Breaking free: How to counter-attack

Any team can do it, says Craig Brown, Aberdeen manager and former Scotland boss

The counter-attack can mean very different things

"I’ve been in charge of sides facing much stronger opposition and have been forced to look at playing on the break because we’d simply expect to be penned back a lot. Other teams use counter-attacking tactics successfully against weaker teams and in two or three quick moves can go from defending to scoring a goal."

More after the break

Breaking from dead-ball situations

"The counter-attack can be effective defending a set-piece and in open play. The former is very common. By having players on the edge of your own box ready to burst forward, things can happen quickly.

"Manchester United in their pomp had Peter Schmeichel, who could read the game so well. He’d catch the ball and immediately Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona were away from their 18-yard line, darting off in a V-formation into the wide areas ready to receive a throw and bang, a chance was on."

Look to exploit one-on-ones

"From open play it’s a little more intricate. The great teams will invite opponents onto them and then in key areas, midfield players steal the ball. Gone is the big crunching tackle that sends player and ball into touch. Instead, possession is stolen and a clever player will look forward to make things happen.

"It’s here that a striker must burst into life. A good striker will be aware of possession being won and look to get on the outside of his centre-half. Should he find himself between defenders, they have him. Get on the outside because invariably the full-back will be upfield as possession was his. With the right pass, you now have a one-on-one situation."

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