Football. Dominate the game when not in possession of the ball. Chapter One.

The game of football evolves but remains at its essence.

If we watched a football game from a century ago, we could tell that the game has evolved (balls, surfaces, technology, apparels, etc.). However, it remains as its essence since there has not been any change in the number of players on the pitch. The main variation would be that the games are played now in a shorter and narrower area.

Regarding the coaching part, the tendency has been to break down the game as if it was the engine parts (fitness, tactics, technics, nutrition, psychology, etc.). Then new soccer methodologies are trying to integrate all of them in the training part. However, players keep making mistakes and basically are the same.

La Liga. El Clásico with “the classic” mistakes.

Watching the last Classico La Liga Game between FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid on October 24th, we could observe that top players and top teams are making basic mistakes, especially in the defensive phase:

  • Passes through and in behind the defensive line
  • Set plays defending skills.


When defending the space behind the defensive line, there are two main premises: first, adjust the distance between the goalkeeper and the players of the defensive line. In the pic below we can see how Neto, FC Barcelona’s goalkeeper is too far away from the two center backs, Piqué and Lenglet. This will allow Real Madrid player Valverde to attack that open space and get the through ball before Neto



Second premise is that when defending in a low block, the priority is to protect the goal area and the central zone. So the distance among the players of the back line must be tight in order to avoid through passes.



Another example of a bad defending is in the pic below when the ball is being played on one wing, FC Barcelona’s winger Coutinho drags Real Madrid’s right back, Nacho and then Alba takes advantage of the open space to receive a chip pass from Messi. Now we can see how the other Real Madrid defenders instead of shifting to the right side, they stay central and by the time the react is too late since Alba has the ball and crosses to Ansu Fati who scores for FC Barcelona.



Regarding defending set plays, the tendency is to make a combined defense which makes some players make individually and some of them in their zone. There is usually one player in the first post zone with good head play to anticipate and clear the balls in that zone. Benzema oversees this task for Real Madrid and Luis Suarez was the one for FC Barcelona. Who is now? Well you can see in the pic that Alba is the one. a player who is not a good header at all.



In the next pic we can observe how Ramos attacks the space behind Alba still in the first post zone and anticipates to Lenglet’s defense to head the ball into the goal. Fortunately for FC Barcelona the header was not that good.



The main individual defending skill is the body shape. In the next two pics we can see how Lenglet’s is looking at his own goal instead of look at the ball, the opponent and the opponent’s goal. Beyond the controversy of the penalty kick, the truth is that FC Barcelona’s defender ends pulling out Ramos’s shirt when he realizes he is out of sight.



Again, Alba is the player in charge of the first post zone. I wonder why.



Football/Soccer stay remains as a game of mistakes and it will keep going to be like that since the players are first human beings. However, we still wonder why top players keep making basic mistakes.


In the next chapters, we will try to give tips of using the defensive principles in an efficient way in order to be able to dominate the game without having the possession of the ball.



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