FC Barcelona Defensive Transition



1) Coach how to regain possession in the final third. 
2) Coach how to prevent opposition playing forwards.
3) Coach how to regain possession in max. 6 sec.

• Mark out 2/3 of a full size pitch as on diagram. Prepare min. 4 spare footballs. The teams play in specific formations. Provide tactical instructions for each team:  


Attacking team:
1. 6 players (reds)
2. 1-2-3 formation
3. Score in the full sized goal.
4. After losing possession defend three small sized goals and try to regain the football as soon as possible.
5. Encourage attacking players to take risks.

Defending team:
1. 8 players (blues) (7+GK)
2. 1-4-2-1 formation
3. Defend full sized goal 
4. After gaining possession score in one of the three small sized goals as soon as possible.


• Game starts when the ball is played in by player no. 6. No corner kicks. After a goal, foul or out for the defending team the game is restarted by player no. 6. Two teams compete and attempt to score.

• The attacking team scores in the full sized goal. After gaining possession defending team scores by scoring in one of the three small sized goals as soon as possible.

• Add more attacking players. Create more complex decision making.
Make the pitch longer. Add defending team’s strikers.
Move into 11v11 game.
• Add bigger goals for defending team to attack into.  

Coaching Points
1) Be prepared mentally for defensive transition. Concentration and readiness.
2) After losing possession react quickly! First seconds are the most important!
3) The nearest player to the football (1st defender) closes down player with the ball. Aggressive
attitude and immediate pressure are vital.
4) 1st defender – shut down as quickly as possible, slow down, stay down, stay on your toes,
tackle (prevent playing long ball). Opponent should not have a possibility to look up.
5) Force opposition wide or back. Prevent switching play and close your opponent in one part
of the pitch.
6) Show courage and aggression (be hungry to get the ball back).
7) Communicate with each other – loud, clear and precise (1st defender gives signal) –
communication language
8) Players around the football – mark all the players close to the ball (prevent playing short pass).
Stay tight. Priority is to cover players in front of the ball.
9) Supporting defenders also look for pressure. Doubling up in wide areas of the pitch.
10) Players away from the football – stay close to each other, be compact and balanced. Act as a
team. Prevent turning and running into space.
11) Track forward runs.
12) After regaining possession switch to attack as quickly as possible
Diagram 2 - Moment of losing possession
• Moment of losing possession
Team is in the attacking phase. Player number 8 take risk and loses possession of the football. Players are prepared to make a transition to defence and regain possession through organized and pre-planned strategy.
Diagram 3 - Transition to Defence
After possession being lost team must react rapidly. The nearest player to the ball (8) applies immediate pressure preventing opposition playing forwards. Second nearest player to the ball (9) chooses between man to man marking and doubling up (when needed). Supporting defenders (6, 10) cover all nearest passing options. Players away from the ball (7,11) provide balance and cover. Team acts as a one unit.
Diagram 4 - 11vs11 Scenarios (No Pressure)
If early pressure is NOT applied to players high up the field (i.e. 6) they are able to distribute into dangerous areas (including behind the defending line).
Diagram 5 - 11vs11 Scenarios (Early Pressure)
Here the pressing is aggresive and denies player 6 time to look up and play forward.  The centre forward number 9 double teams from behind on Blue 6 to increase the pressure.
Notes & Observations
Very big difference makes correct attitude during defensive transition. Players should be aggressive and brave enough to regain possession immediately.
Role of the 1st defender is to prevent the most dangerous option which is the long pass. Supporting defender should be ready to double up.
Communication can be led by 1st defender as well as supporting players. Agree with players on communication language.