Force them wide! Force them Wide! Maybe not!
From early on, we teach players defensively to force players wide. We tell them to show the sideline, use the sideline as an extra defender, force them away from the center of the field.
However, in the opponents back third of the field we frequently want to force wide players to the middle for a couple of reasons.
- If we can win the ball in the middle it increases our chances of going straight to goal in the transition. If we win the ball out wide, we are still far from goal and it increases the likelihood of the opponent being able to recover before we get to goal.
- In most cases, the opponents right back is right footed and their left back is left footed so forcing them to the middle will frequently force them to their weak foot.
In the diagram below you can see the forward forcing the back wide.
If the back feels he is under a lot of pressure and tries to play it long, he most likely will be playing it down the sideline so even if he mishits the ball, it’s still relatively safe.
If the back plays the ball to the outside midfielder, even if under pressure this player will most likely be able to win the ball or play it out of balls.
On the other hand, if the forward forces the back towards the middle, new possibilities arise.
If the back feels pressure and tries to play the ball long out of the back he now is playing the ball toward the middle of the field which increases the chances of the defending team winning the ball and being able to get to goal quickly.
Also, if the player with the ball tries to play the ball to the center midfielder, it’s easy for the defending center midfielder to win the ball and get to goal.
There are many concepts like these on the DVD Tactics and Drills for Training Forwards.