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Managing the Horizontal space

Decisions have to be considering in a playing style when considering how to manage the horizontal space (length of the field).  In youth football a playing model will attempt to teach or at least make players understand how to manage this critical space.  In football we work with High Press, Mid block and low block, our football sits between high press and a mid block with players empowered to decide which we will choose.  In this moment it becomes a collective game and problems can arise when components of the team are not on the same page.  We will look at this in a simple way just to show the spaces and problems that arise if it is not managed well.

See below a high press.

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The risks are clear to see if we fail to press the ball well stopping the opposition playing forwards then the space behind our back 4 is a problem, if the opposition have quicker forwards then our defenders a punt forwards can create many issues for us.  Of course in youth football the actions of the defenders can negate this and can be taught but in senior football it is more likely defenders will drop off if they’re slower then their opponents forwards.

See Below a mid Press

This splits the space so a direct pass forward  is unlikely to hurt us unless they move the ball laterally (Side to Side) to try and create an opportunity to switch via a longer ball.  This though does gives the opponent time and space early so they can still play long forwards and try and disturb our defenders when the attempt to win the ball, if we do not drop collectively a space can become available for a drop back in front of our back 4.  This is when it is critical our midfield track runners into this space.

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See below a Low block

The low block we rarely use but it does give defenders a problem, the problem of time and space.  We are now inviting the opponent to build up but it is difficult because when the enter the first line of our defence not many gaps are available and all are well marked.  We have a pro active playing style that does not use this concept but it can be used as a tactic.

 

See below a problem when the space is not managed well

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This can happen when the back 4 are worried about the pace of the opponents forwards and it is not communicated to our forwards or our forwards are not pressing well and the back 4 have decided to drop.  If this is the case the coach rather needs to improve the pressing or have his forwards drop to a mid press.  This space can now be used for a longer ball for a drop pass into midfield runners or a free opponent waiting in this space for a ball to feet.

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