Combination play can take place in wide areas which often links multiple units and players as teams look to progress into the attacking third. In this tactical analysis write up we will be covering some key considerations that may wish to consider when working with your players in order to support them in how they combine in wide areas.

As previously covered in our tactical analysis session that covers combination play in and around the goal we explored some different ways in which teams can combine in wide areas to create goal scoring opportunities. To take a look at this write up visit:

To begin with to support your players splitting the pitch into vertical channels can provide some guidelines for your players in how they can move, support and combine in wide areas. If you’re playing 11v11 you may look to split the pitch into five channels where as if you’re working with mini-soccer formats it may only be three.

As per the above image, teams that are organised may defend in a narrow and compact defensive shape which can often lead onto attacking teams finding it difficult to create space to exploit in central areas. Wide areas can provide an alternative route which can draw opponents across to one side of the pitch allowing for space to be created on the opposite side. Supporting your players in their team space when in possession of the ball is a great starting point for you in order to help the team to understand how they can utilise the space to exploit opportunity to play between, beyond around the opposition.

Below are some examples of the types of combinations that you could use in wide areas but also what players may be involved as well.

3rd Man Run from CM:

Deeper runs from midfield can often be used to exploit the space left between the full back and the nearest CB to the ball. Midfield plays that run from behind the ball as the ball is being played from one player to the next will be able to exploit the space that can be created as the defenders move. Encouraging players to make these type of third man runs are a great way of exploiting space behind the defensive line.

Third Man Run from Wide Player/Full Back:

Another type of third man run that may be used in wide areas is can be from the wide player or full back. In this example we show how a pass through into the central forward can allow for them to play around the corner between players for another player that is making a forward run in behind. Around the corner passes can be effective in wide areas with players playing the opposite direction to the way that they’re facing making it difficult for defenders to read what decision the attacker will make.

Combinations between Full Back and Wide Player:

There are numerous ways that both the full back and wide player can combine whether it’s through overlaps, underlaps or even a one-two. Encouraging fluidity of movement of your full back to also move inside the pitch can provide alternative options when trying to disrupt opposition players and drag them out of their shape. Here are some examples of how this can be used but also what combinations may be an option too: