Match Solutions against a Back Four and a Back Five
Own Ball Possession
Author: Steven Turek
Edited by: Peter Schreiner
Translated by: Tjorben Becker
Layout: Heiko Schulte
Editor: Institute of Youth Soccer
Cover Photo: firo sportphoto
there are numerous duels in soccer between uneven teams - David versus Goliath. Thereby, it is not uncommon that “David” chooses an extremely defensive tactic with the single aim to prevent any
goals against. Coaches used to operate with a back four, but recent trends show that now, coaches even utilize a back chain of five players, which promises an increase in the stability of the
defense. However, these kinds of tactics are not only used in duels against an uneven opponent. Teams like Atletico Madrid regularly make use of such tactical alignments. They draw back deeply
and defend in a compact formation with an intense manner so that a breakthrough seems impossible. To grasp this alternative of defensive tactics as a great challenge is the obligation of every
Due to this reason, the by now fifth part of the series “German Top Level Tactics” deals with the tactical play against deeply defending opponents. You will find detailed tactical ideas against
low block opponents in the known segmentation (principles - solutions - exercises). A concrete differentiation takes place in view of the chosen tactical formation of the opponent. Thus, you can
find tactical solutions against a 4:4:2 as well as solutions against a 5:4:1, which strongly differ in their constitution and execution. To change the perspective and analyze how the opponent
will probably defend in their tactical alignment of a back chain of four or five players shall further contribute to the understanding.
The already known counterpressing could play a major role in the operation against a deeply defending opponent - also to score goals. Thereto, you find concrete examples of exercises in the
practical part. In this section, you also find various exercises, which aim to improve the creation of goal scoring chances. The book is rounded off by principles of training as well as by
numerous variations and coaching cues.
Enjoy reading Steven Turek
Outplay entire Lines
The first fundamental principle refers to the build-up of lines in the defensive construct. A key element of the attacking
play is to outplay entire defensive lines. From this basic concept emerges a variety of possibilities of execution. In the lower illustration, several players offer passing options into the
direction of the ball (6 and 8), secure the up moving of the ball and the save outplaying of the defensive line from Blue.
The downside of the possibility to outplay entire defensive lines is the fact that many players remain in the first or second
third of the field. Therefore, often times unfavorable ratios of players are created and a successful attack is complicated. This condition remains even when players move up and possibly improve
the ratio - initially, there will be unfavorable situations. Furthermore, one could assume, when playing against a deeply defending opponent, that players, who drop to the height of their
defensive back chain (as for example 6 or 8), are not followed. Thus, no free spaces are created, which could possibly be used
Thus, the following guiding principle holds true:
Outplay opposing lines with a minimum of own players!
High Ball-Distant Center Back
The primary goal for every build-up is the outplaying of the opposing forwards with as little effort as possible (which means with as few own players as possible). This aim could be realized
especially by shifting the play. 2 is situated on the wing in ball possession. The opponent quickly and effectively shifts towards the ball-side and closes all
passing options into the depth (for instance to 7 or 9). Both forwards (9 and 11) shift as well towards the ball-side. Depending on the pressing strategy or the trigger, the ball-distant forward (11) tilts
distinctly to create contact to both CM’s (6 and 7). The positioning of both center backs is crucial. If the ball is
combined out of the side over 4 (the height of 4 is another crucial aspect in order to prompt Blue into movement), 5 gains as much height as possible without risking to suffer a loss of the ball with a pass. 5 receives that short pass in height of both opposing forwards, which forces Blue to shift in the highest possible pace towards the ball
(“Prompt the Opponent into Movement”).
Find much more Principals like "Shorten the passes", "Pick your Poison" and"Explore good Spaces"
The best option to overplay the opposing defensive construct results from the position of the CF. If he releases into the
between space of the chains, the following difficulty for the blue team is created („Pick your Poison “): If 9 is
passed to and no CB follows him, he can open up to the pitch and dribble towards the chain. However, if 4 follows 9
man-to-man, he rips a gap into the back four. This gap can be exploited by a third man. Due to the positioning of 9, the demand of defending for the Blue team increases.
With the pass from 5 to 9 (and the pulled out 4), 8 sprints into the created gap (“Head Towards Open Passing-Lanes”) and can receive a pass as a third man into the depth
(3 - attention: No horizontal pass at 2!). All further players in the upper area (10 and 7)
start in and around the box to generate further passing options.
Remark: The opportunity to pull out the opposing CBs and to exploit the created space often only emerges in the play against a back four. More on this later in the chapter “Play Against a Back
This pattern works effectively against teams with a back four line. By pulling out one center back the gab in the defensive line is big enough to play into it. But what happens when the
opponent reacts to this strategy (within a game or at the start of a game) and plays with a back five line?
Formations with a back five respectively three center backs are especially meant for the movements of the opposing players between the chain. The difficulty at what moment a center back exits the
chain to cover a player is eliminated by the fact that now three center backs are positioned. Thereby, it is possible to exit the chain at any time to cover a player since a back four is
guaranteed at all times, even with a bad timing of the exit. Occurring gaps, created by leaving the chain, are distinctly smaller and thus, harder to pass into.
Consequence: Whilst the in-between play and the pulling out of a center back represents an optimal strategy against a back four, this is no effective option against a back five. Especially
movements of the center forwards, who draw away from the chain into the between spaces, are effectively intercepted. Consequently, other options to come into the between spaces of the chain need
to be found to find an optimal position when receiving a pass.
Playing in-between the opponents lines is a key strategy to win against low block teams. But: Be aware that the way you have to play in-between
the lines changes with the opposing formation (back four or back five).
– Steven Turek
Solution against back five
5plays a vertical pass to
9. With this pass, 3 and/or 8 move into the between space of the chains and can be passed
Detail: Crucial for this situation is the
explicit behavior of9. He
does not run into the between space of the chains, but stays as deep as possible (Reference to error pattern on the following page - in the eBook).
Drill against low block teams: 10 vs. 9 with zones
Large Sided Game - Against a Back Four
Organization: In the marked field is played a 10 vs 9. Thereby, the back four of the defending team is positioned inside the marked stripe. Beyond that, two players are located in the boxes for
the offensive midfielder (exclusively). If one of these offensive OM’s is passed to, only the defenders located inside the stripe can interfere. The attackers try to score. If the zone is
outplayed, no defender is allowed to interfere anymore. The defenders counterattack on the mini-goals if they gain possession of the ball. In case of a ball exiting the field, the central forward
reopens the play with a ball from the depot (this player does not play inside the field, but only serves as an additional passing option).
Coaching: It is due to the organization, that the opposing center backs are regularly pulled out of their positions. These spaces shall be recognized and headed to.
Variation: The defenders defend up to the goal.
"You have to know your enemy before you can beat him" - Find out more information about back five
lines and even more solutions against it in the eBook "Attacking against low Block Teams"