the appointment of Graham Potter, Brighton Hove Albion has undergone a massive transformation to topple big teams in the Premier League. Even when he left, the club efficiently got the former. Sassuolo man Robert De Zerbi. The Italian is a genius in his game and led the flag to develop the middle table into a growing European giant.

When you analyze De Zerbi’s playing style, you will see the core principles of Cryuff and Pep Guardiola. Also, the tactical brilliance of Sacchi and Ancelotti. This helped him to make his team more dynamic and attacking. Furthermore, it is making Brighton one of the best teams in the Premier League.

Therefore, in order to understand more about his playing style and tactics, we will dig deeper into the subject to understand his vision better. So, let’s begin the discussion.

Tactical Analysis Of De Zerbi 

As discussed earlier, De Zerbi has the core influence of a legendary manager whose man management and tactics are influencing the new-gen players. It is a fact that all players in Brighton aren’t top-class players, but they are hard-working and follow the instructions brilliantly.

This can be seen with players like Gross, Dunk, Welbeck, and Lallana, who have given dynamics to the squad and their playing style. Therefore, you will see that every player has a place in his system.

Here are a few things he follows while building his team –

It’s A Positional Play 

One of the key tenets of De Zerbi’s Philosophy is positioning play. He organizes his team so players can move the ball more fluidly and interchange it between different positions. This way, their forward players can create space in the opposition’s defense and let the forwards enter the box and score goals.

Furthermore, De Zerbi gives strong emphasis on playing from the back, as it lays the foundation for playing the ball forward. Consequently, his positional play begins with –

  • Playing from the back
  • Mastering playing in different positions to exchange passes
  • Passing knowledge
  • Strategic acquisitions of space to make way for forward players and gain a numerical advantage in the opposition half
  • High level of decision-making
  • Lastly, the concept of free man, the third man, is mostly played by Danny Welbeck

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Playing From The Back Principle 

Nowadays, playing from the back is a trend. It is the best way of taking the ball forward efficiently and fluently. Therefore, De Zerbi follows a similar thing and plays short passes from the back. Once the opposition presses, they can quickly open the defense with one pass and give a numerical edge in the opposition box. That way, they can score more goals.

This way, they can keep the ball moving quickly through the transition phase and stretch the opposition’s defense structure. Also, it nullifies the chance of the opposition attacking them. Consequently, it allows the defense a high line and puts an offside trap once the opposition tries to go back to the defense.

Hence, you can see that they concede fewer goals and increase the goal difference in the points table. Following this, importance is given to passing distribution, where the ball-playing defenders need to deliver over to the box-to-box midfielder. It mainly plays a diagonal pass to the opposition box. That way, it will attract the right back with him and make space for wingers to attack the space and then put the ball in the box.

So, even if the opposition plays a low block or thinks of parking the bus, they will eventually get stretched. And just then. Ferguson, Pedro, and Mitoma will put the ball in the net.

De Zerbi And Seagulls Matching Vision

It is not common for Italian and English people to have matching visions, but De Zerbi and Seagulls are a match made in heaven. The club and the manager share the same values and principles, as it helps them win matches with beautiful football. Therefore, the tactician can implement his vision throughout the club and the players.

This can be seen in a few ways –

Attracting New Talents And Veterans  

One of the things Brighton has done is attract bright young talents across Europe, South America, and Asia. Hence, it gives them the opportunity to purchase various players with different qualities. That is why the club invests in its scouting, attracting great talents around the world.

So far, it is working, as they have been able to sign Mitoma, Estupinian, Pedro, Enciso, Van Hecke, Adingra, and Ferguson. All of these players follow the same philosophy of attacking football and learning something new every day. Also, with the rise of these, they are able to attract talent from the rest of Europe and South America.

Besides, they are also buying veterans who can guide the young talents toward the pinnacle with their feet on the ground. That’s why including Lallana, Welbeck, and Milner helps De Zerbi control the younger talents in the dressing room.

Implementation Of Attacking Football Vision 

Since the appointment of Potter, Brighton has been able to play attacking football and get good results. Therefore, when he left for Chelsea, Brighton straightway went to De Zerbi, as his style matched Potter’s. More so, De Zerbi attacks by keeping possession, which nullifies opposition attacks and press.

Hence, you can see from the videos of De Zerbi’s training session that players undergo intense training to keep the ball on their feet. This allows them to play from the back smoothly and cut the opposition like a hot knife through the butter. Consequently, an increased level of performance has given them a place in round 16 of the Europa League. Furthermore, it makes them one of the favorites to win the cup.

The Future Of De Zerbi’s Philosophy Is Bright

Ultimately, we can conclude the segment by saying that De Zerbi’s philosophy is something young coaches can learn from. They can learn how to play attacking by keeping possession and using the transition to their advantage.

Moreover, in the case of Brighton Hove Albion, it will be the case of winning trophies. They have a chance to win the FA Cup and the Europa League, which will put De Zerbi’s name in football history.