Tag Archives for " Defense "

Analysis of Mexico in the defensive phase against Germany

By Philip Joe Cauchi Watching México play against Germany was like watching a manual on defending in every sense. It reminded me of the classic Italian national teams which were in the past the masters in the art of defending. México gave us more than a lecture in offensive defending. That is, defending with the

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Defensive Shape Dealing with Direct Balls

By Chris Kouns USSF A License (USSF Coaching Education Instructor) – NSCAA Premier Diploma (NSCAA Coaching Education Associate Staff Coach) – Head Women’s Soccer Coach – Georgia Gwinnett College This session is designed to improve your player's ability to deal with direct balls played into your defensive line. Set-Up Set up team in a large

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The Back Line in a 3-5-2

By Alex Trukan Playing with three central defenders and two wingbacks has become increasingly popular over the last years. Having three players positioned centrally at the back gives more room for central midfielders to go forwards and helps to create an overload in midfield. It also provides a better opportunity to use half spaces between

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Juventus Compact Defense

By Stevie Grieve

Massimiliano Allegri was appointed Juventus coach in the summer after the departure of Antonio Conte to the Italian National Squad, and has tried to adapt the Conte 5-3-2 formation and solid defensive system, to a more expansive 4-4-2 diamond formation, using the energy or Pogba and Marchisio in central midfield while giving Tevez and new summer recruit Alvaro Morata more freedom of movement by playing a front 2 with an attacking central midfielder giving a central presence behind them.

This has led to success in the Champions League this season, and currently leaves them in an almost untouchable position at the top of Serie A. A large part of this is the coach and team’s ability to alter the 4-4-2 diamond and change to a 5-3-2. In the game v Borussia Dortmund, Andrea Pirlo was unavailable and inside the 1st 20 minutes, Juventus lost exciting midfielder Paul Pogba to injury.

The coach reacted to this by changing to

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Thiago’s Flexibility to Play Multiple Defensive Shapes

By Stevie Grieve

During the run to winning La Liga in 2014 and reaching the Champions League Final in 2014, Diego Simeone’s well organised team were very flexible in their defensive structure. Normally a team who would play 4-4-2 in attack, they could play defensively in multiple formations; 4-4-2, 4-1-4-1, -4-5-1 and 4-3-3.

To do this from a starting position and stay in these positions and defend in the one shape is fairly easy to coach, but much more difficult is to teach players to understand how to come out of a compact 4-1-4-1 into a high 4-4-2 press and who compensates for the player coming out of line to help the front player, and what the different roles are for the players around the space which is vacated.

Thiago of Atletico de Madrid has been able to demonstrate the flexible positional qualities to understand when to move forward or back, how to shift laterally and cover space, without being exposed between the lines or in the space left to press, such as against Bayer Leverkusen.

Thiago between the lines in a 4-1-4-1


Here, we can see a clear 4-1-4-1 shape for

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Schalke Controlling the Channels v Real Madrid

By Stevie Grieve

In the Champions League encounter between Schalke and Real Madrid, Schalke played the their usual deep 5-3-2 formation adopted by Roberto Di Matteo since he took charge earlier in the season. They normally play quite passive and only engage to press in numbers, specifically in 3v1s in the channel or when there is a good chance of a regain and particularly 2v1 against the touchline.

Schalke blocking Real Madrid’s channel attacking zone


As Kroos, Isco on the ball, Ronaldo and Marcelo are in the same strip of field. Schalke are able to control any forward passes, so Isco elects to dribble with no

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Congestion on Chelsea’s Right Side

By Stevie Grieve

In the recent Champions League match between PSG and Chelsea, Chelsea set up to play compact and defensively with an emphasis on counter-attack, with a high prioritization with blocking PSG’s left with lots of players on that side of the field, with Willian, Cesc, Ramires and Ivanovic all regularly defending on that side against Maxwell, Matuidi and Lavezzi.

