Previously, in our blog we explained the importance of having a good defensive transition, to make a correct pressure after loosing the ball to avoid being overtaken by the opposing team. Today, we will talk about how to take advantage of those spaces, how to leverage the disorganization of the opponent and attack to create opportunities.
Nowadays, we can see in many matches, that several goals or dangerous situations are generated when a ball is recovered and when a team takes advantage of the spaces left by the opposing team. Knowing what to do when the team recovers the ball is very important, since, in those moments, the team must stay organized as the rival team will try to recover it quickly. When recovering the ball, the team can have two behaviors:
1. Organized attack: this can happen when the team that has recovered the ball, is in numerical inferiority, when the team has to maintain a result or does not have a good disposition for its players to attack fast. In any of those cases, the team will try to slow down their attack by performing horizontal passes to leave the danger zone where they have recovered the ball and build an organized play.
2. Counterattack: This game situation is the one that we are going to talk about in in more depth in this post. The counterattack can also happen in an organized way, but with the clear purpose of seeking verticality to occupy spaces left by the opposing team. We will explain the 4 phases of a counterattack:
1. Recover the ball: the zone where a player retrieves the ball is crucial. Recovering in a high zone of the opposing field, gives the player the possibility to finish the play fast, but normally, the team will have a numerical inferiority and less spaces to the backs of the opponents. In a more retracted position, the team can force the opposing team to accumulate players up, leaving more free spaces behind them, to, in a second stage, attack them.
2. Deployment: this phase is very important and will determine, to a large extent, the success of our counterattack. When the team has recovered the ball, it will be important to get out of the recovery zone quickly, as this is where there is a greater accumulation of players, both opponents and the team itself. If we have recovered in a central zone of the field and, taking into account the vertical axis, we will look to leave that central zone playing towards the sides. We can also perform a backward pass to go back and then move on the opposite side of the field. It is very important that the players near the ball find the back of their closest opponents. It may be the case that, once the players recover the ball, they lose it when they make the first passes to leave the zone. If this happens, the team is giving a great advantage to the opponent who can attack at a time when the team is unprotected.
3. Progression: once the players have left the recovery zone, they will try to continue with their progression in the counterattack. They will move forward looking for free spaces, with the idea of making changes of orientation so they don’t facilitate the rivals moving towards their zone. If a player goes moves forward with the ball he should do it diagonally, from the outside towards the inside, to avoid loosing the ball easily and broadly from the sides. A correct progression is when a player recovers the ball in a side zone, and progresses towards the opposite side.
4. Finalization: When possible, the players must finish their counterattack strategy, with the main objective of scoring a goal or reorganizing themselves defensively, without losing the ball. The finalization can come from the central area with a shot to goal, or many other times, it will come from the sides of the field through a diagonal pass. In this pass, the second line will be important since the players will arrive free of a rival mark. Giving that last backward pass can cause a lot of damage to the opposing defense.
The counterattack situations have to be very well prepared and organized to get the most out of them during the game. This must be done without forgetting about offensive transitions as they can bring successes to the team.