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What Should I Look for When Watching Soccer?

What Should I Look for When Watching Soccer?

For every aspiring soccer player or amateur soccer player, watching the game of soccer can be educational, rewarding, and inspiring. Also, soccer can be watched just for the excitement of the game.

Soccer players and managers alike watch soccer to learn from the team’s tactics or pick a new skill.

Therefore, watching soccer live in the stadium, on YouTube, or watching highlights of professional soccer games improves your game knowledge.

In fact, every time you watch a soccer game, you should expect to learn something valuable to either improve your game or your knowledge of the sport.

For soccer players, irrespective of their level (professional or elite), their skills can be improved just by watching other soccer players play. This is because it is possible to copy things from others.

A significant way of improving your soccer game skill is to practice and also to learn from the actions of others.

During interviews, many players have stated how they improved their game by watching successful players play. Imitating the traits of successful and elite players had a tremendous boost to their growth.

What Should I Look for When Watching Soccer?

Soccer as the “Beautiful Game” is termed by many as the world’s game, with it being the most-watched sport in the world. However, even with all these, there are still many people who are unable to watch or even enjoy the game.

It could be a result of a lack of understanding of the game of soccer. However, soccer is open and accessible to all with a lot of excitement and fun that can be found not just from goals scored alone.

Watching soccer

When watching soccer, there are various things that should be looked out for. One of the aims of watching soccer apart from entertainment or excitement is for improvement.

There are lots of attributes to glean from watching soccer; you can learn defensive and attacking tactics, dribbling skills, game pace, the proper way to neutralize opponents, and so on.

Below are some  features that you should look out for the next time that you sit to watch a soccer game. This will enhance your experience of the game.



Perhaps, the most important reason why people watch soccer is to see their favorite team score goals. When you tune in to your favorite team playing, the first thing you check is the score.

No doubt you would be happy when you see your team leading. However, while you bask in the euphoria of scored goals, also keep your eyes opened for missed chances. Watch their moves, from the run-up to the shot taken leading to the goal.

Another important aspect of goals that you should pay attention to is the player’s celebration. You may get to see funny dance moves that will further enhance your excitement from the goal scored.


Soccer tatics

When watching a soccer game, it is vital that you take note of the style of playing of the teams. Noticing what the players and the teams are doing increases your appreciation of the game. In addition, understanding the matchups, tactics, and game pace are significant.

When watching soccer, you should pay attention to the mode of attacking through the middle, from the sides of the pitch, or through crosses. Was it successful?

How many players do these attacks go through? How do the players make touches? Understanding these would help you to know how teams play cohesively.

Each team has its own style of play. Italy is known for strong defenses and slower plays while Brazil is known for speed, talent, and flash plays.

The United States, on the other hand, plays fast and quick counter-attacks against opponents.

1. Transitions

Soccer Transitions

Another feature you need to pay attention to when watching soccer is transitions. Although your attention might be grabbed by the actions taken with the ball, you should focus more on the actions that happen off the ball.

How well do the teams react to the ball? How fast are decisions made either for moving forwards on the pitch or defending their goal?

Also, pay attention to how teams press their opponents. Watch how these teams work together to close the ball down and how they also break down from a press.

Watch how the backline of the team moves up the ball when in possession. Understand why the ball has to move up the pitch instead of haphazardly passing the ball  in the midfield.

Look out for the methods used to transition the ball to the midfield (short passes or long balls), or do the players make runs through the pitch.

Sometimes, the player could push from the backline to the box to the midfield after opening up the space. Opening the backline gives more freedom to the midfielders.

Also, watch out for where the ball spends a lot of time. Which players hold up the ball longer? Finally, take note of the movement of the ball, such as markers and runs.

Some teams make use of good man-marking with great midfielders like Xavi. Such midfielders are capable of stopping the opponent’s influence on the game.

Also, take note of passes that are made, ball movements, and tackles won and lost.

2. Teams Formations

Formation in soccer

Another factor to look out for when watching soccer is the formations that are used by both teams. Soccer teams have patterns that complement their play style.

Most team formations usually start from the back without the inclusion of the goalkeeper. So a 4-3-3 formation means that there are four defenders, three midfielders, and three strikers or attackers.

Another would be the 4-4-2, a classic formation with four defenders, four midfielders, and two strikers or attackers.

This formation has been used for decades in soccer. Though with little space for creativity, the formation is used for teams biased towards counter-attacks. The kind of formation that a team uses defines them and their strategy.

Teams with single strikers and a robust midfield show that they have more center control of the pitch and can make runs from the wings. A team with five defenders tells you they are more defensive. The placement of players in teams suggests more about their defense and attack nature.

3. Defense

Defense in soccer

Teams such as Juventus, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Manchester United have good defensive work.

In the above-stated teams, every player is cohesive as they move together with a mutual understanding of their functions and their positions. Common problems can easily be solved by their defenders.

So, whenever you watch soccer games, you should pay attention to how the defenders move and solve problems. It would improve your understanding of the game and give you insights into how you can improve your personal soccer development.

Soccer improvement majorly comes from watching and learning.

