Samir Nasri: Play between the lines

Manchester City’s string-puller on evading detection in the final third so that your team can wreak havoc 

Find pockets of space
“If you want to play the free role behind the striker, you need to find space between the opposition’s midfield and defence. As the playmaker of the team, it’s your job to create chances for your team-mates and this is where you can do the most damage. You also need to be someone who is motivated by scoring goals. Creating opportunities is your primary objective, but you also have to be able to chip in with a few goals, too. Look to play off the frontman.”

Carry the ball into dangerous areas

 
Use brains over brawn
"Football is not all about speed, it’s about vision as well. A lot of playmakers are not the quickest, but many of them are the best players in the world – just look at Zinedine Zidane. He was pretty slow, but because of his exceptional football brain he was one of the greatest of all time. You also need a manager and team-mates who trust in your ability, because you cannot do anything on your own – whether you are a quick player or an intelligent one.

More after the break

Move fluidly around the pitch

 
Trust your ability
“If you’re a winger, drop in between the full-back and the centre-back. Typically, the full-back will follow you because he can’t let you stand free in plenty of space. Stay there and have the bravery to ask for the ball off your team-mates. You have to take responsibility and try to ask questions of the opposition. Even if an opponent is close to you, you have to take the ball and run with it. Turn and face them – you’ll have the game in front of you. Believe in your ability to keep the ball.”

Prey on your upcoming foes weaknesses

 
Play with freedom
“Finding space is more about the position you get yourself into, instead of the position you start in. When you play in a 4-4-2 formation you can have two playmakers out wide, but they need the freedom to come inside, to create space for the full-backs to run into. It doesn’t matter if I play on the right wing, left wing or through the centre because I can play across the line as long as I come back and defend my position. Manuel Pellegrini gives us that freedom.”

Search for the gaps in the oppositions shape

 
Train in small spaces
“I come from the street, so I learned the game playing five-a-side football. I know how to deal with a ball in a tight space, and to do this you need excellent technique and lots of confidence. Playing plenty of small-sided games during training sessions will eventually help you learn to take more risks, such as looking to play the killer ball, dribbling past opponents or pulling the trigger. This will benefit you in the final third of the pitch when you’re in a match situation.”

Small sided games aid creativity

 
Prepare for battle
“I’m really passionate about football so I like to watch every game. I know everything about the players I’m about to come up against. I also watch videos of my next opponent so I can see exactly where I can gain an advantage. When I’m sat on the substitutes’ bench I have time to analyse my opponent, so I know their strengths and weaknesses when I come on. Try to keep a log of the defenders you come up against so that you know what to expect the next time you play them.”

Think quickly in order to cause chaos

 
Samir Nasri wears the new Baltic/Serene Green New Balance Football Visaro boot, designed for players who make chances. To find out more about New Balance Football, visit newbalance.com/football or follow @NBFootball on Twitter and Instagram

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