Nothing can set a team back more than giving up a late equalizing or winning goal to the opposition. Snatching a game-changing goal late in a game is every team’s dream but can also be a nightmare if your team falls victim to such an occurrence. So, how can you organize your team to prevent such a dramatic and demoralizing end to your game?
Defend. The other team absolutely needs to score, so that means you absolutely need to defend. They will be throwing players further and further up the pitch as the clock dwindles. You may even see the opposing goalie come forward on a corner kick to have another body trying to scrape a vital goal.
Keeping more bodies in the back will contract the game. Try to push your fullbacks a bit closer inside to the goal, and have your wide midfielders drop further back. This way, you almost have six defenders and more cover, so if any of your players makes a mistake at the back someone will be around to help out.
Another thing to keep in mind is to neutralize their best player. If you’ve been paying any attention to the game, by the end you should know who on their team is most likely to snatch away your victory. He or she has probably revealed themselves with smart runs and passes, and maybe has even scored a goal or two. Make sure this person is double-marked. When they get on the ball, someone should be immediately challenging them because if they have any space they could set up the goal.
Also, look for opportunities to score on a counter-attack. Although some games finish with all 11 of your players defending in their own penalty box, this reduces the game to a frightening shooting drill. Make sure at least two players are still in position to break on a cleared ball and double your advantage.
Nothing kills off a late-game comeback like a goal, so make sure your team at least has a chance of scoring one. Since they have thrown all their team forward, they will be desperately short at the back, so when an opportunity presents itself your team should at least have a chance at taking it. Just be careful about throwing too many players ahead on such a move, because the last thing you want to do is allow the game to open up and give them more chances.
Therefore, make sure your team defends. No one likes to give up late goals and have the thrill of a win taken away like that. Educating your team on how to conserve a victory is a must for any team aspiring to greatness. In the most dramatic point of the game, your team needs to be ready and prepared to defend.