5 Things to Look For When Watching Professional Soccer Defenders
While they usually aren’t scoring a ton of goals, defenders make their livings preventing them.
Here are five things to look for when watching defenders:
1. Their anticipation
They choose their moments and choose them well. They have the uncanny ability to know when to attack and when to sit back.
They are great at anticipating where the ball is going before it’s played and are able to get into position quickly because of it.
2. Their shape
Defenders are typically skilled in two types of defense, individual and group defending.
Group defending is highly dependent on being in good defensive position. Typically they aren’t too far to one side and if one defender goes up, the others fall into supporting positions behind them.
They try to prevent themselves and each other from getting pulled apart because that’s when the opponents can play balls through and get behind the back line.
3. Their intelligence
Not only do they anticipate well, they use their smarts in the game.
They understand that their job is to protect the goal at all costs so if there is a player open out wide and a player open at the top of the 18 yard box, they have no trouble making the decision to mark the player closest and most dangerous to goal. They identify the main threat and defuse it as soon as they can.
They also play to their strengths; they push their opponent into double teams when possible or make them play with their weaker foot.
4. How they recover
When a defender gets beat it can sometimes seem like the end of the world. However, if they recover well they can sometimes prevent the damage from happening. That’s why it’s important to watch how defenders recover after they lose the ball.
They typically don’t chase the player who stole the ball from them, (unless they are still very close to them), but they run as fast and as directly as they can to the goal. They will do anything to slow the opposition down and hopefully get there in time.
5. Their organization
Defenders pride themselves on organization and need to in order to achieve success. Not only do they get themselves in proper position and make sure all the biggest threats are marked, they do so extremely quickly.
Usually the keeper or one of the center defenders will vocalize who needs to be marking which player and gets this done at an efficient rate.
The ability to quickly organize on set plays such as corner kicks or free kicks prevents the other team from having a quick restart and getting a chance on goal.