Longevity is a sign of competence and quality in the world of Soccer coaching. With a professional career as a player and 28 seasons as head coach of the Pittsburg University Soccer team, Joe Luxbacher is certainly a coach that you want to work with. Two times Big East conference coach of the year and author of fifteen books, Luxbacher has both the knowledge and the experience to boost a player’s development while keeping the motivation high thanks to an infinite passion of the game. It’s the kind of person you want to listen to because you know you’ll learn a lot….
The question: Carlos Alberto Parreira, former coach of the Brazilian National team, said in an interview: ”The modern game has changed very much. Every team knows how to defend and nobody gives you space freely. You need to learn how to earn it.” Against a good defensive block, what is your strategy to create space, surprise the opponent and be dangerous. What do you tell your players?
Joe Luxbacher :
It is true that modern defensive systems are, in general, more highly organized and structured than in the past. Many teams position a block of 6 players (backline and defensive mids) to deny opponents space and time in the most dangerous scoring (central) areas, and virtually all high level teams get 8 or 9 players behind the ball immediately after loss off possession. As a consequence it has become increasingly difficult for teams to create quality scoring opportunities.
From a tactical viewpoint, in order to break down a concentrated block of defenders the attacking team must attempt to stretch their opponents, both vertically and horizontally, so as to create gaps of space within the defense. This can be accomplished through swift and precise ball movement, passes that freeze defenders and at the same time quickly change the point of attack. Once created, the attacking team must quickly exploit the open spaces before defending players can readjust. At this point the individual ability of attacking players comes into greater focus. When an attacking player receives the ball and can turn to face an opponent who lacks a covering teammate, the attacker must immediately take advantage of the 1v1 match-up. This situation will generally occur more frequently in wide areas of the field, near to the touch line, and for that reason I am an advocate of flank players who have pace and possess the ability to take-on and beat defenders via the dribble. In doing so they can open up a defense and create the opportunities required to finish the attack, either thorough dangerous serves into the box (aka.. David Beckham), or by creating their own chances. That said, breaking down an organized defensive block is easier said than done, For that reason the most recognized players throughout the soccer world are the elite goal-scorers, players who given even a half-chance can determine the outcome of a match with one strike of the ball.