Stop the attack

Get defenders to play like Virgil van Dijk, whose clever positioning in seemingly irretrievable situations often leads to attacks breaking down. He is good at reading positions when he is outnumbered in defence and has to try to hold up play or make a decision to win the ball.

Set up

Use half of your pitch. Create a channel either side of the centre circle 10 yards wide up to the 18-yard line. We’ve used 15 players. You need balls, bibs, cones and a goal

How to play it

The players attack in twos and go one channel at a time. There should be one defender for each channel. The defender plays the ball to one of the attackers and then moves to cover the channel. The two attackers have 10 seconds to get the ball down the channel and take a shot at goal. The defender has to decide what to do – to stop them or hold them up for 10 seconds.


There are a number of decisions that have to be made by the defender here: where to position themselves in the channel, body position sideways on so they are not caught on the back foot, the art of changing 2v1 to 1v1 by moving quickly to cut off the player on the ball and attempt to win possession.

reading the back line

    1. The session starts with one of the defenders playing a ball into the pair of attackers in their channel
    2. The defender must quickly get into a side-on position to make life difficult for the attackers

Fast defending

    3. The supporting attacker must move to give options if the attacker with the ball comes under pressure from the defender
    4. Here the defender times his move well and manages to close the attacker down before he can pass the ball and the move breaks down

Stay with the attacker

    5. If the defender is beaten he must try and put off any shot – once the ball has gone dead the next group go immediately
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