Guardiola Rondo Using a 4 v 4 + 3

I put this presentation together off a video of Pep Guardiola training plus a great written piece on this rondo by "The Coaching Manual".

Please take a look - - 

Here we are showing how this rondo totally relates to the game situation so your training is REALISTIC in its concept development. 

The following 4 v 4 + 3 Rondo allows players to understand the principles of width, depth and length to create passing angles and distances. Looking always to create diamond and triangle shapes in supporting each other to create numerical superiority.  Here we show a rondo based on building from the keeper and / or building from the center backs. Its actually a very simple way to teach a complex idea.

You can focus on the attacking players with no defensive transitions with defending players; OR; add transitions when possession changes. I prefer the latter way as it forces players to develop their transitional mentality and physicality. Transition from attacking to defending and defending to attacking must be rapid.

Size of area depends on the ability and skill level of the players; the better they are the smaller the area. Can be 15 x 15 up to 25 x 25 or even larger. Pivot player (6) in particular has to have great composure on and off the ball for this to be successful Can develop the rondo with (6) and (8) in the middle or (8) and (10) depending on how you set your team up.

Equating to the game situation

The set up in an 11 v 11 rondo. 1-4-1-4-1- v -1-4-4-2.

game situation rondo

Possession Game

The three neutral players maintain possession with the team on the outside. With the inside 4 team players we have a transition moment with the outside 4 team players when possession is lost to the 4 inside players.

Technical Aspects: Offensive

Passing / control / moving to space / open passing lanes / Communication

Tactical Aspects: Offensive

Keep possession / Passes to break lines / 3rd man runs / up, back, through / progression outside to inside

Technical Aspects: Defensive

Body shape / intercept or tackle / Communication / Press / support / cover 

Tactical aspects: Defensive

Transition attack to defense /  Mental change / Close down the spaces / Pressing / Close passing lanes / defensive team shape

Guardiola Rondo Using a 4 v 4 + 3

Central player attracts pressure from opponents to create space outside. This is a big challenge for the central player (6) particularly; so give every player the opportunity to be that player. Developing width, depth and length.

guardiola rondo using a 4 v 4 + 3

Continuums model of development


  1. LOOK / OBSERVE / THINK / DECIDE: BEFORE Receiving the ball


  3. COMMUNICATION: Verbal and visual: Before receiving the ball

  4. SKILL FACTOR: DECISION MAKING: How, when; where and why of the technique; plus its success or not? BEFORE RECEIVING THE BALL

  5. CONTROL: If not a one touch pass on, then the 1st touch control

  6. TECHNIQUE: The pass, the run, the dribble, the turn, the shot; the cross etc.

  7. TACTICAL MOBILITY: Movement off the ball in possession, finding space

  8. MENTAL TRANSITION: Possession changes, tunes in immediately? Defends immediately / Attacks Immediately.

This model TOTALLY applies to this session, all the processes it covers must happen in this session for players to be successful. SPEED of play is vital for both THINKING and PLAYING. Space is tight, play is fast so players must be able to play 1 and / or two touches successfully.

continuums model of development

Up; back and through

Short pass to draw defenders to the ball to then do a long pass behind and beyond them. So (6) plays with closest player (9) to draw defenders to free the space for the deeper pass as shown.

Drawing defenders apart to open passing lanes up

Defenders press the wide players leaving the central players free. Red (10) is pressed by blue (7) who then passes to Black (5). (5) Passes to the other side and the defender (11) presses red (8) as shown which opens up the central space for (6) receiving the pass back to (5) who now plays to (6) to play to (9).

Creating close triangles and diamonds of support

Outside players always moving to create passing lanes and angles of support. Playing “around” the defenders; preferably ONE touch.

creating close triangles and diamonds of support

Pressing to intercept or force a bad pass

Defenders must work hard and press as fast as possible to force opponents into errors.

pressing to intercept or force a bad pass

Mental Transitions:

Players often struggle with the mental transitions from defending to attacking as possession changes; but ESPECIALLY when the change is from ATTACKING TO DEFENDING. So the coach must emphasize the importance of rapid physical transition and fast movement as well as mental transition (sprints inside to out and outside to in). This maintains a high tempo on transition as it SHOULD be in a game situation. We play as we train. Players need that INTRINSIC desire to make this happen for themselves though.

Changing possession

Under pressure (6) Makes a bad pass and the defender intercept the ball. When the 4 inside defending players win the ball they switch with the outside 4 players to become offensive players.

changing possession

Mental and Physical Transition:

This equates to immediate pressing from attacking mode to defensive mode to win the ball back as soon as possible. Also equates to the defending team; now the attacking team; working hard to KEEP possession at the same time. Rotate players positions so all get the chance to be neutral players.

Changing Possession

Here we show the switch. Speed of thought is vital now. Players must change from winning or losing the ball with a switch in mentality and physicality immediately; both in mind and deed.

Outside players rotate

Have the outside players now rotate so the inside player has to have even more of a good peripheral vision. Now attacking players enter the defending area from different points.

Pivot player rotates off the ball

Keep adding to the session with different ideas. This would happen in a game where players rotate positions.

Add poles into the space so now players must position accordingly

The Poles represent defenders so if the central player hits a pole with a pass the two teams of 4 immediate switch (as it is the same as giving possession away). Now players move into open passing lanes based on the pole's as well as the defenders. A Much bigger challenge to keep the ball now.

View this in action on the following video:

Wide Players

Focusing on red right and left fullbacks and red right and left strikers and the central theme of black (5), (6) and (9).

Midfield players

Allowing the central midfield of black (6), red (8) and (10) to connect and receive from fullbacks red (2) and (3) to get the ball to (9). 

Keeper and central players

Now the keeper is included connecting with the red center backs (4) and (5). 

Central player attracts pressure from opponents with the first pass and so creates space outside by defenders pressing (6). This is a big challenge for the central player (6) particularly; so give every player the opportunity to be that player.

Pressing wide and playing centrally

Defenders press the wide players leaving the central players free.

Creating 3 v 2 situations

Building from the back with (K) and red center backs (4) and (5). Building from the middle with red (6), (8) and (10). 

creating 3 v 2 situations

Creating 4 v 2 situations

Creating two 4 v 2 situations and dividing the field up, red pivot (6) being the catalyst and connecting player.

Creating 4 v 2 situations

Two players centrally

Now we have 2 players centrally against 4 defenders. You can vary the set up also depending on the number of players you have so everyone is involved. The main session requires 11 players but sometimes you have more and sometimes fewer numbers so you must be able to adjust as necessary.

Two players centrally with another idea

Now we have 2 players centrally against 4 defenders. One step back in the build up from the last slide now starting the rondo at the center back not in central midfield.