Normally, Costa would go to help and Matic would drift over to provide cover for the right side incase PSG broke though and exploited the space, while PSG would often send over Verratti and Cavani to provide extra bodies to try to find an overload.

Consequently, this means that often 8-11 players would be found on one side and within ¼ of the field or less, resulting in Chelsea blocking the vertical attacking actions PSG were looking for on the right side with Maxwell and Matuidi giving left sided balance and crossing opportunities.

PSG Tactical Alteration at Half Time- 3-4-3 with Switches to free Maxwell and Matuidi


In the 2nd half, instead of playing directly into the

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How Germany Broke Through Algeria’s Defence

By Stevie Grieve

In the last analysis I made which was on Algeria’s solid defensive system, I looked at how they made Germany predictable, and how they almost defended in a 6-3-1 formation, playing on the counter attack behind Germany’s high line.

In this, I will look at the slight tactical alteration Jogi Loew made in regards to the runs that Germany looked for, and how it won them the game in Extra Time.

Highlighted areas and runs to exploit the spaces

Germany v Algeria runs
Germany v Algeria runs 2

When Germany had the ball in deep or wide positions, there were 2 main areas that were available on both sides (due to the symmetrical nature of the Algeria defensive block shape) which were;

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Coaching the Principles of Soccer

When you coach young players, it can be difficult to know where to start. Some coaches will focus onlyon developing technique without teaching the key elements of the game. But this can just stunt a young player’s development. When they don’t understand the game’s core principles, they won’t know where they need to be and why so they can use their  technique to create chances to score. To solve this age old problem, two experts in youth coaching have created Coaching the Principles of Soccer – Attack and Defense. This book presents a structured approach to developing an understanding of how the game is played and to provide them with a solid base on which they can develop.


The drills in Coaching the Principles of Soccer – Attack and Defense will

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Philadelphia 3v3v3 Penetration and Defense Activity

By Keith Scarlett

This activity works on possession to penetrate, combination play, defending, pressure, cover, recovery and communication.

It is important for all the players to be on the same page. Both attacking and defending requires teamwork and that means every single player has to be on the same page. In this activity, we put the players under pressure from all sides and if they don’t play well as a unit, chances are, they’re going to be letting in quite a few in the game. The exercise is about playing your responsibility and staying on top of things. REMEMBER: the FIRST pass is of the utmost importance!

Set-up: The playing area is 30 x 20 meters, divided into two halves of 15 x 20 meters. One ball is used. There are three teams of three players each.


How it Works: The game begins with one team (Red) standing in the middle while the other two teams (Black and Yellow) stand at opposite ends of the playing area. The ball is given randomly to

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Manchester United's Defensive Frailties

By Vasco Mota Pereira, PortuGOAL correspondent

Much has been said and spoken about Manchester United and their faltering form. The transition from Sir Alex Ferguson to David Moyes was bound to include some bumps along the way, but the former Everton manager is bound to be found scratching his head while reviewing some recent results and displays. Moyes was considered to be a reactive, reliable, safety-first manager, but his credentials have left much to be desired so far. And while reading through most of the English football press might lead one to believe that it is all a matter of simply adding a few players to the squad, it is hardly the case.

Case in point, the first goal Swansea scored at Old Trafford last weekend for the FA Cup. Manchester United are picked apart smack down the centre by 4 simple touches from Swansea, starting from their centre-back. Since the match is pretty much in slow motion, it is difficult to accept such bad defensive positioning from the current English champions.

Man Utd-Swansea 1

Swansea's centre-back Chico Flores has the ball and already United look out of position. Javier Hernández is contributing nothing defensively and Danny Welbeck is

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High Pressure and Defensive Transition

By Lawrence Fine, Author of the FineSoccer Coaching Bible.

Welcome to the FineSoccer Drills Newsletter. Today’s featured activity works on defensive transition and high pressure.

This is a 6 v 6 plus keepers on half a field with 2 full sized goals and a midfield line.


