Hello and welcome to the second edition of Coaches Corner, in this edition we are looking at possession, using training exercises created for us by prestigious soccer school Qualitas. To try to emphasize the importance of this skill I have scoured the internet for an inspiring quote from the likes of Mourinho or the puppet master of possession Pep Guardiola. However after coming up empty handed it was back to the drawing board… however never fear as inspiration is never far away online so allow me enlighten you with this insightful quote from Mr Kevin Keegan: “Football’s always easier when you’ve got the ball” Okay so don’t let the photo or the quote fool you, this is one of the most effective and difficult to master strategies and when you talk about mastery of possession Football there is one side that you simply cannot neglect to mention, The FC Barcelona team of 2008- 2012.
Renowned for their ‘Tiki-Taka’ style of play under Pep Guardiola which was characterised by a high defensive line, short passes, out of zone movement and an emphasis on awareness of space on the field, FC Barcelona successfully employed this strategy for 4 years and in this period won 14 trophies including 3 La Liga titles, 2 Champions league titles, 3 Spanish Super Cup titles and a Club World cup title. Lets take a look at what this looks like:
Allow this quote from Almeria’s disheartened manager, after a 8-0 defeat to Barcelona, to explain why this style of play is so incredibly effective: “Barcelona are the only team that defend with the ball; the only team that rests in possession,” Juan Manuel Lillo says. “They keep the ball so well, they move so collectively, that when you do get it back, you’re tired, out of position and they’re right on top of you.”
I feel that it is the final line that is key in this statement, as it was exactly what we saw in the video. When we see the opposing team finally regain the ball they were unable to create an effective attack, as they had been chasing shadows for the past 2 minutes. On top of this they were forced to have so many players behind the ball that a counter attack, after being run ragged for two minutes, was nearly impossible.
So how do we begin to transition this style from the immaculate pitches of the Nou Camp and onto the sloped pitch round the back of the Dog and Duck on a cold Sunday morning in January?
Ball mastery: This drill is excellent as it is very flexible and can be adapted to focus on specific skills and tricks, keep the drill fresh by encouraging players to use both feet and practice a variety of skills not just step overs upon reaching the obstacle.
Drill: The key to this drill is to encourage one and two touch football, as well as teaching players to create space for themselves even in the tightest of areas. When you feel your players have got the hang of it encourage them to only allow themselves one touch, encourage your defenders to stand players up as oppose to diving in. To make the drill more challenging, introduce second defenders per Rondo.
Tactic game: This exercise promotes good communication between team mates, players must judge which players to send to attack while showing discipline in still defending their own goal. The back to back goal dynamic again promotes communication as players often begin an attack with their backs to goal so good communication is vital
Lest we forget the frustration caused to both fans and players when the team isn’t playing good football…
Cheers from Gavin and the Kitlocker team!