Five ways to devastate a defence

Two-man attacking moves can be used to devastating effect to prise open tight defences, writes Tony Rock, a Fulham FC Football in the Community coach.

In the same way that you can improve basic football skills – an individual’s ability to dribble, control and pass the ball – you can also coach attacking interplay, where your players use these basic techniques to combine with each other.

When practising attacking teamwork, however, players should also be made aware of how their MOVEMENT OFF THE BALL can open space for their teammates to exploit. This can be done by coaching simple combinations, which require just two attackers versus two defenders, and begin using the same starting positions (see diagram).

1. The Wall Pass

  • Attacker A1 commits the defender D1 by running at them with the ball.

  • A1 passes the ball to the feet of ‘wall’ player A2, just outside D1’s reach – if the ball is released too early, D1 will have time to adjust their position, too late and D1 will block the pass.
     
  • After playing the pass, A1 accelerates past D1 into space. A2 stands square or slightly in front of D1 – at a distance where they can play the return pass without the ball being intercepted by D1, and so neither defender has time to readjust their position.

  • A2 passes the ball with the first touch into the space behind D1.

Key soccer coaching tip: A2 should move into position as late as possible, ideally dragging his marker (D2) into a position square of D1. This prevents D2 from covering behind D1 when the wall pass, or ‘one-two’, is played.

2. The Decoy Wall Pass A

As the name suggests, the two attacking players set up as if they are going to perform a wall pass, but instead of making the pass, A1 feints to make the pass to unbalance D1, then dribbles past down the touchline.

Key soccer coaching tip: A2’s movement should destroy D2’s ability to cover D1.

3. The Decoy Wall Pass B

In this variation A1 passes to A2 and runs past D1.
A2 feints to make the return pass, then turns inside D2 to shoot.

Key soccer coaching tip: A1’s run should attract D2 to the touchline, giving A2 space to turn inside.

The key to unlocking defences is a diagram showing attacking teamwork in action

4. The Crossover Play

A1 passes to A2
A1 follows the pass
A2 begins to dribble in the opposite direction to the pass, across the face of A1
A2 then has two options: stop the ball for A1 to collect and shoot; use A1 as a decoy by feinting to stop the ball then attacking the space behind D1
Both attackers play with their heads up, watching each other’s movements.

Key soccer coaching tip: The attackers’ movement is intended to bring their markers close together, so opening up space down the sides that can be exploited.

5. The Diagonal Run

A2 makes a diagonal run across D2 and behind D1, dragging D2 with him.
A1 attacks the space vacated by A2 and D2.

Key soccer coaching tip: A2 should move into position as late as possible, ideally dragging his marker (D2) into a position square of D1. This prevents D2 from covering behind D1 when the wall pass, or ‘one-two’, is played.

Soccer coaching tips


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