Outfox the defence
“The most important thing for a footballer is the element of surprise. Obviously, to score you have to be in the box, but if you’re just waiting for the ball while the move develops, it’s too easy for the opposition. What I like to do is stand outside the box, then I can participate in the build-up before bursting into the box to lose my marker. You must think about what run you make, too. If you’re running from 20-30 metres out, it’s harder for you to be marked because you’re constantly on the move, there’s space to exploit and your run is better.”
Know your wide man
“A lot rests on the winger and whether they deliver to the front or back post, so it’s a good idea to look out for the signs of what sort of delivery to expect. If they have to look up and think, then the cross will usually go towards the back post. But if they only just get to the ball before being challenged, then you must recognise the ball in can only go to the front post. The sooner you make the decision to attack or hold back for a cross, the better the chance that you’ll reach the ball ahead of the defender.”
More after the break
Keep the ball moving
“Your first touch is the most important thing in football. A one-touch game is how I try to play in any possession drill or in a match. This is of benefit to my team-mates as well as to me. When using the wings, it gives the wide player much more time to take a touch and beat a defender, if he has to, before putting the ball into the box. If I take two or three touches, then a defender will be all over the winger by the time he gets the ball. I always try to play with the fewest number of touches as possible to keep the attack moving.”
Michu’s box-breaking shooting drill
Make the most of deliveries from out wide with this cross-and-finish exercise from the Spanish goal-getter
“This is a very simple drill, but one which is of real benefit to the four players involved. We start with a midfielder, who stands just beyond the halfway line, playing the ball to my feet, with me standing halfway into the opposition half. I play a first-time ball to the winger before turning and sprinting into the box.
I try to open up my body, so I can play the pass on the half-turn with one touch. This keeps it fast-paced. I turn quickly to break into the area.
You should keep an eye on the winger’s movements to see if you can guess where the cross is going, and then focus on the ball to meet it with a good contact, whether it’s with your head or on the volley.
You should always do this drill with a goalkeeper because it makes it more realistic, and they can use it to help with crosses as well as improving their reactions.
If you want to take things on a stage, you can include a full-back to pressurise the winger before he puts the cross into the box, or have a defender on the penalty spot to make the attacker’s job a bit more difficult.
But if your run into the area is good enough, he won’t stand a chance of getting near you!”
For more football tips see:
Jermain Defoe's six-step guide to striking
Michael Ballack: Score from the middle
Shoot like Frank Lampard
Darren Bent: How to be a maestro of movement
Kevin Doyle: Lose your marker from set-pieces
Time your run to perfection
Steven Pienaar: Lose your shadow
Steven Pienaar: How to find space