Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

How Brazilian underdogs beat Liverpool

Support in attack can bring out the best in a team and create openings in even the strongest defence. Youth teams can take inspiration from watching the Final of the Club World Cup in 2005 between Sao Paulo of Brazil and Liverpool of England.

On paper it should have been an easy victory for Liverpool, but the Brazilians won against the odds. After Sao Paulo took the lead they defended deep and hit Liverpool on the counter. But the Brazilians were more than that. In defence they marked well and showed good strength on the ball and in the air. In attack they were tactically superior to Liverpool using support from the wings and through the middle.

The goal they scored to win the game summed up their style of play. Watch the clip below and see how well positioned on the pitch they are. The wingers are pulling the defence wide and the midfield is moving to create space. As the fullbacks push up Liverpool go to meet them leaving Aloisio in space in a dangerous position.

As he flicks the ball through Mineiro ghosts through the defence leaving them flat footed appealing for offside. The team pulls the Liverpool defence apart in one flowing move.

The Sao Paulo players showed how to cover each other all over the pitch and Liverpool found it hard to get any momentum going.

It goes to show that however much of an underdog you feel when you take your youth team out on to the pitch as long as you are well organized and work hard for each other you have a chance to win the game.
Watch the highlights below.

 Soccer Skills and Drills


Playing the wall pass one-two

I was looking for a good example of a one-two/give ‘n’ go/wall pass and was scanning through some Barcelona, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Brazil matches to find one. The best one-two I found was this backheel, one-two, cross for a great headed goal.

However, it came from an U12 Signature team playing in Placentia, California.

 Soccer Skills and Drills

How to do step-overs like Ronaldo and Robinho

This summer you can be sure that you will see a lot of step-overs. The 2010 World Cup will be a showcase for all the skills you coach to your players and the step-over is likely to be one of the main ones. So you can be sure they are going to want to do them when they see them in action.

Stepovers like any soccer skill need a lot of practice so if your players are going to do them make sure they go home and have a ball stuck to their foot all week.

Done properly they can send an opponent in the opposite direction, immediately producing two precious assets – space and time.

Coach your players to begin with the simplest step over. Tell them to shape as if they are going to strike the ball, but lift that foot over the top of the ball instead.

1. Make sure the ball is moving so start dribbling slowly.
2. Circle the left foot anti-clockwise by bringing the left foot across the right foot and around the ball without touching the ball.
3. Dip the left shoulder to angle the body so it looks like the player will move that way.
4. Use the outside of the right foot to take the ball past the defender on the other side.

Once you can do one then practice bringing your right foot around the ball clockwise, and build up to do two or three in a row.

Watch this video which shows in slow motion how to do the step-over with Robinho. Then watch the other clip of the step-over kings in action, Ronaldo and Robinho.

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Train like Manchester Utd the night before a big game

I’m always telling fellow coaches and my readers that you don’t have to use complicated training drills to get your players using the right techniques and tactics that can give them the edge in matches. Often simple 4v4 games and simple exercises that get players kicking the ball and passing the ball work best with young players.

You don’t have to take my word for it. I spend hours watching training sessions with professional players. In that time there may be one small thing I can use with my team or turn into something I can give to my coaches to help them make their team play better.

Watching a session with Manchester United players training the night before a match it was very interesting to note the number of balls that are being constantly used so that players are getting one and two touches as they do their fitness training. There was nothing complicated about it.

The players were constantly moving – I didn’t see anyone waiting around for their turn, the exercises were designed so that the players are on the move as they are being coached. The repetitive one and two touch movement is very controlled and done at a slow pace.

You can watch part of the session in the clip below – watch how the goalkeepers train on the ground where they can only use their hands to catch or block the ball. All of these exercises are designed to maximise a player’s ability to react to the ball in the air or on the ground.

Watch it carefully and you can see all sorts of training going on, most of which is simple ball work:

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Bergkamp flicks one way, runs the other, scores a goal

In this week’s Soccer Coach Weekly I run a session which shows you how to coach your players to flick the ball and run past a defender. Watch this video of Dennis Bergkamp showing the art at its best resulting in a brilliant goal. Click here to get hold of Soccer Coach Weekly to show your players how to do it.

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Why I want Cesc Fabregas in my team

There are certain players that I watch and wonder whether I could create for my youth team. These are special players that magically appear on my TV screen and I can be absorbed watching them. The way they play the game leaves others mesmerized in their wake.

Everyone talks about the strikers who can light up the game with one change of pace and in an instant give their team the advantage, but the special players I would like in my team play in midfield and come from Spain. Xavi and Andres Iniesta of Barcelona are outstanding hard working skilful players, but the one I see most of all is Cesc Fabregas.

Fabregas can run a game for the full 90 minutes. At the age of 22 he already has the ability to orchestrate the play of his team-mates. He can force them to change the direction of a run by his own clever pass that exploits space his team mates didn’t even see.

In the same way that Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard runs around doing everything better than anyone else in the team through sheer determination, Fabregas does it with his outstanding understanding of geometrical space.

And I want him in every single one of my teams because that is how I want my teams to play.

Space and vision is something you can coach your team to understand better. They may not be players who impose their own sense of space on their team mates but you can give them a better understanding of how to use space which will benefit your team in the long run. To do this I use a lot of small-sided games which are great to coach young players in how to use space and passing.

Fabregas’s ability was demonstrated by one pass in the 1-0 defeat of Liverpool earlier this month which was over 30 yards and at an angle through a crowd of Liverpool players to the feet of Diaby which showed his awareness and sense of space – Diaby failed to control it otherwise the scoreline would have been greater.

In this clip you can see some of the incredible passes he makes that look so simple but show his amazing vision:

 Soccer Skills and Drills

Perfect technique for shooting

This is Louis’ technique in the U7s aged 6 after a couple of seasons being coached and trained for his first season in competitive soccer. Look at how balanced he is with his arms out for balance, eyes looking at the ball, plant leg next to the ball and knee bent over the ball.

By the time he was in the U10s he was averaging 25 goals a season. His direction and power was outstanding – but that is all down to his technique to shoot the ball.

It also meant he could experiment with different angles of his body and the angle over the ball.

This is the balance you need to get your players to practise and try to do it when they are as young as this. Louis will always have this ability to kick a ball with power and accuracy because he learnt it so young.

Tips to brush up on shooting technique:

Look for the following soccer skills:

Non-kicking foot alongside the ball.

Head down, eyes on the ball when striking.

Body over the ball.

Contact with the middle to top half of the ball.


Players like England’s Wayne Rooney and USA’s Landon Donovan have this balance and technique and use it to perfection. Watch them below.

Watch this compilation of goals by Wayne Rooney to see how he uses his body and arms for balance and the angles for power and lift:

And this one from Landon Donovan, all balance and technique:

Soccer shooting drills

 Soccer Skills and Drills