One of the things the modern greats like Xavi and Lionel Messi have is the ability to receive a ball under the pressure of onrushing opponents – it seems to me they don’t need any space at all to control the ball and keep it away from an opponent.
Of course, you and I are coaching young players who can easily be put off by a player running towards them – they need a lot of space to control the ball.
Defenders must close down opponents quickly so they reach the player at the same time they receive the ball. With no time to get it under control, it will be much easier for the defender to step in and win it.
How to play
- Using the penalty area mark out an area the same size opposite with a 10-yard “no man’s land” between the areas.
- Play 5v5 with a goalkeeper, two defenders and two attackers on each team.
- Put two attackers from one team and two defenders from the other in each half.
- Players must stay in the area they start in.
- Toss a coin for kick off, play starts with the goalkeeper.
- Restarts are with the goalkeeper if the ball goes over the end lines, no corners. Take throw-ins as usual.
- Play is continuous – when a team wins the ball, it looks to pass and attack the goal.
- Attackers must create space for the defenders to pass to.
- Defenders must try and win the ball from the attackers.
How to advance it
- The passing player can follow the ball into the attacking half.
- Widen “no man’s land” to 20 yards to make passing and timing of runs harder – do this by moving the orange/outer area back 10 yards but keep the areas the same size.
- By making “no man’s land” wider, you make the pass longer giving the defenders more time to see the ball and close the attackers down.
- It also means that it will be harder to make the pass accurate because the player will need to think about power.
You can get more great sessions like this one in Soccer Coach Weekly.
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