Tactical Thursday :What can Kerala Blasters fans expect from Kibu Vicuña?


Less than a year ago, Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan welcomed their new Spanish gaffer, Jose Antonio Vicuña, popularly known as Kibu Vicuña; in search of an identity which compliments their legacy along with the long awaited title. Kibu got both, and in style. He represented such a brand of football that Kerala Blasters took no time to snatch him away from the clutches of the Mariners to appoint him as their next manager. Kerala Blasters is a club who did not fare well in their last few ISL campaigns. They are in search of the same key point that Mohun Bagan searched for, earlier this season– style and success! Something that will give the club a face and a push considering the huge supporter base it possess.

This bring us to the question asked by the Blasters fan every year. What new can this coach bring to our setup? They already tried with a handful of managers who were successful previously, eventually failing to deliver the results. However, if Kibu can earn Mohun Bagan the crown starting from just a scratch, he might be well set to do that for Kerala as well. So, lets take a look at which tactical and technical changes he can make in order to replicate his success in Kolkata.

1.Positional Play

Keeping possession of the ball and passing forward is a concept not unknown to the Kerala Blasters. The statistics of passing and possession of Kerala Blasters FC in the last season is pretty much identical to that of Mohun Bagan; but here lies the twist.

A lot of Blasters’ passing has been in the sideways direction, shifting the game towards the flanks and ultimately culminating in the form of crosses in the box- hiking that parameter as well. On the other hand Kibu believes in the philosophy of “passing with the intent to breakdown defence” otherwise termed as positional play because in this style of play, players take certain positions in designated zones of the pitch making it easy for them to move in to pockets of space and offer themselves to receive the ball and make a move, something with a lot more danger than mere crossing.

With the seeds of positional play already bown by Eelco Schattorie in the team, it will be easier for Kibu to implement this style of play.

Vicuna’s gameplay tactics are fondly termed as Vicuna ball and you can know more of it from :

Tactical Thursday :What can Kerala Blasters fans expect from Kibu Vicuña? images 70
Blasters are already used to positional play

2.Direct Play

Modern Football is all about coming up with a style, succeeding with it, and then someone else finding an antidote of the system, neutralizing its effect. This has happened to a lot of famous teams throughout the last decade whose lack of Plan B hit them where it matters. Kibu avoids any such situation and always try to add element of versatility, giving the gameplay a different layer and a dimension.

Despite having a fascination of dominating games with positional play, Kibu blends it up beautifully with the more direct counter attacking style of play; giving it a further balanced structure. His team is swift and quick in transitions which generally ends up in an effort on goal.

Latest Articles –

3.Pressing and Ball Recovery

There are two ways to defend — Either be swift in defensive transition and hold your shape, or, win the ball where you lost it. Like the majority of the modern managers worldwide; Kibu believes in counter-pressing. His team wants possession back wherever they have lost the ball; simply by pressing them high with numbers and energy, in turn, breaking their buildup and forcing them to go long. The aggressive pressing helps them start an attack in the opposition half, when the opposition is out of their shape in transition. This increases the sting in the already lethal attacking phase.

Pressing a player instantly after loosing a ball also provides time for others to get back into their shape. This causes his team to face a lot more 50-50 duels, but he believes in his players to win them.A strategy that has helped Kibu maintain a balance between attacking and defensive transition successfully despite committing a lot of players forward.

Tactical Thursday :What can Kerala Blasters fans expect from Kibu Vicuña? images 69
Kibu is a strong admirer of aggressive press

4. Aggression

Kibu is not someone who would like to give the ball away, sit deep, hold the shape and lead. He likes his team to have the ball and move. He likes to dominate games with an intent to score goals.

The statistics of key passes, entrance into the final third and expected goals in this data viz. show how aggressive Kibu’s Mohun Bagan was compared to Eelco Schattorie’s Kerala Blasters last season.

A Data Viz. depicting the statistical comparison of Mohunbagan and Kerala Blasters under Kibu and Schattorie respectively

5. Set Piece Skills

Kibu can increase the set piece skills of a team by manifold; provided, that, he possess a quality set piece delivery provider like Joseba Beitia. There are still no rumours of him getting linked to the South Indian giants. But Kibu would definitely like to take him along.

Tactical Thursday :What can Kerala Blasters fans expect from Kibu Vicuña? images 68
Set piece was a lethal weapon of Kibu in Mohunbagan

Beitia’s deliveries combined with the aerial threat’s of Fran Gonzalez, Baba Diawara and Fran Morante have gifted Mohun Bagan a lot of goals. Kibu’s training set-piece drills also helped immensely in this regards. There are certain possibilities that with given circumstances that can repeated in Kerala too.


Kibu is a manager who knows his football and success mantra well. But Kerala Blasters is an infamous club when it comes to dealing with new managers. It has a history of sacking managers and Kibu already has a dripping dagger pointed at his throat.The successful handling of the humongous pressure of the Kolkata giants will give him confidence and it is expected and hoped he can do the same in Kerala too and prove himself to be the ultimate game changer for them.

To know how Kibu Vicuna fared compared to previous KBFC gaffer, you can read :