Soccer Videos

Here is a collection of videos illustrating various points discussed in Play With Your Brain

Possession is Precious: Leading 2-1 against Manchester United, Man City complete 44 consecutive passes leading up to a goal. This is of course a beautiful example of just patiently possessing the ball, moving and probing the defense, and waiting for a good opportunity to score, which is the theme of Chapter 1. But it is also a case study in the defensive value of possession: as long as you are possessing the ball, especially in your offensive end, the other team is not going to score and you are not going to lose.

Yell With Your Legs: The following is a nice video collection of beautiful examples of Lionel Messi moving, when he doesn’t have the ball, to get open for a pass. Messi is of course universally recognized as a genius with the ball: his dribbling, passing, and shooting are all second-to-none. But his off-the-ball movement and, in particular, his ability to identify exploitable gaps in the defense — and to then get to the right spot at exactly the right moment to exploit them — is also truly phenomenal. In the video, pay special attention to the handful of sequences in which Messi has the ball, passes, and then moves to receive a subsequent pass. As Messi clearly recognizes, that moment when you pass the ball — and the defense leans and looks away from you in the direction the ball is now going — is the ideal time to yell with your legs, moving into a new and even more threatening position.

Width and Depth: The following video (which is unfortunately not of the best quality) shows a lovely goal scored by Sebastian Soto in the USA’s game against Nigeria in the 2019 U-20 World Cup. But to me the most important and interesting thing here is not Soto’s nice finish or even the sequence of nice passes that lead up to that finish after the USA gets the ball into their offensive half. Instead, the most important and interesting thing is the sequence of less-flashy passes that allows the USA to develop that attack down the left wing. Coming out of the 2nd half kickoff, the ball is played backwards to a center midfielder who plays it over to the right winger. At the 1:34 mark in the video, you can see the right winger look up and recognize that there are no promising options forward, so he turns around with the ball and plays it backwards-diagonally to the right fullback, who immediately plays it (again) backwards-diagonally to the goalie, who immediately plays it over to the left fullback, who has just backpedaled into a nice, wide position where he’ll have excellent field vision and tons of time when the ball arrives. (Why does he backpedal into position? So he can receive the ball correctly — with his back foot and facing the space — when it comes!) Because the USA moved the ball so quickly and efficiently from the right side to the left side (with this sequence of easy and mostly backwards passes), they can now push forward through the Nigerian defense, which is relatively sparse down that side of the field, and create a beautiful scoring opportunity. This is a perfect illustration of the value of maintaining — and using — both width and depth.

Pressure with a Purpose: In a game against Spurs, Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool finds himself as the lone defender in a 2-v-1. What does he do? He forces the ball-carrier, Moussa Sissoko, to his weaker left side and simultaneously cuts off the pass to Sissoko’s teammate, Heung-min Son. In short, van Dijk arranges for Sissoko’s best option to be a poor, left-footed shot from the top of the 18. It’s a spectacular example of the ideas discussed in Chapter 7.

D as One: This video is not suitable for younger children. It’s a scene from the movie “Gladiator” which was the inspiration for the title of Chapter 8. “As One!”

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