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Five fantastic volleys

My top five cup volleys

Marco van Basten: Holland v USSR Euro 1988 final

David Platt: England v Belgium World Cup 1990

Zinedine Zidane: Real Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen 2002 Champions League final

Joe Cole: England v Sweden World Cup 2006

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Sweden v France Euro 2012



Triple Dutch – top three young players in demand

Bas Dost (Heerenveen) aged 22

Top scorer in the Dutch Eredivisie with 32 goals Bas Dost has been linked with some of the biggest names in England and Germany, but Dost himself claims to be more than happy in his native Netherlands with Heerenveen.

Signed from Heracles Almelo at the age of 20 after hitting 17 goals in 61 games, he has been a revelation since, impressing with his unorthodox style and finishing fourth highest scorer in Europe this season as he led Heerenveen back into the top five.

John Guidetti (Feyenoord) aged 19

Carlos Tevez is not the only wave-making exiled Manchester City striker – over in Holland, John Guidetti, on loan at Feyenoord from City, has 20 goals in 23 starts for the Rotterdam club. Just 19, he has scored three hat-tricks this season, one of which was against Ajax, Feyenoord’s greatest rivals.

Playing in Holland but not Dutch Guidetti is Swedish and won his first senior Sweden cap in Croatia and has a good chance of playing against England in the second Group D game at Euro 2012.

Luuk de Jong (Twente) aged 21

21-year-old rising Dutch star Luuk de Jong is tall, quick and technically gifted – De Jong boasts 62 strikes in all competitions over the last two seasons. The Holland international, who played against England at Wembley in February, scored 25 goals in the league this season for Steve ­McClaren’s FC Twente.

McClaren believes that Luuk de Jong’s style of play makes him a perfect fit for the Premier League. “Luuk is big, strong, brilliant in the air and scores goals so easily. He has every quality a top class striker needs to have for a big club.”

The Netherlands international has been in fine form this season, and has recently been linked with Borussia Monchengladbach, Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Newcastle United and Tottenham.

“Very soon he will be the best in the Netherlands – and he even has all the qualities a forward needs to become a European great,” says Patrick Kluivert.



Ramires v Barcelona: My top six goals scored from an angle

David ClarkeBy David Clarke

Champions League Semi-Final 2012: Barcelona v Chelsea

Ramires is the king of technique. His goal for Chelsea against Barcelona when his team was 2-0 down with John Terry sent off was as good as you will see. An impossible situation, but the through ball to him from Frank Lampard just before half time putting him into the penalty area at an angle to the goal was perfect. His finish was sheer class.

Here’s my top six goals scored from tight angles:

Ramires, Barcelona v CHELSEA (2012)

Marco van Basten, HOLLAND v Russia (1988)

Gabriel Batistuta, FIORENTINA V Arsenal (1999)

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, CHELSEA v Manchester United (2001)

Ronaldo, REAL MADRID v LA Galaxy (2011)

Robin van Persie, ARSENAL v Barcelona (2011)



Pre season: Speed and agility

Raymond Verheijen is a Dutch professional football coach who is currently the Assistant Manager to the Welsh national side. He recently said that running long distances at the same speed was pointless for players in pre season. He called it Jurassic Park!

In a match players run on average 10m sprinting and acceleration, so that is what you need to do in pre season.

I developed this exercise for my players in pre season.

In this speed and agility drill players are using quick feet, quick turns, changing pace between short and longer sprints and good body position – knees bent low in stance for good balance – to make players quicker and more agile on the pitch.

Work to compete
In this exercise players run between three sets of cones – a middle set and two sets five yards either side.
This is a test of your players agility, balance and turning technique as they compete against each other in a short sprint exercise. I often start by getting the players to run through the exercise individually then compete against each other. It’s one thing doing it on their own but watch how their intensity rises when they are competing.
Work out a sequence
The sequence I use is 5 yards – 10 yards – 5 yards which is a good representation of the changes of sprinting distances they will face in matches. You can, however, work out your own sequence or run it up to a 40 yard dash if you want to give older players a tougher test.

How to play it
• Opponents face each other.
• They must react on your call.
• Push off hard on the back foot – the foot furthest from the direction the player is sprinting in.
• Players with similar speed levels should compete against each other.
• Players should run 2-3 times before resting.



Counter attacking as a tactic

dave clarkeHitting teams on the break is a good tactic to use when your team is playing away from home against a team they know nothing about. Fast counter-attacks can take advantage of players being out of position.
Players need to be aware and alert to their team-mates and react quickly when the ball is turned over.

It relies on accurate passing and having the ability to hold off retreating defenders. You can watch the best counter attacks in the video below and play this exercise to help your players get used to running with the ball and holding the defenders off.

