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Sebastien Bassong: How to defend the ball in behind

“Last season we kept getting caught out by the through-ball in behind our defence. How we can counter that threat this year?”
Lewis Chaplin, via email

Sebastien Bassong says:

“You need to stop the service to the strikers by pressing the ball. If you can’t get close to the opposition because they’re moving the ball around too quickly, you have to drop off to reduce the gap between yourself and the keeper.

By closing this gap you’re reducing the space for a playmaker to hit passes for speedy strikers to exploit.

Make your full-backs drop deep with you so if their striker gets in behind, they’re in a position to cover.

If your midfield is able to get close to the opposition’s playmakers then you can afford to play a high line, even if they’ve got a rapid forward.

It’s about how the whole team defends, not just the defence. Every player needs to press and push high up the pitch. Teamwork is essential.

When one of your team-mates gets beaten to the ball, you’ve got to get back and fight for him. At the end of the game you can look each other in the eye and say, ‘We did a great job’.”

For more football tips see:
Gary Neville: How to defend against the long ball
Rio Ferdinand's Ultimate Defender
Sylvain Distin: Dominate your opponent
Chris Hughton: Stop the opposition's passing game
Countering a team that press high up the pitch
How to make the opposition play the long ball game