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2 Fundamentals to improve defending the space

In football, defending space is a crucial aspect of preventing the opposing team from making progress and creating goal-scoring opportunities. Within this defensive block, centre-backs play a key role by prioritising the protection of the intervention space they occupy.

In today’s article, we will explore two of the seven fundamentals that will enable centre backs to improve their defensive ability and ensure strong play in the defensive line.

Fundamental: Covering the Centre Back or Full Back Defending the On-Ball Player.

When the centre back has no attacker to mark, their main role is to provide cover for the teammate who is defending the on-ball opponent. This involves positioning themselves to help if necessary without losing sight of any potential threat.

It is important to remember that when the ball is in the wide channels and is being defended by the full back, the first line of coverage will be the responsibility of the central midfielder. The centre back will be at a second level of coverage, which will ensure the balance of the team in the central channel and enable the player to be ready to help in case they are needed on the wing.

Fundamental: Avoiding the Opponent Getting Round the Back as the First Centre Back

As the first centre back, it is essential to prevent the opposition striker from dismarking in behind to goal, which would allow them to receive a dangerous through ball. To achieve this, it is necessary to have a correct side-on position, and to time the movements backwards and diagonally towards the goal, closing the space for the attacker’s run.

In addition, defenders must know how to use their body, in particular their arm, to subtly block the opponent’s run without committing a foul. If the centre back manages to force the striker towards the wide channels, they must follow them while at the same time triggering the defensive line teammates to cover their position or the defensive midfielder to rebalance the line.


By mastering these fundamentals, centre backs will be able to improve their ability in defending space. Communication and coordination with teammates are equally important for a solid defence. Remember that these fundamentals must be applied dynamically, adapting to different game situations, and making smart decisions to ensure success in spatial defence.

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