Play Like Italy – Organised Defending

1. Playing in Channels


  • Players are paired up with 1 football between them
  • The players will work down their channel only
  • The player at the back faces in front in a 1 v 1 situation
  • ‘Shadow play only’ – the attacker takes small touches forwards, the defender reacts by delaying the situation and moving backwards in a good defensive shape
  • When the players reach their end lane, roles are reversed and repeated until intervention

PROGRESSION (limited pressure)

  • TRIGGER, STAB, TACKLE – on coach’s whistle, the defending player must recognize when to tackle and when to delay – the stab tackle can only happen after the whistle – a successful tackle is rewarded with a point

Full Pressure

  • 1 v 1 full pressure. Attacking player attempts to stop the ball on the end line; defending player looks to spoil, intercept and counter attack

Key Tips

  • Primary/leg/foot closest to the ball – secondary leg slightly behind and to the side
  • Soft, low knees, head position over the knee
  • Plenty of foot contacts with the floor to improve running, twisting reaction.


  • Bad touch by attacker
  • Attacks foot is not connected to the ball
  • During step over actions

2. Man Marking / Intercepting


  • Players are split into 4’s or 5’s
  • 1 player plays a firm pass in the direction of the mannequin / pole (attacker)
  • The defender who is stood goal side, looks to intercept the ball with the front leg
  • Players rotate
  • Coach ensures players swap feet to intercept to encourage technical balance


  • Reach with primary foot, and contact ball with the outside surface. Arm comes across attacker


  • Take away mannequin / Pole and play a live defender in a 1 v 1 situation

3. Players in Control


  • 2 teams
  • Players are in control as to how many players they send out onto the pitch per go
  • A team can send 1 player out or all of the players
  • If a team score with just 1 of their players out they would score maximum points (e.g. 6) if they send out all their players and score they would score a basic minimum of 1 point
  • First team to 15 points wins
  • Players must run around the pole on the nearest corner before they enter the pitch
  • Coach serves the ball into the middle of the pitch

Key Tips

  • Encourage the team that has more defenders to regain the ball back at its highest point (early regain)
  • Encourage the team that is defending to DELAY and choose the option of a late regain if they have fewer numbers than the attackers. This will give this team a chance to turnover the ball and counter attack
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