When it comes to running in behind the center-backs, it’s important to know when to make the run. The timing is key, but also knowing your teammates. Let’s take a look at how you can score more goals and get more assists with these tips.
Running in behind the center-backs when No 10 has the ball
Jamie Vardy is one of the best at this.
Even Erling Haaland admits to looking how exactly he makes these runs.
One thing you see with Vardy is how he hides himself from the defender by getting behind them.
Watch his off the ball movement in this video below. Sure, he scores, but see how he works to stay out of sight.
Making runs in behind when the ball is wide
One of the hardest things for a defender is to mark tight on your “man” when the ball is wide.
It’s impossible to see both the ball and runner all the time.
When the ball is on the strong side the defenders are looking that direction. At this time the striker can make a darting run in behind the defender and hope the player wide can play a ball in.
You can make it tough by running in behind and also checking to. This way the defender is always wondering what you’ll do next, which is stressful for them.
Clever runs by spinning out
Notice in the video with Suarez, Messi and Canevari how they slowly check to and quickly away.
Many of these times they’ll turn away from the ball to make the defender lose sight of them.
Defenders have to see the ball most of the time, so you have to make runs that keep the defenders from seeing you and the ball at the same time.
Running in behind when your defender has the ball
One of the best goals to see is when a long ball is played either on the ground or over the top.
Youth players do this ALL the time, but the intent is usually from panic mode, not wanting to possess the ball.
If you’re a striker, communicate with your defenders on how you can work together in this.
Tell them to look for you in certain areas of the pitch.
One of the best ways is to immediately change your speed from walking to 100% change of speed and direction up field.
Make sure your defender [teammate] has controlled the ball and can see you make the run. If the ball can be played when the forward is even with the defender you can beat the defense.
Learn from this world class center back
If you’re a defender watch Virgil Van Dijk, arguably the best at playing long balls.
The Dutch defender will catch opponents off guard by making long passes to strikers like Salah or Firmino.
Video below, the first min is the defending clips.
Skip past minute 1:20 to see highlights of his long passes to teammates running in behind the center-backs.
Notice how he keeps the ball low, yet high enough to get over the opponents. Keeping it lower allows the ball to travel in the air with less time, making it harder for the other defenders to get under and win it.
How to study the back line
If you are a striker or attacking mid, learn how to study the back line.
3 things to watch for:
- Find out how the defenders move
- If they ball watch [awareness]
- Know where the deepest defender is and make your runs off them. Early on, get behind the defenders who are pushed up.
Slower players or ball watchers are the ones you should pick on most.
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