(to) Defend too deep

defend too deepFor this week’s English for football phrase, we have ‘to defend too deep’.

  • Find out more about this phrase by reading the transcript below.
  • You can also find many more examples of soccer vocabulary by going to our football cliches page here and our huge football glossary here.

This week in the Champions League matches, Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri denied that he had asked his side to defend deeply after going two goals up against Totenham. It appeared that the home side sat back and waited to hit Spurs on the counter attak but he suggested that Spurs had pushed his side back with their possession and attacking football. This idea of defending deeply (sometimes you will hear managers and players using the adjective form ‘ deep‘ instead of ‘deeply’) means that a team positions most of its players closer to its own goal rather than the opposition’s goal. Some teams use this tactic to frustrate attacking (or quick) sides but it can also backfire if the team positions its players too close to the goal as it then allows the attacking side to have more of the ball and put pressure on the defence – this would be defending too deeply.

  • Example:  ‘We started to defend too deep allowing them to have the ball easily in midfield’ Mattia De Sciglio, Juventus defender (UEFA.com, Feb 15th 2018)
  • Example: ‘People think it is easy to organise a defence, but it’s not and what Greece did was to make sure they did not defend too deeply.’ (Alan Hansen, BBC.co.uk, 4th July 2004)

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