Accelerate and beat your man like Messi


Mark out a 20 x 20-yard area with two small goals on one sideline, positioned 12 yards apart. Place two cones halfway between the goals, one at either end, to create an invisible line.



The red defender passes the ball into the path of the yellow attacker as they run across the marked out area. After releasing the pass, the defender sprints to close down the attacker with the aim of stopping a shot at either goal. The attacker can only shoot once he has crossed the invisible shooting line. The defender can block, but not tackle.


This drill teaches players how to create space for a shot. It develops the attacker’s explosive acceleration off the mark and dribbling speed. If the defender gets back and blocks off the path to one goal, the attacker has the option of changing direction sharply and aiming for the second. Introducing this drill to your training session will give you the edge in 1 v 1 situations on matchday, improving your decision-making and ability to accelerate and decelerate on a sixpence in order to beat the defender.


To progress this drill add a goalkeeper, positioning them on the cone between the two goals. Once the drill starts, their aim is to protect both goals. You can also allow the defender to tackle the attacker as well as trying to block the ball.

How to utilise this in a match

A defender’s job is to usher an attacker away from goal. If they can jockey them across the pitch they’re averting danger, making it harder for the player to shoot.

Being one-footed and restricted to accelerating in a straight line makes it easier for a defender to contain you.

 This drill will force you to come up with different solutions to beat the defender. No one is better at this than Messi.

He explodes off the sideline, carries the ball inside the defender, then slams on the brakes and darts back outside, wrong-footing his marker.

This creates space for a shot. If you can receive the ball wide and keep the defender guessing whether you’re going to go on the inside or outside, they’re more likely to stand off you. You can then exploit this space.

For more information on Coerver Coaching, visit

For more football drills see:
Play like Messi: Part One
Play like Messi: Part Two
Play like Messi: Part Three

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