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How To Beat A Low Block in Soccer? 9 Effective Tactics

How To Beat A Low Block in Soccer? 9 Effective Tactics

Generally, before knowing how to beat a low block defense, you must have an understanding of what it is and how it works. Although there are high chances you already know what it is, let’s go through it a little bit again.

It will shock you to discover one or two things that may help you understand how to block it better. Know that if you are trying to beat a low block, you should be focusing on creating a space in the opposition. This way, you can gain access to the ball.

Once you access the ball, it is a walk in the park from there. Usually, a low block isn’t the most exciting defense technique to use. It keeps the ball in one’s possession for an extended time to achieve a draw at the end of the game.

Nevertheless, let’s see ways you can beat a low block. Here, we will be showing you: 

  • What a low block in soccer means
  • How to beat a low block in soccer
  • And the pros and cons of each solution

Let’s get started!

A type of low block

Read more: 

What Is A Low Block In Soccer?

A low block in soccer is a form of defense tactic, which involves players remaining in their territory and defending it. They keep possession of the ball within their territory and also ensure that there is no space for the opposition team to gain access.

Furthermore, it is a form of defense involving little movement. As a result, it makes the game less intense than it would have been if the ball was free.

Generally, the low block is a defense system that everyone knows Jose Mourinho for. To successfully execute this technique the team must have agile and spontaneous wide midfielders.

Why? It helps them to be more successful in executing the low block. This is because they are the major players when it comes to a low block.

Although a low block may be boring and slow, it is highly effective once executed well. Ask Mourinho! He has applied this technique in every club he has worked for; Chelsea and even Manchester United, and he was successful most times.

Now that we understand what a low block is, let us move to the next step.

Tactics Explained: The Burnley Low Block

How To Beat A Low Block in Soccer?

As an attacker or opposition team, a low block can be frustrating, especially if the defenders are skilled and know their way around the ball.

Imagine this,

You are on the opposition team, you and your teammates are facing a low-block defense. What do you do next? Remember that the other team is trying to stall to ensure that time passes and the game ends in a draw. This means you have to think fast and be ready for anything.

When trying to beat a low block, learning an attacking principle is advisable. You can use it for other scenarios.

How To Break A Low Block! - Modern Football Tactics

Here’s what I mean,

Create Space and Spread it Across the Five Channels on the Field

Once your team gets hold of the ball, do everything within your power to keep it in your possession. First, spread out across the five channels on the field. Then, use your wide players or fullbacks to create this spacing.

By doing so, you will succeed in luring the fullbacks of the opposing team to create space between them. However, your midfielders must always maintain the space they created while playing. They can use the circle on the field as a point of reference.

By doing this, they will also be able to change the play mode when the need arises. Plus, the center backs should also do the same thing so that they can maintain space behind the ball.


  • Spacing helps you lure the opposing team into creating space. Therefore, it breaks their low-block defense.
  • It helps to break that defense so the attackers can gain possession of the ball.


  • It requires multitasking; you are not only trying to create space but also switch play. So if the players are not swift and agile, it is going to be a problem.
How To Break Down A Low Block and Create High Quality Scoring Chances - Modern Football Tactics

Ready to Cover for Teammates

This is very important when beating a low block; the team needs support, especially when they are under pressure. Failure to support behind the ball will help the opposing team to interject. Once they do, they will gain possession of the ball.

Support is also necessary when trying to pass the ball to another player. Players will need to play in front of the ball to avoid pressure.

How does it work? You pass the ball to the wide player, then the fullback or the center midfielder can support from behind. The center forward can also combine with them.


  • It helps with dealing with pressure. In addition, the other teammates render support to ease the pressure on the teammate with the ball.


  • If support is not done well, the opposing team will gain back possession of the ball.
Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool Pressing and How to Break it | Tactical Analysis

Penetrating the Low Block

This works by scattering the shape of the opposing team. You will need to be fast and quick-witted. Why? You will be changing the point of your attack while passing the ball. In that case, you must be patient while in possession for you to be able to penetrate a low block.

Try to find spaces between the defense team. Spaces that are more than 8 – 10 yards are ideal. Plus, your receivers must be ready to receive the ball from the attackers. And they must also be prepared to play forward to use any pauses between lines.

In addition, attackers must also be swift and firm when passing the ball between lines. You can also make use of spacing by immersing the opposition team while transiting with the ball. This creates space, and another player moves in fast.


  • It will help in disorganizing the form of the opposing team, creating loopholes for the attackers to move into.


  • You need speed, so if your teammates are not fast enough, penetration will fail.
  • If the receiver cannot receive under pressure, penetration will not be possible. Therefore, team members also need to exercise a lot of patience.
Sniper Accurate Through Passes & Long balls 2021

Use Your Creativity

This centers on individual encounters; here, the players may play one-on-one. This is where creativity comes in; you will need to think fast to be able to beat the low block.

Try creating space as you play. You can do this to expose particular team members that will be good with one-on-one situations. Then, come up with good tactics to play between the spaces created in the low block.


  • Since it’s one-on-one, use a skilled player, and everything will be easy. 


  • You have to be fast in thinking. Creativity works with sharpness. So there is no time to think or form strategies.
Every angle of Mo Salah's stunning solo goal against Manchester City


This is trying to move into spaces created in the low block. You make this movement in front of the ball or after it. Possession must remain with the team while transferring the ball.

