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Defensive Cover Part 2

by Stewart Flaherty

Read defense cover part 1 first if you have not read it yet.

Defensive cover can also prevent the opposition from being given passing options in the middle and defensive thirds of the field. Diagram B illustrates defensive responsibilities including cover in a typical 4-4-2 formation.

In diagram B the attacking players the numbered O players, and the letters A through D signify areas on the field that require defensive soccer. In the diagram X8 is pressuring O6 who is in possession of the ball, and cutting out the forward pass in to the feet of O10. X6 is in position to pressure O8 if a lateral pass is played, but also providing cover and cutting out the pass in to the feet of O9. This positioning keeps the play in front of your defensive unit, and cuts off the supply to the forwards. Player X6 in the diagram also has a cover responsibility in area A. If X8 is beaten in the dribble, then X6 must slide over to pressure O6 and prevent penetration. X7 will adjust to this and take defensive responsibility for O8. Areas B, C and D also carry defensive responsibility. Diagram C illustrates these responsibilities in a different scenario.

defense cover

In diagram C O7 has advanced and is attacking full back X3 off the dribble. Because he is pressuring the ball and his entire focus must be devoted to that, X3 has no responsibility beyond pressuring O7 and not being beaten. Defender X4 must cover attacking player O10, and also take responsibility for area B. Threats that occur in area B can be O7 beating X3 off the dribble, or a pass played into space for O10. X4 is expected to deal with both of these occurrences. Defender X5 is responsible for O9 and area C. Threats that will occur in area C include a run from O9, or a cross that goes to the near post area. Defender X2 is responsible for attacking player X11 and area D. Area D will be a through run or back post cross. X2 is able to stand further away from X11, as if a ball is played to him it must travel 30 to 40 yards in the air. By the time such a pass arrives X2 will be in position to provide pressure.

defense cover 2