Halbraum (Half space) is an area of the field that fits between the middle and wide area – hence the name half space. The space is field long and not just in the attacking half like some would believe. The space is between the outer lines of the 6-yard box and runs to the outlet line 18 yard box. Over the last few seasons, coaches from across the globe have pinpointed this area as fundamental to their attacking play.
The interesting thing about the half space is the different types of players that can expose these areas for their team. There are many benefits of the half space, in comparison to the central areas. Its less congested, it can open space up on the opposite side of the field and playing in the half space could drag opposition players out of the central area meaning space opens up centrally. If research says that playing around the central area of the field is beneficial then why not play in the widest zone? Well the half space has benefits in comparison to the widest areas too – most notably, you are closer to the goal, you can play in more directions (both to the left and right of you) without worry of the sideline, it also can cause confusion in opposition as to role and responsibilities.
When Pep Guardiola was the manager at Barcelona he played predominantly a 1-4-3-3- his philosophy was to deliver the ball to his best players in as much space as possible, in the ‘inside channels’. At the time these players were Iniesta and Xavi which meant it was his central midfielders who occupied the half space, for the most part, Thierry Henry has said publicly that his role was to stay in a wide area, he wasn’t allowed to come inside as this was Iniesta’s space. “Both Iniesta and Xavi are classic Spanish players: central midfielders who operate in the channel between full backs and center backs, and load the Messi bullets.”
When Pep went to Bayern Munich he found that his best creative / attacking players were wingers rather than central midfielders – these being Robben & Ribery. The German press noted soon after Pep’s arrival “Robben & Ribery are wingers who cut inside to occupy the ‘interior space’ also known as the halbraum” This meant that Pep needed to occupy the opposition full backs, he did this by having attacking full backs which meant that often the opposition full backs had decisions to make – if they went into the half space with Robben or Ribery then Pep’s full back could get in behind their defense and if the full backs stayed it would allow Robben or Ribery a pocket of space to receive the ball, turn and play forward.
Since Pep joined Manchester City we can assume he identified David Silva and Kevin DeBryune as his most creative players – playing in a 1-4-3-3 he has played a similar but not identical way to how he did at Barcelona with Silva and DeBryune occupying the half space and Fernandinho holding as a defensive midfielder. If Pep changes these players he often plays the same way with Gundagon and Bernardo Silva playing in the half spaces.