How to play it

  • Mark out an area 40 yards x 20 yards – you can make it smaller for younger players.
  • In one of the corners, mark out a 10 yards square with a small, coned goal in it.
  • In this soccer drill the ball is passed so the attacker can run onto it.
  • The attacker must take full control of the ball at this point. The defender starts his run as soon as the pass is made and his first action is to hold up the attacker. The attacker should change his pace to fool the defender.
  • The defender cannot tackle until they get into the marked-off zone.
  • Once they get into the marked-off zone, the attacker must try to lose the defender with a turn – for instance, a stop turn, then try to put the ball between the two cones.
  • The defender must stick close to the attacker and try to get a tackle in to win the ball.


The rise of the defensive midfielder

One of the things that stood out for me at the World Cup in South Africa is the importance of the modern defensive midfielder.The rise of the technically limited “reducer” has led to players like Nigel De Jong of Holland taking up prominent roles in elite teams.

The modern defensive midfielder first came to light through Claude Makélele. Jose Mourinho used him in the position and his role in Chelsea’s success can be seen as the jumping point from where other managers took up the idea.
In terms of tactics Makélelé’s role was to break up attacks through timely tackles or interceptions in the gap between midfield and attack. However he would also be required to effectively cover the full-backs when they pressed higher up the pitch to support the forwards. It it is very effective against modern teams that use quick counter attacks.

However, it has been condemned by pundits for promoting players with a big physical presence over skilful ones.

This is something that is very evident in youth teams – players that are big and physical they are more likely to play. It is these teams that spark the debate over the role of defensive midfielders in the modern game and cause worries over the development of young players.

There are exceptions – look at Jack Rodwell in the Everton team, a player with the physical capacity to play at the heart of a Premiership midfield or defence he also has sublime technical skill and has the talent to develop into a true box-to-box midfielder in the mould of Roy Keane or Patrick Vieira in their prime.

In a world where teams like Spain, Germany, Barcelona or Arsenal have the ability to turn defense into swift attack the deep defensive midfielder is a must. In youth teams they will not face that kind of swift attack the “reducer” is less effective, especially if they are keeping a more skilful player out of the team.

Remember the way De Jong stopped Xabi Alonso in the World Cup Final in South Africa? Watch it below…



Robin van Persie can do it in reverse

dave clarkeI wrote an article recently in an issue of Better Soccer Coaching about how Robin van Persie swivels and controls the ball with the instep of his foot to turn a defender. It looks great when he does it almost as though the ball is on the end of his toe and he is using it like a wheel.

While I was researching videos of him doing it – so I could work out how he does it! – I came across this clip of him playing for the Netherlands v Andorra in 2005.

It was such a good move I nearly included it with the van Persie swivel but would have to call it the reverse van Persie swivel. He does it backwards. I particularly like the commentator when van Persie swivels it to Rafael van der Vaart who exclaims “Woooh oh ho ho!” then in action replay shouts “Woopah!!”. 

See for yourself:



Euro 2008 – and the winner is…?

Greece won Euro 2004 scoring a mere 7 goals along the way. I suspect Euro 2008 will be won by a team scoring a lot more goals.

Arrigo Sacchi (former AC Milan and Italy coach) predicts that the tournament will be won by the teams with the best individuals rather than the most organised or systematised. Slaven Bilic, coach of Croatia, agrees, saying “Systems are dying. It’s about the movement of 10 players now.”

Results so far would seem to bear this out. The domestic European competitions and Champions League commitments are so hectic these days that international sides rarely get the chance to get together to work on specific systems or styles of play.

Greece’s Euro 2004 victory was the result of an extremely well-organised but not particularly gifted group of players following their coach’s instructions to the letter, stopping their opponents playing, and nicking the odd goal to secure victory. You can’t fault their approach. It’s not a million miles away from what Italy have done so successfully for so many years (with all due respect to Italy’s great players, and Greece’s for that matter).

So far both Greece and Italy (the reigning Euro and World Cup holders of course) have lost their opening games. In both matches both teams attempted to play their traditional holding games and both teams failed to score, Greece losing 2-0 to Sweden and Italy losing 3-0 to Holland.

That’s not to say that tactics and formations aren’t important. But the teams who are doing well are made up of players with all of the following three key attributes – the ability to follow tactical instructions, high levels of physical fitness, and crucially, a willingness to play at a high tempo and attack, attack, attack.

No team in Euro 2008 is sent out to play without specific tactical and formation instructions. But the successful teams are the ones who will allow their most gifted players to fully express themselves – the teams that are less concerned with the opposition and more concerned with doing their own thing.

That’s the way it should be. That’s why this has been such an entertaining tournament so far, and that’s what I hope to achieve with my own young teams in the future. Just tell them to play their own game.

Having said all that, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Greece or Italy go on to win the whole thing. That’s called hedging your bets.

Dwyer Scullion, Publisher, Better Soccer Coaching




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