#Create and finish

8v8 team game: Attacking unbalanced defences

FIFA Talent Coach Programme, 14 May 2024


This opposed team game focuses on a team’s ability to create and finish against an unbalanced defence. The exercise simulates an attacking phase in which the defending team have overcommitted and left spaces for the attacking team to exploit.


The intention: What is practised?
The 8v8 game aims to improve player’s ability to create and finish from artificial transition moments. It emphasizes both individual and group actions, promoting quick reactions and exploiting defensive vulnerabilities in transition. Players are tasked with collectively identifying the most advantageous ball position on the perimeter of the exercise area to initiate effective counter attacks. They're also instructed to make aggressive off-the-ball runs into open spaces within the opposing defense, aiming to create advantageous numerical situations such as 2v1, 2v2, or 3v2 scenarios. 

The scale: For whom is this relevant? 
This game revolves around the team scale and focuses on finishing against an unbalanced defence. The exercise is particularly relevant to the players involved in an attacking transition in an advanced area of the pitch, such as attackers and midfielders. However, the exercise is also relevant to defenders, who may be able to make deep runs. In terms of relevance, the second level relates to the players pressing from the front and denying the opposition the possibility of building an attack, whilst players behind the frontline must be prepared to step up and intercept any forward passes. Both of the above-mentioned scenarios are relevant to attacking against an unbalanced opposition. The exercise is position-specific, with players asked to adopt a three-line defensive and attacking structure, although they can rotate in certain positions if required to do so.

The practice type: How is the practice designed? 
The exercise involves a team game and includes variable repetition that provides ample opportunities for a team to practise intense pressing, off-the-ball movement in attacking transitions and aggressive dribbling. The reduced and narrow nature of the exercise area is designed to encourage multiple turnovers of possession, which means that players are frequently involved in attacking transitions. At the same time, the size of the exercise area also helps to create high-intensity, coordinated pressing scenarios, as the gaps between players are naturally closer. The balls positioned around the outside of the exercise area encourage players to react quickly in transition, knowing that good decision-making could quickly put them in a goalscoring situation. The offside rule applies to add game realism and ensure that players time their runs.

Session plan


  • Use 1 half of a full-size pitch and position a full-size goal at each end of the exercise area.

  • Cone off the exercise area to the width of the penalty area.

  • Place balls along the outside of each side of the exercise area.

  • Set up an 8v8+GKs scenario inside the exercise area.


  • The exercise starts with the oranges in possession.

  • The team in possession aims to build an attack and score in the opposite goal.

  • The defending team objective is to win the ball back.

  • The offside rule applies.

  • If a team scores, puts the ball out of play or commits an offside offence, the other team restarts play with any of the balls positioned outside the exercise area and try to score.

  • Teams should pick a ball that puts them in the most favourable attacking position.

Key coaching points

Roles of coaches

  • First coach: leads the session and instructs the players throughout.

  • Second coach: from their position on one side of the exercise area, encourages the out-of-possession team to press.

  • Third coach: from their position on the opposite side of the pitch to the second coach, encourages the players to play at high intensity.

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