Italian Pressing and Conditioning Play Part 2: Pressing with a Back Four and Defensive Midfielder

This is part 2 of a four part series on Italian Pressing and Conditioning Play.

Get Part 1: Pressing from the Back and Condensing Play

Pressing with a Back Four and Defensive Midfielder

pressing with a back four
  1. Same idea as previously, if there is no pressure on the ball then the defenders drop to prevent the ball being played into the space behind them for the strikers to run onto. Don’t get caught flat.
  2. By defenders dropping slower than the attacker with the ball and the other two attackers, the distance between them decreases. As this happens (6) is pressing the ball.
  3. Once pressure on the ball is able to be applied, they all step up off the step and pressing on the ball of (6). Use a command call (e.g. STEP; as mentioned earlier).

Back four have dropped, two strikers are moving forward quickly and along the same line as them (6) has good pressure on the ball initially.

  1. Defenders hold the line now or push up, (as in this case). 
  2. The good pressure on the ball from (6) allows them to do this, and as it can’t be played forward easily, that is the cue to press as a unit following the call.
  3. Same principles as in the previous 3 v 3.
  4. Wide players (fullbacks) must ensure they do not drop deeper than the center backs and play an attacker onside from a wide area where they cannot then affect them because they are too far away.
  5. (A) and (C) are offside and we should have won the ball and continued pushing up leaving opponents having to recover a long way back.
pressing with a back four part 4

Here we have the end product; (A) and (C) are well offside even if (B) can pass the ball through. 

Players have condensed towards the ball. This takes a well orchestrated movement by All the players, if one forgets then there is a possibility if (B) can pass the ball through then a striker in advance of the ball may be onside.

  1. Here defender (3) has not pushed up and is playing (A) and (C) onside from a wide position so if the ball is able to be passed through this player cannot get close to, certainly (A), and maybe even (C) in this case, to prevent either of them shooting on goal.
  2. Whilst it is unlikely (B) can thread the ball through to either striker if the defenders have condensed and gotten close enough to the ball, if that player can pass it through then we are in trouble,
  3. Is this a risky policy for defending, it can be if the defenders are not ALL tuned in at the same time; nor if there is not a leader who can identify the moment to do this as it has to be an instant decision and command call. 
  4. If you are unsure as a coach of your players being able to do this then never use this tactic, if you have players capable of making it happen then work on it and have it as an alternative to dropping off all the time, then opponents are not quite sure what you will do to defend this particular situation. 

They will think: “Will they press or will they drop?” and by having different means of defending this may delay their decision making; which is to your advantage.