Playing through a stubborn, well-drilled defensive unit is one of the most difficult challenges any football team can face on the pitch. Two of this week's three training sessions are designed to give elite players the tools and strategies they need to unlock even the most miserly defences, while the third aims to teach defenders how they can combat these strategies by getting back into a solid defensive shape as soon as they lose the ball.
Combination play in the final third - Zamrat
One way of breaking through defences is to outmanoeuvre the opposition with great link-up play in the final third. In the first of this week's new releases, Abdelouahed Zamrat, an U-21 coach at the Mohammed VI Football Academy in Morocco, presents a four-part training session focusing on the accurate passing and intelligent movement attacking sides need to carve out chances, using the full width of the pitch to stretch the opposition out of shape. The four individual drills that make up the session start with a possession-based warm-up exercise, before moving on to a passing and movement drill and finally to small-sided games in which players are challenged to apply the skills they have learned.
Switching play - Boumehdi
Another effective attacking ploy is to switch the play quickly to draw the opposition defence to one side of the pitch before ruthlessly exploiting the space they leave on the opposite flank. In the second of our three sessions, Lamia Boumehdi takes a squad of 18 players through a series of four drills designed to give them the tools they need to solve a range a range of tactical problems, such as how to retain possession when tightly marked and how to stretch the defence out of shape. To outwit the opposition, attacking players need to be able to make the right decisions at the right time, play and receive the full range of passes, and run with the ball at pace, and these technical skills form the backbone of Boumehdi's exercises.
Defensive transition - Abdallah
The last of this week's sessions has been developed by Abdallah Idrissi and concentrates on the critical transition from attack to defence. Although we tend to assess the flow of a game in terms of which team in is possession, many goals can be traced back to the point at which possession breaks down. A slow transition from attack to defence can leave your team vulnerable to counter-attacks; not for nothing has Jürgen Klopp described an effective counter-press as more valuable than a world-class playmaker. The drills in this session are designed to teach defending sides how to fend off quick counter-attacks by getting into their defensive shape quickly, closing down the space, and making it as difficult as possible for opposing teams to play through them.