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1How your team plays defense once they have the ball is a matter of choice, balancing the risk of playing the ball out of the back against the reward of maintaining possession.

There are fundamentally two models for defensive transition. Most teams play both, but lean heavily in one direction or another:

         The long ball. Favorite for many years of English teams, long ball soccer depends, as the name implies, on booting the ball long distances from the back and challenging effectively up front.

         Multiple short low risk passes. Favored by technically advanced teams, especially in Spain and Italy but increasingly in England as well. Key is to take advantage of numbers up to find the open man, steadily moving up the field while maintaining possession.

Each approach has different costs and benefits. Different kinds of teams find they are best suited to one or other.

         Long ball soccer is safer in the short run, with little risk of giving the ball away in the defensive third. However, the ball is played without much accuracy, into a space where opposing defenders will be numbers up. The loss of possession is likely, and the opponents will soon be attacking again.

         Short ball soccer is somewhat riskier at the back, as passing the ball around invites pressure and possibly expensive mistakes. However, you do keep possession, tire out the opposing forwards who have to run after the ball, and draw opposing midfielders and defenders forward into more exposed positions.

In general, teams with defenders who are big and strong but have limited foot skills are suited to long ball soccer, especially if they have big fast forwards capable of winning 50-50 balls.

In general, teams with smaller and more technical defenders find it comfortable to play possession soccer at the back.

 Requirements for playing short ball soccer at the back:

         Defenders who are comfortable on the ball

         A goalie who is also comfortable using his feet to receive and pass

         Midfielders who will come back to play possession with defenders, and who are technically advanced and comfortable passing the ball back to defenders

         Constant movement at the back as players move into space and create passing lanes. Short ball soccer cannot be played with static defenders.

 

 

Contact: rgaster@north-atlantic.com