Tuesday, 02.04.2024


Pressing is a process in which the defending team intends to pressure the opponent which possesses the ball. The idea behind this is to give the opponent less time to create plays and ultimately force the opposing team into turnovers.

Similar to other tactical methods, there are a few different types of pressing. The most conservative one is the deep press (defensive pressing). The opposing team has time and room to play the first build-up passes and move the ball up the pitch. However, the defending team tries to lead the build-up to one side and, when the ball reaches the last third, the defenders aim to intercept the ball by pressuring the ball carrier, as all ten players stand compactly in front of the own box. A famous example for applying a deep press was Borussia Mönchengladbach under Lucien Favre.

Another kind of pressing is called middle press (midfield pressing) that is usually applied around the halfway line. Again, the opposing team is allowed to play a first few passes and move forward. But then the defenders start to lead the build-up in a certain direction, block open men and watch passing lanes. In contrast to the deep press, the defending team is closer to the opponent’s goal and a back line can protect the players who pressure near the ball. Borussia Dortmund under Jürgen Klopp was one of the most efficient teams to use a middle press.

The third and most intense type goes by the name of high press (offensive pressing). The defending team moves ball-orientated in an extreme way. The opposing defenders and mostly the goalkeeper are pressured. That movement causes holes in zones which are far away from the ball. Therefore, it is necessary that the back line advances aggressively to close the open space. Overall, the most important aspect of a high press is the direct pressure on the ball carrier, who has no time to overview the pitch and has to cover the ball against challenges. In the best case, the pressing team can win the ball by dispossessing or by intercepting sloppy passes. This type of pressing requires great cardio and the permanent alertness of all players involved. Particularly Roger Schmidt with his Red Bull Salzburg and Bayer Leverkusen teams performed the high press in an impressive manner.