EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Midfield brains

This game develops quick thinking midfielders like Denmark and Spurs star Christian Eriksen. Players like this can set up attacks by reacting quickly to moments of transition in a game, principally moving from defence to attack.

Set up

Set up an area of 50×40 yards split into two zones and with a normal sized goal at each end. One zone is 15×40 yards the other 35×40 yards. We’ve used 16 players.

How to play it

Split your players into a team of nine versus a team of seven. Set up the team of nine so there is one in goal and four in each of the two zones – their defending zone is the small one. The team of seven have four in the larger zone and two in the small zone, which is their attacking zone.
Play starts with the keeper in the small zone. After three passes they can move into the larger zone and so can two players making a 6v4 in favour of attack – this is the only movement allowed between zones. When the ball goes dead, play restarts with the same keeper in the small zone. Play offsides. Play five balls then swap teams around.

Technique

Each team needs an Eriksen – one to take advantage of the 6v4 overload, the other to make a pass into the attackers who can go 2v2 before the opposition defenders can recover.

Midfield decisions

    1. Play starts with the goalkeeper in the small zone playing out to a team-mate in space

      2. The players must keep the ball away from the attackers for three passes and then play into the next zone

      Midfield attack

        3. Once the ball has gone into the other zone, two players can join their team-mates to make a 6v4 overload

          4. Here the players combine to make use of the overload and score a goal

            5. If the defenders win the ball, they should quickly move it into the small zone to get it to their attackers before the two defenders can get back from the other zone

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