Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Strong midfielders hit teams on the break like the USA did to Brazil

By Dave Clarke

If you haven’t got the ball or you keep losing it, the best way to get it back is to have a strong midfielder whose job it is to tackle the opposition, win the ball and get your team passing again.

If you are playing possession soccer, one of the things you have to take into account is winning the ball back. Sure, all your players know how to tackle but do they know what to do when they win the ball?

What you have to do is take your best tackler and show them how to stop attacks and then hit the opposition hard with some good passing.

When the opposition loses the ball they will be at their most vulnerable and your midfielder will be able to put them on the back foot with a good pass.

This will become a key tactic for match days – a player the rest of the team rely on to win the ball back.

The midfield ball winner

Tell your player to play in the hole in front of the central defenders.

Get them to close down any player running at the defence and stop them in their tracks.

You’ve seen games where the opposition kick off and runs right through your team to score. This player stops that by targeting the player with the ball and making the tackle.

And when they do get the ball,they need to be off running, passing, opening up the opposition defence.

The rest of the team have to be ready to support this role and be open for the pass.

It’s not always a great tackle that wins the ball in midfield. When USA played Brazil in the Confederations Cup Final it was an interception just outside the USA penalty area that led to a breakaway goal by Landon Donovan to put USA ahead 2-0 of Brazil.

It was a fantastic move. Landon Donovan takes possession, finds Charlie Davies and races forward, collects Davies’ return pass, takes a brilliant touch to create room on the edge of the Brazil box and fire left-footed into the far corner past Julio Cesar.

Passing and movement at its best. Watch out England.

Watch the position of the covering midfield players and the pass out of defence that set up the perfect counter attack:

 Soccer Skills and Drills


The importance of the ball into the box

It’s something you hear shouted at every match you go to, whether it is the local under 8s or a Premier League match – “Get the ball into the box!” or danger area or “Cross it!”… And those shouters have a point.

When youth players get the ball across into the danger areas on a pitch there is a chance something will happen and maybe a goal will be scored.

That ball hit over defenders causes chaos.

If you have players capable of crossing a ball with height and pace get them doing it as often as possible. A stretched defence or retreating defence is going to find it hard to clear the ball and often impossible to get it to a team mate.

It’s a great way to create goal scoring chances.

Watch these two clips from girls matches and see the how often goals are scored from crosses into the penalty area – not always good crosses even. And I have also put up a clip of David Villa scoring a great goal from a superb cross by Joan Capdevila for Spain in the confederation cup earlier this year.