Building a solid and confident attack

Ralf Peter
Ralf Peter

Using the 4-3-3 formation against a well-organized defense:

Practice sessions for youth and amateur training by Ralf Peter, DFB coach

Ralf Peter examines the option: Using solid, confident attack-building to get past a compact and well-organized defense.

As individual, group and team defense tactics continue to improve, it becomes necessary to improve attack tactics as well. It’s true that many coaches define success in terms of minimizing goals against, and they structure their practice sessions accordingly.

However, given the lack of qualities like creativity and intuitive play in so much of today’s soccer, a special emphasis on offensive play has become an essential part of youth training.

The wing attack: Objectives and advantages
When you build a solid attack in your own half, with lots of passes back and forth, you often allow your opponents to drop back into their half and to get organized in front of their goal. Setting up a shot against this sort of compact defense requires safe, versatile, patient combination play. When opponents have dropped so far back that they’re primarily covering their penalty box, the wing attack, with crosses and back passes, can be an effective tool. Attacking up the middle can often be effective as well, e.g. with tactics like wall passes and three-player combinations. However, this approach requires talented individual players and fast, solid passing.

The wing attack, on the other hand, has the following advantages:

  • The wings are generally less securely defended, offering attackers good opportunities to break through to the endline.
  • Solo plays and combinations on the wings lure defenders away from the middle, creating more playing space in front of the goal.
  • Crosses, back passes and other passes to players in front of the goal are a good way to set up shots, even against well-organized defense formations. All the player in the middle has to do is go for the goal!

Wing attack basics
Successful wing attacks all tend to share the following characteristics:

  • Solo dribbling runs,
  • Versatile combination play, especially on the wings,
  • Combinations including takeovers, various types of wall passes and overlapping (over-lapping is often used to set up a switch of play against a ball-oriented defense forma-tion, without necessarily following through on the switch), and
  • Crosses and passes to teammates in front of the goal, which can be powerful or carefully aimed, depending on the situation.

Other aspects of the attack
Building a solid and confident attack against a massed defense formation also entails the following aspects:

  • Versatile passing, including square, back, diagonal and through passes,
  • Passing options available at various positions all over the field,
  • Shifting the point of attack from one side of the field to the other,
  • Maintaining possession even under extreme opposition pressure,
  • A determination to finish, and
  • Frequent changes of tempo, varying between high-speed soccer and deliberately “putting the brakes” on the attack.

Offensive training: Basic principles