So, the center backs (CB) transfer the ball to the wide player, thereby diverting the defense’s attention. Once the defense starts moving away, a CM nearby can run into the half-space.

The players on the team should move without stopping. This way, they make themselves available to receive passes from the player with the ball.


  • There is a provision for overloading and it makes it almost impossible for the defense to gain possession of the ball.


  • Players need to be fast, and it is a problem for the whole low block process because slow players will not move into the spaces.

the red team moves to penetrate the low block

Stretch the Opponent’s Defense

One very efficient way of beating the low block is through short passes. A practical example is Lionel Messi, as he is an outstanding midfielder known for defeating low blocks. He does this by dribbling past or making sharp passes to his teammates.

Although average team players may not have such skills as Messi, that is when the short passes come in. The teammates can pass the ball to the others while making their way around the pitch. And it will continue till one of the team members gets an opportunity to score a goal.

For example, in Manchester City, they play with their natural wingers, most times. However, players like Sterling and Bernardo Silva are very good at dribbling, and it helps them create better chances at scoring.


  • It does not need much speed, so gradually passing the ball will achieve its aim. 
  • Players do not need to be good at making sharp passes.
  • It is convenient


  • The defense team can intercept the ball with ease.
Lionel Messi - The Art of Passing - HD

Defense Line Overload

Overloading will aid the attacking team in pinning down the defenders at the back. The purpose of this is to create space for the other members of the team to get involved. Since the attack will lure the defense to draw nearer and form a line, their position will be empty.

This gives superiority to the attackers since they are more than the defenders at the back. In Euro 2016, Italy’s Antonio Conte’s applied the same technique. And Chelsea also used a 4-2-4 tactic to achieve the same thing.


  • Creates space for the midfielders to come into play 
  • It makes it easier to win the second ball. 
  • Gives superiority to the attacking team.


  • Needs proper training to execute properly.
Antonio Conte: Tactics Explained

Attacking During the Transition Moment

There are moments when a soccer team transitions into a different tactic; and these are Transition Moments. They include Attacking, Defense transition, Defense, Attacking transition.

These four moments, when they occur, can misplace the position and formation of a team. This is the right moment to attack; when the opposition team is transitioning, they lose guard for a while.

This is the right time for the defense to counter-press in on the counter-attack of the opposing team. As they do so, they gain possession of the ball and take over the space created due to the attack.

At this point, any good player with the great aim can hit a hard blow at the defending team that is still transitioning.


  • It is a great way to beat the low block because it is easy once planned out well.
  • You have more advantages since the opposing team is at its vulnerable point. 


  • If you are not swift and sharp, you may fail. 
  • It may lead to overload on the opposition if you try to attack during the transition and fail.
Liverpool FC - Counter Attack Kings - 2017-19

Using the strategy of having 3 center backs

One of the types of low block is a 4-4-2 Block. It is used to form a compact block. And it is a prevalent tactic with Sir Alex Ferguson, one of the best managers in soccer history.

Here’s how to beat a 4-4-2 block

A 4-4-2 has two strikers. They protect the central passing lane and prevent attackers from penetrating. This gives the wide midfielders a chance to remain deep and provide support to the fullbacks.

To beat a 4-4-2 block, it is advisable to use a three at the back system. This is ideal for outnumbering the opposition’s two strikers. It will then provide enough coverage for the other members of the team to penetrate the spaces.

For better illustration, imagine this:

You are in the defense team, and the opposition formed a 4-4-2 block. This means there will be only two strikers at the back. Using a 3v2 structure, all you need to do is to get three center backs. Then, position them between the vertical line created by the 4-4-2 block.

Once one player starts approaching them with the ball, the two strikers will begin to close up. This creates width in the process.

A real-life example is a match between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid. Here, Liverpool applied the 3 back structures; by doing so, Atletico Madrid’s striker on the right pressed towards the center back.

Inside Anfield: Liverpool 2-0 Atletico Madrid | Two Trent assists in incredible atmosphere

Getting the striker on the right to close up towards the other striker, creating a space in the process. The next step is to create an overload; you do this by isolating the opposition left behind and the left midfielder.

Use as few players as possible to pin the center back. That way, they won’t be able to leave their position; otherwise, they will create space, and you will have easy access.

The next step is to use your midfielder to pin the central midfielder of the opposition; this leaves space for a pass. However, at this point, it creates a weakness on the opposition’s side, and they cannot afford to bring in another player.

This is where you, as the defense team, take advantage of the wide overload and score.


  • It creates overloads at multiple areas of the pitch. Thereby making the defense very stable in the center pitch.
  • The team covers more areas in the attacking and defending phases.


  • The team is focused on defending. The opponents take advantage of this to attack in wide areas. 
  • When there is an overload in the wings, the opposing midfielder can exploit that area.
How to beat the 4-4-2 TACTICS EXPLAINED


A low defensive block may be highly effective, but it can still open up. Therefore, any team employing the use of a low block as a defense must have enough patience. They must be ready to drag the game for as long as possible and achieve a draw in the end.

Can you beat a low block? Yes, but beating a low defensive block is no child’s play. It requires a lot of wits and swift actions. If not, the ball may never get into your team’s possession, or you may never be able to score past that.

A proper understanding of the opposition team’s tactics is necessary as it will enable you to fish out their weak points. And an opposition team’s members must be good in at least four of these techniques to succeed.

In a scenario where one does not work, you make use of another one. Sometimes, you may even have to combine some of our listed methods to beat a low block.

Till next time! Stay safe!