Porto’s Midfield Protection Tactics

By Stevie Grieve

One of the main benefits of playing with a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 is that you can have a high level of flexibility using the 5 players in the midfield. We regularly see teams who like to press playing almost a man-man marking system, particularly in central midfield, where most attacks are constructed.

Another advantage is that defences are best protected via defensive triangulation between defence and midfield when close to goal, which covers most angles and forced 1v1 dribbles to make penetration opportunities.

Porto Midfield man-marking system

Article 4 Midfield Defending 1

Here, Porto play 1v1 all over the field, meaning that 1 player is free from each team, so when Napoli are in possession, it is

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Bayern Munich’s Defensive Aspects

By Stevie Grieve.

Bayern Munich are right now arguably the best team in Europe, and although they regularly enjoy over 60% possession in matches, they need to ensure that they don’t leave the back door open and conceded goals in the minimal amount of attacks that the opposition will have. In a recent Champions League match v Arsenal, Arsenal have a few noteworthy attacks, but many were cut off at source or stopped by very clever positional play and quick pressing once everyone was in position to do so.

Bayern Munich offside trap trigger

Art 2 Diag 3 Ars Bay

Arsenal are attacking down the left side, and Mesut Ozil makes the centre-wide run behind the full back. Bayern Munich have a very straight back 3, playing Sanogo offside. Bayern have a trigger

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Bayern Munich’s Attacking Movement

Bayern Munich’s attacking movement to lose markers from crossing position - By Stevie Grieve.

Arsenal played Bayern Munich for a long period with 10v11, and defended fairly well against possibly the most fluid attacking team in Europe. Pep Guardiola teams play high possession football with total freedom of movement within specific areas of the field for each player.

Each player has 3 or 4 team mates that they make rotations in tandem with depending on ball position and team mate position, similar to Barcelona under Guardiola, but Bayern Munich have the ability to score goals from crosses, a weapon Barcelona didn’t have, which makes if more difficult to defend against this Bayern team as they can go over a defence, as well as through.

Muller Goal – Intelligent movement to cross over a low block

Arsenal v Bayern 1.1 Art 1 Diag 1

Here, Kroos has Muller and Robben moving between the lines looking for a way through the defence, either by

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Attacking and Defending At Close Quarters

By Keith Scarlett

This activity works on 1v1 attacking and defending in close quarters, 1st touch, intensity and to see who is willing to get stuck in on tackles. The exercise is done at top-speed, is a quick moving exercise and there is a good deal of contact.

The playing area is 18 x 44 metres (roughly the size of the penalty area). There is a goal on one of the 44 metre end-lines (where the goal would be if you were using an actual penalty area) and two markers should be 18 metres out directly opposite the goalposts (or roughly the location where the half-circle intersects with the top of the penalty area if using an actual penalty area for this activity). Players break into four lines. Two lines are on each post with balls and two lines are at the ‘markers’…or the corners of the “D”…without balls.


How it Works:
The line besides the goal drives the ball to the first person in the opposite diagonal line and then

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Philadelphia 3v3v3 Penetration and Defense Activity

By Keith Scarlett

This activity works on possession to penetrate, combination play, defending, pressure, cover, recovery and communication.

It is important for all the players to be on the same page. Both attacking and defending requires teamwork and that means every single player has to be on the same page. In this activity, we put the players under pressure from all sides and if they don’t play well as a unit, chances are, they’re going to be letting in quite a few in the game. The exercise is about playing your responsibility and staying on top of things. REMEMBER: the FIRST pass is of the utmost importance!

Set-up: The playing area is 30 x 20 meters, divided into two halves of 15 x 20 meters. One ball is used. There are three teams of three players each.


How it Works: The game begins with one team (Red) standing in the middle while the other two teams (Black and Yellow) stand at opposite ends of the playing area. The ball is given randomly to

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Avedikian 2 v 2 Forced Man-Marking Activity

By Keith Scarlett

This activity works on 1v1 defending, pressure, cover, recovery and defensive communication.

When moving up the pitch to attack the opposition’s goal, losing possessing can lead to a counter-attack. This technical training activity is designed to help players understand the importance of falling back to defend their own goal. A couple of players will need to pass around or dribble past opposition to score a point and when they do, or if things don’t work out; they need to get back quickly and help out on defense. REMEMBER: the BALL is the MOST IMPORTANT THING!

The playing area is 25 x 20 metres. Only one ball will be in play at a time. There are two-lines on either end of the pitch, the end-line; which is at either end of the playing area and the ball-line; which is 3-metres inside the playing area; per the diagram.


To start this activity, one team starts with possession of the ball, at random. This team’s (the attacking team), players need to

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