Good defenders are able to adapt their game to cope with an assortment of opponents, whether they’re a tricky winger or an evasive trequartista.
Each of these opponents possesses their own set of problems – from lightening pace to mesmerizing skill. Whatever the threat may be, a defender has to find a way of defusing it.
More after the break
Coming up against the world’s best players week-in, week-out in the Premier League, Manchester City’s, Micah Richards has formulated a game plan for any adversary.
In this video the athletic defender discusses his strategy for stopping Gareth Bale in his tracks, keeping Dimitar Berbatov quiet and blocking off David Beckham’s devilish deliveries.
Micah Richards is an ambassador for If U Care Share, a charity that encourages young people to discuss any problems they have. For more information visit www.ifucareshare.co.uk
"For a winger who's quick and jinky, I try to get there quick. As the ball's being passed to him, get to them before he can turn, because once the wingers start turning, people like Bale, once he get a run on you, and you've got to turn either way while he's already in full-flow, you've got no chance; you can't mark that. He's got good feet, he can cross as well.
Playing against Bale is probably one of the hardest. Maybe not this time round, because he was playing more of a in-behind hold, in behind the striker.
Beginning of last season, he gave me a torrid time, because I just give him too much room. I let him turn on it and he was just running at me, and he can go both ways. I learned a lot from that game.
If you get tight to him... I'm a big a big lad as well, they don't really like the physical side of the game. If you get tight to him and let him know you're there straight from the beginning, then it's in their head from the start; you're up for it, and you don't really want to run after that.
Someone like Beckham, sometimes it's impossible to mark, because the positions that you get, it picks up, are not really where the full back is supposed to be. If you look at a defensive line, you want all your two centre backs and your fullback to be together.
Where Beckham used to cross from was just 10 yards in front of halfway line. You can't stop someone like that, and he can cross from anywhere.
You need your left winger to help you out and just double-up on a player who's got good quality like that.
Berbatov used drop quite deep. You've got to go tight with him. You've got to pass him onto the midfield. If you give him time on the ball, then it will destroy any defender.
I think with Berbatov, he don't really like players who get close to him and hit him hard.
If you do that, then I think you've got half a chance, but if you give him time and space, then it don't matter who you are. He's got that quality where he can hurt you.
As a defender, you've got to always be talking. I think we do that pretty well, to be honest, this season.
We're always talking well. The harder opponent we come up against, the more clued-in you've got to be, you've got to be more on your game.
If we don't talk at the back, then I don't know; teams seem to get chances. Simple things, just like telling people to squeeze, drop back, or get in there; simple things really helps in the game of football, definitely."