Let's pick apart that clip to really highlight the situations England are faced with when defending overloads.
How do Belgium create overloads as they build their attack?
As Belgium look to build their attack from the back, they push forward and out to the wings – causing England’s wide defenders to be overloaded with two players each. This strategic plan allows Belgium the opportunity to play down the side closest to the ball. They’re also able to switch the point of their attack and put England under pressure by spreading the players out.
How do Belgium create overloads within central areas?
In this situation, Belgium are able to work the ball into their centre forward and outnumber the England players four to three within central areas. England respond by defending the space in behind their backline (as the opposition could have time and space to play forward into those areas).
How do Belgium create overloads within wide areas?
As Belgium progress the ball onto the wing, England’s wide defender has two players to try and deal with. In this moment, the focus turns to attempting to delay the speed of the attack and forcing the opposition into areas of least threat – away from the goal.
In this situation, England’s wide defender opts to force the ball inside, into Belgium’s centre forward (who is well marshalled by the central defender), rather than be exposed two against one down the outside.
What this means for you So that’s how our England teams do it, but how could this help your team?
Overloads within your context might not look exactly the same and could occur at different frequencies. But they will happen. Here are three ways to help your team cope when they do:
- Put players in different positions as the overloads they experience will change depending on where they’re placed on the pitch. Giving players a rounded education of what the game looks like will help them to develop the skills they need to succeed.
- Help your players recognise the relevant clues, cues and triggers when they experience the game. In overloaded situations, you could ask them to think about what will happen if the player on the ball isn’t closed down. If they need to work on positioning, maybe ask them how they could keep both players in their eye-line. Over time, thought-provoking questions will allow your players to develop their perception skills, as well as their ability to predict and adapt to game scenarios.
- Consider how closely your practices replicate the ‘real’ game. Think about how many times you put your defenders under real stress. Are their decision-making skills being tested? Are you exposing your players to bigger areas where they’re overloaded? These are both key components of the modern game, so they will need plenty of repetition.
Remember, your players will only improve if you give them appropriate opportunities to practice the valuable skills which they need throughout their footballing journey.
For more defending content like this, take a look at how to defend like England: space in wide areas.