Even at the younger ages when a retreat line is in place, pressing from the front is still a crucial aspect to stopping the other team from playing out from the back. This article will explore pressing from the front in the 2-4-2 formation.
In this example, the opposition is playing a 2-1-4-1 formation, coming up against our 2-4-2 formation, with wing-backs rather than traditional wingers.
On the other team’s goal kick, our strikers should be as high as they can go. With no retreat line in place, this is to the edge of the box. Wing-backs mark goal side and ball-side on their opposition wingers, with the central midfielders remaining active and high, covering the other team’s central midfielders. Our centre-backs remain central and compact, and shift to the side of the ball once the ball is played.
As soon as the ball goes out to their centre back, we press with immediate and quick action from the player closest to the ball, one of the two strikers. The nearest central midfielder, wing-back and the other striker, then move into position to cover the potential passing options, creating a diamond shape in the process. The striker’s movement toward the middle of the field is also crucial in stopping a potential switch to the other side, or the opposition team’s ability to play through their pivot.
SHIFT AND DISTURB
Now that the ball has been played out to their centre-back, our striker has angled their body to force the centre-back toward their own goal, where either our striker or central midfielder are waiting to pounce. The central midfielder nearest to play can mark goal-side, but can also gamble a bit, knowing that there is another centre-back behind them who has shifted to the side of the ball. The other centre-back is watching the movement of the striker and is ready to communicate with their partner should the striker encroach on the space that they are currently covering. The right-wing-back has remained in a position to stop the opposition from playing out to their left winger, while the left-wing-back has shifted toward the middle, ready to pounce on a potential switch.
Even though it is a bit lopsided, we keep our diamond shape in two places to stop them from playing.
SHIFT AND DISTURB AGAIN
In this example, we have successfully forced the centre-back toward their goal. Our striker is ready to intercept a potential switch of playing to either the goalkeeper or opposite centre-back. If the ball finds its way to their other centre-back, our left-wing-back (as the closest one to the ball) is now ready to press. As soon as we realize they have been able to switch, we shift again as a unit.
If we can shift and close the middle quickly, our shape will look like this, allowing them no options to play out from the back. In response to the positioning of the left-wing-back as the first to press, the left central midfielder has now taken up the responsibility of covering the right winger, and the right-wing-back has shifted toward the middle to cover the free central midfielder. Both strikers also remain central, and the left-sided striker will take up a position that takes away the passing lane of at least one of either the defensive midfielder or the nearest central midfielder. Now they have nowhere to go and we can win the ball back and go on the attack right away.
So there it is! How to press in the 2-4-2 formation. Hope you enjoyed this article, thanks for reading and see you soon!
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