INSPIRED, CONFIDENT & EFFECTIVE COACHING

Win 2v1 battles like Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk showed why he is so important to the team in the game against Spurs last weekend. In the 85th minute with the scores tied 1-1 Spurs broke away leaving Van Dijk the only defender back facing a speedy Heung-Min Son and Moussa Sissoko.

Van Dijk expertly closed off the space for a potential pass to Son, and recovered enough to cause Sissoko’s effort to go well over the bar.

Liverpool went on to win the game with a late goal. Such is the difference between success and failure.

There are few defenders who can cope better under pressure, particularly when outnumbered in a 2v1 situation. He uses his positional nous, speed of thought and pace to split the two players in front of him and closes down the one with the ball. This in turn narrows the options for the opposition – and having covered the ground quickly, Van Dijk uses his timing to perfection to put in a block on the ball or make it difficult to shoot.

Try these two sessions to get your defenders winning battles when they are outnumbered:

Get defenders to play like Van Dijk, whose clever positioning in seemingly irretrievable situations often leads to attacks breaking down. Stop the attack help players to read situations when they are outnumbered in defence and have to try to hold up play or make a decision to win the ball.

I use this small-sided game to get my defenders reacting to situations where he is exposed to two attackers. In the game the third man must react quickly and switch from attack to defence to stop the two attackers scoring 2v1.

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