Nov 15, 2017 | Tactics

The deadliest tactical fundamental: And you can do it too

In this blog we explain one of our attacking fundamentals: the backdoor. It is a fundamental for wingers, sometimes also executed by strikers in wide positions or attacking fullbacks. Executing the backdoor correctly will make you nearly impossible to defend. It’s one of our most deadly fundamentals.

The backdoor is not a common term in football, but it is a big thing in basketball. After watching this video on YouTube, you’ll have a good sense of what it entails. It’s all about using the opponent’s blind spot to take advantage of the space behind the defense. Since there is no offside rule in basketball, you might say that the backdoor is easier to perform in basketball than in football. However, there is usually a lot more space behind the defensive line in football than in basketball.

The best football players in the world use this fundamental a lot. Especially quick wingers such as Neymar, Mbappé, Sané and Mané have the right combination of pace and game intelligence to execute this fundamental perfectly. Also in the Eredivisie, we have seen an increase in the use of the backdoor fundamental with the arrival of Latin-American wingers David Neres (Ajax) and Hirving Lozano (PSV).

Positioning is key for the backdoor to work. You need to position yourself in the back of your opponent, so that he can’t see you if he’s watching the ball. Then, when the ball is coming your way and your opponent is drawn by the on-ball player (or is simply ball-watching and has lost sight of you), you make a run in depth towards the goal when your teammate is ready to give the pass. The timing is essential. If you start too early you will most likely be offside, while starting too late will give your opponent the chance to catch up. It will take some practice to get it right.

But when you do get it right, it’s a lethal move. Below you can see an example of PSV-attacker Hirving Lozano, scoring in a Eredivisie-match against Heracles Almelo.

This is a stark contrast with other Eredivisie wingers such as Younes or Boëtius, who rarely ask for the ball in depth. These wingers like to have the ball at their feet, and try to beat their opponents in a 1v1. This is fine too, but it can be predictable and can slow down the game. This gives the opponents time to regroup and create cover for the fullback, turning the 1v1 into a 1v2 and thereby reducing the danger. The Eredivisie has the passers, but not enough runners to execute the backdoor on a large scale.

You don’t have to be a world-class football player to perform the backdoor. The backdoor can be executed at all levels, as long as you get the positioning and timing right.

Choose your moment when nobody sees you.