Tricky or tall, it’s no problem

Whether you’re up against a Messi or a Crouchy, Rio shows you how to blunt their threat
Tricky or tall, it’s no problem
“As a centre-back, how should I vary my game to cope with either a towering centre-forward or a tricky little No.10?”
Aaron McCarthy, via Twitter

Rio Ferdinand says:

“If you’re playing against someone like Peter Crouch he’s going to want the ball in the air, so the first thing you want from your wingers and full-backs is for them to be tight on the wide men.

You want to stop crosses coming into the area, but as a central defender you need to try to keep a high line too.

If you can remain outside the penalty area as much as possible, somebody like Crouchy is less likely to do damage.

Unfortunately, if the delivery is spot on there’s not much you can do about it. He has that height advantage and nine times out of 10 he will win the ball in the air.

As for a player like Messi, you can never switch off around him. He’s always trying to drag you out of position to make room for someone else to dart into.

As a centre-back he lures you out and pulls you up the pitch, leaving space behind you.

If you don’t follow him, you’re left with the scenario of him getting the ball and having time to turn and run at you. And we all know how dangerous Messi is in that situation.

Players like him are always asking different questions of you and can make life very difficult.”

Also see:
Rise above the attack
Richards: Dealing with different types of attacker
Rio: Handling different types of striker
Rio: The thinking man's guide to defending
Rio: Playing out from the back
Rio: My pre-match playlist
Rio: When to hit row z
Rio: Communicating with your team-mates
Rio Ferdinand Pro Tips

Rio Ferdinand

Manchester United defender

More columns

Email a question

We use cookies to give you the best browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising. By continuing to use our website you are accepting our use of cookies as described in our Cookie Policy.