Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

One of the great FA Cup goals started with an interception

By David Clarke

Ryan Giggs has been a prolific goal scoring attacker for Manchester United. One of the goals he is remembered for is the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay against Arsenal.

It was a game that had everything, a great Arsenal goal by Dennis Bergkamp, a disallowed Arsenal goal, Roy Keane sent off for a second bookable offence, a last minute penalty save by Peter Schmeichel and a fantastic goal by Ryan Giggs to win the game.

But what is often overlooked is that Giggs won the ball by intercepting a pass before running from the half-way line, beating five defenders and scoring past Schmeichel.

An interception is as good as, and sometimes better, than winning the ball in the tackle. In youth soccer an interception can catch the whole team out and create space for goal scoring opportunities.

You can get your players to try and intercept the ball by reacting to it quicker than the opposition. A lot of junior players will wait for the ball to come to them from a pass which gives the defenders chance to step in and take the ball before it gets to them.

Get your players to think about:

  • Read what the opposition midfield and strikers like to do.
  • Keep an eye out for players waiting for passes to come to them.
  • Be ready to block through balls from midfield to attack.
  • Interceptions give good opportunities to pass or run with the ball into space so don’t waste them.


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:

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