Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


2-0 up and under the cosh – how to defend a lead

David Clarke

You’re 2-0 up against your closest rivals, so how do you see out the win?

This was a question which posed itself last Saturday morning in a match my Under-10s had against the team that shared top spot in the league with us. We were level pegging in the table but they had played a game more.

We knew therefore that a win would offer us a healthy advantage at the top. Sometimes we all get too carried away with scores and results but in this instance it was a big game against a team of a similarly high standard. The only real difference was in terms of tactic – we typically pass the ball whereas they kick it long.

These occasions can be intimidating affairs for the players involved but we have such a friendly atmosphere at our club that both groups were laughing before kick-off and thoroughly enjoying the occasion. The first five minutes were very tight; no-one gave an inch. We won a corner, giving us chance to put into action something we’d been practising in training. A quick exchange worked, the ball ended up on the head of our attacker, and we were 1-0 up. A few minutes later we got another corner – same routine, same result! 2-0.

What is it about a 2-0 scoreline though that makes the team in the lead sit back?

Because sit back we did! It was frustrating for me and the players’ parents too as we watched our well oiled machine begin to choke. What I really enjoy about my side though is that they can think for themselves – for a while they worked it out, pressing the opposition, holding the ball and concentrating on their passing game.

But by the midway point in second period, the skill of the other team in spraying passes and sticking to a tactic at which they were well versed meant I needed to change things, or they’d quickly be back in the game. So I dropped a player from midfield into defence and locked it up tight. I knew this would relinquish possession in midfield but against a long ball team most of those central players were being bypassed anyway.

I also pulled a player back from the frontline and sat him in front of the defence – it was like Fort Knox. We could repel any invaders that took us on. I wouldn’t normally have gone so defensive, but we’d played a pressing game and our stamina levels were flagging. Pulling players back actually made the other team’s tactic less effective, and on a day where league points mattered more than the spectacle, a defensive ploy seemed the right thing to do.

I wouldn’t play this way every week because youth football is about so much more, but it ensured we held on to win the game.

Watch the highlights of Inter Milan winning the 2010 Champions League 2-0 against Bayern Munich

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Love the blogs mate and well done.

Comment by ryan mccreadie

I think a 2-0 score is the most dangerous in soccer because the team that is winning almost always relaxes thinking they have a sufficient cushion. However, if the other team scores, then it suddenly is anyone’s game and the momentum is with the team that is now only down a goal. I always encourage my team to get the third goal if we go up 2-0 and put the game out of reach. Stay aggressive and finish the game off.

Comment by Tony Brita




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