This session is about having possession in the opposition’s half of the pitch. It’s about looking to move the ball from side-to-side to get midfielders and full backs on the ball and to create overloads and perform patterns of play when the opposition doesn’t adjust or are late to match our superiority. In that moment, we want our team to use the patterns of play that they have rehearsed to enter the penalty area and finish on goal.
This training session has a lot of non-negotiables of my style of play – the ball possession, looking to play forwards, looking to create overloads, then using the overlaps and underlaps to get inside of the box. When my teams are successful, getting to the finishing points and then executing the actions is important.
In case we are not successful, we will look to immediately apply the counter-press to not allow our opponents to go forward or counter-attack. If we are successful in the counter-press, we will look to perform the narrow pattern to go forward, using the farthest player as an attacking reference in order to penetrate into the box and finish the action quickly. Then in case the re-press is not successful, we will look to our team to immediately track back, set the defence, confront and delay the ball carrier as soon as possible and look to prevent the opposition getting into our box or create counter-attacking chances. We ask our players to delay the opposition to allow us to get as many players behind the ball as possible.
In terms of training, this is the moment in the week where we perform our style of play. Our players know that this will review all the non-negotiables and all the actions and all the patterns that we are looking to perform, therefore we are demanding that the players should be at their best and give their best possible performance. For that reason it is a
very competitive session.
PATTERNS OF PLAY
We set up on half a pitch with a goal and a goalkeeper at one end and with 10 mannequins representing the opposition positioned in a 5-1-4 defensive shape as shown. We run a series of attacking patterns of play working in groups of four or five towards the one goal.
Pattern 1: various combinations are performed by four players in the first pattern. The midfielder starts play by passing the ball to the full back, who plays a pass into the striker and makes a forward overlapping run to support the attack. The striker lays the ball off for the wide forward, who moves infield off the line to receive. The wide forward plays a through pass in behind the mannequins for the forward-running full back, who delivers a cross into the penalty box for the midfielder. The midfielder makes a run into the box towards the near post to finish. The striker also makes a run into the box, attacking the back post area, as shown [1a].
Pattern 2: the second pattern also uses four players. Play starts with a throw in from the full back into the striker. The wide forward makes a movement across the face of the striker to receive the ball and plays a through pass into the path of the forward run of the midfielder. The midfielder creates a goal scoring opportunity for the wide forward, who makes a run into the box attacking the near post. The striker makes a movement towards the back post, as shown [1b].
Pattern 3: the third pattern involves a narrow central attack by five players. The midfielder starts the attack by playing a pass into the striker, who lays the ball off for the opposite midfielder who has made a run forward to receive. The midfielder plays a through pass for the run in behind by the wide forward, who passes the ball across the box for the striker to finish the attack. The opposite wide forward also makes a run into the box and attacks the back post area, as shown [1c].
We would run all three patterns again working on alternate sides of the pitch.
PRACTISING THE PATTERNS
This activity is an introduction to the main game at the end of the session and utilises the patterns of play practised in the first part of the session.
We set up on half a pitch plus 10 yards, with a yellow coned line across the 18-yard line at one end and three mini target goals at the other end.
We’re using 20 outfield players, split into two teams of 10. The red attacking team is set up in a 4-1-2-3 shape, while the blue defending team is set up in a 4-4-2 formation. The aim for the red attacking team is to perform the various patterns already rehearsed and play through the defending team and arrive in behind the yellow line with the ball under control, as shown [2a].
If the red team is successful in running the ball over the yellow defensive line, a coach will immediately play a new ball to the blue team, who should counter-attack with speed. The reds must respond quickly and counter press together as a team. If the blue team can play through the counter press beyond the halfway line, then they can try to score into one of the three mini goals, as shown [2b].
FULL PITCH PRACTICE
“The aim for the attacking team is to perform the patterns that have been practised during the session in order to play through the defending team”
We set up on a full pitch with a goal and a goalkeeper at each end. The pitch is set up as shown. We’re using 20 outfield players split into two teams of 11 including keepers. The red attacking team is set up in a 4-1-2-3 formation and the blue defending team is set up in a 4-4-2 formation.
The red centre backs start on the red coned line marked across their defensive third and receive the ball from the coach to start play. Both red full backs push forwards into the attacking half of the wide zone.
The aim for the attacking team is to perform the various patterns that have been practised during the session in order to play through the defending team and create goal scoring opportunities, as shown [3a].
If the ball is given away by the red attacking the team, they counter-press immediately with the aim of winning the ball back within three seconds and not allowing the blue team to leave their own half with the ball. If the counter-pressing is successful and the ball is won back by the red team, they continue to attack the blue team, as shown [3b], with the aim of scoring a goal.
If the blue defending team wins the ball and they manage to successfully launch a counter-attack, playing it beyond the midfield players and into their strikers, then the red team must retreat and recover back behind the ball as quickly as they can in transition, as shown [3c].
The red team must now focus on their recovery runs and funnelling back into a low defensive block in front of their own penalty area. The aim is to keep the ball wide and defend the blue attack from those areas of the pitch.