When moving the ball up the pitch, towards the opposition team’s goal, it is important to analyse the game around you, and use this knowledge to inform your passes in order to make the most out of the position that you are in. In order to perform well, it is important to break the lines of the opposing team, but what are lines, and how can you break them? Let’s take a closer look.
What Are Lines?
Within football, lines are the formation that most football teams are organised in. You won’t see any lines on the pitch, instead, these lines are imaginary, connecting the players across the pitch. This is linked to the formation – for example, in a 4-3-3 formation, there will be three lines on the pitch – one with four players, and the other two with three.
Breaking lines in football refers to managing to pass the ball, getting it through one of these imaginary lines and past the players from the opposition that make up the line. In order to try and stop their opponents from breaking their lines, teams try and ensure that their lines are tight and compact in a defensive manner. This compactness can be in two ways – horizontal or vertical, depending on the tightness of the players on the pitch.
When players are horizontally compact, the line is tighter and harder to break through as there is less space between the players.
How To Breakthrough This Compactness
Trying to break through these compacted defensive lines can be challenging. The best way to attempt to do this is by trying to undo how close the players are together through the movement of your team’s players. Generally, their players will be marking one of your players, so by spreading your team apart, in general, can create more space for the ball to pass through.
This is because, if Team A who have the ball, spreads out its strikers, Team B will see that they are trying to make space, and potential opportunities for the ball to be passed to them to score. Team B generally, will therefore react to this by having their defenders mark these strikers, moving with them further apart on the field. This then creates more space for midfielders or wingers to pass the ball to a striker, through the lines and towards the box.
However, it is important to note that if a team is in the lead, they may be less unlikely to break their line, and instead keep them tight as a defensive tactic to not let the ball near their goal. In this case, the attacking team will have a tougher time on their hands and will need to use quick thinking, and fast passes to try and break through – but this will be more difficult. Often during training, many drills can be undertaken to practice for this situation.
Breaking the lines in football is an important step in moving the game forward, giving your team an advantage. It is important to try and break these lines by separating opposing players where possible, increasing gaps on the pitch.