How Your Forwards Should React When Losing Possession

By Danny Carvalho

Question - “When we lose possession, my two forwards don't react quick enough to try and get back to help defend. What should forwards be expected to do when your team loses possession and is now defending?”

This is a matter of preference and tactical option. The coach can determine if they want their forwards to get back behind the ball’s line, press the opponents or just rest in order to be fresh in the occasion of a counter attack.

My personal preference is that forwards participate on defense. In the following diagrams, I will illustrate how I prefer my forwards to perform on defense.

In the diagram below, the yellow forwards are forcing the opponent to play the ball forward by positioning themselves in front of the nearest short and sideways passing options. By doing this, they are making the play predictable for the rest of the team, which helps to challenge for the ball and eventually gain possession.

Now that the ball reached their side back, the whole structure is affected with our right mid going to put pressure on him, center right mid sliding up to provide coverage and center left mid (CLM) got dragged by an opponent making a run towards our back 4. One of the forwards quickly fill in the gap left by our CLM as well as scanning their center defensive player in case he gets a pass, while the other forward closes down the nearest pass back option, once again forcing the opponents to play forward where we are well organized and ready to win the ball.

Now that the ball reached our defensive third, both our forward drop back to close the mid spaces, avoiding defenders from the opponents to support their team by stepping into our half, and if they want to reset the play they will have to play it further from our goal.

Again, this are my preferences and some set instructions that every team should follow. Every game poses a different scenario and every opponent have their individual features. All in all, we definitely want forwards to participate in the defensive moment somehow and not just stay still watching things happen. We must consider what’s the best for the team.

By Danny Carvalho, DOC at Corinthians Campinas Youth Club,  Brasil

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