Monday, February 26, 2007

Responding to great players - David Beckham

Response to great individual talent on the opposing team, like David Beckham:
On offense: come back and make sure that he is harassed if he touches the ball at mid-field.
In the middle: make his team mates score. Deny him the ball and encourage him to have to run all day long and MAYBE you can sometimes tire him and deplete his ball and field mastery.
On defense:
1.Admit that great offense will beat great defense most of the time. Yes, great offense is hard to find - look at the typical soccer scores.
2.On defense, do all the normal stuff as with anyone: make the offense use its least-best option every time, ALWAYS be aware of the best talent on the other team and put your smartest player (in GPA and emotions and soccer smarts) on THAT player. Ball skill talent as such is not as important as correctly outguessing him: your goal is just to deny, not to make it look pretty.
3.Then, for a few minutes put someone else on him and do quirky stuff as you shadow him: cough a lot, or whistle a tune or burp a bunch of times. Do this all actually while you defend him. Then switch back to the smart guy. Step three - put your best OFFENSIVE player on him as a shadowing defender and move some other player up.
Your goals are two-fold: you want multiple players to have experience defending against the best (as well as to show your own offender what it feels like to try to defend a great player), and also to give that great player a constantly moving target to attack.
4.Don't foul not the penalty box so that the other team doesn't get to sit back and watch Beckham launch balls into the corner of the net from a stand still.
5. If you do give up a free kick, the wall of players has got to change the normal rules: the wall should be moving (Beckham sees the static field perfectly), bring every player in for defense (maybe quickly shifting players to actually stand in the goal mouth and perhaps jump to head a ball).

In short there are rules, and then there are the rule breakers that will beat you if you don't immediately and smartly respond with a plan that great player didn't anticipate. Remember , ALWAYS try to get the opponent to use the least-best option that they can think of.

Beckham is going to score. But that is why he is great. Most of you will not play a Beckham, ever. Be glad.

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