Passive vs. active defense.
There has been a significant narrowing of the field of play in the last 10 years. Nowadays, football is played using even smaller space. This is not just about defense. At the World Championships, France attacked by setting their team an average of 40 m by 28 m, Croatia – 42 m by 29 m or Belgium – 40 m by 30 m. Therefore, we could say that the width of the pitch was not fully used. In defense, the distances in and between formations have also been shortened (France and Croatia 32 m by 24 m or Belgium 34 m by 27 m).
The shortest distances between players occurred when defending their own penalty area!
The closer the players in the team are positioned, the better is their communication. The team can then act as one body, not as 11 individuals. Together they cover the distance without maintaining ball possession.
THE DEFENSIVE SQUEEZE
Each kicking of the ball from penalty area or the opponent’s back pass, requires leaving the penalty box (go up!). Then we shorten the distance and we cut the ball with the whole team.
Another advantage of shortening the playing field is that the opponent is away from our goal.
In the short video below, we can see how disciplined and active the players from Switzerland were:
Each back pass of Swedish players = moving forward of the Switzerland players.
You cannot stay in your penalty box because you will let your opponent come back to your penalty area very quickly. The biggest mistake is to stay on the defensive line and squeeze the rest of the team. This will cause big gaps between the lines (formations)
In the video below, please notice how the four players from Swedish defensive line behave. Look how active they are.
It is very important to keep the team shape and to communicate well between defenders when the opponent is passing the ball backwards. Defenders’ movements should be similar and should have the same pace. It is best to move forward at the pace of the ball and to stop the line of defense once the opponent regains the ball control.
We need a boss in defensive line (CB marked blue)
The person who manages the defensive line, gives a clear signal when to move forward, when backwards and when to stop! It doesn’t matter if a team’s style is low, medium or high pressing. You must be active in defense at any time without the ball possession.
The defensive squeeze is a fundamental factor in order to play good in defense. That kind of movement makes it difficult for the opponent to play and makes them watch out for the offside rule.
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