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Advanced Team Fundamentals II – System 🆚 System

Goalkeeping Fundamentals in the Build-up

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Goalkeepers play a crucial role in the build-up. In the past years, we've seen how goalkeepers such as Alisson, Ederson or Ter Stegen set new standards for the coming generations of keepers

Typically, coaches do not pay attention to the individual fundamentals of the goalkeepers as carefully as they usually do when it comes to the other players. Most of the time, they concentrate on the objectives of the players in the defense and attack and do not clarify the expected objectives to the goalkeepers. However, the goalkeeper role cannot be underestimated in both offensive and defensive phases, so we decided to propose some solutions that would help improve the performance of the team.

goaldkeeper attack analysis and concepts, explained by images

96.-FID-GK-Pass

One of the main objectives for the goalkeeper is to have a plan. It means that, before receiving the ball, they should have a clear idea of their following actions.

First of all, the goalkeeper should turn their head with high frequency, observe the situation and figure out the players that they are going to play with. In other words, recognizing the players who are available is the first step that the goalkeeper should follow.

The second step is to adapt the plan based on the positions of the opposing players who are going to jump to press. This step would help to take an appropriate decision to which player the goalkeeper should play, to avoid the pressure and minimize the risks. The best goalkeepers will organize the team, as well as recommend their teammates the position inside the box. This strategic thinking and analytical skills are crucial for goalkeepers.

No doubts, obvious objectives such as not losing the ball, playing easy and playing with a player with an advantage are vital for this role. However, these objectives are much more reachable, when the goalkeeper prepares a plan in advance, observes the game and tries to prepare the actions according to the most probable opponent’s actions.

In the example below, Meslier (Leeds United) shows the way that team can benefit from having a plan. The ball is close to him and he is looking for the teammates who are available to receive the ball. As he knows where are his teammates, he can help the ball holder find a solution to progress in the game.

Meslier (Leeds United) shows the way that team can benefit from having a plan. The ball is close to him and he is looking for the teammates who are available to receive the ball.

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Diving in the offensive phase, it is crucial for the goalkeeper to deeply understand the passing concepts in the build-up. Passing in the corridors is one of the vital skills (especially towards the inner corridor). Let’s take a look at this concept.

Playing inside, the goalkeeper has two options. The first one is to pass to the player without a big pressure from the opponent. It means that, despite the pressure, the player would have enough time to turn with the ball – the risks of losing the ball are minimal.

Another option for the goalkeeper is to pass to the player who comes with a significant pressure. It can be done only if the player under the pressure has a chance to play with a teammate without pressure (a third player). It is crucial to understand that an available third player is the only one situation in which the goalkeeper can pass to the player under the pressure. In other words, the goalkeeper cannot play without any plan – they have to see the big picture of the situation on the field and make the right decision.

It should be noted that to make this element perfect, the pass from the goalkeeper should be on the ground and go to the leg that will allow the receiver to link the first touch with the following actions.

Below, Ederson shows the perfect execution of the third player. Benzema is jumping, and Laporte is the free player. It is possible to play on Rodrigo, even though he is pressed by Modric. Ederson plays towards Rodrigo’s right foot, so it is easier for him to pass to Laporte on the first touch.

Ederson plays towards Rodrigo's right foot, so it is easier for him to pass to Laporte on the first touch.

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Another example: Manchester City is pressing high. Courtois plays with calm. He is looking inside and finding spaces next to Modric. It is on him that Courtois gives the pass.

Courtois plays with calm. He is looking inside and finding spaces next to Modric. It is on him that Courtois gives the pass.

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“ONE OF THE MAIN OBJECTIVES FOR THE GOALKEEPER IS TO HAVE A PLAN. IT MEANS THAT, BEFORE RECEIVING THE BALL, THEY SHOULD HAVE A CLEAR IDEA OF THEIR FOLLOWING ACTIONS. FIRST OF ALL, THE GOALKEEPER SHOULD TURN THEIR HEAD WITH HIGH FREQUENCY”

Another crucial fundamental for the goalkeeper is to be able to offer high-quality support to the ball possessor. The main concept in this concept is to adjust the depth and width in order to offer a clear passing opportunity to the ball possessor. Goalkeeper should maintain distance from the ball holder to make the pass to them fast and easy, and minimize the risk of losing the ball in the process. Despite the misconception that more distance gives more time, it is crucial to realize that creating too much distance is a big risk to lose the ball – the distance should be optimal. In fact, in many cases, more distance gives more time for the opponents to press.

Another vital concept is to take the opponent’s striker as a reference to be aligned with them and open an angle that allows to surpass their position with the first touch, and have more passing possibilities to play the ball. Otherwise, the only one option is to play outside the opponent’s block. However, sometimes it is not the right decision and the pass should be made inside, and a wider angle needs to be created.

In this example, Alisson takes a few steps forward to offer a more clear passing line receive the ball from Alexander-Arnold. This allows to have the optimal distance and decreases the chances of Manchester City players to press him.

Alisson takes a few steps forward to offer a more clear passing line receive the ball from Alexander-Arnold

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Looking carefully at the goalkeepers’ performances, it can be noticed that many players of this role do not have a clear vision of their actions when they hold the ball and the opponent team players do not jump to press. Some goalkeepers try to pass, and some play long. No doubts, that passing should be a priority. However, in most cases, the best solution is to progress with the ball to have more advantage. It is clear, that as the opponent starts jumping to press them, the goalkeeper must pass to another teammate. Though, after carrying the ball forward, the goalkeeper will make a better long pass due to reducing the distance. Moreover, it gives more time to the teammates to observe the situation on the field, make a decision, and take a better position. The goalkeeper doesn’t have to be fast, they can drive the ball slowly, almost walking (it helps to keep total control over the ball).

Below, Ospina progresses with the ball and gain time. It gives Koulibaly a chance to relocate and find a better attacking position. By driving the ball, the goalkeeper gives the team time to change the structure and start the attack in advantage.

Ospina progresses with the ball and gain time. It gives Koulibaly a chance to relocate and find a better attacking position.

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Ospina progresses with the ball and gain time. It gives Koulibaly a chance to relocate and find a better attacking position.

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Talking about both attack and defense, it is crucial for any team to be a compact block. In this case, the individual fundamental per position for the goalkeeper is to progress with the block. They have to try to keep protected the distance between them and the defense line. On the other hand, if the goalkeeper is too far from their teammates, and the teammates decide to play with the goalkeeper, the opponent team has more time to attack the ball.

In conclusion, after thoroughly analyzing the goalkeeper’s individual fundamentals, it is clear, that the player in this role is strongly involved in team’s attacking performance. Moreover, as it was mentioned above, we must teach our goalkeepers to be able to think strategically, help other players to position themselves on the field, and be strongly connected to them. Following these objectives, the goalkeeper will improve their performance and help the team during the build-up phase.

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