For me the main 3 benefits of futsal to youth football players are simple really. First of all I think the first one must be decision making. Futsal puts every decision you make under the micro scope and magnifies good, bad or indifferent decisions of the field of play. For example in football you can play and move as an attacker and if you make a poor decision or a better one could have been made it can result in a turnover of possession but not always a scoring opportunity. Whereas in futsal as a pivot if you dont make the best decision it could result in a scoring opportunity for the other team. Futsal allows players to make better decisions and the game highlights this where I don’t think football can do the same. The next main benefit for me has to be playing under pressure. In futsal teams need to work hard as a four and a individual to play under pressure, and this means getting relaxed even in tight situations, which for me is what’s missing sometimes in the 11 a side game. It is not easy to train dominant response of panic in tight situations where they have not always worked or been exposed to it. However if youngsters growing up are exposed to these tight situations under competition then for me they are more likely to develop a dominant response like the Brazilians or Spanish where they understand that if they are pressed there must be space somewhere else. It’s just a case of keeping calm and making the best decision in a given situation. Which is what futsal is all about. The other one for me would be individual and group tactics. Futsal on face value can seem like a group of players just kicking a ball around but when you pick the game about its actually very tactical and can change within in blink of an eye, dependent on triggers, clues and cues. But the speed of which this generally happens is much quicker than eleven a side. Although there are some positive and negative transfer to the two games and it is important coaches understand these, then I feel these are the most beneficial parts to the game. But of course there are the technical aspects of the game that most are aware of but not all cross over into football.
Here is a diagram of the 4-3-3 (4-1-2-3) and its passing options. There are many teams that use this formation across the world. FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal just to name a few. Each team has a Defensive Midfielder which is vital for the team to function. In this case the Defensive Midfielder is the number 6.
The Role of the Defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3 (4-1-2-3) is vital. They are the catalyst of of the speed of the play either slow (retaining possession) or fast (to penetrate). Their awareness of pressure and to play out of tight spaces is vital to keep the ball to manipulate the play. Their range of passing needs to be excellent and their distance and angles of support are important. They need to have the ability to run with the ball to penetrate the play. They are the link between the back four and the 2 central (attacking) midfielders in front of them. To play the role effectively they need to technically efficient.
Here is a diagram of the defensive midfielders passing options in a 4-3-3:
Defensively the need to be able to read the game to break the opponent down. Forcing opposing players towards pressure are out of play is vital. There energy levels need to be managed effectively to produce this kind of pressure on opponents all game. The have to maintain their positioning and sacrifice themselves for the team. They need to be a leader and communicate throughout.
The physical attributes a Defensive Midfielder needs to have are:
1/ Very Athletic (quick over 5-20 yds)
2/ Strong – Individual battles and To hold players off the ball to protect.
3/ Aerial ability – Powerful in the air
4/ Agile- To react to the game
Two of the best Defensive Midfielders: Sergio Busquets & Alex Song
Sergio Busquets is regarded as one of the spanish greats. His vision, technical ability, awareness is phenomenal however what Sergio does not have Alex Song Does. Alex Song is in my opinion has been very underrated for what he has done in the 3 years at Arsenal. His awareness, vision, technical ability is up their with the best.
To compare Busquets to Song technically Busquets would win however Song is not that far behind. What makes Alex Song stand out is his ability physically to dominate opponents. He is quick, agile, strong in the tackle, and can read the game. Busquets reads the game very well however he is not quick. Barcelona have lately struggled with pace at the back and in the Defensive Central Midfield Role against Madrid. Song could be that player. Song is good enough technically to be able to posses and penetrate the Barcelona style of play. Barcelona already have Xavi and Iniesta or fabregas to orchestrate the play and maybe they need that bit of physical dominance and speed to support the team defensively?
You cannot take away the brilliance of Busquets and his footballing mind though. He has been one of the main reasons behind Barcelona’s success. Maybe Song will be his cover when Busquets is injured but i believe Song has all the attributes to fill the position and maybe give Barca another option. Both players are versatile (and can play Central Defender) and can fit into Barcelona’s 4-3-3 style of play very easily. Alex song was a great purchase by Barcelona as i feel they need a little more pace when defending against teams like Madrid on the counter attack.
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