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Retaining In 1v1 Situations

(Pressure Behind)


“A possession based philosophy is all about creating 1v1 situations all over the pitch”

–          Roberto Martinez


–          “I’m not strong, nor fast, nor skilful. I try to always find the space but most importantly the defender must never win the ball off me in a 1v1.”

–          –  Xavi Hernandez

 The following principles are taught on both our residential football camp and weekly elite football development centres.

–          once 1v1 situations are isolated, they are split into four scenarios.  This article will focus only on the latter.

–          In a possession based philosophy where a team relies on ball retention through expansive width and depth, 1v1 isolated situations become prevalent.

–          The elite players have over 2,700 receiving situations a season, with a retaining completion of over 90%.

–          The world’s best teams have over 11,000 receiving situations a season.

–          Given the way in which teams now defend (quarter the pitch, press quickly, prevent forward play) one of the most prominent receiving situations is with pressure from behind.

–          The modern player must be comfortable receiving under pressure. Great examples of these players are David Silva, Xavi and Iniesta.


Stage One: 10×10 square with one passer, one receiver and one defender – iFDA receiving set up

Establish technique semi-opposed (defender cannot win ball just pressurises receiver)

–          Side on

–          Arm out pushing defender away

–          Bent knees (stability/strength/low centre of gravity/quicker ability to change direction)

–          Receive on the front foot (inside or out)

–          Manipulate away from pressure (outside of foot or bottom)


Stage Two: The Four Second Challenge

–          Defender can win the ball and put realistic pressure on

–          Man who passes the ball in must count out loud once the receiver has first touch. If he can retain the ball for four seconds without the defender getting a touch, he gets a point. If the defender gets a touch then he gets the point. First player to five then they rotate.

–          Ronaldinho practised this daily throughout his career and was known to keep the ball for over two minutes in a 1v1 inside the centre circle from youth team players whilst training for Barcelona


Stage Three: Retain to Create Forward Passing Opportunity (groups of four)


–          Receiving techniques the same as above

–          Can the receiver create an opportunity to pass forward into the top man?

–          Show disguise or skill to create an opportunity to play forward

–          Can he turn in one touch?

–          Can he roll the defender in one touch?