What we learned #1

Good Brazilian football is not about ball tricks. It’s about hard work and discipline.

Ain’t that a bitch?

Last week when we were in Brazil, I found it hard to be the coach and also photograph and take video. But I did manage to shoot this one clip, and it shows one thing we learned that was very useful. A good team holds on to the ball — of course — and it also circulates the ball, looking for angles where the defense is easier to penetrate. These spaces between defenders (also called “channels”) give the attackers the chance to pass the ball into dangerous scoring positions.

To counteract this, many defenses make one of two errors.

  1. They are too slow to move when the ball moves, so a good positioning of players when the ball is on the right side becomes a poor positioning when the ball’s on the left. Failure to move leaves gaps that the opponent will hit.
  2. They react too aggressively to the movement of the ball, plunging after it like a bull at a bullfight. The opponent will pass the ball around them while the crowd chants “Olé!” and then they’ll run through the space they left behind.

So what is the correct response, the baby-bear route?

  • Run when the ball moves
  • Get a someone close to the player with the ball (AKA First attacker).
  • Pressure and harass
  • Stay between opponent and goal — do not dive in
  • Tackle aggressively when you detect an error

What does good defense look like? Shockingly, it looks like what our boys are doing here. If you are looking for a shot or a goal, you’ll be disappointed. The reason is that the defense is so good! Our boys are wearing the green vests, defending to the right. We look good except for a dive from Byron (?) at 0:32. And Julian’s play at 0:42 is especially good, he applies pressure and is strong without fouling.

Our boys probably thought that they were going to see a lot of fancy footwork, because that’s what the megastars get to show on the world stage. But it is built on team defense, possession and getting into good positions. Don’t get it twisted.

Fancy ball tricks:

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