With the Champions League game between Liverpool and Roma coming this afternoon I thought we would have a look at how to create training activities for the counter attack. First, when creating sessions for the counter attack players need space behind the team with the ball to attack when they win the ball back. It is important to create this space either through the size of the area, numbers on the field, or where the attacking team is in possession.
Small Sided Game - 3 v 2 Counter Attack
Setup: Create a playing area that is 40 yards long by 30 yards wide. This will create space so that the players can counter attacking and also make overlapping and diagonal runs into space. Each team has 2 players in the middle of the area and a player on the outside of the area beside the mini goal.
Organization: In the example below the Red team will be first to counter attack with the 3rd attacker bringing the ball forward into the grid to create a 3v2 situation. The red team will attack towards the opposite mini goal. I have put in a halfway line so that the players understand they will be offside if they just run behind the defense. Once the red team attack and either score, miss a shot, ball goes out of bounds, or they loose the ball to the Blue team the Blue team will attack. If a Blue player steals the ball the Red player closest to the goal with drop back out of the grid and the Blue player beside the goal will step into the field. If the Red miss a shot, score, or the ball goes out of bounds the Blue player beside the goal dribbles into the field and the Red player closest to the goal drops out of the playing area.
Variations: Create 4v2 by adding another attacker. If you are teaching younger players that do not use offside drop the offside rule so that the players can learn the movements of running behind to create space.
Coaching Points: Player with the ball looks to draw one of the defenders by attacking the space on the dribble. When the players without the ball see the player on the ball facing forward with space they should look to make runs into space. Either runs wide to create a touch decision for the defender or diagonal runs behind the defense. Timing of the runs is important and be sure to teach players to start runs in behind when they know the player on the ball is facing forward and has the chance to play a through pass.
11v11 Counter Attacking
Setup: 11v11 on a full field. The attacking team must keep possession in the middle and attacking thirds. This leaves space behind for the defending team to attack on the counter.
Organization: The attacking team must try to break down the defending team and score in the goal. When the attacking team looses the ball they must try to press and win the ball back in the middle and attacking thirds (marked by the dashed white line and orange cones). When the Blue team wins the ball they must try to counter attack and get into their attacking half of the field in 5 passes or under. The Blue team tries to score in the opposing goal. Play 3 periods of 8 minutes.
Variation: If the counter attacking team is struggling to win back possession create a numbers up situation by playing 9v11 so there will be more gaps when the defending team win the ball back. Instead of creating a pass limit, force the attacking team to get into the attacking half in under 6 seconds.
Coaching points: Work together defensively without the ball and close down the attacking team quickly. When the ball is won play forward as early as possible. If the player receiving the forward pass is facing his/her own goal then supporting players must show up for a pass back from this player. If the player receiving the pass is facing forward make runs behind the defense into the space. The team must sprint forward to support and make runs into the box as quickly as possible after the through ball is played. Encourage players to make runs wide or diagonal attacking runs into space.