Let's pick apart that clip to really highlight England’s strategy when they swiftly transition from attack to defence.
How do they prepare for transition?
In this example, England's central defenders are pushed up high. This helps them to support the attack by retaining the ball, which is a key part of England’s in possession strategy. It also puts them in a great position to counter press in moments of transition when possession is lost.
What becomes the priority when possession is lost?
A key part of England’s out of possession strategy is to be compact within the centre of the pitch and force the opposition out wide.
We see this clearly in the video: the three England central defenders deny the space behind them by turning and sprinting back to their own half. This tactic forces the Iceland goalkeeper to throw the ball wide – just where England want it to be. Plus, it gives the rest of the team more time to make recovery runs.
What is their role and responsibility during transition?
England's recovery runs deny the space in behind and encourage the opposition to play shorter passes. This means that it takes them longer to build towards the goal. In the video, we see England take advantage of this delay and use it to recover their defensive shape.
England's central defenders are then responsible for picking up positions within the width of the goal. Staying compact like this and not being dragged out wide allows the recovering midfielder to intercept the ball and start a counter attack of their own.
What this means for you
Now, we’re not asking coaches up and down the country to implement England’s strategy with their U10s. But you can use these ideas to help your players develop the skills they need for transition within the modern game.
Here are three ways you can do this:
- Expose your players to a variety of area sizes that help to replicate game-realistic scenarios. Smaller areas result in more transitions and opportunities to counter press. Larger areas allow players to experience tracking back over bigger distances and getting into shape as they quickly change from attack to defence.
- Get your players to think about the ‘what ifs’. When a team is in possession, are the players who are not immediately involved thinking about what could happen next – and adjusting their positions accordingly?
- Encourage your players to make immediate recovery runs when possession is lost. These sprints are a great way to deny space, recover to a compact shape and defend the goal.
For more defending content like this, take a look at how to defend like England: an overview.