The ball starts with one of the keepers and the defending team plays

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Goalkeeper Organizing the Defense

By Lawrence Fine, Author of the FineSoccer Coaching Bible.

Welcome to the Goalkeeping Newsletter. Today’s featured activity is a small sided game inside the 18 working on defensive organization, shot blocking and short distribution.

Start with a keeper in goal, 2 small (3 yard long) goals in the far corners of the 18 and a 4 v 3 in the 18.


The four black players try to score in the big goal so the keeper concentrates on

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Playing Out of the Back

The year our club is emphasizing the need for our teams to learn to play out of the back from goal kicks and goalkeeper possessions. It will take time for the players to learn how to maintain possession under pressure and build up an attack. There will also be times when we give up goals because of mistakes by the goalkeeper and defenders. However, the long term up-side far out weight the loss of a goal or even a game. If we train our players to deal with pressure and play around it from the back, they will be better able to do this all over the field.

This starts with our youngest teams. Here is how we want our U8, U9 and U10 teams to take goal kicks:

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2v2 SSG for Defensive Organization

By Lawrence Fine, Author of the FineSoccer Coaching Bible.

Welcome to the FineSoccer Drills Newsletter. Today’s featured activity works on defensive organization in a 2 v 2 situation

Frequently we train by starting with the players in traditional positions and then see how they react. In this activity we have a 2 v 2 going to goal but the 2 attacking players start one in front of the other.

Start with a keeper in goal and 2 defending players. The first attacker starts 35 yards out with a ball and then second attacker is 10 yards further back.


The player with the ball starts with a dribble and then it’s a live attack on goal. The defenders want to concentrate on

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The Benefits of Staying Compact Defensively

By Lawrence Fine, Author of the FineSoccer Coaching Bible.

Welcome to the FineSoccer Drills Newsletter.  Today’s featured activity works on staying compact defensively.

This is a 5 v 3 game to goal with a keeper in the goal.  The 3 are defending the goal.  The 5 attacking players start at midfield with a ball

The attacking team gets a point by scoring a goal OR any time the defending

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How Man City and Barcelona Break Down a Bunkered Defense

By Waleed Zaghloul

Manchester City has just won the Premier League after beating QPR in dramatic fashion. What City has faced during this game was very similar to what they and Barcelona have faced almost all season. Many games have seen teams defending against these two fancy teams with 10 and 11 players for the whole game. It was interesting seeing Drogba playing as a left back against Barcelona in the Champions League.

Chelsea and Real Madrid have played way too negatively against Barcelona in recent weeks and so did QPR against Manchester City in the recent historic game. The worrying sign to us coaches is the fact that Chelsea and Real Madrid achieved their goals from such negative tactics and QPR almost did the same. Such negative mentality has been advocated in recent years by Mourinho when he was at Inter Milan (against Barcelona in the Champions League) and by van Marwjiik with the Netherlands at the World Cup final against Spain.

Many teams have become proficient at bunkering down or “parking the bus” in front of their goal. This necessitates coaches becoming better at teaching their team how to break down such bunkered defenses (or at least trying).

Variety is Key
A respected FIFA coaches instructor once said that how well a team is coached is usually apparent in the way they create chances. The better coached a team is, the more effective ways they have to break down the opposing defense.

Ball possession is important in football, but as most coaches can attest possession does not guarantee winning games (ask Guardiola!) So what could be done to increase your team’s success chances when it comes to breaking down bunkered defenses? I concur variety is a key factor!

Variety means utilizing different ways of attacking the opponent. This includes playing wide and attacking through the wings. It includes penetrating attacks though the middle, shooting from distance and attacking through set pieces specially free kicks and corner kicks.

Let us have a look at how Manchester City was faring against QPR in the variety sense.

First Goal – Principles of Attack
City switched play to the right wing, but after Zabaleta was closed down, they switched to plan B which was penetration though the middle (against nine defenders in the box with the tenth player just outside the box).

This goal involved several attacking principles carried out very well. The City players were

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