4. Attack

Shooting in soccer

It is crucial that when watching soccer, you are mindful of players’ efforts into attacks. Focus on how the team makes their attacks, counterattacks, assists one another, and makes runs.

Most attack runs involve pace change and space opening. Carefully study the timing that attackers make. Check how they run up; is it slow or fast? And what was the result?

Also, check how the attackers make use of their feet to shoot. How correctly was the ball hit? How early was the ball shot? Also, ensure that you note how the strikers dribbled when in attacks.

How was the change of pace and ball control? Was it successful, or if unsuccessful, what went wrong? What can be done to improve?

Doing the above would definitely improve your game.


Soccer players

Another thing to look out for when watching soccer is the players. Most people watch soccer because of certain players. So you might want to know if your favorite player is performing well or underperforming.

When you take notice of your favorite player, you should watch every move they make, at least through halftime. You can also compare them to other players.

Sometimes, just watch the appearance of the players and admire their hairstyle. If you are lucky, you may see that some players cut their socks or their boots.

We have explained the reasons why they do that here.


soccer fans

Fans are considered to be an important aspect of every soccer game. The importance of fans in every soccer game cannot be overemphasized. When watching soccer, looking out for fans is very crucial.

Fans can either positively or negatively affect the mental aspect of players in a soccer game. With their cheers, fans can show solidarity for their players, which would boost their motivation to win.

Like every other aspect of life, good comments motivate—and the performance of soccer players often depends on this.

Besides the impact on players, the presence of fans makes a soccer game feel complete. Remember how hollow and often uninteresting it was to watch soccer games during the COVID-19 restrictions that stopped fans from coming into the stadium?

The Game Tempo

Blue soccer player try to passed the opposing

Another aspect to look out for when watching soccer is the tempo of the game.

The game of soccer is about the tempo and the flow, the battle between teams as they sound each other out through attacking the weaknesses of each other while also defending their weakness.

The tension in soccer is one factor that makes the game interesting—changes of momentum and pace that happen suddenly add to this. Also, scoring goals in soccer is tricky, making every goal a huge deal.

Goals should be considered as the pinnacle of a long drawn attack between two sides where one side returns the victor. However, understanding soccer ensures that you enjoy the game beyond the flashy goals.


One aspect that attracts people when watching soccer is seeing players perform various skills on the pitch. Watching players perform creative skills in soccer is a very memorable aspect of soccer.

When watching soccer, care should be taken to note various soccer players’ skills in the game. Performing skills add to a player’s brilliance, similar to when Lionel Messi performs some fantastic skills with his foot on the pitch.

soccer skill

Watching Soccer players perform various skills, make incredible moves and turns, or even some tricks to score goals or get past players is an exciting aspect of soccer.

For soccer players to perform skills, they need talent, excellent ball control, timing, and coordination. Skills can devastate other players and are usually performed by forwards or strikers.

Though sometimes performing skills can fail, every successful skill from a player leaves the crowd in awe.

When watching soccer, it is crucial that you pay attention to soccer skills such as the Scissor Kick, The Maradona Turn, Nutmegs, The Rainbow Flick, Lob, and others.

Attention should be paid to how the skills are performed, what foot to use, and other details so you can perfect your own skills.

Below are some of the more prevalent skills that can be watched out for;

1. The Scissors or Bicycle Kick

The Scissors kick and its partner, the bicycle kick, are some of the most spectacular moves in soccer. To perform these moves, the player moves backward while generating the momentum to kick the ball in the air.

Soccer players need good athleticism and impeccable timing to be able to perform these moves. Wayne Rooney, Gareth Bale, and Pele are soccer players who make use of the skill.

70 Best Bicycle Kick Goals In Football

2. The Marseille (Maradona) Turn 

The Marseille Turn is a skill that is common to most soccer players. The Marseille Turn was popularized by Yves Mariot but became notable under Maradona and later Zidane. The Marseille Turn is used to get the ball past any defender coming at an angle.

The Marseille Turn is used to dribble past a defender by placing your studs around the ball, then turning with the ball to any direction that you desire.

HOW TO LEARN THE MARSEILLE TURN | The Zidane Roulette football skill

3. The Elástico

The Brazilian Rivelino popularized the Elástico in the 1970 World Cup held in Mexico. The Elástico is performed by moving the ball outside the outer part of the boot, then, the ball is brought back abruptly inside.

The Elástico was one of Ronaldinho’s favorite moves and was also performed by Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, none can do it with pomp as Cristiano Ronaldo does.

5 ELASTICO VARIATIONS YOU NEED TO LEARN | How to do these football skills

When the Elástico is performed, defenders are misplaced when the ball changes direction mid-movement.


Blue soccer player try to block the ball for the red one

Watching soccer goes beyond the excitement and fun associated with the game. When watching soccer, it is crucial that you understand why the formation and the selected players shown were used.

You have to know the importance of these selections since they usually affect the game.

Watching out for the various factors listed above helps give you a general understanding of the game. In addition, understanding why players take specific actions on the pitch goes a long way to improving your knowledge of the game.