How to use PlayerTek to play like one of the most-decorated footballers of all time…
During an intimate interview with Brazilian newspaper O’Globo in 2015, Dani Alves was asked to describe himself. Without skipping a beat and accompanied by a typical cheesy grin, the defender answered: ‘good crazy’. With his eccentric appearance, extrovert lifestyle and alternative outlook on the world, it’s a fitting account that has since become a personal mantra, but ‘good crazy’ also tells the story of an illustrious career.
It’s one that has not only seen the 34-year-old accumulate enough air miles to make your head spin, but has also involved some of the greatest clubs in world football. The right back left native outfit Bahia for Sevilla and then Barcelona, before joining Paris Saint Germain in the summer via a brief spell with Italian champions Juventus. It’s quite the CV, although success has followed Alves wherever he has gone. Only Ryan Giggs, who is on a par with Oleksandr Shovkovskiy, and fellow countryman Maxwell have bettered the 34 major honours he has won with 35 and 36 titles respectively, although the Brazilian shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon just yet.
We’re not advising you copy all his quirks in order to be at the top of your game– a quick trawl through Alves’ Instagram account will reveal some questionable outfit choices best avoided – but there’s no better flying full back to base your game on.
At the time of writing, only Koke, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have recorded more assists than the 59 goals Alves created in La Liga. It’s an achievement that shouldn’t be sniffed at considering he’s a defender, and his ability to fashion chances is largely down to simply staying wide and remaining patient.
By hugging the touchline and moving vertically on the flank, he is a winger’s dream: always an option on an offensive overlap or simply a diversion to make space for a cross or shot. His bursts into the final third stretches an opposition’s defence, and he’s equally adept at delivering the ball into the box early for on-rushing attackers or taking it to the byline and cutting it back.
As a full back, your basic remit is to prevent crosses coming into your box and ensure they’re going into the opponent’s. It’s inevitable you’ll get dragged inside for whatever reason, but staying out wide as much as possible gives you the best chance to exploit empty space offensively. At the back, be careful you’re not ball watching and getting dragged too close to your central defender– it invites a deep cross or a quick switch of play into the gap you’ve vacated. PlayerTek’s heatmap should show a blur of colour down whatever side you’re on and is the best tool for gaining positional insight.
You’ve got to wonder what Alves has for breakfast, as there appears to be a never-ending hyperactivity about the man. Off pitch he always appears to be up to something – a recent appearance on the catwalk during Paris Fashion Week with team-mate Neymar is just a drop in the ocean of his extra-curricular activities – while on it he’s haring up and down the touchline for 90 minutes.
The right back plays at full throttle and produces numbers in terms of distance that are close to that of an industrious central midfielder. Expected to contribute in both attack and defence, playing like this samba star means you’re going to be busy.
To fulfil both duties, you’ve got to put in the hard yards. Not only does it require maximum effort, but you’ve got to ensure that it’s applied right up until the final whistle. By using PlayerTek, you can ensure you’re running as much as you need to, while equal power outputs in both halves mean you’re avoiding fatigue maintaining your level of performance.
Alves needs to be able to keep up with whatever transitional phase is happening, whether that be flying forward when his side wins possession or quickly recovering when a move breaks down. The high intensity that’s part and parcel of European football means speed is of the essence.
In attack, it’s not uncommon to see his unmistakable 5ft 7in frame arrive late at the back post to poke home a deep cross – his sudden darts into the box to get ahead of his marker have reaped the rewards with three goals so far this season. At the back, his small stature means he’s a target for clipped balls in behind, while an all or nothing playing style often sees him criticised for eagerly diving into challenges when perhaps it’s better to stand his marker up. Although these are certainly weaknesses, he can make up for the space he leaves behind with a turn of pace.
At whatever level you play at, you’re going to need to apply the afterburners at some point during a game – especially if you want to mimic Alves. PlayerTek offers an accurate measurement of the top speed achieved in matches so you can not only work out how quick you are, but also how often you produce the bursts forward.