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Transition – a key moment

The effectiveness of rapid attacks always depends on the team’s speed of reaction after regaining possession. Rapid transitions from defense to attack and attack to defense depend on the first few seconds after winning back the ball or losing possession of the ball. Good teams exploit this short window of opportunity before any team organization can take place.

In terms of gradual attacks, it is the break in the passing game – by sudden acceleration or by a deep pass in a gap and between the lines – that creates the danger and the goalscoring opportunities. It is also important to note that the best teams have two or three outstanding individuals who can make a difference.

Effective defense/attack transitions

Being able to move quickly from defense into attack is key to success. Moving quickly from the middle of the pitch as well as the timing and precision of the last pass are decisive in building a successful counter- attack. Teams need to be able to get past the opposition defense by using flowing and rapid sequences.

Another decisive factor is the ability of a team, after losing possession, to put pressure on the player in possession, causing him to lose the ball, being both caught off guard and blocked in his attempts to attack.

Mastering the counter-attack has become an art form, and the time when teams would stall upon regaining possession is long gone. In modern football, teams try to find their attackers as quickly as possible when they have regained possession, in order to exploit the gaps left by their opponents. To be effective in counter-attack, players must have good intuition and be able to read the game quickly. Rapid transitions from defense to attack are one of the most important characteristics that have been observed in high-level football.

Teams have to quickly reorganize themselves in defense when they have lost the ball and surprise the opponents by playing rapidly as soon as they have regained possession. The first movement, pass or dribble taken after regaining possession is critical and may enable a dangerous counter-attack to be launched. The majority of counter-attacks are launched by long deep passes, by rapid passing sequences or by a player dribbling at high speed, with the aim of reaching the opposite goal as quickly as possible.

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