How a team defends plays a large role in the formation of their identity as a team. Do they play a highline (pushing their defenders high up the field to force the opposing team back) and try to quickly press and win the ball back? Or do they sit deep, absorb pressure in a bend but don’t break bunker like fashion? These are both viable options, and not the only options, available to a manager. How a team lines up defensively also plays a huge part in how they defend. If your formation has 5 defenders like a 5-3-2 you are going to defend differently than if you have 4 in a 4-4-2. To learn what those numbers mean check out the Formations page.

Most common defensive setups will have 4 defenders in what is called the “back line” this is the line of defenders in front of the goalie that must work as a unit to protect the goal. The center backs are the two interior players, described in the Defenders position page. They form the anchor around which the defense is built and quite often are the leaders of the defense since their central position allows them to best see the field and adjust their teammates according to how the other team is attacking. They are also quite often in charge of maintaining the line’s discipline. This means keeping their fellow defenders the same way up the field.

visual demonstration of an offside trap
Fulham’s Mitrovic is caught offside by an offside trap.

As you can see in the picture, the circled player (Mitrovic) is offside because he is closer to goal than the last defender (the player in red towards the bottom of the picture). If this player (his name is Andy Robinson) was a little slower getting back up to the line his fellow defenders were holding than Mitrovic would have not be ruled offside and the goal he would go on to score from this offside position would have counted. This is important because not only did his team not score here, the free kick awarded for the offside that Robinson’s quick return to the defensive line earned ultimately resulted in a goal less than a minute later as his team counterattacked quickly down the other end. To learn more about counterattacks you can check out the Possession Tactics page here.

Good defenders are able to read the game in front of them and react in such a way that they can position themselves to cut off or prevent passes before they are made. The legendary Italian defender Paolo Maldini once said “If I have to make a tackle then I have already made a mistake.” However, very few defenders are as good as Mr. Maldini was so quite often tackles need to be made. A standing tackle is when a player uses his body to muscle a player of the ball. This can be done legally if the contact is shoulder to shoulder and does include a hip check, a push with the arm, or other uses of excessive force as covered in our infractions page. If a player has to stretch and catch a player than they might opt for a sliding tackle. This is legal as long as the player does not point the studs of their cleats at their opponent, they get the ball, and they don’t go through their opponent to get the ball. Otherwise the tackle might be considered reckless or dangerous and could warrant a card.

about author


<p>The author of the site, a huge soccer fan.</p>