Rio Ferdinand: How to defend against tall or tricky strikers

Whether you’re up against a Messi or a Crouchy, Rio shows you how to blunt their threat

“As a centre-back, how should I vary my game to cope with either a towering centre-forward or a tricky little No.10?”
Aaron McCarthy, via Twitter

More after the break

Rio Ferdinand says:

“If you’re playing against someone like Peter Crouch he’s going to want the ball in the air, so the first thing you want from your wingers and full-backs is for them to be tight on the wide men.

You want to stop crosses coming into the area, but as a central defender you need to try to keep a high line too.

If you can remain outside the penalty area as much as possible, somebody like Crouchy is less likely to do damage.

Unfortunately, if the delivery is spot on there’s not much you can do about it. He has that height advantage and nine times out of 10 he will win the ball in the air.

As for a player like Messi, you can never switch off around him. He’s always trying to drag you out of position to make room for someone else to dart into.

As a centre-back he lures you out and pulls you up the pitch, leaving space behind you.

If you don’t follow him, you’re left with the scenario of him getting the ball and having time to turn and run at you. And we all know how dangerous Messi is in that situation.

Players like him are always asking different questions of you and can make life very difficult.”

For more football tips:
Rio Ferdinand's Ultimate Defender
Sylvain Distin: Dominate your opponent
Franco Baresi: How to defend like a master
Chris Smalling: How to be the complete defender
Nemanja Vidic: Tackle any threat
Ashley Cole: How to handle every opponent

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