Why Villas Boas Can Succeed at Liverpool, Whilst Failing at Chelsea

Why Villas Boas Can Succeed at Liverpool, Whilst Failing at Chelsea


Beginnings at Porto


In his first season as manager of FC Porto, Andre Villas Boas had statistics of:

Won the Portuguese Super Cup

Won the Portuguese League

Won the Millennium Cup

Won the Europa League

Went the entire season with only FOUR losses, including 2 in the preseason, 1 in the League Cup and 1 in the 1st Leg of the Millennium Cup SF

Undefeated in the league – Pld 30, W: 27, D:3

Scored 136 in all competitions


o Under Andre Villas Boas, FC Porto most frequently utilised a 4-3-3, but it was not ‘symmetrical’

o Andre Villas Boas altered the formation to expose opposition weaknesses and ensure the strengths of the squad were used.

o The back four frequently consisted of:

Pereira – Maicon – Rolando – Sapanaru

o FC Porto played a high-line with a high pressing game, which meant GK Helton played as a sweeper keeper.

o The three in midfield consisted of: Fernando – Moutinho – Belluschi

o Fernando played as the ‘pivot’, breaking up play, but more importantly recycling the ball. Moutinho played as the central playmaker, but also dropped in to cover if Fernando ventured forward. Belluschi’s role will be explained more in reference to Hulk.

o The Forward line frequently consisted of: Varela – Falcao – Hulk

o Varela had the role of utilising his pace as an option in behind high lines, but also offered natural width and had the ability to run at defences.

o Falcao played the ‘No. 9’ role as an outlet ball, holding the ball up but also to finish off moves

o Hulk played as an inverted right winger, tucking in and linking with Falcao. This left space wide right where Belluschi overlapped and, alongside the RB, caused an overload on the right.

o An important note on Varela was in his positioning on the left. Due to the overload on the right, if the opposition countered that by shifting across, he was used as an outlet to expose the open space, meaning a team could not stop the right side, as they then opened up the left, Catch 22

o In attack, the fullbacks would push forward to join in, whilst the CB’s would spread and Fernando tucked in to effectively create a 3-4-3 as shown:


This meant FC Porto were very fluid and able to adapt to different situations in both attack and defence


Andre Villas Boas implemented a fluid attacking 4-3-3 system which could also adjust easily to a 3-4-3. This was met with unprecedented success and ensured he won four trophies in his first and only season at FC Porto. On the next page we look at the problems faced at Chelsea (quick link is below).

Page 2 Quick Link: Problems At Chelsea

Page 3 Quick Link: Why he can Succeed at Liverpool