There are many ways to attack.
Here, I am going to give you a professional insight into different and effective ways to attack the opposition.
Win the ball high up the pitch
There are several ways to defend without the ball.
You can try with a high press and try to win the ball back in your own half. We see teams like Barcelona press like this when they lose the ball. The nearest man goes to the ball and tries to win it back. This is known as a ‘full court press’.
The positives of this is that if you win the ball back high up you are close to the opposition goal. The down-side is if the opposing team play through the press, it leaves you defensively open and the opposition get a direct run at your defence.
Teams may want to play with a ‘mid court press’. This is when you keep two tight banks of four with your midfield and defence behind the halfway line. You start the press in the middle of the pitch. The striker will drop down to the edge of the ‘D’ and once the ball has gone into the defending third there is no compromise and teams will press the ball.
Break at speed
Whether the ball is won back during a full court press or a mid court press, it is important that you break with speed in transition while in possession.
Whenever the ball is won back, team mates should be trying to attack as quickly as possible when the opposition are out of their shape. A lot of teams like to play a series of short passes, but there many different ways of attacking and it’s important to have variety so you can break at speed.
Real Madrid are one of the world’s best teams at counter attacking quickly with the speed they possess from players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
Feed your strikers
The best attacking teams have direct and forward thinking players in the final third. Arsenal had Thierry Henry as their striker from 1999-2007. He was a striker with electric pace and his style was perfect for the counter attack.
He had a lot more than just pace, his game intelligence was fantastic and he exploited space behind the back four so well.
Denis Bergkamp was a key player as well; he made life uncomfortable with the intelligent positions he would pick up in-front of the back four. Arsenal also had players like Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg who were great at supplying the strikers with quality crosses and passing to create goal scoring opportunities.
The successful attacking sides have great chemistry between the midfield and the attacking players.
Switch the play
Against a side who is defending narrowly, it isn’t always possible to find a way through the defence at the first time of asking. Whenever you find yourself up against a team who put men behind the ball, the key is to try to move their shape around by switching the ball quickly to utilise new space.
If attacking down one flank proves to be unsuccessful you switch the ball to the other flank and wait until you find an opening. This patient approach is a better tactic than just playing long, hopeful balls into the strikers, which increases the risk of losing possession.
The Physical and Technical demands of attacking
Overall, these are different ways to attack the opposition and all of the discussed tactics provide the opposition with problems while they are defending.
Winning the ball high up the pitch and breaking with speed is demanding physically as a player. Winning the ball high up means players have to be fit to press all over the pitch, if possession is turned over it gives you a better chance of a goalscoring opportunity as you have won the ball back close to the opposition goal, and the opposition will be stretched out of their shape so it is imperative that you move the ball quickly while people are out of position.
Breaking with speed doesn’t necessarily mean that you need lightning quick players. Although speed does help, it is imperative that the team has players who are willing to run forward to support the striker and move the ball quickly. In football, managers and coaches often say that teams are most vulnerable to conceding while they are in possession of the ball. This can happen when teams flood players forward leaving massive spaces open for the opposition to exploit the counter attack. This is why it is important to move the ball quickly while counter attacking as people will be out of position.
Manchester United broke against Arsenal with great speed, but they also had players who were willing to run beyond the Arsenal defence, and they also played quick direct passes. From the ball falling out to Ronaldo at the edge of the Arsenal box, it took 3 passes before the ball ended up in the back of their net.