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Defensive Cover Part 1

by Stewart Flaherty

Cover is a crucial aspect of defending in soccer. Every player on a soccer team must accept the responsibility to not be beaten 1 v 1 during a soccer game, as regardless of system a player being beaten will provide a beneficial game situation to the opposing team.

However, it is important that one player being beaten does not result in the opposing player being clean through on goal. A cover defender must be able to provide pressure and support to his beaten teammate. In some situations, either in danger areas or against a particularly dangerous opponent, defensive cover should be a rehearsed situation. In all areas of the field, your team should have the ability to provide cover and not allow the opposition to move easily down the field. Diagram A illustrates how effective good cover from your forward player is.

defense cover

In diagram A the central defender is in possession of the ball. O10 is providing pressure while also cutting out an easy ball into the feet of X6. Forward player O9 is also positioned well. He is in position to provide pressure if the ball is passed to X5, but is also cutting out an easy pass into the feet of X8. With O6 and O8 also in position the central midfielders are being taken pretty well out of the equation. If O9 pushes high to cover X5 tighter, it becomes easier for X8 to check to the ball and gain possession in a central area.

Wide midfielders O11 and O7 are covering their opposite numbers tightly, so the only easy ball is to the full backs X2 and X3. If this happens the forwards will pressure wide but this is a low risk option to concede. The cover of O9 is crucial for the defensive team in this scenario.

Defense Cover Part 2