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This is the first defending functional practice from the UEFA B Licence Course that I will look at. The topic is Defending front the Front where we will look at how the front players should press to make the opposition play predictable.


Session Detail

The setup for this is the same as the Attacking functional practice for playing out from the back. In this example we will work with the blue team, which consists of a number 9 and two wide forwards to mimic a 1-4-3-3. They will play against the reds who play in a back 4 and are a team who likes to play short out from the goalkeeper.

When defending from the front it is important to consider the following:

For the purposes of this example, I want my players to press once the ball has exited the penalty box. Once it is, we want to make the play predictable. We can do that by using basic principles of defending:

  1. Delay + Deny – If the goalkeeper has passed to either CB, be patient, block passing lanes to stop quick forward passes. Force the CB to hold on to the ball and either progress forward or try a risker pass.
  2. Dictate Play – Once the ball exits the penalty box, we ask the number 9 to press the player on the ball, but to curve his run to cut off a pass to the other CB or nearest player. We want to force the opposition to play in one half of the pitch making the area to defend smaller. This will allow the opposite winger to play narrower and make our own block more compact.
UEFA B Functional Practice - Defending from the Front

Dictate play!

In the example above we can see the Red #4 on the ball, the Blue #9 is curving his pressing run in order to cut out the passing option across to the Red #5. The Blue #11 has the Right Back locked in and the Blue #7 can now move closer to the ball as the pass to the opposite side is much less likely now.

Technical Coaching Points

Defending from the Front

Even at Grassroots level, more and more teams and coaches are choosing to play short from the goalkeeper. Players are becoming better and more confident in possession so if your team is not confident in pressing from the front it can be easy for opposition teams to play through you quite easily.

For man coaches, the defending starts with the forward players. This functional practice is an excellent introduction into how to defend from the front and showing players how it can be really successful if you can make the oppositions play predictable.

You could also adapt this practice if you prefer your teams to defend in the middle third, simply move the scoring gates for the attacking team to the half way line or beyond. Then simply tell your team to let the opposition have the ball and you can chose where your “line of engagement” is and start to dictate play from there.

Players need to “defend smart” so they wont have to run hard continuously after the ball.